This week over at Madeleine Kane’s Limerick-Off, the fun starts with the line “A woman who often made scenes” or “A fellow who often made scenes" or even "An artist was working on scenes."
The last one brought to mind the scenery my father painted when he was a member of the Canadian Army Show overseas in World War II (official name Canadian Auxiliary Services Entertainment Unit).
He was a musician in a Canadian Army uniform, and, because musicians didn't appear busy all the time, they were co-opted as scenery painters. Dad had a lot of artistic as well as musical talent, and he was happy doing either job.
|March 7, 1946|
He wasn’t an extraordinary soldier. He was a private, promoted to lance corporal without much chance of further advancement.
But he hadn't been issued a gun, nor had his friends. Then one day a clerical error in England saw the musicians and artists, actors and singers, comedians and dancers, given weapons and put on the boat train, their destination: the French front. An uproar ensued, during which someone somewhere figured out these entertainers really didn’t know one end of a machine gun from the other, and took them off the train.
Their role in WW II was far from insignificant, however, as they kept up the morale of the troops with whom they were stationed: Canadian, British, American, and other allied countries.
So, for Madeleine's limerick-off, and also for Day 22 of the April poem-a-day challenge at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, I give you the following, in memory of Gordon Davies, 1924-2009. A bit of a renaissance man, my dad.
My father was painting some scenes
using yellows and blues and greens
while over his head
bombs exploded red:
which he said he just hadn’t seen.
Kay Davies, April 22, 2013
A fascinating article about behind the scenes action in the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force entertainment units during the Second World War. With many photographs of participants and entertainment venues. From the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies.
Note: a very large file, but some of you might find it very interesting, even heartwarming.
Here's a sample from the file:
You’ll get used to it, you’ll get used to it
Molto Vino, Quanta Costa, you’ll get used to it
You get a panoramic view, lots of mutton in your stew
Mepacrine and margarine, dysentery to make you lean
It’s wonderful, it’s marvelous, dehydrated spuds and carrots you’ll adore
You gotta get used to it, and when you’re used to it
You will find that you are lining up for more
You’ll be so whacky, you’ll be glad when we have won this ruddy war.
To keep stage material fresh and relevant, old stand-bys were modified to better suit the circumstances of any particular audience. Pte. Weinzweig wrote these new verses of a famous WW II song for troops stationed in Italy. The original, copyrighted in Canada in 1942, featured words by Victor Gordon and music by Freddy Grant.
Source: June 28, 1944. No. 1 Detachment Canadian Army