This was the last line of the chorus of the 1914 British hit song  Keep the Home Fires Burning, with the music  written by Welsh-born Ivor Novello (1893 – 1951) and the tear-jerking lyrics by American Lena Guilbert Ford (1870 – 1918).  World War 1 connections:  In 1916 Novello joined the Royal Naval Air Service, where he washed out of pilot training after crashing two aircraft, and during the night of March 7th, 1918, Mrs. Ford and her son Walter were the first American civilians to be killed in a German air raid.

An Ivor

Novello later became well-known as an actor and a producer, especially of West-End musicals, and in 1956 the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors established the Ivor Novello award for songwriting and composition, popularly known as the ‘Ivor’.

The much-longed-for homecomings began in 1919, and public interest shifted to the re-entry of the demobilized soldiers into the economy and society. In popular music this was expressed by the hit song of 1919 called How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm?, a product of three Tin Pan Alley stalwarts, composer Walter Donaldson (1893 – 1947) and lyricists  Joe Young (1889 – 1939) and Sam M. Lewis (1885 – 1959). Not strictly speaking a WW1 song since it was written after the war, it was a nationwide hit, performed on Vaudeville by the legendary Sophie Tucker and Eddie Cantor, recorded by Nora Bayes, Arthur Fields and the equally legendary 369th Infantry Band led by Lieut. James Reese Europe, who arranged the piece for band.

Much has been written before about the WW1 ‘Poster War’, and this continued into 1919, as the Army released a series of booklets and posters designed to remind returning soldiers how they should comport themselves. You can read all about this here or here.

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official living in Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and has memberships in the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Indian Military Historical Society and the Salonika Campaign Society.