"THE BRITISH SOLDIER"

In a station in the city a British soldier stood
Talking to the people there if the people would
Some just stared in hatred, and others turned in pain
And the lonely British soldier wished he was back home again

Come join the British Army! said the posters in his town
See the world and have your fun come serve before the Crown
The jobs were hard to come by and he could not face the dole
So he took his country's shilling and enlisted on the roll
For there was no fear of fighting, the Empire long was lost
Just ten years in the army getting paid for being bossed
Then leave a man experienced a man who's made the grade
A medal and a pension some mem'ries and a trade

Then came the call to Ireland as the call had come before
Another bloody chapter in an endless civil war
The priests they stood on both sides the priests they stood behind
Another fight in Jesus name the blind against the blind
The soldier stood between them between the whistling stones
And then the broken bottles that led to broken bones
The petrol bombs that burnt his hands the nails that pierced his skin
And wished that he had stayed at home surrounded by his kin

The station filled with people the soldier soon was bored
But better in the station than where the people warred
The room filled up with mothers with daughters and with sons
Who stared with itchy fingers at the soldier and his gun
A yell of fear a screech of brakes the shattering of glass
The window of the station broke to let the package pass
A scream came from the mothers as they ran towards the door
Dragging children crying from the bomb upon the floor

The soldier stood and could not move his gun he could not use
He knew the bomb had seconds and not minutes on the fuse
He could not run to pick it up and throw it in the street
There were far too many people there too many running feet
Take cover! yelled the soldier, Take cover for your lives
And the Irishmen threw down their young and stood before their wives
They turned towards the soldier their eyes alive with fear
For God's sake save our children or they'll end their short lives here

The soldier moved towards the bomb his stomach like a stone
Why was this his battle God why was he alone
He lay down on the package and he murmured one farewell
To those at home in England to those he loved so well
He saw the sights of summer felt the wind upon his brow
The young girls in the city parks how precious were they now
The soaring of the swallow the beauty of the swan
The music of the turning earth so soon would it be gone

A muffled soft explosion and the room began to quake
The soldier blown across the floor his blood a crimson lake
They never heard him cry or shout they never heard him moan
And they turned their children's faces from the blood and from the bones
The crowd outside soon gathered and the ambulances came
To carry off the body of a pawn lost in the game
And the crowd they clapped and jeered and they sang their rebel songs
One soldier less to interfere where he did not belong

But will the children growing up learn at their mothers' knees
The story of the soldier who bought their liberty
Who used his youthful body as a means towards the end
Who gave his life to those who called him murderer not friend


Soldier is a song written and recorded by Harvey Andrews in 1972 .

The song was inspired by an event which happened in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In 1971 Sergeant Michael Willetts of 3 PARA cleared a room in
Springfield Road RUC Police Station f civilians because a bomb with a short burning fuse
had been planted by the Provisional IRA.
After the room had been cleared, Sgt Willetts then slammed the door to the room
which contained the bomb, but realising the door was not strong enough to absorb the blast,
he pressed his body against the door, shielding the people on the other side.
The charge exploded, and he was killed instantly.

Harvey Andrews was so struck by the incident that he wrote the song to highlight
the senselessness of violence and to make the point that soldiers, too,
are human, and that Sgt Willetts had laid down his life for people
who considered British soldiers to be nothing more than "murderers."
(The incident of the soldier embracing the bomb was poetic licence.)
Broadcasts of Andrews' record were banned for some time by the BBC lest feelings
be exacerbated in the nationalist community of Northern Ireland,
or the British public be incited to attack innocent Irish people.
The Ministry of Defence advised (and still advises) British soldiers not to sing the song in pubs
where it may incite strong emotive behaviour.
Some have interpreted this as a ban.