Men of Harlech

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Something for the weekend.  Men of Harlech, the traditional battle song of Welsh regiments in the British army.  The song has many variant lyrics.  The most famous version is doubtless the one written for the film Zulu (1964).


Men of Harlech stop your dreaming
Can’t you see their spear points gleaming
See their warrior pennants streaming
To this battlefield
Men of Harlech stand ye steady
It cannot be ever said ye
For the battle were not ready
Welshmen never yield
From the hills rebounding
Let this song be sounding
Summon all at Cambria’s call
The mighty force surrounding
Men of Harlech on to glory
This will ever be your story
Keep these burning words before ye
Welshmen will not yield

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  1. Khartoum was an odd movie, but then General Gordon was an odd fellow. Historical trivia: an uncle of Bob Hope died fighting with Gordon at Khartoum.

    Zulu is a great movie, although like all movies it gets some of its facts wrong:

    Alas, there was no singing of Men of Harlech.

    Private Hook who received a VC for his valor was a model soldier and not the rebellious ranker portrayed in the film.

    Here is a good list of the historical inaccuracies:

    Having said all that, the film is a powerful evocation of this classic battle where the British Army came up against a Zulu impi, the finest pre-gunpowder military force since the Roman legion.

  2. It’s been a long time since I saw Khartoum — when I was 9-10 my dad said he was going out to rent a movie and asked if I had any interests. I asked for cartoon, and he came back (he claimed through honest mis-understanding) with Khartoum. So I remember it very much through the filter of age, but I recall liking it. And Dad listed it, Zulu and The Man Who Would Be King as “movies worth watching” about the period.

  3. I asked for cartoon, and he came back (he claimed through honest mis-understanding) with Khartoum.

    Haha. I love it. Me thinks Pops was far too clever you.


  4. Another good movie about the Brit Sudan ‘war’ is the older “Four Feathers.” The Omdurman battle scenes are about as good as the movies get at depicting Brit regulars cutting up “native” irregulars.

    The dervishes had the distinction of breaking a British square at Suakim. Napoleon could not do that. Read Kipling’s “Fuzzy Wuzzy.”

    The day before the Rourke’s Drift fight, Zulu impis destroyed an entire column (including the rest 1st Battalion 24th Reg.) of British infantry and irregular cavalry at Isandhlwana. It was the Saxon’s “Custer’s Last Stand.” The movie “Zulu Dawn” (if you can find it) covers that.

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