Bandsman William Christopher Dillmutt #190075 wrote to Francis Patterson of Dutton, Ontario from France in 1917. (“The Dutton Advance” August 2, 1917).
“You have asked me to tell you something of what I am doing. When the boys arein the trenches we are practicing new music to entertain them when they come out. We play for them twice daily when they are resting. During the past week we were very busy, doing sentry duty twice a day, a concert in the afternoon and some place or other at officers’ mess. Sometimes the officers give a garden party and of course that means we have to play. At present the boys are back in the trenches and we go on with our daily routine - polishing buttons and cleaning up in the morning, inspection, practice, then dinner, more practice in the afternoon, then we have our so-called supper - not cold ham, strawberries, ice cream and cake, but just tea, bread and jam.
The boys love the music and ours is the only band here that has officers leading them. We always have the newest music, but the boys like the rag-time the best. We often play for the Y.M.C.A.”
Music and songs were important to the soldiers. It allowed them some release from the horrors of the trenches by reminding them of home, and relieving some stress. Many of the songs you see on archival sites such as Library and Archives Canada were not the most popular songs sung by front line troops. Remember that the Western Front was very much a male dominated society. Writing the lyrics here to many of the songs would probably result in this blog being considered in bad taste - Eh!