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Question For Our Welsh Friends: Men Of Harlech

Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:44 am

There's a beautiful Welsh song, Men of Harlech ...


For which the above seems to be the "official" words. However, in the film, Zulu, there's a terrific scene near the end where the Zulus are doing their war dance and then, the Welsh soldiers start singing - but the words are quite different. Were these words developed specifically for the film, or indeed for the Welsh Guards?


Are there other versions (in English?)
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RE: Question For Our Welsh Friends: Men Of Harlech

Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:30 am

There are numerous versions of "Men of Harlech", and there's no single accepted English version.

As for the film Zulu, the lyrics were composed specifically for the film, so you're correct  
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RE: Question For Our Welsh Friends: Men Of Harlech

Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:30 am

kaitak, the regiment which defended Rorke's Drift was not the Welsh Guards; it was in fact 'the 24th. Regiment of Foot.' A couple of years later the British stopped just using numbers and began giving regiments names as well; and the 24th. became 'the South Wales Borderers.'

There is a connection with the Welsh Guards, though. Here's a version of the 'proper' words of 'Men of Harlech' - which, as far as I know, is their regimental march. It's being played as they take part in the annual 'Trooping of the Colour' ceremony in London.


Just going by its (low) number alone, though, the 24th. was quite a distinguished regiment. It was indeed first raised very early on, in 1689. It's full 'parentage' is shown here:-


As you can see, it was aptly named the 'Borderers,' because it traditionally recruited both Welsh and English people; and was even, at one stage, called the '2nd. Warwickshire Regiment.' The regional names of British Army regiments weren't always overly logical - my own father, called up at 17 in 1917, found himself in a mob called 'First Battalion, 18th. London Regiment, 'London Irish Rifles'; even though neither he nor any of his mates had any connections at all with Ireland! He put that right later though, by surviving WW1 and marrying an Irish girl!  

I'm not sure that the Borderers would have sung 'Men of Harlech,' though. For a start, Harlech is in North Wales, not South Wales; and, for good measure, the song itself commemorates the Welsh winning the seven-year-long siege of Harlech Castle in the 1460s; against, of course, their neighbours the English!

Never mind though - it made for a great scene in a very good movie........  
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RE: Question For Our Welsh Friends: Men Of Harlech

Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:11 am

Historian Ian Knight asserts:

"And no-one, I'm sorry to say, sang Men of Harlech; the regimental march in 1879 was The Warwickshire Lads."


Apparently the adoption of Men of Harlech as the regimental march occurred later.
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