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The Lads in Navy Blue

Date: 1914-1918
Overall: 360 x 260 mm, 0.05 kg
Medium: printing ink on machine made wove paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Sheet music
Object No: 00018492
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    'The Lads in Navy Blue' was originally written and composed in 1899 by Harry Dacre. This sheet music consists of four pages and was printed by E W Cole in Melbourne. The lithographic print on the cover shows a naval rating and naval vessels. The interior pages contain lyrics and music alongside advertisements for other music publications.

    SignificanceThe lyrics, music and illustrations in this edition of sheet music are representative of the pride in the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) that existed in Australia after the RAN's formation in 1911 and during World War I. Patriotic songs were sung at civic events and in Australian homes in the early 20th century, especially during the war years.

    HistoryThe publisher E W Cole of Melbourne had the rights to print and distribute this edition of 'The Lads in Navy Blue'. Numerous other editions were released in Australia during World War I and World War II. The designs for each of these were remarkably similar, featuring a naval vessel or sailor in uniform. Playing tunes and gathering around the piano was a popular pastime and sheet music was a way to generate national pride and patriotism.

    The First Australian Fleet Unit consisted of the flagship HMAS AUSTRALIA, two light cruisers HMAS MELBOURNE and SYDNEY, along with ENCOUNTER, WARREGO, PARRAMATTA and YARRA. The ships entered Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1913, the focus of significant national pride and attention.

    Sheet music offers an insight into popular culture and social values at the time of their production. The widely distributed pieces were fairly cheap to buy, making them popular purchases with the general public. Music was an integral part of people's social life in the home and at public outings such as balls, recitals, concerts and theatres.

    The chorus reads:

    It is the Navy the British navy that keeps our foes at bay
    Our old song 'BRITANNIA Rules The Waves' we still can sing today
    We've got a navy a fighting navy, our neighbours know that's true
    And it keeps them in their place for they know they'd have to face
    The lively little lads in blue

    Related People
    Composer: Harry Dacre
    Publisher: E W Cole

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