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Words to The Last Post

If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which The Last Post was played; this brings out a new meaning of it.

We have all heard the haunting song, 'The Last Post.' It's the song that gives us the lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes.

But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the American Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.

But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform.

This wish was granted.

The haunting melody, we now know as 'The Last Post' used at military funerals was born. The words are:

Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lakes
From the hills.
From the sky.
All is well.
Safely rest.
God is nigh.

Fading light.
Dims the sight.
And a star.
Gems the sky.
Gleaming bright.
From afar.
Drawing nigh.
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise.
For our days.
Neath the sun
Neath the stars.
Neath the sky
As we go.
This we know.
God is nigh

Who has not felt the chills while listening to 'The Last Post' but I have never seen all the words to the song until now. I didn't even know there was more than one verse . I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn't know if you had either so I thought I'd pass it along.

I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.

Remember Those Lost and Harmed While Serving Their Country. Also Remember Those Who Have Served And Returned; and for those presently serving in the Armed Forces.

Canada in Flanders
By Sir Max Aitken MP (1916)

By Rt. Hon. Sir Robert L. Borden, G.C.M.G.

More than a year ago the bugles of the Empire sounded throughout the world the call to duty. The justice of the cause was recognised in every quarter of the King’s dominions, and nowhere more fully than in Canada; it has since been confirmed by the judgment of the civilised world. Within a week Canada had sprung to arms; within three weeks 35,000 men were marshalled on Valcartier Plain, which had been transformed, as if by magic, into a great military camp; within six weeks from the outbreak of war a Canadian Division, fully organised and equipped in every branch of the service, with a surplus of guns and ammunition nearly sufficient for another Division, and with a detail of reinforcements amounting to 10,000 men, was ready to proceed overseas.

Twice in September of last year I saw these forces march past under review by the Duke of Connaught. Later, I visited every unit of the contingent, addressed their officers, and bade them all God-speed. The Armada which left the shores of Gaspe on October 3rd, 1914, carried the largest army that ever crossed the Atlantic at one time.

In the midst of the following winter they went to the front. Few of them had any previous experience of war. They had lived in a peace-loving country; they had been gathered from the varied avocations of our national life; they had come from the hills and valleys and surf-beaten shores of the Maritime Provinces; from the banks of the St. Lawrence and its hundred affluents in the two great central Provinces; from the mining and lumber camps of the north; from the broad prairie Provinces and their northern hinterlands; from the majesty of the mountains that look to the east upon the prairies and to the west upon the Pacific; from the shores of the great western ocean; from all the far-flung communities of our Dominion they had hurried, quickly responsive to the call.

Almost in the dawn of their experience at the front there came to them an ordeal such as has seldom tested the most tried of veterans. An unknown and terrible means of warfare, which temporarily shattered the gallant forces that held the line at their left, poured upon them torture and death. The bravest and most experienced troops might well have been daunted and driven back by the fierceness of the onslaught to which they were exposed and by the horrible methods of the attack. Assailed by overwhelming numbers on front and flank, they held their own in a conflict which raged for days; they barred the path against the German onrush and saved the day for the Empire, for the Allies, and for the world.

The story of their tenacity, their valour, and their heroism has been well told in the pages that follow. But it can never be completely told. Many of those upon whose memories alone splendid incidents of that story were indelibly engraven lie beneath the sod in Northern France and in Belgium.

On more than one stricken field the record thus made by the 1st Canadian Division has held good. From the lips of those who fought at Festubert and at Givenchy, from dauntless survivors of the Princess Patricia’s Regiment, I have heard, in many a hospital and convalescent home in the Motherland, what their comrades had dared and done.

No Canadian can ever look forth unmoved upon that valley where Ypres lies shattered in the distance, and the sweep of the hills over1ooks the graves of more than 100,000 men who fell because a remorseless militarist autocracy decreed this war.

In the years to come it will be the duty and the pride of Canada to rear, both in this Dominion and beyond the ocean, monuments which will worthily commemorate the glorious deeds of her sons who offered the supreme sacrifice for liberty and civilisation.

R. L. Borden.
Ottawa, December 6th, 1915.

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