Monday, November 12, 2007

The Fighting 69th

video
I thought this would be an appropriate end to the WWI film marathon. There's nothing that can stir the cockles like "Garry Owen"
The Fighting 69th is a 1940 American war film starring James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, and George Brent. The plot is based upon the actual exploits of New York's 69th Infantry Regiment during the First World War. The regiment was first given that nickname by opposing General Robert E. Lee during the Civil War.

The plot centers on misfit Jerry Plunkett, played by Cagney, and his inability to fit into the unit due to a mixture of bravado and cowardice. O'Brien plays Father Francis P. Duffy, a military chaplain who attempts to reform Plunkett. "Wild Bill" Donovan, played by Brent, is the regimental commander, who ultimately orders Plunkett to be court-martialed. One of the characters portrayed in this film is Sgt. Joyce Kilmer, the poet. Alan Hale, Sr. plays Sgt Wynn, who loses both his brothers due to Cagney's blunders.

While Jerry Plunkett was a fictional character, Father Duffy, Colonel Donovan and Joyce Kilmer were all part of the actual regiment.

and here's a Joyce Kilmer poem for a little literacy connection
When the Sixty-ninth Comes Back

By Joyce Kilmer

The Sixty-ninth is on its way - France heard it long ago,
And the Germans know we’re coming, to give them blow for blow.
We’ve taken on the contract, and when the job is through
We’ll let them hear a Yankee cheer and an Irish ballad too.

The Harp that once through Tara’s Halls shall fill the air with song,
And the Shamrock be cheered as the port is neared by our triumphant throng.
With the Potsdam Palace on a truck and the Kaiser in a sack,
New York will be seen one Irish green when the Sixty-ninth comes back.

We brought back from the Border our Flag - ’twas never lost;
We left behind the land we love, the stormy sea we crossed.
We heard the cry of Belgium, and France the free and fair,
For where there’s work for fighting-men, the Sixty-ninth is there.

The Harp that once through Tara’s Halls shall fill the air with song,
And the Shamrock be cheered as the port is neared by our triumphant throng.
With the Potsdam Palace on a truck and the Kaiser in a sack,
New York will be seen one Irish green when the Sixty-ninth comes back.

The men who fought at Marye’s Heights will aid us from the sky,
They showed the world at Fredericksburg how Irish soldiers die.
At Blackburn Ford they think of us, Atlanta and Bull Run;
There are many silver rings on the old flagstaff but there’s room for another one.

The Harp that once through Tara’s Halls shall fill the air with song,
And the Shamrock be cheered as the port is neared by our triumphant throng.
With the Potsdam Palace on a truck and the Kaiser in a sack,
New York will be seen one Irish green when the Sixty-ninth comes back.

God rest our valiant leaders dead, whom we cannot forget;
They’ll see the Fighting Irish are the Fighting Irish yet.
While Ryan, Roe, and Corcoran on History’s pages shine,
A wreath of laurel and shamrock waits the head of Colonel Hine.

The Harp that once through Tara’s Halls shall fill the air with song,
And the Shamrock be cheered as the port is neared by our triumphant throng.
With the Potsdam Palace on a truck and the Kaiser in a sack,
New York will be seen one Irish green when the Sixty-ninth comes back.

Joyce Kilmer served with the 69th Regiment (165th Infantry) during World War I. He held the rank of Sergeant. He was killed in action on July 30th 1918, while gathering intelligence for the Regiment during the battle of the Ourcq. He wrote many poems about the Regiment including “Memorial Day," "Rouge Bouquet”. His most famous poem was “Trees”.

No comments: