Monday Music: The British Grenadier

bunker hill

The British Grenadier has long been one of my favourite military marches.  If you ever watched the movie Barry Lyndon you will remember the scene where the young Barry watched Gale’s Regiment passing by in review with the fife and drums playing ‘The British Grenadier‘.

From “Barry Lyndon” (1975)

I am not sure I have even heard of a movie set in the American War of Independence that did not have a scene with British redcoats advancing to the fifes and drums playing this particular march.

From “The Patriot” (2000)

From “Revolution” (1985)

A version with the lyrical accompaniment (the lyrics and a few more verses for you to sing along with are noted below):

And what would be a Trooping of the Colour without The British Grenadier being belted out?

Full Lyrics:

Some talk of Alexander, And some of Hercules
Of Hector and Lysander, And such great names as these.
But of all the world’s great heroes, There’s none that can compare
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, To the British Grenadier.

Those heroes of antiquity Ne’er saw a cannon ball
Or knew the force of powder, To slay their foes withall.
But our brave boys do know it, And banish all their fears,
Sing tow, row, row, row, row, row, For the British Grenadier.

Whene’er we are commanded To storm the palisades
Our leaders march with fusees, And we with hand grenades.
We throw them from the glacis, About the enemies’ ears.
Sing tow, row, row, row, row, row, The British Grenadiers.

And when the siege is over, We to the town repair
The townsmen cry, “Hurra, boys, Here comes a Grenadier!”
Here come the Grenadiers, my boys, Who know no doubts or fears!
Then sing tow, row, row, row, row, row, The British Grenadiers.

Then let us fill a bumper, and drink a health of those
Who carry caps and pouches, And wear the louped clothes
May they and their commanders live happy all their years,
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, for the British Grenadiers.

UPDATED: Ribald version.

Some die of drinking water, Some die of drinking beer.
Some die of constipation, And some of diarrhea.
But of all the world’s diseases, There is none that can compare.
With the drip, drip, drip of the syphilitic prick, Of the British Grenadier.

When he goes forth in battle, With his weapon in his hand.
The lasses fall like cattle, There’s none can make a stand.
But when the campaign’s over, It’s then he feels so queer,
With the drip, drip, drip of the syphilitic prick, Of the British Grenadier.

And when he does retire, To take his well earned rest.
There burns an ancient fire, To do what he does best.
Ant yet the truth is bitter, There’s one thing that they fear.
It’s the drip, drip, drip of the syphilitic prick, Of the British Grenadier.

I like the girls who say they will, And I like the girls who won’t.
I hate the girls who say they will, And then they say they won’t.
But of all the girls I like the best, I may be wrong or right,
Are the girls who say they never will, But look as though they might.

UPDATED: Lyrics of an American patriotic version.

Torn from a world of tyrants, Beneath this western sky,
We formed a new dominion, A land of liberty

The world shall own we ‘re masters here Then hasten on the day
Huzza, huzza, huzza, huzza, For free America!

Proud Albion bowed to Caesar, And numerous lords before
To Picts, to Danes, to Normans, And many masters more
But we can boast, Americans, We ‘ve never fallen a prey
Huzza, huzza, huzza, huzza. For free America.

God bless this maiden climate, And through its vast domain
May hosts of heroes cluster. Who scorn to wear a chain
And blast the venal sycophant That dares our rights betray
Huzza, huzza, huzza, huzza. For free America!

The wretch that would ensnare you, Shall lay his snares in vain
Should Europe empty all her force, We ’11 meet her in array.
And fight and shout, and shout and fight For North America!

Some future day shall crown us. The masters of the main,
Our fleets shall speak in thunder To England, France, and Spain
And the nations over the ocean spread Shall tremble and obey
The sons, the sons, the sons, the sons, Of brave America!


14 thoughts on “Monday Music: The British Grenadier”

  1. Yep, that Barry Lyndon snippet (along with “Lillibullero” from the same movie), is the finest recreation of period military music anywhere …


      1. You will have to wait for another Monday. I don’t want to use up all my ideas all at once:)


  2. Actually, there was an AWI movie about the first shot at Lexington that had some great military soundtrack – the British drums coming closer and closer over a period of several minutes. I’ve never found a YouTube video of this scene, though.


  3. You might be thinking of the scene from ‘April Morning’, a TV movie about the start of the AWI made in the 80s. Not a bad movie if I recall. I have not seen in over twenty years though.


  4. And here’s the end of the scene I had in mind (though this snippet starts too late, as it misses the few minutes of those drums drawing nearer and nearer before the redcoats actually appear).


  5. IIRC, no hint of British Grenadiers in my favorite AWI movie, Drums Along the Mohawk.

    I don’t remember if they play it in Johnny Tremain, but the drill is more accurate than in Revolution or the Patriot.


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