Dame Vera helps revive song to mark centenary of war

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A MARCHING song which was a big hit in the First World War is being re-launched as a video to mark the centenary of the conflict.

The UK’s oldest military charity SSAFA (formerly known as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) is behind the plan to acquaint the public of today with the song Pack Up Your Troubles. The charity has been able to record it thanks to the blessing of Aubrey Powell, grandson of the composer, George Powell.

Mr Powell said: “I was delighted to help give SSAFA the opportunity to create a new recording of the song, which has been hailed by many as the viral hit of World War One.

Pack Up Your Troubles became one of the defining songs of the 20th century and it’s great to be part of its resurgence 100 years on. The support SSAFA continues to offer to those who are serving, and those who have served, as well as their families, is as vital today as it was back then, so I’m glad they will benefit from the song’s enduring popularity.”

The video features members of the Military Wives choirs, plus veterans, serving personnel and those who have benefited from SSAFA’s support, and famous faces such as husband-and-wife TV presenters Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford, and gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh.

The vice national chair of SSAFA, Kirsty Bushell, added: “When war was declared in 1914, SSAFA was the only organisation delivering help to the families of those going off to fight. We were there for them then, and we’re still here for them now.

“The words of this incredibly famous song remind us of how resilient people are, and that even in the darkest of times we still find the ability to ‘smile, smile, smile’.

“We hope this film will help people to do just that.”

The original Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn added: “Pack Up Your Troubles is such an optimistic song, and you can easily see why it helped keep up morale among the forces, as well as on the home front. I think its message is just as relevant now as it was 100 years ago.”

Anyone wishing to donate should text ‘PACK14 £3’ to 70070.

Legacies of war: Page 9.