V for Violin

There are many references to Ted and his violin in the Recollections at the end of his War Diary.  He never went anywhere without it.  His idea of a good time was playing and leading the singing.  One of his favourites was this song from World War I sung alternatively with great pathos and verve.

soldier violin
A soldier playing the violin in WWI

Down at Bullicourt he fell, Parlez vous.

No word came to Mademoiselle, Parlez vous.

In that little old world town

She waits for the digger with eyes of brown.

Hinky, pinky, parlez vous.

Quiet is that old estaminet, Parlez vous.

No more diggers will pass that way, Parlez vous.

May your heart grow lighter with passing years.

Mademoiselle from Armentieres.

Oh landlord have you a daughter fair? Parlez vous.

With laughing eyes and silken hair.

Yes I have and she’s never been done, Parlez vous.

Yes I have and she’s never been done, Parlez vous.

Mais non papa, you are wrong,

Lots and lots of Australians.

Hinky, pinky, parlez vous.


Hugh, Ted’s son, travelled to France in 1950 to follow in his father’s footsteps.  In Frévent he found the estaminet behind the station where once Ted played his violin. Denise, the daughter of the proprietor, remembered that he was always happy and an enthusiastic  leader of the singing.

The tradition of singalongs with the violin continued after Ted married and moved onto the block.  Many lively parties were held at the Turner home.  Ted would welcome the guests by playing a welcoming tune on his violin as each guest arrived.  Amy would join the singing with her sweet soprano voice.

That developed into  every Wednesday night becoming a singing night with local musicians.  One would play the grand piano and three, including Ted, would play their violins.  Another would play the clarinet.  When Edith (my half sister) was old enough she accompanied on the piano.

Favourite songs were Drink to Me Only, Oh Dem Golden Slippers, Hear Dem Bells, The Tattooed Lady, Danny Boy, Lily Marlene and on rare occasions We are the Third Light Horse Brigade.

We are the Third Light Horse Brigade

We face the foe with never a man afraid

Although we cop it in the neck we fight on undismayed.

There would be a good supper and liquid refreshments.  It must have been a wonderful time for all and left his family with many fond memories.

Sometimes instead of reading a bedtime story Ted would play his violin.  He had a trick of making his violin sound like bagpipes.  He used the G string for the drone and played the melody on the D string.  A favourite amongst his children was Cock of the North.

6 thoughts on “V for Violin

  1. Hari OM
    I too was thinking ANZAC day! I can almost hear those Wednesday gatherings, as many of the tunes are familiar to me. Once again you bring a smile of remembrance from a distance. YAM xx

    Liked by 1 person

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