Graeme Miles

They Dressed Us In Khaki - The Ironopolis Singers

The Ironopolis Singers present

They Dressed Us In Khaki - Songs of National Service and of Conflict

by Graeme Miles, with accompanying prose

The Ironopolis Singers are delighted to announce a new show for 2022 based mainly on Graeme's experiences as a soldier during his two years of National Service in the mid 1950s.  Conscription into the armed services was unavoidable then for young men in the UK, and Graeme was 21 when he joined up.  He wrote a series of songs about army life but even after being demobbed he continued to compose songs of conflict including the "Troubles" of Northern Ireland which flared up in 1969 and which brought the British Army into the sectarian fighting there. It is possible that this collection forms a unique, historical and very important legacy since conscription no longer exists. 

The Ironopolis Singers are really excited to be working on this project and are rehearsing hard recording a double CD of it.  The show carries the same format as the group's previous two - Songs of Ironopolis and Purple Acres - which are based on Graeme's wonderful industrial and moorland songs interspersed with his prose.  They Dressed Us In Khaki is based mainly on Graeme's army record and includes some of his best-known songs such as The Squaddie's Lullaby.  Another song, the exquisite Shores Of Old Blighty, is also included - written by Graeme from the rear of his troopship as it left England's shores for the Continent where he and his fellow soldiers would disembark for the Luneburg Heath.  The prose has been written by the group.  A booklet to go with the show is being put together by Ironopolis Singers member Mick Madden.

The Ironopolis Singers will be showcasing this new project at Saltburn Folk Festival in August 2022. Any performances before this will be promoted on this website and elsewhere. Taking part are founder members Kevin Hall, vocals, MC; Ailsa MacKenzie, celtic harp, dulcimer, vocals, music director; Ken Hall, prose-reader, MC and vocals; and Marion Hall, vocals.  They are joined by new members Sue Collier, vocals; Alan Young, dulcimer, concertina, vocals; and Paul Lucas, guitar, vocals.

"Graeme's army record provided remarkable information about his service," said Ailsa. "His officers regarded him very highly, describing him as being extraordinarily intelligent,  though Graeme would have been the first to say that he was not a perfect soldier.  The songs show a yearning for home and even contempt for some army activities but there is humour and enjoyment as well among the serious business of training to become a good soldierr at home and abroad."

The Ironopolis Singers and Graeme's widow Annie are enormously grateful to Dr. John Goodyear, of Birmingham University, who obtained Graeme's army record and who actually also teaches at a university on the Luneburg Heath in buildings which were originally the barracks where Graeme was stationed.