Follow The Sergeant
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One of Fred Godfrey’s most popular light-hearted services songs from fairly early in the war, Follow The Sergeant was picked up by numerous artists, who featured it, often dressed in soldier garb with a khaki-clad chorus behind them, in revues and pantomimes through 1915 and well into 1916.
Amomg those who sang it were Nelly Bode in Harry Burns’ pantomime Jack And Jill, Hippodrome, Greenock (December 1915); Lily Carr in the John Williams revue When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, Grand Palace, Luton (December 1915) and at the Gloucester Hippodrome nearly a year later (October 1916); Alice Donia at the Gloucester Hippodrome (July 1916); Vera Elmore in the pantomime Cinderella, Palace, Burnley (January 1916); Harry Gordon at the Beach Pavilion, Aberdeen (May 1915); Ethel Hall at the Empire, Shoreditch [London] (June 1915) and at the Poplar Hippodrome (September 1915); Alice Manners in the revue Just In Time, Hamilton Hippodrome (September 1915); Madge Marion in the revue It’s The Goods, Royal Hippodrome, Dover (October 1915; you could just about hear the guns over in France from there); and Miss Louie White in the pantomime The Forty Thieves, Brixton Theatre (December 1915).
“At Weston-super-Mare, Doris Dosleigh is successfully featuring...‘Follow The Sergeant’” (“Song Notes,” The Stage, 3 June 1915, p. 16). Mabel Medrow sang it in the revue All Trumps, at Her Majesty’s, Dundee, and at the Tivoli, Hull (August 1915), where she performed it “in a military uniform, with the proper amount of insouciance and ‘go’” (Hull Daily Mail, 10 August 1915, p. 3). Dorothy Millar favoured it in the pantomime Jack And The Beanstalk, The Borough, Stratford, London (December 1915) — “Miss Millar is an artist in all she does, and whether singing, acting, or dancing, displays a knowledge of the essentials of pantomime that has an important bearing on the real success achieved. Her numbers, all delivered with vim and point, include...‘Follow the sergeant’” (The Stage, 30 December 1915, p. 28). Esta Stella sang it in the revue Hullo! Everybody, Hippodrome, Derby (May 1915), at the Empire Palace, Edinburgh (June 1915), where she had the “assistance of a khaki chorus” (Scotsman, 8 June 1915, p. 7), and at the Hippodrome, Lewisham (October 1915).
The song was even essayed by an actual soldier, Sergeant Geen of the 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, who told his listeners to follow him at the regiment’s Saturday night variety entertainment in October 1915 (Bedfordshire Time and Independent, 29 October 1915, p. 7).
The song’s popularity hung on into 1916, with the Mozelles performing it at the Grand, Blackpool (January 1916); Ida Conroy in the revue Dare Devil Dorothy, South London Theatre (March 1916); and the Varsity Girls t at the South London Theatre (June 1916).
Harry Fay (Zonophone Twin 1470, 1915)
F.W. Ramsey (Regal G-6889, 1915)
Lionel Rothery (Jumbo 36064, 1915?)