Three Brothers

The Song


The History

The three brothers who inspired the writing of this song are Lance Corporal Rowland George Bailey (Died 30th April 1916 aged 24), Lance Corporal Percy Thomas Bailey, (Died 3rd September 1916 aged 22) and Private Cyril Edward Bailey, (Died 26th September 1915 aged 19).

(At the time the song was written, family lore had their ages incorrect, hence the difference in the songs lyrics)

They were the three eldest sons of Rowland & Emma Bailey of Hawkinge, near Folkestone in Kent, England and my great uncles. The exact dates that the letters below were written is unknown, however although one of the letters is written by Private R.G. Bailey by the time of his death Rowland had been promoted to Lance Corporal.

After visiting the graves and memorial of the brothers in France, I asked a relative if I could copy some photographs of two of them. On opening the frames, we discovered the last letters that these boys had written home to their parents over 90 years ago.

They read as follows:


Pte C.E. Bailey
57 Portland Road,

Dear Dad and Mother,
Just a line or two to let you know I am quite safe and enjoying myself a treat. Hope you are having a good time. I couldn't help thinking of you all. How is dear Mother? I do hope she is better. Don't worry over us three. If you only knew how we are you wouldn't, I lay. Our chaps down here wanted me to play Banka with them on Xmas night but I thought of the promise we made to dear old dad some time ago so I didn't play. Don't worry over us dad we can take of ourselves. Now I think I must close with love to all.
From your loving son


Pte R.G. Bailey,
No 4 Coy, 8 Buffs
C/o Mrs Grevatt,
42 Richmond Road,

My Dear Parents and all
Just a few lines to tell you we got back to camp quite safe at 11.45 and glad to tell you we have gone to Worthing and have got a nice comfortable place. It's like being at home again. A nice feather bed instead of hard boards and they find us towels, soap, and a flanel and a basin each to wash in, Worthing is a big place nearly as big as Brighton. Now I think this is all this time. So good bye.
From your loving son
Excuse short letter as we are busy now we have got to a fresh place.


The letters appear transcribed exactly, complete with spelling and grammar as written. Much of the content of these letters can be found in the lyrics of the song - I hope that all of the sentiment can also be found. I often wonder how their mother felt each time she saw a telegram boy turn up at the gate. Having said all that, the song is for all the mothers and all the sons who have been touched by the tragedy of war.

Ian Friar



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4.8Mb MP3

Lyrics written & performed by Ian Friar

Music written & performed (all instruments)
by Eoghan Ua Conaill

Copyright - I. Friar & E. UaConaill 2008


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