#03649
Only One Tree (Judy Brazil) video
#2452: YouTube video by NLTreasure
©2013 ~ Used with permission ~

The stars shone so bright that last of June night,
In our trenches we crowded like cattle;
But sleep wouldn't come as I lay with my gun,
For tomorrow we face our first battle.

As the morning sun danced
o'er the green fields of France,
The captain said, "Boys, no more sermons;
The talking must stop, now it's over the top,
We must take this land from the Germans."

Only one tree, that's all we could see,
Only one shelter from danger;
Only one tree, that's all we could see,
As we faced down the guns of the stranger.

The craters they grew as the mortar shells flew,
The ground like the back of the camel;
With orders in hand, we crossed no man's land,
Near the town that they called Beaumont-Hamel.

We came under fire as we cut the barbed wire,
My comrades are falling by dozens;
These corpses I see are not strangers to me,
But uncles and brothers and cousins.

Only one tree, that's all we could see,
Only one shelter from danger;
Only one tree, that's all we could see,
As we faced down the guns of the stranger.

There's pain in my back and the sky's turning black,
Though the Angelus bell's not yet ringing;
My hand is all red where I just touched my head,
And somewhere a choir's softly singing.

As I lie in the mud, the memories flood,
And that old danger tree's silhouetted;
In it's shade I'll not rest, though I gave it my best,
For Newfoundland, lest you forget it.

Only one tree, that's all we could see,
Only one shelter from danger;
Only one tree, that's all we could see,
As we faced down the guns of the stranger.
Only one tree, that's all we could see,
As we faced down the guns... of the stranger.

####.... Loyola Hearn [b.1943] of Renews, Newfoundland ....####
From Wikipedia:
Loyola Hearn - school teacher who served in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly from 1982 to 1993, and as Minister of Education from 1985 to 1989. Elected member of the Canadian House of Commons from 2000 to 2008, and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans from 2006 to 2008. Member of the Queen's Privy Council (PC), and Canadian Ambassador to Ireland.

This variant was recorded by Judy Brazil (Dreams Of Home, trk#8, 2013 CD, produced and engineered by Kevin Collins of Sawyer Hill Productions, Placentia, NL).


See more songs by Judy Brazil.

The story behind the writing of Only One Tree:

On July 1, 1916, the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel was fought. 801 Newfoundlanders went over the top that morning. Only 68 answered the roll call the next day. When our soldiers went over the top, they had to cross an open stretch of No Man's Land. The only shelter between them and the Germans entrenched below was one tree, which has ever since been called the Danger Tree. On July 1, 2006, on the 90th-anniversary of the battle, Loyola Hearn, author of the original poem, visited Beaumont-Hamel. He stood by the Danger Tree and looked back at the trenches, fully realizing that when those 801 Newfoundland soldiers came over the top, they could see Only One Tree. He went back to his car and wrote the words for this song.

From Wikipedia:
Danger Tree - part of a clump of trees which had been located about half way into No Man's Land near Beaumont-Hamel, France, and had originally been used as a landmark by a Newfoundland Regiment trench raiding party in the days before the Battle of the Somme. British and German artillery bombardments eventually stripped the tree of leaves and left nothing more than a shattered tree trunk. During the Newfoundland Regiment's infantry assault, the tree was once again used as a landmark, where the troops were ordered to gather. The tree was however a highly visible landmark for the German artillery and the site proved to be a location where the German shrapnel was particularly deadly. As a result the regiment suffered a large concentration of casualties around the tree. A replica representation of the twisted tree now stands at the spot. For their efforts on the first day of the battle, the First Newfoundland Regiment was given the name The Royal Newfoundland Regiment by George V on 28 November 1917. Because of the slaughter, the first day of the Battle of the Somme is still commemorated in Newfoundland, remembering the Best of the Best at 11:00AM on the Sunday nearest to July 1.



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