Hear Patton’s Voice
Unlike the very masculine, gravel-voiced actor, George C. Scott, who portrayed Patton in the Academy Award-winning 1970 movie of the same name, Patton had a rather high-pitched voice. Over the years he tried to overcome this almost squeaky voice in speeches to his troops by using shock and excess profanity. Few recordings of his voice survive. One of them (presented below) is a recording of the speech he gave on June 7, 1945 at the Hatch Shell in Boston after a ticker-tape parade in front of millions of wildly cheering fans. Patton had made a triumphant return to his home state as part of a national War Bond drive to help finish the war against Japan. In the audience there were many wounded Third Army veterans and a group of Gold Star parents (those whose sons had been killed in the war). He manages to insult the latter, causing a furor in the next day’s news media, as you might expect from the recording. (National Archives recording, courtesy of Mutual Broadcasting System, 9.5 minutes). Listen.
John Waters’ Wartime Diary
Below is a copy of the actual diary written by Lt. Col. John K. Waters, Gen. Patton’s son-in-law, from the time of his capture in Tunisia, Feb. 14, 1942 to the time of his liberation April 6, 1945 from Hammelburg POW Camp OFLAG XIII-B. For many months he was imprisoned at OFLAG 64 in Szubin, Poland. When the Russians moved westward, the camp was abandoned and the prisoners went on a forced march of several hundred miles to Germany during the coldest part of the winter, which many prisoners did not survive. Waters also mentions the attempted raid by Task Force Baum on Mar. 27, 1944 and the severe gunshot wound he suffered as a result in the lower spine. Waters’ notes are sparse, cryptic, probably to prevent revealing much in case the Germans caught him with this diary.
Many thanks for this diary are due to George Patton “Pat” Waters, the son of Col. John Waters and the grandson of General Patton for lending me the diary for photocopying. I had the honor to meet the very smart, likable, laid-back former Viet Nam-era Naval officer (and the “spittin’ image” of his grandfather) at several OFLAG 64 reunions, and he was kind enough to entrust me with this precious document, reproduced here after my extensive digital enhancements.
Lilly from Piccadilly
After dinner parties, General Patton liked to get up and sing bawdy songs while accompanied by a piano player. He kept the rhythm for his favorite song, “Lilly from Piccadilly,” by tapping his ring on the piano. As Carlo D’Este wrote about Patton in his Genius For War, “at a dinner he was persuaded to sing ‘Lilly from Piccadilly,’ but made up his own lyrics which were unprintable.” This always brought the house down.
In my screenplay, “Patton’s Secret Mission,” I wanted to include this scene after an important dinner with General Eisenhower, but could find no lyrics or music in the U.S. I wrote to the British Museum for help, and they very kindly mailed me the sheet music and lyrics to the first four verses. The song was written by an American soldier named Mickey Balsam. The librarian, Mr. Robert Balchin could find no publisher or copyright. He attached in his note “If the words aren’t rude enough for you, I’m afraid you’ll have to write your own. This is the only version we have.” See sheet music and first 4 verses below.
LILLY FROM PICCADILLY
(by Cpl. Mickey Balsam)
I took a trip to London, to look around the town,
When I got to Piccadilly, the sun was going down.
I’ve never seen such darkness, the night was black as pitch,
When suddenly – in front of me I thought I saw a witch.
Oh, it was Lilly from Piccadilly, you know the one I mean.
I’ll spend each pay-day, that’s my hey-hey day,
With Lilly, my blackout queen.
I could not see her figure,I could not see her face,
But if I ever meet her, I’ll know her any place.
I could not tell if she was blonde, or a dark brunette,
But gosh oh gee did she give me a thrill I won’t forget.
They sing of Dirty Gertie, and of Mademoiselle in French,
But give me a Commando, in a fox-hole or a trench;
And in the thick of battle, you’ll find me happy there,
But say chums – be sure she comes from Piccadilly Square.
CHORUS (One just like Lilly, etc.)
Now when my children ask me, please tell us Daddy dear,
What did you do to win the war? I’ll answer with a sneer.
Your Daddy was a hero, his best he always fought.
With bravery – he gave to the Commandos his support.
She said to me, “Oh Yankee Boy, are you lonesome are you blue?
Just come around the corner, I’ll show you what to do”.
We went up some dark alley, I said, “I love you, kid”,
She said “OK- but first you’ll pay,” so I gave her twenty quid.
She leaned her back against the wall, I took her in my arms,
She gave me her very all, and her buxom charms.
I lost my head, I lost my heart, I even lost my hat,
It was a sin – she should have been a circus acrobat.
And then we went up to her flat, and when we were in bed,
It was so very pleasant that I said someday we’d wed.
She even gave me breakfast, she sure did treat me nice,
Oh, what she did for twenty quid was cheap at half the price.
I was a few days later, I began to feel so queer,
And then I went on sick call, the Doc said it’s quite clear.
You’ve had some love “Commando Style,” now, son, please don’t be shy,
You’re not to blame –tell me her name, so I said with a sigh.
Copyright 1943 by Cpl. Mickey Balsam
When performed in public the following must be stated – “Lilly from Piccadilly” by Cpl. Mickey Balsam of the Flying Eagles Orchestra”.
The last four verses I obtained from the website http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=25308
“Piccadilly commando” was the humorous name given by American soldiers to the streetwalkers around Piccadilly Circus. Years later I watched the 1986 made-for-CBS mini-series “The Last Days of Patton,” starring George C. Scott and Eva Marie Saint. Wouldn’t you know they had a scene with Patton doing his after-dinner act of singing a version of “Lilly from Piccadilly” with different words and lyrics from the published version? (Oh, well. It’s in our screenplay and I want to keep it there because we do the whole scene better.)
I recently found the following information about the author, Mickey Balsam, on the website: willisrowe.com/DownloadableFiles/NEWSWIREBOOK1. Milton D. “Mickey” Balsam, 52FCS Radio Technician, 65th FW. Music was his avocation all his life. On the voyage to England, he entertained the troops, singing and playing his guitar. First he tried out the song on his barracks buddies. Next the Enlisted Men’s Clubs, and finally to the jam-packed Base Cinema. It was an instant success. He performed on BBC, Rainbow Corner, other Red Cross Clubs, air bases & hospitals in England. Harms Music Publishers [in 1920 the biggest sheet music publisher in the U.S.] made 20,000 copies but unknown authorities censored commercial use. All copies were soon exhausted at his personal appearances. (The newswirebook website also included the same sheet music reproduced here, but the readability was less than the music I received from England in 2003.)