The Blue Puttees
Excerpt from “The Unforgotten: Stories of Newfoundland Veterans” by Terry Penney as a background story leading into the lyrics for “Blue Puttee Blues”:
When War broke out in 1914, no country was more illprepared than Newfoundland. She’d been an island at peace for years and with no warlike ambitions, had next to no military resources or supplies. When Britain requested a fighting force from her oldest colony, Newfoundland responded.
In short order, just over 500 men enlisted. They were the first contingent from the island to train and cross the water for the fighting in Europe. Makeshift, ill-fitting uniforms were quickly thrown together, but it was discovered that there was a shortage of Khaki material with which to fashion the soldiers’ protective leg wrappings known as puttees.
With time of the essence, the navy blue material used by the Church Lads Cadet Brigade in St. John’s was resourced for the job. The odd coloured wrappings would become a badge of honor. The first 500 alone would wear them and become known to history as the “Blue Puttees”.
Little did they know as they left the dock in St. John’s on that day in 1914, nearly 200 of them would not be making the trip home.
Blue Puttee Blues is a song written through the eyes of a war weary son of Newfoundland, returning to the Island and family he loves and trying to come to terms with all he’s witnessed.