The Blue Put­tees

The Pilot - - Focus -

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.

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