Collecting Wartime Song Sheets


Never in Britain’s long history of combat was music so important to the nation than in World War Two. In 1939, singers and songwriters found new impetus, their music gaining added significance in helping maintain morale. Over the next six years, musicians created hundreds of defiant and cheerful songs which became the soundtrack to the conflict. Austin J Ruddy examines a selection of collectable song sheets.

Annette Mills took a swipe at Hitler in 1939 with her comedy hit, Adolf. (ALL IMAGES AUSTIN J RUDDY)
Stirring, patriotic songs were popular at the war’s start, with the biggest hit There’ll Always Be an England, sung by Glyn Davies. It sold 200,000 song sheets within a few weeks of release in 1939.

TODAY, YOU can download music you like at the click of a button and it’s yours to listen to, whenever and wherever you wish. In the 1940s, it wasn’t so easy. You could wait and hope to hear the tune on the radio or perhaps buy the record, which was still something of a novelty.

Want to read more?

This is a premium article and requires an active subscription.

Existing subscriber? Sign in now

No subscription?

Pick one of our introductory offers