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The Rose of No Man’s Land

A sentimental song composed as a tribute to Red Cross battlefield nurses.

Year:1918

Location:Recorded in the UK

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The Rose of No Man’s Land

A sentimental song composed as a tribute to Red Cross battlefield nurses.


Year: 1918

Length: 2:52

Credits: Lyrics: Jack Caddigan / composer: James Alexander Brennan

Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Catalogue Reference: NFSA title: 230044


People: Lyrics: Jack Caddigan / composer: James Alexander Brennan

Location: Recorded in the UK

Tags: popular music, Red Cross, nurses

Subject: popular music


‘The Rose of No Man's Land’ was written in 1918 as a tribute to the Red Cross nurses at the front lines of the First World War. The lyrics suggest that the nurses were like ‘beautiful flowers’ blooming amidst the mud, blood, death and desolation of the battlefield. To the terrified and injured soldier, Red Cross women in their white uniforms and head coverings would have seemed almost angelic.

The phrase ‘no man’s land’ refers is a section of the battlefield contested by rival enemies. In the First World War it described the ground between two opposing trenches, a place of danger and fear for soldiers. ‘No man’s land’ could range from several hundred metres wide to only a few metres. The phrase dates back to the 14th century when it was used to describe a legally disputed territory.

‘The Rose of No Man's Land’ was written by two Americans from Boston, Jack Caddigan and James Alexander Brennan, in 1918. Caddigan was a lyricist who is credited with penning the words to over 50 songs written between 1911 and 1922. "The Rose of No Man's Land" was probably his most popular number. Composer James Brennan collaborated with Caddigan on a number of songs. He was also a camouflage artist for the U.S. Shipping Board during the First World War.

The song was originally published for piano and voice but other versions had arrangements for bands, orchestra or male quartet. Versions for the phonograph and player piano were also released.


The Rose of No Man’s Land - lyrics

I've seen some beautiful flowers,

Grow in life's garden fair,

I've spent some wonderful hours,

Lost in their fragrance rare;

But I have found another,

Wondrous beyond compare.

There's a rose that grows on "No Man's Land"

And it's wonderful to see,

Tho' its spray'd with tears, it will live for years,

In my garden of memory.

It's the one red rose the soldier knows,

It's the work of the Master's hand;

Mid the War's great curse, Stands the Red Cross Nurse,

She's the rose of "No Man's Land".

Out of the heavenly splendour,

Down to the trail of woe,

God in his mercy has sent her,

Cheering the world below;

We call her "Rose of Heaven",

We've learned to love her so.

There's a rose that grows on "No Man's Land"

And it's wonderful to see,

Tho' its spray'd with tears, it will live for years,

In my garden of memory.

It's the one red rose the soldier knows,

It's the work of the Master's hand;

Mid the War's great curse, Stands the Red Cross Nurse,

She's the rose of "No Man's Land".