[1975:] Printed in 'Come all ye bold miners', this version was learned by Dick Gaughan [...] from Geordie Hamilton.
In every war pitmen have been among the first to volunteer and have often suffered very heavy casualties. In the First World War, for example, almost a fifth of the total labour-force - 191,170 miners - had volunteered between August 1914 and February 1915. What happened to many of them can be seen from inspecting the war memorials of any mining village. (Notes 'The Bonnie Pit Laddie')
[1976:] The origins of this song are obviously Scottish. I have never heard it sung here although it was collected years ago by Sam Henry in Ulster. Andy first heard it sung to a different air, by Dick Gaughan, and it is also sung to a third air similar to that of Erin Go Bragh. (Frank Harte, notes 'Andy Irvine & Paul Brady')
[1977:] Woodhall: presumably a village near the Calder in Scotland [...]. It is not uncommon for the thoughts of a woman to go out to her loved one in danger on the battlefield, but it is rare for a song to present the reverse process. Here an ex-miner called Dunsmore (Dinsmore in some versions) is wounded in battle, and his thoughts go to past happiness with his sweetheart. One version at least has a happy ending, for Annie sets out at the end to marry him (John Ord, 'The Bothy Songs of Aberdeen, Banff and Moray, Angus and the Mearns', Paisley, 1930, p. 310). In the same version mention is made of 'the laddie that wears the red coat', which allows us to date the song only very vaguely. It has a timeless quality, and would not be out of place in any of the campaigns covered by this book. Our version comes from Geordie Hamilton of Kirkintilloch, Lanarkshire, via the singing of Dick Gaughan on the record, 'The Bonnie Pit Laddie' (Topic, 1975). (Palmer, Soldier 230)
[1988:] [The] coal-miners [are] among the most class-conscious, and also patriotic, of all British workers. By mid-1915, perhaps one quarter of the workforce had enlisted. Later on miners had to be "combed out" of the army, so that coal production could be maintained. (Winter, The Experience of World War I, 119)
[1988:] This song is Scottish in origin and though I learned it from Sam Henry's collection of songs from the North of Ireland, I have never heard it sung there. (Andy Irvine, Aiming For the Heart 24)