Non Vi Sed Arte -- Not by Strength, by Guile
The LRDG, The Songs they Sang

With its frequency range 4.2mhz to 7.5mhz, the No 11. wireless set was capable of picking up the various short wave radio stations of the day. (Short wave frequencies run from 5.9 mhz to 26.1 mhz) Among the signals picked up were probably Radio Belgrade playing German propaganda as well as music and of course the BBC broadcast. The signals would come in best at night.

According to Gordon's book Glenn Miller and his band was probably the favorite of the Desert Raiders. And their favorite song was the smash hit In the Mood. The music of WWII was known as Swing. It came in two flavors, Sweet and Hot. In the vernacular of the times the In the Mood was sweet. By comparison, Benny Goodman's Sing, Sing Sing was considered Hot.

Engel der Soldaten
(Angel of the soldiers)
Lale Andersen

Real Name:
Liselotte Helene Berta Bunnenberg.

Born, 23 Mar. 1905.
Bremerhaven, Germany.

Died, 29 Aug. 1972
Vienna Austria.

(Color enhanced publicity shot)

But the song of songs of the desert warrior was neitherhot nor sweet. The song was considered a march song and march music was out of fashion. The song was based on a poem written by Hans Leip around the time of World War I. The poem was put to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938

That song was Lili Marlen.

To some Lili Marlen is a street walker. To other's she is one's true love. To every soldier in the desert, be he Desert Rat or Afrika Korps, she was the woman he left behind. Indeed, the song Lili Marlen is often called the Anthem of the Desert Warrior.

Neither the Nazi leaders or the Allied Command embraced the song, officially. In fact both tried to ban the song at one time or another. But in the end, the emotions of the average soldier, German, French, British, American, and every other nationality that served in the North African desert looked upon the song as "their song". In fact the British actually took the German song and had it translated for their troops.

But even with the English versions being played, the warriors of the desert always looked upon the original "auf Deutsche" version to be theirs. Below you will see the lyrics in German, a 1944 English translation, and the last a version written by a member of the SAS.

In 1939 Lale Andersen recorded the song under protest, not wanting to be associated with a "march" song. Joseph Goebbels hated the song and promptly banned it from play but it eventually made the air ways and by the time Rommel landed in North Africa the song was being played over Radio Belgrade in Nazi occupied Yugoslavia. Rommel liked it and asked for it to be played more often. It became a hit.

Lale Andersen, Vera Lynn, and Anne Shelton would all later produce wartime English versions. German versions were also recorded by Willi Fritch and Mimi Thoma Eventually Marlene Dietrich, a former German star who came to Hollywood to escape the Nazis recorded it in English for the Americans. She also recorded the song in German. Those who did not already know the song, knew it once Dietrich sang it.

The BBC produced an anti-Hitler parody of the song in 1943 titled Lucy Mannheim.


Obituary for Norbert Schultze, the man who put the poem to Music.

Lili Marlene in German, English and according to the SAS

Lili Marlen

Vor der Kaserne
Vor dem großen Tor
Stand eine Laterne
Und steht sie noch davor
So woll'n wir uns da wieder seh'n
Bei der Laterne wollen wir steh'n
Wie einst Lili Marleen.

Unsere beide Schatten
Sah'n wie einer aus
Daß wir so lieb uns hatten
Das sah man gleich daraus
Und alle Leute soll'n es seh'n
Wenn wir bei der Laterne steh'n
|Wie einst Lili Marleen.

Schon rief der Posten,
Sie blasen Zapfenstreich
Das kann drei Tage kosten
Kam'rad, ich komm sogleich
Da sagten wir auf Wiedersehen
Wie gerne wollt ich mit dir geh'n
Mit dir Lili Marleen.

Deine Schritte kennt sie,
Deinen zieren Gang
Alle Abend brennt sie,
Doch mich vergaß sie lang
Und sollte mir ein Leids gescheh'n
Wer wird bei der Laterne stehen
|Mit dir Lili Marleen

Aus dem stillen Raume,
Aus der Erde Grund
Hebt mich wie im Traume
Dein verliebter Mund
Wenn sich die späten Nebel drehn
Werd' ich bei der Laterne steh'n
Wie einst Lili Marleen.

    Lilli Marlene

    Underneath the lantern,
    By the barrack gate
    Darling I remember
    The way you used to wait
    T'was there that you whispered tenderly,
    That you loved me,
    You'd always be,
    My Lilli of the Lamplight,
    My own Lilli Marlene

    Time would come for roll call,
    Time for us to part,
    Darling I'd caress you
    And press you to my heart,
    And there 'neath that far-off lantern light,
    I'd hold you tight ,
    We'd kiss good night,
    My Lilli of the Lamplight,
    My own Lilli Marlene

    Orders came for sailing,
    Somewhere over there
    All confined to barracks
    was more than I could bear
    I knew you were waiting in the street
    I heard your feet,
    But could not meet,
    My Lilly of the Lamplight,
    my own Lilly Marlene

    Resting in our billets,
    Just behind the lines
    Even tho' we're parted,
    Your lips are close to mine
    You wait where that lantern softly gleams,
    Your sweet face seems
    To haunt my dreams
    My Lilly of the Lamplight,
    My own Lilly Marlene

    Lilli Marlene (SAS)

    There is a song
    we always used to hear
    Out in the desert,
    romantic soft and clear
    Over the ether came the strain,
    that lilitng refrain
    Each night again,
    of poor lilli Marlene
    of poor Lilli Marlene

    Then back to Cairo
    we would steer
    And drink our beer,
    with ne'er a tear
    And poor Lilli Marlene's boyfriend
    will never see Lilli Marlene

    Check your ammunition,
    check your guns are right,
    Wait until a convoy comes
    creeping through the night
    Then you can have some fun, my son
    And know the war's almost won
    And poor Lilli Marlene's
    boyfriend will never see Marlene

    Drive onto an airfield,
    thirty planes ahead
    Belching Ammuniton
    and filling them with lead
    A flamer for you,
    a grave for Fritz
    Just like his planes,
    he's shot to bits
    And poor Lilli Marlene's boyfriend
    will never see Lilli Marlene

    Afrika Korps has sunk
    into the dust
    Gone are his Stukas,
    his tanks have turned to rust
    No more will we hear
    the soft refrain
    That liliting strain,
    It's night again
    And poor Lilli Marlene's boyfriend
    will never see Lilli Marlene