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Grade Level 9th

WWII Music

Background: Music can be inspirational. It can lift up our spirits when we are down and can help change our mood for the better. Think about the different kinds of music you may listen to. The music and songs you listen to are probably different than the ones you listen to with your friends. At home, your parents may listen to a certain type of music and if your grandparents are still living, they probably listen to music that is different than what your parents enjoy listening to you. And what about sporting events? Are their music and songs that players listen to before games?

During WWII there were a number of songs that soldiers listened to that definitely altered their spirit and were mood changing. Sometimes the songs reminded them of home, of past memories with family and friends. Other songs lifted their spirits and gave them hope.

In this activity you will listen to a number of songs and answer a few questions for each song. You will first listen to some songs and music that many of the WWII soldiers listened to and will end with several songs written by and for the WWII 10th Mountain Division soldiers.

Objectives: 1) To familiarize students with several of the popular songs listened to by soldiers and civilians during WWII. 2) To familiarize students with a song and lyrics unique to the WWII 10th Mtn. Div. and the current 10th LI Divisional song. 3) to understand the role music played as a means of motivation and inspiration during WWII.

Directions: This activity will consist of listening to eight songs and answering questions for each. Links to the songs are provided.

You’ll be able to SUBMIT all your answers online by using a form at the end of this lesson. OR Print out the lesson in .pdf and following those directions.

Lili Marlene



Let’s begin with Lili Marlene. This song was originally recorded in German but was very much loved by both Allied and Axis soldiers. The song was recorded by a number of singers but the singer most associated with this song is Marlene Dietrich. Look up this song on You Tube and first listen to it in German. Then listen to it in English with the English lyrics for you to see. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Why do you think both Allied and Axis soldiers appreciated this song?
  2. How do you think this song made the soldiers feel?
  3. Some people believe that this song was based on a real person named Lili Marlene. Does it matter if Lili Marlene really existed?

The White Cliffs of Dover

This song was made famous by Vera Lynn, an English singer. In order to appreciate the song a little bit of history is in order. First, go to Google Earth or some other map program and look up the White Cliffs of Dover. Look at pictures of the cliffs and notice how high they are. Then notice how close France is to England. Next look up “WWII – Battle of Britain”

and read a little about it. Finally, look up “WWII – Operation Pied Piper” and read about it. Finally, listen to The White Cliffs of Dover with lyrics and answer the following questions.

  1. In what country are the white cliffs of Dover?
  2. What is the name and the abbreviation of the British Air Force?
  3. What is the name of the German Air Force?
  4. What might Operation Pied Piper have to do with the following lyrics from the song,  “and Jimmy will go to sleep in his own little room again”? Explain
  5. Why do you think this was a very popular song during WWII, especially for the British soldiers?

I’ll be Seeing You

This song was the number one song in the US for 1944. It was sung by a number of artists but two who made the song so popular were Billie Holiday and Bing Crosby. These are names you may not be familiar with but I bet your grandparents knew who they were! For a nice appreciation to the song listen to the recording by both of the above artists.

What is a bit unusual of this song is that it was enjoyed by the soldiers, it was especially appreciated and embraced by the people back at home. That is, by the family and friends of the soldiers.

  1. Why do you think family members appreciated this song? Explain
  2. If you had a brother or sister stationed in another country, name two places that would hold a special memory with your brother/sister? Why are these places so special to you?

The next couple of songs are less sentimental and can better be described as motivational and spirited. Listen to each song and read the lyrics. Then answer the questions below.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

  1. What is the song about and why do you think it was motivational or uplifting?
  2. What other thoughts or comments would you like to make about the song?

Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer

  1. What is the song about and why do you think it was motivational or uplifting?
  2. What  other thoughts or comments would you like to make about the song?

All the above songs were especially appreciated by the Allied soldiers. I mentioned above that Lili Marlene was also enjoyed by the Germans soldiers. Another song appreciated by the Germans, especially the soldiers in the tank units was Panzerlied.


Go to and read the information about this WWII German song. Also read the English translation of the lyrics. Wikipedia, look up “Panzerlied.”  And read information about it. Also read the English translation of the lyrics. Then go to  This is a clip from the movie Battle of the Bulge where the young German soldiers are preparing for a major battle.

  1. Why do you think this song was uplifting to the soldiers of the German tank units?
  2. The two German commanders exchange words. One said, “They are only boys…do they know what is expected of them?” The other commander replies, “They are ready to die for you…can you ask more?” The current age to join the service without parental consent is 18. Do you think this is too young? Why or why not?
  3. What are your thoughts about women being allowed in the military?


Many of the first soldiers to join the WWII 10th Mountain Division came from the east coast Ivy League colleges. At that time, many of the colleges had chorus groups or clubs and singing was very much a part of college life. Before continuing I need to point out that before the 10th Mountain Division was created, the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment was formed. Later, the 87th Regiment along with the 86th and 85th Regiments would become the 10th Mountain Division. The 87th Regiment first trained at Ft. Lewis, WA and then later at Camp Hale. While at Ft. Lewis some of the musically and chorally inclined soldiers, took some of the familiar songs of the time and changed the lyrics. They would now become the Songs of the 87th Mountain Infantry and later of the 10th Mountain Division. The songs became very popular with the soldiers both during and after the war with many of them singing the songs at reunions and other 10th gatherings. To this day, some of the living WWII 10th soldiers can be heard humming or singing these songs.

OOLA is an example of one such song. It’s about a Norwegian soldier (many 10th soldiers came from Sweden and Norway). The lyrics reflect a brief history of the 10th Mountain Division beginning with the 87th Regiment at Ft. Lewis, WA and ending with the 10th Mountain Division in Yugoslavia at the end of the WWII. Some of the places named in the song include:

Ft. LewisLocated in Washington state, this was the first training grounds of the newly formed 87th Mountain Infantry

Panorama – A trail used for winter warfare training on the lower slope of Mt. Rainier

Edith Creek Basin – an area for winter warfare training on the lower slope of Mt. Rainier

Paradise Inn – The inn used by soldiers of the 87th Mountain Infantry while training at Ft. Lewis. Also known as Paradise Lodge.

Pando – The final train stop for soldiers on their way to Camp Hale.

Mt. Belvedere (Italy) – One of two mountains for the initial assault by the 10th Mountain Division on February 18-19, 1945.  The other being Riva Ridge.

PO River – The very wide river in the PO valley crossed in assault boats and a few DUKW’s. The 10th Mountain Division were the first of all troops in Italy to cross the PO on April 23rd, 1945.

Caporetto – Located in Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) soldiers of the 10th Mtn. Div. were sent to this area shortly after the end of the war in Italy to prevent hostilities between local groups.  

Listen to the song. The lyrics are below.

I’m Oola, ski-yumper from Norway brought up on Lutefisk and Sil

Ay come to New York for to find me some vork, but Ay guess Ay go vest right avay.

Ay yomp on a train for Ft. Lewis to fight for the U.S.A.

Ay yoin up the Mountain Battalion and here Ay tink Ay will stay.

Each day and each night at Ft. Lewis, yee vhiss! how it vould rain.

And if it vould keep up dis vedder, ay never go skiing again.

At last Ay go up to the mountain. It’s one doggone place you should see.

The minute Ay get there I’m happy. Ay run out and yomp on my skis.


I’m Oola, they all call me Oola. Don’t know vhere they get ahold of my name.

Ay never told any dem fellers. But they call me Oola yust the same.

And then Ay climb up to Panorama, and point my skis down from the top.

Yee Goodness! but how Ay get moving. Ay tink that Ay never vould stop.

Ay vunder my heart is still beating as off of a cornice Ay schuss.

Ay bail out in Edith Creek Basin and landed kerplunk on my puss.

And den Ay vent up to Pando

The best doggone place Ay,ve been put.

The mountains are high, not a cloud in the sky,

But Ay yust can’t get yust to the soot.


And guess vere dey took us for fighting, such country Aye neffer haff see,

Vid Vino and Vimmen exciting. Dat’s vun damn fine place, Italy.

Ve fought on de Belvedere mountain, and svam in de river called Po,

De vino she flow like de fountain, how Aye made it Aye yust do not know!

An ven datt damn fighting vas over, dey sent us to Caporetto

To play in de Jugoslav clover and tum up de nose at Tito.

And now Ay have one great big trouble; de number of points Ay have got.

Dey may let me out on de double, more likely dey maybe vill not.


  1. What are some of your thoughts about the song?
  2. The song is about a Norwegian soldier in the 10th Mtn. Div. What do you think would be some advantages of having soldiers from different ethnic backgrounds being together?

Climb to Glory

We will end with “Climb to Glory,” the song of the current 10th Mountain Division (LI). Below are the lyrics.

Climb to Glory


Go to You Tube, search “10th Mountain Division song, Climb to Glory” and after listening to it answer the following questions.

  1. What words of the lyrics seem to make reference to the WWII 10th Mountain Division? Explain your answer.
  2. Every branch of the military has its own song. Why do you think these songs are so important for the soldiers to know?
  3. You probably have a number of songs that you enjoy listening to. What is the name of one of your favorite songs, who sings it and why is it one of your favorite songs?


We hope that by completing this activity you have learned something new about the songs of WWII and about the songs familiar with the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. Please write some of your thoughts and comments in completing this activity.

Click image to Submit answers