The Men Behind the Wire (Loyalist version, 1972)

The Loyalist version of The Men Behind the Wire dates from the early 1970s, probably 1972. Its writers are unknown and several Loyalist groups and musicians have performed the song. Like the Republican version it emulates, The Men Behind the Wire is a protest against internment and imprisonment of paramilitary volunteers. Its lyrics are laden with symbolism, mentioning the “Red Hand”, the “Crown” and the “old Red White and Blue”. It also pays tribute to “loyal sons” and their “love for dear old Ulster”.

On a cold and grey November morn as I left Belfast town
In a cold and lonely prison van, for Long Kesh I was bound
But my spirit was unbroken and my heart was still on fire
For soon I knew I would be with the men behind the wire.

When the judge had passed my sentence and the warder took me down
I cried out “No surrender! Bless the Red Hand and the Crown
But grant me just one favour, that is my one desire
Please let me serve my sentence with the men behind the wire.

There were many faces strange to me and many that I knew
His only cry was loyalty to the old Red White and Blue
And love for dear old Ulster, even in this darkest hour
Did shine within these loyal men, the men behind the wire.

And when this war is over and our victory is won
Let us not forget the sacrifice made by these loyal sons
They were staunch and true for me and you, so lift your glasses higher
Where would we have been without them – the men behind the wire.

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