The Quartermaster Song – 1941
Every branch of service needs a song to identify with. A tune that sticks in your head long after you wish it wouldn’t. With lyrics that fire the imagination and let others know what you’re about. The Quartermaster Corps is no exception.
After some 166 years of relative silence in this matter, on the eve of World War II a trio of QM songwriters came up with an official song for the Corps: “We’re The Gang That Keeps Things Moving.” It was formally approved by The Quartermaster General in October 1941 and steadily rose on the military service Hit Parade in the days after Pearl Harbor.
A short history of the song was included in the July-August 1958 issue of the Quartermaster Review:
“Sixteen years ago, at a banquet in Chicago, attended by the Army’s World War II Quartermaster General, Lieutenant General Edmund B. Gregory, a song was introduced. The tune, now due for a revival is “The Quartermaster Song.” After its premier performance in Chicago, General Gregory liked it so well that on October 7, 1941, it was officially approved by him as the Quartermaster Corps’ own tune. Later it was featured by Bing Crosby, then at the height of his fame as a singer, on his national radio network show. It was also used by many other popular musical artists.
Throughout the United States, in 1941 and 1942, Quartermaster Corps installations were sponsoring programs on local radio stations know as the “Quartermaster Quarter-Hour.” Recordings of the new “Quartermaster Song” were obtained by the Quartermaster Association and furnished to these local QM installations, and many of them made it the theme for the radio programs.
Largely responsible for the writing and popularization of “We’re the Gang That Keeps Things Moving,” which was given the sub-title of “The Quartermaster Song,” was Mr. Edward Fox, long-time advertising manager of the Quartermaster Review. His collaborators were Maj. D. G. Paston and Lt. H. Orenstein whose present addresses are not known. The song was copyrighted by the Quartermaster Association. Mr. Fox, who has been associated with the QM Association during the tenure of ten of the Army’s Quartermasters General, visited Fort Lee last July while Major General Andrew McNamara, newest Quartermaster General, was making his first official visit to the Post in his new role as head of the QMC. Mr. Fox, better known as “Eddie” to hundreds of Quartermasters–mentioned to several people that a Quartermaster Corps song–officially approved by General Gregory–existed. After Mr. Fox returned to Washington, he sent to Fort Lee musical arrangement for the number, which were turned over to the 392nd Army Band. CWO Raymond Snow, 392nd director, and M-Sgt. Kenneth F. Hozek, band member, adapted “The Quartermaster Song” for band presentation. It will be heard at future Fort Lee reviews, honor guard ceremonies, and dances. So the 16-year-old composition, once the subject of feature stories in Danton Walker’s New York Mirror column and the Chicago Tribune, is on its way back.”
The first verse and chorus went like this:
When there is trouble brewing at the front,
And trucks are rumbling up the road,
The men who bear the stormy battle’s brunt
Know who is there to share the load;
They know who’ll go through fiery shot and shell
To bring supplies for men and gun as well;
You can be sure the Q.M.’s coming out
For you can hear the soldiers shout:
CHORUS We’re the gang that keeps things moving,
At the front and post to post,
When a soldier has tough going,
We’re the guys he needs the most.
From the day he joins the Army
‘Til the time he’s home once more,
If he should have to shoot or ride
The buddies fighting by his side
Will be from the QUARTERMASTER CORPS.
The Quartermaster Marching Song – 1959
On 14 October 1959, Major General Andrew T. McNamara, The Quartermaster General, surprised the QM senior leaders attending a conference at Fort Lee, Virginia, with the announcement that, at long last, we now have an official QM marching song. At that the 392nd Army Band, under the direction of Chief Warrant officer Ralph C. Church began playing a rousing version of With Sword and Key.
From that day till this, the QM marching song is played at all official functions where The Quartermaster General is in attendance. But not without a bit of unsolved mystery.
Because the song’s composer, a civilian employee named E. Reginald Hinchley, left government service and moved to Canada, and was never heard from again. Apparently unaware that his composition had been selected for this honor. And he was never properly thanked for a job well done.
So, here’s to you, Mr. Hinchley, WHEREVER YOU MAY BE!
To listen to the Quartermaster March click on: http://www.qmmuseum.lee.army.mil/qmsong.wav