Remembrance song with pictures

By Mark Peters, Gisborne Herald - 24 April 2019

A folk song penned by Lazy Fifty frontman Adrian Athy in honour of those who fell at Cassino has been put to wartime footage by East Coast man Dan Russell.

Athy was inspired to write the song Cassino during a visit to what was the site of a brutal battle during World War 2.

In 1944 the historic hilltop abbey Monte Cassino was believed to be used by the German army as an observation post. With the aim of achieving a breakthrough to Rome the Allies mounted four assaults there. New Zealand troops were among those who fought in the Battle for Cassino, one of the most brutal and costly of the war.

The battle to secure the German strongpoint southeast of Rome is at the heart of Athy’s song but the musician has dedicated it to all of New Zealand’s armed service personnel who lost their lives in war. The story is as timeless as it is universal.

“They did it for their mothers, and their girlfriends and their wives/ They did it for their mates who lay there/ screaming for their lives.”

Athy’s uncle served in Crete and Cassino so the musician has long been interested in World War 2. The song’s story has particular resonance for the musician.

“Overall it’s about remembering all those who gave their lives in war. It’s still there. I also wanted to pay respect to the guys who survived and had to get their heads around their experience.”

The idea to create a video for the song came about when Athy’s rock band Lazy Fifty performed at Tokomaru Bay’s Te Puka Tavern where the Highway 35 Motorcycle Club ended their East Coast tour. More than 100 East Coast bikers had made the run to raise money for charity and to remember members of the Muslim community impacted by the Christchurch terror attack. Athy met Russell at the gig and during the course of the evening came up with the idea of marking Anzac Day with the music video.

Russell’s ancestors had served at Gallipoli, and probably Cassino, he says, so he included stills they had taken in the footage.

The song Cassino features on Lazy Fifty’s album Fifty Shades of Lazy.

Read the lyrics for Cassino


RUINS: The 1944 battle for Monte Cassino, then a German strongpoint southeast of Rome, is at the heart of Gisborne musician Adrian Athy’s folk song for all of those who lost their lives in war. Dan Russell has now created a video for the song. 

Watch the video on YouTube, Facebook or the Music Page of our website