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Traditional Rose of No Man’s Land Tattoos

The origin of the Rose of No Man’s Land tattoo can be traced back to the song of the same name. The song (“La rose sous le boulets”) was originally released in 1918 at the end of the First World War by French music publisher Leo Feist with the lyrics by Louis Delamarre. The well known English version was published in 1945, at the end of the Second World War, by Jack Caddigan and James Alexander Brennan.

The song itself was an honouring of Red Cross nurses who tended to wounded soldiers during war time. This work led these nurses into the particularly dangerous area between the two front lines of opposing soldiers, known as no man’s land, and resulted in many of them becoming casualties themselves. The ‘Rose’ as a motif, symbolises the peace and tranquility of these heroic women.

The popularity of the song inevitably permeated into the traditional tattoo culture with early examples of the Rose of No Man’s Land Tattoo appearing in books and sketches by Gus Wagner and Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins among others.

It became a staple among soldiers to memorialise these nurses who were viewed as saviours and has continued to be popular as a tattoo symbol of appreciation for the caregivers of the world.

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