My new favorite Iron Maiden song is the Empire of the Clouds, but I don't understand a thing in the lyrics. This is the part in question:

"And in a country churchyard, laid head to the mast 1840 souls, who came to die in france"

This implies to me that the number of the victims was 1840 but the Wiki page of the R101 accident says that 48 people died in the disaster, including 2 people that died later in hospital. So where this number 1840 might have come from?

  • 2
    I don't know the song, but are they possibly saying "eight and forty", not "eighteen forty"? Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 14:11
  • Chris, you are right. The lyrics are wrong on google play music. I was able to find the correct lyrics on another site. Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 14:55
  • Bruce Dickinson, as Maiden fans will know, is a very well-read and intelligent guy, as is Steve Harris, Maiden's other primary lyricist. Many of their tunes are steeped in History or Literature, so you can bet @ChrisSunami is right on this one. Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


The correct lyric is "eight and forty" (not "1840"!) which is an appropriately old-timey way of saying "48." So it does match the historical record after all.

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