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"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.

Contact: Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Australian Imperial Forces, Marching Songs, Contents
Topic: AIF - Marching Songs

Australian Imperial Forces

Marching Songs

Contents

 

 

Items

The quest for an authentic Australian marching song

It's a Long Way to Tipperary, It's a long way to France

For an Empire Beloved - EA Henty 

Finding the Australian National Song 

Marching Song of the AIF, September 1914 

Marching Song of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade 

 

 

 

Further Reading:

AIF Marching Songs

Australian Light Horse

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Australian Imperial Forces, Marching Songs, Contents

Posted by Project Leader at 4:57 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 13 May 2011 7:39 AM EADT
3rd Light Horse Brigade, AIF, Marching Song of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade
Topic: AIF - Marching Songs

3rd LH Bde, AIF

3rd Light Horse Brigade, AIF

Marching Song: "ANZAC, 20th December 1915"

 

3rd LH Bde, AIF, practicing in the Egyptian desert, January 1916.

[Click on picture to play movie clip to the singing of John Thompson]

 

In an effort to rebuild the 3rd Light Horse Brigade after the withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915, the GOC, Brigadier General Antill turned to music to assist in the bonding process. Selecting the music to the popular American Civil War tune, "Marching through Georgia", was the easy part. To play the tune, the 8th Light Horse Regiment band was reconstituted and began rehearsing on 12 January 1916. Within in two days, the band gave their first performance. To generate additional enthusiasm, on 16 January 1916, Antill announced a competition for an aspiring poet within the Brigade to put words to the tune which were distinctly Australian. As an added incentive, a prize of one guinea [£1/1/- or about USD500] was offered for the best entry. The prize was claimed a week later. There is no record of the name of the man who collected the prize but his lyrics are recorded below.

 

3rd LH Bde, AIF, practicing in the Egyptian desert, January 1916.

[Click on picture to play movie clip to the singing of John Thompson]

 

 

Marching Song of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade

[Sung to the tune of “Marching through Georgia]

 

ANZAC, 20th December 1915


Verse 1.
We’re horsemen from Australia of the good old British breed,
We rallied to the colours when we heard the Empire’s need,
You bet we’re out to play the game, and if we don’t succeed,
We’ll join our mates who took the count before us.


Chorus.
We are, we are, the Third Light Horse Brigade.
We face the odds with ne’er a man afraid,
We lost our gallant comrades and there’s many a score unpaid,
Undaunted still we’re out for what’s before us.


Verse 2.
Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Signallers, Field Ambulance and Train
We did our bit at Anzac, where we’d like to go again,
For though we got it in the NEK, we’ll fight with might and main,
To square our mates who took the count before us.


Chorus.

Verse 3.
Send the news to Kitchener, tell Birdwood with a snap,
Say that we Australian boys are busting for a scrap.
We want to tackle Germany and wipe her off the Map,
Then toast our mates who took the count before us.


Chorus.

 

3rd LH Bde, AIF, having lunch in the Egyptian desert, January 1916.

[Click on picture to play movie clip to the singing of John Thompson]

 

 

Or view the clip on Youtube.

  


 

 

Further Reading:

AIF Marching Songs

3rd Light Horse Brigade, AIF

3rd Light Horse Brigade, Roll of Honour  

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 3rd Light Horse Brigade, AIF, Marching Song of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 12 May 2011 10:06 AM EADT
Sunday, 30 November 2008
Australian Imperial Forces, Marching Songs, The quest for an authentic Australian marching song
Topic: AIF - Marching Songs

Australian Imperial Forces

Marching Songs

The quest for an authentic Australian marching song

 

Harry Lauder

 

In Melbourne, and I believe it must have been much the same elsewhere in Australia, folks didn’t know what they were to do, how they were to take this war that had come so suddenly upon them. and rumours and questions flew in all directions
- Harry Lauder

 

The war broke out and Australia had no marching song. In response, the public turned to the song that had been adopted by the British Army as its favourite marching song, It's a Long Way to Tipperary.

 

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

 

But this was a British song. Indeed a whole genre of English patriotic songs flourished, all competing for the hearts and souls of true Englishmen, where ever they may reside.

Here is one popular song of late 1914 called For an Empire Beloved written  by EA Henty (Mrs Edward Starkey). It reaches out to the Empire with its lofty words:

 

'Tis near Springtime in Australia, with the night air wattle scented
'Neath Southern Cross as fairest flowers unfold;
Or in further Northern Country there are misty days of Autumn
When God's touches turn the maples to a world of red and gold.
Can you hear them? They are coming, and the loyal hearts are beating,
'Neath dusky starlit Heavens from radiant lands in Tropic's glow,
With green palm leaves softly waving and bamboo rustling gently,
Wood by night winds in hushed silence, as they softly come and go.

 

Even though one stout group of solid Englishmen in Australia strongly identified with all things that belonged to "Home" as England was called, the complex mix of the Australian population meant that this identification excluded a large part of the population. The largest group in this mix, Irish Australians, could not identify with these sentiments, especially when notions of sectarianism and "Home Rule" were the major issues of the day.

The problem was to implement the notion of inclusiveness. The first attempts created some strange and often juxtaposed fusions. One writer, Morley Roberts, wrote a song called Australia which was set to the tune of a popular Irish ballad that spawned an Australian offspring called the Wild Colonial Boy.

 

The word came up from Melbourne Tower
That shines by Hobson's Bay
And sunlit Sydney cheered the news
Which Brisbane heard that day;
And Adelaide, whose broad land runs
To Arafura's sea,
Took up the cry and sent it forth
 To Perth and Kimberl
ey.

 

While hijacking the Irish tune, the Robert's song never gained traction because of the excessive English patriotic sentiment contained within the song. While some Australians were excited by the war, most of the population were indifferent and could not identify with the feigned excitement expressed in the lyrics. Australians were concerned about the drought, a rural crisis, water shortages, government indebtedness and high unemployment. The beginning of the war may have been a pleasant diversion allowing the people to enjoy a carnival like atmosphere but that was not the answer to every day concerns. Patriotism did not put food on the table, pay the rent or put water in the dams. Any excitement created by the announcement of the war died down very quickly. A marching song needed to reflect these personal problems in the lyrics.

To be a successful marching song, there must be a few elements present. The tune needs to be simple, the cadence to the march pace and the words should be identifiable in the lives of the men marching to the beat. Tipperary fulfills all these requirements. No lofty ideals, just a simple tune about a boy who misses his sweetheart while away from home, something most soldiers can identify with while on active service.

In Australia, one of the more neutral marching songs that was highly popular amongst the men was the old American Civil War favourite, Marching Through Georgia. This motiff was employed by the first AIF sanctioned marching song called Cooee, Cooee, here come the Kangaroos.

So keen were the military authorities to see this song adopted, the words were printed off and circulated to all the troops of the 1st AIF Contingent. It missed the mark because it reverted back to the old Enlish patriotic theme.

 

Pull yourselves together, boys, we're marching to the front,
Off to join the British Tommies in a little hunt,
Kaiser Bill will have to leave his sauerkraut and shunt;
Cooee my boys for dear Australia.

Cooee, Cooee, here come the kangaroos,
Cooee, Cooee, we never get the blues,
When we're marching home again,
We'll bring the best of news
Cooee my boys for dear Australia.

 

When the soliders received their copy of the song, it appears as though it was sung with little enthusiasm. At the troop level, the words were spiced up to give it a more identifiable flavour. Rather than lofty words, it utilised the every day language of the men. The transformation added to the enthusiasm. In the first verse, there were substitutions of words that were far more earthy than intended.

 

Pull yourselves together, boys, we're marching to the front,
Off to join the British Tommies in a little hunt,
Kaiser Bill will have to leave 'cos he's a f***ing c**t;
Cooee my boys for dear Australia.

 

Obviously not the version to be sung in public. It employed common language that under a prudish officer would earn a criming for swearing, a military offence. However, the corruption of popular tunes to add more earthier concepts was undertaken all the time. The Colonel Bogey has been subject to a tremendous number of earthy corruptions as was Mademoiselle From Armentieres.

On the homefront, songsters were churning out patriotic pap to bolster recruitment. Edward H Tyrrell turned out these tunes by the dozen. Just in 1915, his catalogue included Cooee! Cooee! You're Wanted at the Dardanelles, Heroes of Gallipoli, Our Heroes (at the Front), Rainbow March, New South Wales Lancers March, and Soldiers of the Southern Cross. They sold many copies in Australia but in Egypt and the Dardanelles where the daily reality was different, they were barely ever heard. The stinking trenches of Gallipoli presented a different reality, articulated by Ion Idriess in his book Desert Column:

 

We have just had "dinner". My new mate was sick and couldn't eat I tried to, and would have but for the flies. I had biscuits and a tin of jam. But immediately I opened the tin the flies rushed the jam. They buzzed like swarming bees. They swarmed that jam, all fighting amongst themselves. I wrapped my overcoat over the tin and gouged out the flies, then spread the biscuit, held my hand over it, and drew the biscuit out of the coat but a lot of the flies flew into my mouth and beat about inside. Finally I threw the tin over the parapet. I nearly howled with rage. I feel so sulky I could chew everything to pieces. Of all the bastards of places this is the greatest bastard in the world. And a dead man's boot in the firing-possy has been dripping grease on my overcoat and the coat will stink for ever.

 

No lofty flags, patriotism or love for old Mother England, just the daily grind of survival which is the lot of the common soldier at the front line.

The Gallipoli experience was so profound that it filtered through into the soldier's own songs. One of the best expressions of soldier written marching songs of January 1916 was the Marching Song of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade:

 

Verse

Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Signallers, Field Ambulance and Train
We did our bit at Anzac, where we’d like to go again,
For though we got it in the NEK, we’ll fight with might and main,
To square our mates who took the count before us.


Chorus

We are, we are, the Third Light Horse Brigade.
We face the odds with ne’er a man afraid,
We lost our gallant comrades and there’s many a score unpaid,
Undaunted still we’re out for what’s before us.

 

This marching song reverted back to the safe musical score of s were played to the tune of Marching Through Georgia, an echo of the earlier march song but updated to reflect a reality. The men were angry and wanted revenge. It was reflected in the hostility and sadness in the song.

After the split between the Infantry who went to France, and the Light Horse who remained in Egypt, the concept of a marching song became quite remote. Infantry marching as a group find it relatively easy to sing a simple song as a bonding exercise but the task is far more difficult when a regiment of horses are marching where even in line of Troop, it is difficult to hear something from one end to the other over the din of horse movement and the space required to travel. So instead of Light Horse Marching Songs, the Light Horse slipped into poetry, a solitary activity which required individual experience. It was now the time when Trooper Bluegum and Gerardy came into their own.

 

Ah well! We’re gone! We’re out of it now.
We’ve something else to do.
But we all look back from the transport deck to the land-line far and blue:
Shore and valley are faded; fading are cliff and hill;
The land-line we called ‘Anzac’ … and we’ll call it ‘Anzac’ still!

 

The Light Horse poets struck a chord within the ordinary trooper in a way that no marching song could ever achieve.

 

Further Reading:

AIF Marching Songs

Australian Light Horse

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Australian Imperial Forces, Marching Songs, The quest for an authentic Australian marching song

Posted by Project Leader at 10:33 AM EAST
Updated: Thursday, 12 May 2011 5:50 PM EADT
Saturday, 29 November 2008
Australian Imperial Forces, Marching Songs, It's a Long Way to Tipperary, It's a long way to France
Topic: AIF - Marching Songs

Australian Imperial Forces

Marching Songs

It's a Long Way to Tipperary, It's a long way to France

 

Soldiers at the YMCA Tent singing It's a Long Way to Tipperary at Enoggera, 1915

[From: The Queenslander, 3 April 1915, p. 22.]

 

To get over the mood of the Great War to the population of Australia and strike up a tune that had universal appeal and soon to become the quintessential anthem of the British Army, many Australian newspapers published the lyrics and the music score to It's a Long Way to Tipperary. Here is one example.

 

It's a Long Way to Tipperary

[From: Adelaide Chronical, 10 October 1914, p. 44.]

 

The song, It's a Long Way to Tipperary was never Irish despite using the name of the Irish town Tipperary. The song was written in 1912 by Harry Williams and his partner, an Irishman named Jack Judge, a music hall lyricist who never spent time in Ireland. It proved to be immensely popular once it was released. Very soon, not only London music halls but many cities throughout the United Kingdom had this song in their routines. It was guaranteed to get the audience singing along with the chorus, the ultimate aim of all good music hall songs.

Only two other songs gained such universal appeal during the Great War, they being "Lily Marleen" and "Colonel Bogey".  The popular British anthem, It's a Long Way to Tipperary was possibly the favourite amongst all the warring nations.

 
It's a Long Way to Tipperary

Words and music by Harry Williams and Jack Judge, 1912

[To listen to John McCormack sing, click here.]

 

Up to mighty London came
An Irish lad one day,
All the streets were paved with gold,
So everyone was gay!
Singing songs of Piccadilly,
Strand, and Leicester Square,
'Til Paddy got excited and
He shouted to them there:

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

Paddy wrote a letter
To his Irish Molly O',
Saying, "Should you not receive it,
Write and let me know!
If I make mistakes in "spelling",
Molly dear", said he,
"Remember it's the pen, that's bad,
Don't lay the blame on me".

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square,
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

Molly wrote a neat reply
To Irish Paddy O',
Saying, "Mike Maloney wants
To marry me, and so
Leave the Strand and Piccadilly,
Or you'll be to blame,
For love has fairly drove me silly,
Hoping you're the same!"

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square,
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

Extra wartime verse

That's the wrong way to tickle Mary,
That's the wrong way to kiss!
Don't you know that over here, lad,
They like it best like this!
Hooray pour le Francais!
Farewell, Angleterre!
We didn't know the way to tickle Mary,
But we learned how, over there!

 

After its popularity was cemented, another rival song arrived in 1915 using the same tune, called Pack up your Troubles. Written by George Asaf and the music score by Felix Powell, when published by by Chappell & Co. in London it became an instant success.

 

Pack up your Troubles

Words by George Asaf and music by Felix Powell

[To listen to Billy Murray sing, click here.]



Private Perks is a funny little codger
With a smile a funny smile.
Five feet none, he’s and artful little dodger
With a smile a funny smile.
Flush or broke he’ll have his little joke,
He can’t be suppress’d.
All the other fellows have to grin
When he gets this off his chest, Hi!

 

Chorus (sung twice after each verse)
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that’s the style.
What’s the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.

 

Private Perks went a-marching into Flanders
With his smile his funny smile.
He was lov’d by the privates and commanders
For his smile his funny smile.
When a throng of Bosches came along
With a mighty swing,
Perks yell’d out, “This little bunch is mine!
Keep your heads down, boys and sing, Hi!

 

Private Perks he came back from Bosche-shooting
With his smile his funny smile.
Round his home he then set about recruiting
With his smile his funny smile.
He told all his pals, the short, the tall,
What a time he’d had;
And as each enlisted like a man
Private Perks said ‘Now my lad,’ Hi!

 

Both these songs became favourites with the AIF whilst serving in France alongside their allies.

 

Further Reading:

AIF Marching Songs

Australian Light Horse

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Australian Imperial Forces, Marching Songs, It's a Long Way to Tipperary, It's a long way to France

Posted by Project Leader at 11:54 PM EAST
Updated: Thursday, 12 May 2011 6:01 PM EADT
Australian Imperial Forces, Marching Songs, For an Empire Beloved - EA Henty
Topic: AIF - Marching Songs

Australian Imperial Forces

Marching Songs

For an Empire Beloved - EA Henty

 

When the 1st Contingent of the AIF arrived in Egypt, the latest patriotic song arrived from England. It was printed by the AIF press for distribution amongst all the troops at Mena Camp. It is difficult to ascertain the popularity of this song at the time. Considering that this song has no recorded history, it is possible that its lyrics did not reach out to the common AIF man. It is difficult to imagine a Battalion of sweating AIF men marching out of Mena Camp singing this air to the cadence of the stamping feet. Since it was deemed important enough for the commanding officers to order its printing, it is included in the selection of songs sung by the AIF. 

 

For an Empire Beloved

Words by EA Henty (Mrs Edward Starkey)


Over the Seas the loveliest thoughts are winging
And sons of the Empire are coming, coming soon,
For a Motherland is calling, and hearts go out to King and Country,
As somewhere a band is playing an old familiar tune:
'Tis, "The girl I left behind me," but she's proud to help old England,
Tho' oceans roll behind her man just gone,
She'll wait, and listen patient and keep a fair face bravely smiling-
A true daughter of the Empire bred and born.
 
 
'Tis near Springtime in Australia, with the night air wattle scented
'Neath Southern Cross as fairest flowers unfold;
Or in further Northern Country there are misty days of Autumn
When God's touches turn the maples to a world of red and gold.
Can you hear them? They are coming, and the loyal hearts are beating,
'Neath dusky starlit Heavens from radiant lands in Tropic's glow,
With green palm leaves softly waving and bamboo rustling gently,
Wood by night winds in hushed silence, as they softly come and go.


Stalwart men with grave-set faces -
Proud and splendid Sons of Empire - bronzed and brown,
Who hear the Homeland needs them, they're coming, surely, swiftly,
Prom palace, city, land, and little town,
Strong to help a dear old Country - who has herself helped them
To do for her whate'er her needs decree;
And Britons will remember deeply grateful,
And thank their sons thro' all the years to be.


So over the world I seem to hear them coming,
And willing hands are stretched across the Sea,
While a Motherland is waiting and her children hope for peace with honour,
As they come each one to set her free.
'Tis for an Empire beloved where truth and justice temper mercy
And tho' troubles may assail them, for her each heart's afire,
And we too must hope and welcome these our kindred,
And pray God give each man who does his duty - just his heart's desire.

Tang Hall, York.
(From: The Yorkshire Post.)

 

 

Further Reading:

AIF Marching Songs

Australian Light Horse

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Australian Imperial Forces, Marching Songs, For an Empire Beloved - EA Henty

Posted by Project Leader at 8:30 PM EAST
Updated: Thursday, 12 May 2011 6:06 PM EADT

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