August 2020 – Am I a warrior?

“And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”

  (lyrics: Eric Bogle)

When I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over
 
Then in 1915 my country said: Son,
It's time to stop rambling, there's work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they marched me away to the war
 
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As the ship pulled away from the quay
And amid all the cheers, flag waving and tears
We sailed off for Gallipoli
 
How well I remember that terrible day
When our blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
 
Johnny Turk, he was waiting, he primed himself well
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shell
And in five minutes flat, he’d blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia
 
But the band played Waltzing Matilda
When we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again
 
And those that were living, we just tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
Though around me the corpses piled higher
 
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head
And when I woke up in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
Never knew there was worse things than dying
 
For I’ll go no more Waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and free
To hump tent and pegs, a man needs both legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me
 
So they gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
 
And as our ship sailed into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be
And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve, to mourn or to pity
 
But the Band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then they turned their faces away
 
And so now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reviving their dreams of past glory
 
The old men march slowly, their bones stiff and sore
They’re tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question
 
But the band plays Waltzing Matilda
The old men still answer the call
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
Someday no one will march there at all
 
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?

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