The Band Played

#1 by ulsterman , Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:48 pm

When I was a young man I carried my 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 nineteen-fifteen my country said, Son
It's time to stop rambling, there's work to be done
So they gave me a bayonet and gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As the ship pulled away from the quay
Amidst all the cheers, the flag-waving and tears
We sailed off to Gallipoli

And how well I remember that terrible day
Our blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
Johnny Turk he was ready, he'd primed himself well
He chased us with bullets and 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
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again

Now those that were left well we tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
While around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
I saw what it had done and 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 near
To hump tent and pegs a man needs both legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

So they collected the cripples, the wounded and maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The legless, the armless, the blind, and insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
Thank Christ there was no one there waiting for me
To grieve, to mourn and to pity

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then they turned all their faces away

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Renewing all dreams and past glories
And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
The tired old men from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, What are they marching for
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men answer the call
Year by year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me
Now their ghosts can be heard
As they pass by the billabong
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me

Posts: 151
Date registered 10.29.2010


The Somme battle eve
The 36th

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