Friday, April 24, 2009

Anzac Day, April 25th

Lone Pine Hill Memorial

"Anzac Day runs deeper than nationalism or military pride," said The Australian.

Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) forces landed on the western side of the Gallipoli Peninsula (now part of Turkey) in 1915 during World War I. The objective was a quick strike at the Ottoman Empire, capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) and open The Dardanelles. ANZACs fought their way in to the beach, across the sand, and up the hills directly into Turkish small arms and artillery fire (under the command of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk). Both sides took heavy losses and eight months later, the Allies withdrew, giving up the two square kilometers of ground. After the war, over 40 memorials and war cemeteries were built for the 36,000 Commonwealth and over 86,000 Turkish dead.

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Eric Bogle

When I was a young man, I carried me pack
and I lived the free life of a 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 ramblin', there's work to be done.
They gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
and they sent me away to the war.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
as our ship pulled away from the key.
And amid all the cheers, flag waving, and tears
we sailed off to Gallipoli.

When I remember that terrible day
when 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, oh he primed himself well
He rained us with bullets and shot us with shells
and in five minutes flat, we were all blown to hell.
Nearly blew us back home to Australia.

But the Band played Waltzing Matilda
as we stopped to bury our slain.
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
and we started all over again.

Those who were living just tried to survive
in a 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 awoke in my hospital bed
I saw what it had done and I wished I were dead
I never knew there were worse things than dying.

For I'll go no more waltzing Matilda
all around the green bush far and near
for to hup tent and pegs, a man needs both legs
no more waltzing Matilda for me

They collected 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 pulled into Circular Key
and I looked at the place where my legs used to be
I thanked Christ there was no one waiting for me
to grieve and to mourn or to pity

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
as they carried us down the gangway
but nobody cheered they just stood there and stared
and they turned all their faces away.

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,
renewing their dreams of past glory.

I see the old men, how tired, stiff and sore
The weary old heroes of a forgotten war
The young people ask "what are they marching for?
and I ask myself the same question.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call.
But year after year, the numbers grow fewer.
Someday no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come Waltzing Matilda with me?
And the ghosts may be heard as you pass by the billabong
You'll come Waltzing Matilda with me.

more on Gallipoli - or just Google "Anzac Day."

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I had no idea there was so much to that song!