River Wissey Lovell Fuller


May 2005

A moving adaptation of Waltzing Matilda by an ANZAC member

As many of the older Village Pump readers will know, 25th April is ANZAC Day which commemorates the bravery and dedication of the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps in the First World War. The poem below sums up the horrors of Gallipoli.



Now 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

Well I waltzed my Matilda all over.

Then in 1915, my country said, "Son,

It's time you stop ramblin, 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 key

And amidst all the cheers, the flag-waving and tears

We sailed off for Gallipoli.

And how well I remember that terrible day

How our blood stained the sand and the water

And of how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay

We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.

Johnny Turk he was waitin', he primed himself well

He showered 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'

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 left, well, we 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 m' hospital bed

And saw what it had done, well 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 hum, 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 on back home to Australia

The legless, the armless, the blind, the insane

Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.

And as our ship pulled into Circular Key

I looked at the place where m' legs used to be

And thank Christ there was nobody waitin' for me

To grieve, to mourn, and 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 all their faces away.

And so now every April I sit on me porch

And I watch the parade pass before me

And I see my old comrades how proudly they march

Reviving old dreams of past glories.

And the old men march slowly, old 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 m'self the same question.

But the band plays 'Waltzing Matilda'

And 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 that billabong

Oh, come a-waltzing Matilda with me.


Copyright remains with independent content providers where specified, including but not limited to Village Pump contributors. All rights reserved.