Song written by Eric Bogle during World War I for the Australian troops. In 1915 they were sent to fight in Europe and in Turkey where both side sustained horrendous looses of men at Gallipoli.



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 rambling, there’s work to be done,
So 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 the ship pulled away from the quay,
And amid all the tears, flag waving and cheers,
We sailed off for Gallipoli.
It’s well I remember that terrible day,
When our blood stained the sand and the water,
And how in that hell-hole they call Suvla Bay,
We were butchered like lambs in the slaughter,
Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well,
He rained us with bullets and he showered us with shells,
And in five minutes flat we were all blown to hell,
Nearly blew us back home to Australia.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
When we stopped to bury our slain,
Well, we buried ours, then the Turks buried theirs,
Then it started all over again.
Well those who were living just 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 awoke in me hospital bed,
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead,
Never knew there were worse things than dying.

For no more I’ll go Waltzing Matilda,
All around the green bush far and near,
For to hump tents and pegs, a man needs both legs,
No more Waltzing Matilda for me.

They collected the wounded, the crippled and the maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia,
The armless, the legless, the blind and insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla,
And when the ship pulled into Circular Quay,
And I stared at the place where me legs used to be,
And I thanked Christ, there was no one waiting for me,
To grieve, to mourn, or to pity.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As they lowered me down the gangway,
But nobody cheered, they just stood there and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.
Well, now every April I sit on my porch,
And I watch the parade pass before me,
And I see my old comrades how proudly they march,
Reliving their dreams of past glories,
I see the old men all tired, stiff and sore,
Those weary old heroes of a forgotten war,
And the young children ask what are they marching for?
And I ask myself the same question.

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda,
And the old men still answer the call,
But year after year their numbers get fewer,
Some day no one will march here 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?

About this entry