Brave Battalion Eleven
Of all the songs that were written during the war years a few were written specifically with Western Australia in mind and while many Units in World War One could probably boast their own song the 11th was no exception with a ditty penned by S. Maurice Harris known as Brave Battalion Eleven or W.A Battalion Song. No one will pretend the lyrics are particularly good or even, by todays, standards, particualrly inspiring and they were probably intended for troops to sing as they marched rather than as music hall pieces.. Here we publish a small selection of West Australian specific songs, the first as already discussed and the second two penned by a serving Sergeant Major William Duns, both of which were apparently very popular among the troops. Please bear in mind these songs are a product of their time and are written as presented with no offence intended:
BRAVE BATTALION ELEVEN
They were the boys of the Western State, Brave Battalion Eleven;
They did not tarry, they did not wait, when the call was given.
First to respond to their country’s need, nothing they feared, nor death did they heed,
But gave their lives for the truth and the right – Brave Battalion Eleven!
Battalion Eleven, we’re proud to say,
Had many boys from the Western State:
So marching along, let us sing this song of Brave Battalion Eleven!
Let us remember they did their parts,
They were men with brave, brave hearts,
And they were mates from the Western State,
Our Brave Battalion Eleven!
And when our warriors homeward come, Brave Battalion Eleven;
Let us not grieve and mourn for those whose lives were freely given.
We must remember Australia’s fame was made by men who died for her name,
And gave their lives for the truth and the right, Brave Battalion Eleven!
I’VE A HOME IN WEST AUSTRALIA
In the back blocks timber logging,
From the dawn till set of sun,
I heard Australia her sons were calling
To go and fight the German Hun.
I’ve a home in West Australia
In that far off sunny clime;
Now I’m marching on to Berlin,
There to drink der Kaisers wine.
Soon at Blackboy I was learning
How to march and stand at ease;
Bayonet fighting and rifle aiming,
And smoking fags beneath the trees. (Chorus)
In the evening we had concerts
Given us by the “Y.M.C’s”;
When we shouted loud each chorus
Like the roar of mighty seas. (Chorus)
We have jam and bread for breakfast,
Three-course menu at midday;
Golden ale and loads of camp dust,
And best of all, five bob a day. (Chorus)
Nurse your rifle, aim with full sight,
When you charge let out a yell;
Fix your bayonet’s down with all fright,
Charge the enemy like hell. (Chorus)
While you’re serving as a soldier
Be a white man all the time;
Australia’s fame will be the brighter,
For your service on the Rhine. (Chorus)
IT’S A LONG WAY TO WEST AUSTRALIA
(with a nod to it’s a long way to Tipperary)
To the Dardenelles their sailed a Western lad one day
Singing songs of “Home Sweet Home” and “Little Sweet Heart May”;
He heard that lovely ladies in the harems he would find,
But staunch and true he’d always be to the one he left behind.
It’s a long way to West Australia
It’s a long way to go,
It’s a long way to West Australia,
To the sweetest girl I know.
Goodbye Midland Junction
Farewell Perth so fair,
It’s a long, long way to West Australia,
But my heart’s right there.
When upon the ocean wide he suffered mal-de-mer,
And longed for Blackboy Camp again and squad drill on the square,
He longed again to peel the spuds that made the good old stew,
And then he wished the boat would sink with all its bally crew.
When at last he reached the shore of Egypt’s sunny clime,
Hard at work with pick on back the sand hills he would climb;
He saw old Pharoahs pyramids, the sphinx and donkey boys,
And when the transports came along you heard this bloomin’ noise.
In the trenches ‘gainst the Turks with comrades by his side,
He fought his countries battles, he charged, hurrahed and died;
As the Bearers carried him from off the field that day
A Red Cross man who tended him could hear him faintly say.