Lest we forget – The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Last week as I drove back from my work in Sussex I stopped to buy some petrol. In the shop my attention was drawn to the picture in the local newspaper showing the funeral of a young local soldier who had recently died in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. Being away for so long I may have missed the news of his death, but I thought perhaps maybe I have just stopped noticing.

At 11.00 am GMT this morning we will observe a silence and remember all British and Commonwealth soldiers who have died in wars since 1914, but also those of our allies and those whom we fought against, particularly in the Great War. It is too easy to forget. Remembrance not only honours the fallen but it may, just may, make us think a little longer about “starting all over again.”

This song is by Scottish folk singer Eric Bogle and is about the struggles and fears of Australian soldiers who fought against Turkish troops and were wounded and killed in the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I. Mixed with pictures from Gallipoli are pictures of past and present Canadian troops because this song and powerful slideshow was played during a Remembrance Day assembly at a Canadian public school to remind those young people that whilst the scale of the slaughter is now thankfully much less, war is always with us, and those in our military risk their lives every day serving us. It is an extremely moving song.


4 thoughts on “Lest we forget – The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

  1. Brent McCunn

    P.S. He may have been born in Scotland, but you had better call him an Aussie to his face. He has been in Aus since the 70’s and lives in Adelaide. Came here as an accountant if I recall correctly. Got into music and rest is history..

  2. Weltbuehne

    Great post. I entirely agree with your even-handed tenor: the utmost respect for those who serve, but scepticism about the reasons for asking them to.

    The Dubliners, the Pogues and Rod Stewart all do fine versions of this song. It makes me cry.

  3. Brent McCunn

    Eric Bogle is a wordsmith. I first heard him play this in late1981 sitting on top of a table in the canteen at the Battersea Art Centre in London. He shed genuine tears as he sung it. I have since heard him at a pub, and drank pints with him, near our house outside Melbourne along with numerous music festivals in Australia. No one tires of this and to hear 6000 people in a circus tent stage, at the Port Fairy Folk Festival, singing the chorus, is a moment to remember

  4. zmkc

    This is very moving and I don’t want to take away from that, but, for the sake of accuracy – and not to minimise the significance of the event – I should point out that the video wrongly states that 50,000 Australians died at Gallipoli. The Australian War Memorial estimates that 8,141 Australians died there, which is terrible enough; I think possibly 50,000 fought there over the course of the engagment.


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