And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

"And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is a song, written by Eric Bogle in 1972, describing the futility, gruesome reality and the destruction of war, while criticising those who seek to glorify it. This is exemplified in the song by the account of a young Australian soldier on his maiming during the Battle of Gallipoli during the First World War.

The song incorporates the melody and a few lines of "Waltzing Matilda's" lyrics at its conclusion. Many cover versions of the song have been performed and recorded.

The song is often praised for its haunting imagery of the devastation at Gallipoli. The protagonist, a rover before the war, in the story loses his legs in the battle, and later notes the passing of other veterans with time, as younger generations become apathetic to the veterans and their cause.


The song is a vivid account of the memories of a young Australian man who, in 1915, had been recruited into the ANZACs and sent to Gallipoli - who "for ten weary weeks" kept himself alive as "around me the corpses piled higher". He recalls "that terrible day" ... "in the hell that they called Suvla Bay we were butchered like lambs at the slaughter" ... "in that mad world of blood, death and fire". In its clear and stark retelling of the events of the battle and its aftermath, it is a passionate indictment of war in general.


The song, written in 1972, has also been interpreted as paralleling the Vietnam War. The song rails against the romanticising of war. As the old man sits on his porch, and watches the veterans march past every ANZAC Day: "The young people ask what are they marching for, and I ask meself the same question".


The song was originally eight verses long but Eric Bogle pared it down to five verses without reducing its meaning. The song might have been forgotten, but at the 1974 National Folk Festival in Brisbane, Eric entered another song in a songwriting competition. The first person who performed sang two songs rather than just the one, so everyone who followed did the same and so Eric also sang "Matilda" to great acclaim and consternation by some when it did not win the competition. Jane Herivel from the Channel Islands heard the song and got Eric to send her a recording. She sang it at a festival in the south of England where June Tabor heard it and later recorded it. Unbeknownst to Bogle, the song had become famous in the UK and North America and when Bogle was in the UK in 1976 he was surprised to be asked to perform at a local folk club on the strength of the song.

American Vietnam veteran Senator and Silver Star recipient Bob Kerrey sang the song to his supporters at the end of his Presidential campaign in 1992, and borrowed the first line for the title of his autobiography, "".


The first release of the song was by John Currie on the Australian label M7 in 1975. [] Cover versions of the song have been performed and recorded by Joan Baez, Priscilla Herdman, Liam Clancy, The Dubliners, Ronnie Drew, Danny Doyle, Slim Dusty, The Fenians, Mike Harding, Jolie Holland, Seamus Kennedy, Johnny Logan and Friends, John Allan Cameron,John McDermott, Midnight Oil, Christy Moore, The Pogues, The Skids, June Tabor, John Williamson, The Bushwackers and the bluegrass band, The Kruger Brothers, Tickawinda (on album "Rosemary Lane"). Garrison Keillor has also performed it on his radio show A Prairie Home Companion when ANZAC Day (April 25) has fallen on a Saturday. The Pogues cover is perhaps the best-known version; critic Robert Christgau wrote that vocalist Shane MacGowan "never lets go of it for a second: he tests the flavor of each word before spitting it out." []

Factual inaccuracies

* The second verse of the song describes an amphibious assault by Australian troops at Suvla Bay. The landing at Suvla was actually carried out by British soldiers, although Australians were involved in an attempt to break out from the ANZAC lines and link up with the British. Bogle has said that he included the reference to Suvla partly because most Australians connect it with Gallipoli, and partly because it made for an easier rhyme. [] (Most of the Australian activity at Gallipoli took place around what is now called ANZAC Cove.)
* The reference to "tin hats" is anachronistic - they were in fact not issued until 1916 (a year after the Gallipoli campaign).
* The narrator claims to have joined the AIF in 1915. However, it is strongly implied that he is present at the landing on 25 April 1915. In this case he would have already left Australia by the end of September 1914. [From

Battles: The Landings at Suvla Bay, 1915Updated - Sunday, 9 June, 2002

With three fresh divisions of reinforcements promised to arrive in August 1915 by British war minister Lord Kitchener in London (subsequently increased to five), Mediterranean Commander-in-Chief Sir Ian Hamilton began planning a major Allied offensive on the Gallipoli peninsular to coincide with their arrival.

At this time the combined British (including Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - the Anzacs) and French force had established two beachheads on the peninsular: the first on the southern tip at Cape Helles, and the second further north at Ari Burnu (shortly afterwards renamed Anzac Cove). Note:Where the ANZAC's landed was called Anzac Cove in 1985.]

ee also

* No Man's Land (Eric Bogle song)


External links

* [ Eric Bogle's Lyrics page] at, the author's official website
* Audio of ' [ And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda] ' - [ sung by Eric Bogle] and played by the [ Franklyn B. Paverty Bush Band]
* [ A version by Just Dan]
* [ Sung by Marjorie Roswell]
* [ A 2002 interview with Eric Bogle about the song] from the Sydney Morning Herald

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