Vonda Stanley's collection of early Australian bush poems




From the George Bateman Collection, copiled by Howard Rose.


 The Singing Diggers

 By Sapper L. Porter.


Now, I've always been "nuts" on poetry,

since I was a kid.

The books of verse 

I've bought, 'Ave cost me,

A many 'ard earned quid.

I've read "The Man from Snowy"

An' "Old Clancy" and the rest.

An' Kendall, Lawson, Gordon,

But of all of 'em, the best,

In my 'umble estimation,

Is a book I read by Dennis,

Called "The Moods of Ginger Mick".


For Mick was just a "Digger",

With a dial as hard as oak.

An' he writes home to his "cobber"

'Oos the "Sentimental Bloke"?

An' tells 'im 'ow the Aussies,

Sang on far Gallipoli,

An' socked it into Abdul,

To the tune of "Nancy Lee".

He tells 'im 'ow another mob,

Who looked "done in" for sure,

When they stopped a damn torpedo,

Sang "Australia Will be There".


An' bein' just an Aussie kid,

I sort of felt a thrill,

To read such tales of glory,

In those notes from Mick and Bill.

An' 'struth!  I'm proud to think

I 'ad a brother over there,

He couldn't sing for putty,

But, I bet he done 'is share,

Of serenading "Johnny Turk"

And later on "Old Fritz",

With snatches from the "Music 'all".

An' all the latest 'its.


Time mooches on,

Our country is in another "blue",

An' this time I'm amongst the boys,

For I'm a Digger too.

I can see the same old spirit,

In the A.I.F. today,

That kept the ANZAC's singing,

In the thickest of the fray.

They still strike up a chorus,

With a disregard for tune,

As their fathers did before them,

On "Sari's" sandy doom.


Their songs may be more modern,

An' they like a bit of "Swing",

But, when you come to think of it,

It 'aint the songs yer sing.

It's 'ow yer put your 'eart in it,

And "beef" a chorus out.

Wot lets the 'ole creation know,

The Aussies is about.

And whether it's a love song,

Or a bit of red-hot Jazz,

It helps to keep you feeling perky,

In a way that music has.


They sang in front of Bardia,

Their spirits soaring high'

"We're Off to see the Wizard",

An' "The Road to Gundagai".

They charged across the desert,

Their voices going strong.

An' weilding bloody bay'nets,

To the rhythm of a song.

While the tanks all danced the Rumba,

And the "Brens" played "Tiger Rag".

The "Ities" thought they'd all gone mad,

As we struck their bloomin' flag.


They chucked it in by thousands,

And the boys just roped them in,

An' marched them "orf" to compounds,

To the tune of "Tippy Tin".

An' when they'd pass a brass hat,

They would slow down to a crawl,

An' serenade the blighter,

With a bar of "Bless 'em All",

While blokes with bandaged heads an' arms,

Were trudging back to Base,

Singing "Back to Yarrawonga",

With a smile on every face.


From Sallum to Bengazi,

Thr'u the 'eat and dust and sand,

Them Aussie's voices warbled,

Fit to beat the flamin' band.

Then off to Crete they shipped 'em,

Just to keep a date with "Fritz",

An' though they copped it solid,

In the thickest of the Blitz.

You'd 'ear some buddies tenor,

With top notes all astray,

Sing about some "yella" "Shiela",

On the "Road to Mandalay".


An' later on while dodgin'

Flamin' Paratroops in Crete,

They could always raise a song,

When they could hardly raise their feet. 

In Java and Malaya,

On stinkin' jungle trails,

They sang old songs they'd sing,

In sunny New South Wales.

The "Japs" thought they were "troppo",

'e could never understand,

That singing was a part of life,

In that free and distant land.


But, 'e  'ad a nasty feeling,

Tricklin' down his yellow back,

When 'e 'eard the same songs echo,

Cross the Owen Stanley Track.

Accompanied by 'and grenades,

Bren and Tommy Guns,

An' rendered by the blokes,

'ood learnt their job by fighting the "Hun".

An' I am game to take a bet,

That in another year or so,

They'll be singing "Waltzing Matilda",

Thru' the streets of Tokyo.


Back to WW2 Diggers Poems

 Go Back to index