Thursday 19 March 2009 by thecro. 7 comments
Personal Stories, First World War, sheet music, bands, Battalion marches

What do a concert pianist, an Indian bandmaster and an Australian militia bandmaster have in common? Each of these individuals composed a march that would eventually be adopted as the regimental march of an Australian Imperial Force infantry battalion during the First World War. Many were popular songs of the period.

The 23rd Battalion March was composed during the First World War by Miss Una Bourne at the request of Mrs Doris Carter. Una Bourne was a concert pianist and composer who toured as an associate artist with Dame Nellie Melba during her Australian visits. Una remained in England during the war years and performed for hospitals and the Red Cross.

23rd Battalion March 23rd Battalion March

The tune that became the 13th Battalion Regimental March was compiled by an Indian bandmaster for the Crown Prince of Germany's visit to India in 1911. Following the First Battle of Bullecourt, the 13th Battalion Bandmaster, Richo Copp, ordered this march to be played outside Brigade Headquarters as the remaining 700 soldiers marched back to billets. General C H Brand heard this march during both events and announced that this was the battalion's regimental march following the latter performance in 1917.

13th Battalion Regimental March 13th Battalion Regimental March

Many of the members of the 30th Battalion Band were involved in the Manly Municipal Band prior to the war. The regimental march of this battalion was titled Association and was also written by Manly resident Sam Thompson.

Other regimental marches known to have been adopted by infantry battalions are:


Title of march


Other information

2nd Battalion The National Emblem Edwin Eugene Bagley  
3rd Battalion Come on Third and In the evening down the Wambeke   First was sung to the tune of Loading up the Mandy Lee. Second song was sung to the tune of In the evening by the moonlight.
9th Battalion Veni, vidi, vici   Translates as: I came, I saw, I conquered
11th Battalion El Ebinaco

Way down upon the Swanee River

Sons of the Brave


Stephen Foster

12th Battalion When the Empire calls Hugh Macdonald and Alfred Hill  
14th Battalion The Swanee River Stephen Foster  
15th Battalion The Durham's    
22nd Battalion 22nd Battalion Song

Moonlight Bay

Little Grey Home in the West


Percy Wenrich & Edward Madden

Hermann Frederick Lohr & D Eardley-Wilmot

34th Battalion Wairoa    
37th Battalion No title    
49th Battalion The great little army Kenneth Alford  
54th Battalion The National Emblem Edwin Eugene Bagley  
57th Battalion The Voice of the guns Kenneth Alford  
58th Battalion Steadfast and true    
59th Battalion The Invincible Volunteers    
60th Battalion The Great Little Army Kenneth Alford  

Further reading:

Australian Dictionary of Biography

13th Battalion Band Master. Reveille, 1 April 1940, p.50.

AWM27 122/1 Nicknames, regimental marches, bugle calls, crests and mottoes of A.I.F units


Pauline Mitchell

My grandfather had an outstanding baritone voice and his contribution to the war effort was to perform at fund raising concerts. I have a huge collection of WW1 patriotic songs, many with lyrics to stir soldiers in battle and to rally those on the home front. He received a framed certificate, which I have, from the president of the Australian Red Cross thanking him for his efforts. Music certainly played a part in the inspiration of those on the battle front and those left at home.

Michael Handley

I was reading with interest the comments in relation to Regimental Marches. My grandfather was in the AN&MEF to New Guinea, and then later in the 20th Bn AIF to Belgium. Some friends of mine who also had relations in the 20th Bn, found that the march for the 20th Bn, was the Lincolnshire Poacher. We have an audio track of this music.

Theresa Cronk

Hi Pauline and Michael Thank you both for your comments. We are interested in hearing about any stories related to the experiences of musicians/singers on both the homefront and in active service during times of war. The above list was compiled during the 1930s and we are hoping to expand this list to include all regimental marches. We are also compiling a list of bandmasters and hope to provide this resource online sometime in the future. Any information related to these is most appreciated. Regards Theresa Cronk

Jack Donovan

Why not include a snippet from each of the marches as audio files?

Jason Harley

Good to see the 23rd Battalion feature prominently ....... "Forward undeterred!"

Alison McCallum

In regard to Theresa Cronk's advice 3 April 2009 about wanting to hear about any stories related to the experiences of musicians/singers on both the homefront and in active service during times of war. Here is link to a photo of 33rd Battalion 1st AIF Band and Bandmaster. Also 2 queries: (1) Was the above list of regimental marches compiled during the 1930s subsequently expanded as hoped? (2) Was a list of bandmasters compiled as an online resource as hoped?

Hi Alison Thank you for the link to the photograph and information about the 33rd Battalion Band. I will add this information to the list of bandmasters that I was compiling a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the list of battalion marches and band masters is still incomplete and has not been published online. If you would like me to send you a copy, please email me at Thank you very much for your interest in this project. Theresa