Anzac Connections: digitising the music of the First World War
The Australian War Memorial is currently undertaking a project to create a comprehensive digital archive of the Anzacs and their deeds, and of the wider Australian experience of war.
As part of this project, we are hoping to digitise and make available online the pieces of sheet music listed below. Included are the names of people associated with these songs: composers, lyricists, arrangers, etc. If you are related to any of these people, or know how to contact their descendants, the Memorial would love to hear from you. Please contact Meagan Nihill via PubandDig@awm.gov.au.
The ruddy platoon
The Ruddy Platoon was composed by Howard Fisher, with words by Howard Fisher and W.F. Tompkins. This copy was published by E. Osborne & Co. Ltd. in 1917. The lyrics describe conditions faced by in the trenches for non-commissioned officers. Trench slang terms feature prominently.
We believe Howard Fisher died in 1932, but have no information about W.F. Tompkins.
Arizona was composed by Melville Gideon, with words by James Heard. This copy was published in 1916 by Herman Darewski Music Publishing Co, London. The lyrics express nostalgia for life in Arizona.
Melville Gideon was an American composer who died in 1933. We have been unable to find any information about James Heard.
The bloke wot’s left be’ind
The Bloke Wot’s Left Be’ind is a musical monologue composed by Lois Barker, with words by Percy Tarling. The lyrics discuss being ineligible for enlistment on medical grounds, and facing the social stigma associated with shirking military service. It appeals to the audience to reserve judgement towards men who have not enlisted, as they may have tried but failed to meet physical fitness standards.
Lois Barker and Percy Tarling were still composing music until at least 1938. In 1945 it appears they may have still been composing but using different names, as a 1945 song, Stick It, credits ‘Percy Linkson (pseud. of Percy Tarling) and Lois Barker (Mrs L. Tarling)’.
God speed the day! : when might and right are one
God Speed the Day! (When might and right are one) was composed by Arthur Stroud with words by Fred W. Leigh. This copy was published by Francis, Day and Hunter in 1917. The lyrics seek divine aid to speed the day when ‘war no more shall cloud Thy sun.’
Fred Leigh died in 1924. We have been unable to find any information about Arthur Stroud.
Flower of the empire’s manhood
Flower of the Empire’s Manhood was written by P. J. O’Reilly and composed by Jack Trelawny. This copy was published by J. H. Larway in 1914. The lyrics are patriotic in tone, describing the young men of the empire, and encouraging them to fight for their motherland.
We believe P J O’Reilly died in either 1920 or 1930, but have been unable to find any information on Jack Trelawny.
It’s the little lump of cuddle inside
It’s the little lump of cuddle inside was written and composed by Thomas McGhee and Paul Pelham. This copy was published by Francis, Day and Hunter in 1918. The lyrics describe a view of feminine attractiveness.
Paul Pelham, also known as George Young, died in 1919. We have been unable to find any information about Thomas McGhee.
I can’t find a place for that
I can’t find a place for that was composed by Harold Montague, with words written by Ralph Roberts. This copy was published by Ascherberg, Hopwood & Crew, Ltd in 1916. The lyrics are written in the voice of a soldier contemplating sending an Active Service Postcard to a loved one at home. The soldier voices frustration with the limited range of messages and expression allowed by the postcard format.
We have been unable to find any information about Harold Montague or Ralph Roberts.
My pal, Ginger Mick
My Pal, Ginger Mick was composed by Gwen Lewis, with words reprinted by permission of C.J. Dennis. This copy was published by Anderson Ltd in 1917. The lyrics are adapted from the C.J. Dennis poem 'The Call of the Stoush'. In broad Australian slang, they describe a larrikin who proves his worth on the battle field.
Clarence James Dennis died in 1938, but we have been unable to find any information about Gwen Lewis.
My motor car
My Motor Car – A Miserable Monologue was composed by Gatty Sellars, with words by Valentine. This copy was published by Reynolds & Co, Berners Street, London in 1914. The lyrics describe buying a car that was later found to be defective. The singer describes the various measures taken to try and get the car running, and the eventual accident it causes.
Gatty Sellars died in 1947. We have been unable to determine the identity of or any information about Valentine.
The gardener’s story or the worm that turned
The Gardener’s Story, or, The Worm that Turned was composed by Herbert Townsend and written by E. A. Searson. This copy was published by Reynolds & Co. in 1916. The lyrics are written in the voice of a character known as ‘the gardener’, who tells the audience a tale of finding a magical worm and chasing it down a wormhole. The story concludes with the gardener pledging to abstain from alcohol.
E. A. Searson died in 1933. We have been unable to find any information about Herbert Townsend.
Spotty was written by F. Chatterton Hennequin, with music by Phyllis Norman Parker. This copy was published by Reynolds & Co in 1914. The lyrics tell the story of a friendship between soldiers that develops on the battlefields in France.
Frederick Edmond Chatterton Hennequin died in 1917. We have been unable to find any information about Phyllis Norman Parker.
Na-poo! was composed by John Weaver, and written and performed by F. C. Hennequin. This copy was published by Reynolds & Co, Beneres Street, London, in 1917. The lyrics are written in the voice of an experienced soldier explaining the French parlance to a soldier new to France.
Frederick Edmond Chatterton Hennequin died in 1917. We have not been able to find any information about John Weaver.