[Sheet music] Sons of Australia

Accession Number RC10933
Collection number Australian War Memorial Sheet Music 448
Collection type Published Collection
Measurement Overall - closed: 36.3 cm x 25.3 cm
Object type Sheet Music
Maker Johnstone, Robert
Johnstone, Frank
Date made 1914
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copying Provisions Recording provided for personal, non-commercial and commemorative use. Permission from copyright holder must be sought for commercial use. Attached digital images provided for personal non-commercial use

Sheet music for the song titled 'Sons of Australia', with lyrics written by Frank Johnstone and music composed by Robert Johnstone. This is the second edition of the song and was published by Suttons Proprietory Ltd who had offices in Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. The cover of this copy features a photograph of four men posing in front of a row of bell tents, indicating a military camp. Inside the front cover are a typed set of the full lyrics and chorus. The song has been dedicated to the Australian Expeditionary Force. It was printed by the National Press, Melbourne.

The lyrics to this song feature many references to Australian life, icons, imagery and fauna. The song itself is written from the perspective of Australian soldiers who have enlisted and travelled overseas to fight 'with Britain's other gallant sons'.

The song recieved attention in The Advocate, Melbourne, on 17 October 1914, where it was reported that it was 'meeting with more success than the other patriotic songs written for the Australian Expeditionary Force.' This article continued with a description of the song, reporting: "With nothing 'high falutin'' about it, one can imagine any bushman willingly 'catching on' to it'.

Robert Johnstone was a member of the Ballarat Anglers’ Club and was noted for his musical ability. In a letter to a friend in Ballarat, he wrote ‘My family responsibility will not allow me to go to the front, but I have arranged for 5000 copies of my song to be sold in Footscray only, and the whole of the net profits will be to augment the Patriotic Funds’. Johnstone was living in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray at the time where the family was well-known.

Frank Johnstone was reportedly Robert Johnstone's son, but he did also have a brother named Francis. Francis Johnstone was well-known for his ability to write poetry.

Towards the bottom of this page is a sound recording of this sheet music, or a parody, that was created as part of the Music and the First World War project. More information about this recording, including names of the performers, can be found on the catalogue record for the sound recording. A link to the catalogue record for the sound recording can be found at the bottom of this page, under the heading ‘Related objects’ where it can be identified with the prefix [sound recording].