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Military Songs Additions




Warren Fahey recites ‘Dear Liz’ – a letter from the front line.


In 1996 I had a book published under the title ‘Diggers’ Songs’ (Australian Military History Press), it was a large book that traced the history of Australian traditional and popular parodies through the eleven wars we had participated in up to that date. I was shocked when I counted the number of times we had packed up our kitbags and headed off in response to the bugle call, mainly the bugle call of Mother England. Our first war were the so-called Maori Wars when we sent off a troop to New Zealand and, at the time of publication, the last war was the Gulf War. Since that date we have fought in another three wars – the Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. That doesn’t take in our ‘peace keeping’ in places like the Solomon Islands and Fiji. Pretty scary stuff.

There is a lot of military folklore and songs scattered throughout this site, especially in the Australian Folklore Unit section, so much of the following has been recently located and assembled.    WF


Screw Them All

(POW song)
(Tune: Bless Them All)

Screw ‘em all, screw ‘em all
The long and the short and the tall
Screw all the guards and each bow legged Jap
Screw all the cooks and their flamin’ rice pap
When we’re all goin’ away from it all
And there’s no guards to screech and to bawl
They can stuff their own pick axes
Right up their own jack asses
So cheer me up lads screw ‘em all

As sung at Djakarta prison camp 1942 from Norman Carter’s 1966 book G String Jesters

She’ll Be Coming

(Tune: She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain)

They’ll be dropping thousand pounders when they come
They’ll be dropping thousand pounders when they come
They’ll be dropping hard boiled eggs
Around those yellow bastard’s legs
Cos they’ll be dropping thousand pounders when they come.

Sung at Jakarta and Changi

Boer war

Rub a dub dub says the loud beating drum
Country’s in danger so come along come
Rifle on shoulder the brave boys and tall
Bushmen and miners and farmers come all
But where is Sir Fat Paunch
Oh where does he stay?
Can the first at the feast
Be the last in the fray?
Grip what you can get and get what you can
Is the battle cry of the businessman

From The Bitter Fight. Joe Harris 1970


Little puffs of powder
Little squibs of lead
Makes a man remember
He must keep down his head.

Parody of

Little dabs of powder
Little dabs of paint
Make a little devil
Into a little saint.

Diary/Mitchell 05

Twinkle Twinkle

Twinkle twinkle little star
Went for a ride in a yankee car
Hat she did I ain’t admittin’
But what she’s knittin’
Ain’t for Britain

From Tropo Topics RA 1943

Nellie Nellie

Nellie Nellie
Just look at your belly
You’re needing new steppins, I see
Nellie Nellie
Your wobbly belly
It certainly fascinates me
That motor tyre for a girdle
Sure makes my blood pressure curdle
It’s absurd’ll
So bugger your belly
And blame it on the rice<
Not on me.

From ‘Titbits’ POW revue Djarkarta 1942. From ‘G String Jesters’ by Norman Carter


Tattooed Lady

I paid ten pounds to see
A tattooed French lady
She was a sight to see
Tattooed from head to knee
On her jaw was the Anzac Flying Corps
And on her back was the doog old Union Jack
While across her hips was a fleet of battle ships
But on her ‘deaf and dumb’ was the Digger’s rising sun
And drawn upon her kidney\was a picture of dear old Sydney
Then around the corner, upon her horner
Was a map of my old home town in Tennessee

SMH Thur 11/Nov 2004  Article by Johnathon King about old digger (106 year’s of age) Peter Casserly.


The German officers crossed the Rhine, Parlay vous
The German officers crossed the Rhine, Parlay vous
The German officers crossed the Rhine, Parlay vous
The German officers crossed the Rhine, Parlay vous
They raped our women and drunk our wine
Inky pinky parlay vous
They came across a wayside inn etc
They marched across and marched right in
I think there’s a verse missing here
Up the rickety stairs they went etc
When they came down their knees were bent.
They threw her on the feathery bed etc
Fucked her ’till she was nearly dead.
Now she’s working up the Cross*
Selling herself for a hell of a loss
Inky pinky I DON”T THINK!!

(Sydney’s red light district is King’s Cross)


Australian schools refer to organised rubbish collection in the playground as an ‘emu parade’ where the kids – stooping up and down – resemble emus pecking at the ground. It originated with soldiers who cleaned up their camps in the same way and used the same description.


yarn told by John Dengate (to WF 3/05)

This bloke in the second world war was trying to get out on an insanity discharge. Every day he’d walk around the camp picking up any scrap of paper and then throw it down saying “That’s not it”. This went on for over a year until he was finally handed his discharge papers to which he responded “This is it! This is what I’ve been looking for!”


My father, George Fahey, served in the pacific campaign and he told me about a man who spent every day and night acting as if he were a chicken. He would cluck cluck chirp all around the camp, scratch at the ground etc so the doctors would certify him as crazy. He was known as the ‘chicken man’


During the post WW2 period a deserter hid in the Cootamundra hills in NSW and became known as The Wild Man of Cootamundra. There were regular sightings. The man became a well-known rabbit-trapper and would sell the pelts every few months for tobacco and other necessities. He eventually was driven by hunger and cold to approach the station owned by the (Phillip) Ashton family, one of the wealthiest graziers in NSW. The Ashton’s took him in and immediately notified the police who took the poor man away to a detention centre.

From John Dengate, interview March 2005 NLA