by Nancy Bowman
Published 1 April 1918 in The School Paper, Victorian Education Department
This is the original poem written by a then 10 year old Nancy Bowman.
On the twenty-fifth of April,
Far across the sea,
Our brave Australian soldiers
And ’tis their deathless glory
How they gained the height.
And with fixed bayonets charge
And put the Turks to flight.
And, down the long, long ages,
Glory will ever shine
On the men who fell in battle
Fighting for me and mine.
Another version has been confused with Nancy’s poem because of the similar beginning.
I was unable to find out who wrote it, but I’ve added it below for you to enjoy.
On the 25th of April far across the sea,
The brave Australian soldiers stormed Gallipoli.
With plenty of pluck but jolly bad luck,
They stormed Gallipoli.
Well we were sinking bores in Charleville when we heard the call,
We were super fit and bullet proof and over ten feet tall.
I had no hesitations I am my fathers son,
And I fancied meeting ladies in a uniform with gun.
We hastily bid our fair adieus and walked with heads held high,
Because we’d rather meet them on the ground’ and not the sea or sky.
We all joined up together the five of us on cue,
The officer at the sign up called us the outback crew.
Well they trained us quick and they trained us hard and patted us on the back,
And they issued us with 303’s and a slouching diggers hat.
Oh that ship trip was a holiday that never seemed to end,
We gambled, lied and laughed and joked and made some mighty friends.
But the sound I heard that morning is one I cant erase,
It was something like a lightening strike and a banshee’en craze.
Our ships big guns were booming as we raised that foreign ground,
And some fools cried out we’ll be headed home before the suns gone down.
About the Author
Nancy Bowman (1908 – unknown), from Poltalloch, South Australia (90km south east of Adelaide). I was unable to find any further information about her.
Nancy Bowman’s poem Our Australian Soldiers was published on the front page of The School Paper, a monthly publication of the Victorian Education Department.
The 1918 Victorian issue cost 1d (1 penny). By the way, for those not familiar with Australian/British money, we say ‘pence’ when we’re talking about more than 1 penny. So you say 3 pence, not 3 pennies (the way the Yanks say it).
Back to our story. School children were expected to buy a copy of The School Paper. Reading the news, stories and poems helped children to learn their required reading, grammar, spelling, and so forth. In The School Paper you would also find information about how the different schools were doing to raise money for the war effort. For example, a teacher in NSW said part of the money they raised was by “making grass baskets from a grass which is peculiar to this part of Monaro.”
The first state school newspaper was printed in Tasmania around 1896. The Queensland version measured 14cm wide by 21½ cm high and typically had 16 to 40 pages of stories, history, puzzles, and pictures. Early copies were printed in plain white paper. Colour versions were available in the 1950s.