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In a bush school in a country town
They raised the flag each day,
And sang a patriotic song
To England far away.

The teacher spoke with feeling
Of the Empire, big and strong
Protecting all those nations
Dividing right from wrong

The children sang "God Save the King"
With gusto and with joy
The brickie's lad, the baker's son
And Sam, the blacksmith's boy

Then in the wondrous years of growth
T'wixt boyhood and the man
They vowed they'd fight like heroes
If ever war began.

Loud came the clarion call "To Arms"
They heard the war drums beat
Felt the spirit of adventure
In the rhythmic tramp of feet

The town turned out to see them off.
Loud cheering filled the air
"We're proud of you young fellows,
Australia will be there!"

The boys with carefree wave of hand
Leaned from the crowded train
To shout "Don't worry over us!
We'll soon be home again!"

The brickie and his blacksmith mate,
The baker by their side,
Stood beaming on the platform
"Our boys!" they said with pride.

The teacher with complacent smile
Told people in the crowd
We taught them of the Empire
They make us feel so proud

Mums wiped tears from moist filled eyes
Watched the train fade down the track
To disappear in shimm'ring heat
"Dear God, please send them back.
Into the boats and row my lads,
Pull for the hazy shore
Just another mile to go!
You'll soon be in the war!

The Turkish flares with blinding flash
Turned darkness into day
Machine guns crackled on the slopes
The ocean spluttered spray

The boat, it ground onto the beach
The sand now turning red
The baker's son lay on the oar
Already he was dead.

The brickies son leapt from the boat
His lusty bushman's yell
Cut short by shrapnel's buzzing "Plop"
Three steps he took; then fell.

The blacksmith's boy stood for a while
Appalled at all the slaughter
And how his mate's head rolled around
With wavelets in the water.

"Keep moving" yelled Authority
"Pick up his Lewis Gun.
Get up against the cliff's rock face
That's it, man!  Now run!"

He didn't make it off the beach
Machine gun's chattering laugh
Caught him just below the ribs
And chopped him nigh in half

In a bush school in Australia
They sing "God Save the King"
The brickie sometimes pauses
When he hears the magpies sing

The baker in his daily toil
Imagines scenes of battle
In the heat around the oven fires
And in the bread pan's rattle

The clanging of the anvil
Down in the smithy's shack
Sounds like some bell's slow tolling
For sons who wont come back

The teacher, at the end of day
Looks to the setting sun
With clasping hands she softly asks
"Dear God, what have we done?"

Arthur Leggett