Bullecourt [poem, 16 February 1918]

[Editor: A poem published in Aussie: The Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, no. 2, 16 February 1918.]


You boasted a wall of granite strength,
Which nothing on earth could take,
The skill you learnt in forty years,
You defied us blokes to break.

Four thousand men from the “Southern Seas,”
In War but infants yet,
They crept grey-eyed from a sunken road,
And through your barbed wire swept.

No guns to aid, no barrage long
To sweep the wire away,
But a headlong charge of a thousand yards,
And the blues they paved the way.

The first line through, the second held,
They fought as strong men do,
“Hindenberg’s Line” with its vaunted strength
Was smashed by an Anzac crew.

No bombs to throw, no guns to speak.
Nothing but lives to sell,
The “Dark Blues” like a quivering wave,
Fought through this infernal hell.

“Officers this way, the men go there!”
The Hun O.C. called out,
But the men hung back as men will do,
They broke — and a few got out.

There’s a tale that is told in history,
It’s large on the scroll of fame,
Of a charge they made in the Crimea —
“Balaclava” is the name.

But the charge we know and the charge we’ve seen
Never from our minds will fade,
God speed the day we’ll avenge those boys
Who fell with the Blue Brigade.


Aussie: The Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, no. 2, 16 February 1918, page 13

Editor’s notes:
Blue Brigade = the colour patch designation for the Australian Army’s 4th Brigade was dark blue, and thus it was known as the “Blue Brigade”
See: 1) “Australian army colour patches – a brief history”, Colourpatch.com.au: The Australian Military Patches Website (accessed 9 March 2014)
2) “1st and 2nd Bullecourt “The Blood Tub””, Digger History (accessed 9 March 2014)
3) “First Battle of Bullecourt”, Australian War Memorial (accessed 9 March 2014)
4) “Topic: Favorite military poem – Post 20980”, International Military Forums (accessed 9 March 2014)
5) “4th Brigade (Australia)”, Wikipedia (accessed 9 March 2014)

Hun = Germans (“Hun” could be used in a singular sense to refer to an individual German, as well as in a collective sense to refer to the German military or to Germans in general) (similar to the usage of “Fritz”)

O.C. = Officer Commanding


  1. Jeanie Clark says:

    Great poem which is clearly about the first Bullecourt battle on April 11 1917. Clues being lack of guns and barrage (not so, in the May battle), German confidence in their defences (broken by the April attack) and reference to Diggers captured (some 1000 in April) and some escaping (did happen in April) and the determination to come back again at the end (which they did in May and kept Bullecourt this time).

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