A tribute to the Australian Warhorse – As If He Knows – by Eric Bogle

Here are the lyrics of a song by Eric Bogle. It is about the horses of the Australian Light Horse in World War 1. The below is about the song as Eric Bogle describes.

The story is as follows:

The song is of course about the horses sent overseas during WW1 to serve in the various theatres of war. Of the approximately 53000 horses Australia sent overseas during WW1, only one ever returned to Australia after the war (see this article about Sandy). At the end of the war the Anzacs were ordered to get rid of their horses, the authorities did not want them returning to Australia and perhaps bringing in anthrax or TB or suchlike back into the country. Most of the horses were sold or given away, but in Palestine the Light Horsemen refused to give or sell their horses to the Arab  population of Palestine, and chose instead to shoot them  all. I based the song on an actual Light Horseman called Elijah Conn who had a horse in Palestine called Banjo. Elijah never forgot Banjo and for the rest of his life  could not talk about him without tears coming to his eyes.

AS IF HE KNOWS

It’s as if he knows
He’s standing close to me
His breath warm on my sleeve
His head hung low
It’s as if he knows
What the dawn will bring
The end of everything
For my old Banjo
And all along the picket lines beneath the desert sky
The Light Horsemen move amongst their mates to say one last goodbye
And the horses stand so quietly
Row on silent row
It’s as if they know

Time after time
We rode  through shot and shell
We rode  in and out of Hell
On their strong backs
Time after time
They brought us safely through
By their swift sure hooves
And their brave hearts
Tomorrow we will form up ranks and march down to the quay
And sail back to our loved ones in that dear land across the sea
While our loyal and true companions
Who asked so little and gave so much
Will lie dead in the dust.

For the orders came
No horses to return
We were to abandon them
To be slaves
After all we’d shared
And all that we’d been through
A Nation’s gratitude
Was a dusty grave
For we can’t leave them to the people here, we’d rather see them dead
So each man will take his best mate’s horse with a bullet through the head
For the people here are like their land
Wild and cruel and hard
So Banjo, here’s your reward.

It’s as if he knows, he standing close to me,
His breath warm on my sleeve, his head hung low.
As he if he knew.

Copyright Eric Bogle July 2001

Image from the ANZAC Centenary site – http://www.anzaccentenary.vic.gov.au

The lyrics here have been reproduced with permission of Eric Bogle.
The song is from the Album Colour of Dreams

Eric Bogle Home Page

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horseoz

I ride horses and compete in Dressage, Showjumping and Eventing or Horse Trials. I also own and run an Equestrian property to the East of Melbourne, Australia. In my spare time I run a couple of websites including http://www.horseoz.com and http://www.carinyapark.com. To afford all this I work a full time job, so the definition of spare time is usually after dark. Sleep is over rated ;-) In my Blogs I try to tell what I am doing with the horses, give some updates with regards to the equestrian events I am attending and any relevant news about horse health and performance. I also give reviews on any new products I get my hands on related to my horsey activities If yuo want to buy or sell horses or anything equestrian related try http://www.horseoz.com/forsale

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