“Suvla Bay”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1987
Keywords: Australia battle death mourning
Found in: Australia


"In an old Australian homestead With roses 'round the door, A girl received a letter 'Twas a message from the war... He played his part that April day, And now he lies in Suvla Bay." The grieving girl turns away suitors and joins the Red Cross


It has been said that the Australian participation in the Dardanelles campaign is what made Australia a nation. Certainly it etched itself deeply in the Australian consciousness. It would be amazing if there were no traditional songs about it. This song (like the later "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda") seems not to be of actual folk origin, but it seems to have become part of Australian tradition.

The tragedy of Suvla Bay was not so much its failure (World War I was, after all, a war consisting of very little except failure) as its *needless* failure. When the troops went ashore in 1915, they encountered no resistance -- but their commander sat there and did nothing until the Turks could build a defensive position. From then on, it was a case of the ANZACs being slaughtered for nothing. - RBW

Historical references


  1. Meredith/Covell/Brown, pp. 206-207, "Suvla Bay" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #5350
  3. BI, MCB206