The Horses Stay Behind
This song is based on a poem written in 1918 by a Major Oliver Hogue.(The first three verses). Refrain by C.G & D.J williams (c)
The story is now reasonably well known- At the commencement of World War 1 thousands of Australian and New Zealand troops went over seas with their own horse- paid for by their respective government. Most troops went on to Europe (without their horse) but the lucky ones who spent the entire war in the Middle East, did so fighting with their horse throughout the campaign. At the end of war government couldn’t afford to pay for the return of the horse and ordered the troopers to leave their horse behind in Egypt. As the locals were not noted for their animal welfare… most soldiers chose to shoot their horse instead to save it from a miserable existence.
The Horses Stay behind
In days to come we’ll wander west and cross the range again
We’ll hear the bush birds singing in the green trees after rain
There’ll be old friends to greet us, and the people will be kind
But we’ll have different horses- our horses stay behind.
I don’t think I could stand the thought of my old fancy hack
Just crawling round Cairo with a gyppo on his back
Perhaps some English tourist out in Palestine might find
My broken hearted whaler with a wooden plough behind
No, I think I’d better shoot him and tell a little lie
He floundered in a rabbit hole and just lay down to die
Maybe I’ll get court-martialled but I’m damned if I’m inclined
To go back to my homeland and leave my horse behind.
You see me level this gun at your head-
Well in a minute now you’ll be dead.
Will they find out… will they know…?
I don’t think so…
Why can’t we all go home (repeat)