Rally ‘round the banner of your country
Take the field with brothers o’er the foam
On land or sea
Where’er you be
Keep your eye on Germany
But England, home and beauty
Have no cause to fear
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
No, no, no! Australia will be there.
(‘For Auld Lang Syne! – Australia Will Be There’, by Skipper Francis)
Australia will be there was the ‘pop song’ of its day. Written in 1915, it became an unofficial anthem and troops marched to it as they left for the front. Patriotic music such as this was used to stir up enthusiasm for the war and to express national pride.
The first volunteers to leave from Coburg were farewelled on 18 September 1914 at the Public Hall in Bell Street. Fifty-two men were heading off to war and they had already taken part in a march of troops from Victoria Barracks to Broadmeadows Camp on Saturday 22 August.
(Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 18 September 1914)
One local newspaper described the scene:
From Brunswick to Gaffney’s Road the road was thronged with men, women and children, who wildly cheered the troops as they marched past. Almost every business and shop had streamers of flags hung across the verandahs. (Brunswick and Coburg Star, 21 August 1914)
They referred to the troops as a ‘living stream of volunteers eager to enlist’ but they were also a pretty motley crew: ‘they were a mixed-looking lot in their mufti; some were carrying neat Gladstone bags, and some only an unpretentious parcel.’ (Brunswick and Coburg Star, 21 August 1914) Within a few weeks, they had become a fighting force, ready to embark for Egypt.
The 1st AIF Expeditionary Force on their farewell parade, marching through the main street of Coburg, prior to their departure for service overseas. 22 August 1914. This is a stereograph image, hence the two images side by side. Image courtesy AWM, ID number P00852.002. Photographer George Rose.
The first men to enlist from Coburg were:
Chas E. Bromley