The Sniper

Original Text: 
Soldier Songs From Anzac (Melbourne: George Robertson, 1915), 5th edn.: 15-19.
1I've seen the champions of the land,
3The Canadian back-woodsman
6        Baggin' pigeons by the score,
7The crack shot on the stage, too,
8        With his thousand tricks or more.
10        Who can beat the bloomin' lot,
11For 'ittin' of the bull's eye
13'Is eye is like the eagle's;
14        'Is nerves are made of steel;
15For cunnin' an' for darin',
16        'E takes the candied-peel.
17'E digs 'isself in neatly
18        Until 'e can't be seen;
19'E crawls among the bushes,
20        An' paints 'imself all green.
21'E climbs up stunted pine-trees,
22        An' snipes away at us.
24        An' 'e never makes a fuss.
25'Is rifle's got a silencer,
26        An' it never makes a flash;
27You don't know that he's shootin'
28        Till you hear his bullets splash.
29Then you know it's time to 'ook it,
30        'Less you want one through the head,
31For Mr. Turkish Sniper
32        Never wastes 'is bit o' lead.
33If 'e's shootin' from a thousand,
34        Or just from twenty-five,
35You'll 'ear 'is bullets 'umming
36        Like bees around a 'ive.
37'E's mighty fond o' loop-'oles,
40        'E fairly takes the bun.
41If you leap out from the trenches,
42        To cut scrub that grows around,
43You'll see 'is purrin' bullets
45If you're fixin' up entanglements,
46        An' stickin' up barbed wire,
47He's on you like a lynx-cat
48        With 'is deadly snipin' fire.
49But when 'e gets upon our flanks
50        It stirs our slumberin' ire,
51An' we curse the Turkish sniper,
53'E 'ides be'ind our trenches,
54        An' piles up 'eaps o' slain;
56        An' makes us yelp with pain.
57'E watches all our cables,
58        Shoots our linesmen on patrol,
59Then crawls out in the darkness
61On officers 'e's dead nuts,
62        They seem to be 'is game;
63'E tops them off so cruel
64        When they're busy winnin' fame.
65'E nicks our bloomin' uniform,
66        An' mixes up with us;
67Then 'e goes away a-snipin',
68        The free-bootin' Turkish cuss.
69'E's got no Ten Commandments,
70        An' Sunday's just the same;
71'E don't believe in eight hours
72        When 'e's on 'is snipin' game.
73If you're after a commission,
74        An' you want to ride in cars,
75Just stick your 'ead above the trench,
76        An' 'e'll give you bloomin' stars;
78        And by Mr. Sniper seen,
79'E'll send you back to 'ospital
80        With a bullet through your spleen.
81When you're sleepin' 'mongst the wounded,
82        An' you wake up with nightmare,
83You'll dive right underneath your bed
84        An' yell out, ."Snipers there!."
85The nurses an' the orderlies,
86        Will flock around your bed;
87You'll tell them that they're under fire,
88        An' to duck their bloomin' 'ead.
89You'll grab the bally bedstead;
90        It's your rifle, so you think;
91The nurse will feel your pulse an' say.
92        It's too much beastly drink.
93When you're walkin' streets in Cairo,
94        An' 'ear 'ornets buzzin' round,
95Then you'll think o' flying bullets,
96        An' you'll flatten to the ground.
97When you get back to Australia
98        (That's if you've got the luck),
100        You'll feel inclined to duck.
101When you've pulled off all your khaki
102        An' no longer look a fighter,
103You'll feel where you've been wounded,
104        And you'll curse the Turkish Sniper.


2] Bisley: Bisley Shooting Ground, Surrey (National Rifle Association Camp). Back to Line
4] Grizzly: grizzly bear. Back to Line
5] Monte Carlo: sporting gun for shooting birds. Back to Line
9] Gallipoli: ANZAC troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula on April 25, 1915 (now commemorated as ANZAC Day). Back to Line
12] 'ot: hot. Back to Line
23] pozzy: firing position. Back to Line
38] maxim-gun: machine-gun. Back to Line
39] periscope: tube-and-mirror device that enables a soldier to look above the trench wall. Back to Line
44] furrers: furrows. Back to Line
52] enfiladin': raking. Back to Line
55] brisket: breast. Back to Line
60] roll: a spool of cable that a lineman would have strapped to his back to fix damaged communications lines (courtesy of Matt Moy, Nov. 8, 2005). Back to Line
77] traverse: likely a parapet of earth raised across a line of fire for defence. Back to Line
99] tabby: girlfriend. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire