Written on the occasion of the conversion of the 24th L.H. Regt to the 24th Motor Regt.
There’s an undertone of sadness running thro’ the Regiment,
There’s a sorrow that’s unspoken – “tis a horseman’s sad lament,
For the heads have spoken and it’s they who run this “Show”,
They’re putting us in Motor Cars and the horses have to go.
The horses will be paddocked since their usefulness has passed,
The horselines will be silent and the gear all stacked at last,
The jingle of the snaffles and creak of riding gear,
The tramping of the ironshod hooves, that’s music to the ear.
And the sweaty smell of horseflesh when the long day’s ride is done,
And the busy scene at stables at the setting of the sun.
All those long and silent vigils thro’ frosty winter’s night,
Watching tired horses sleeping beneath the stars unfailing light.
All the stablemen and picquets, all the things we’ve learned to know,
Will be scrapped with spurs and leggings once the horses have to go.
And the hands that hold the curbing rein, where hoofbeats led,
Will have to handle levers or a steering wheel instead.
There’s no glamour or tradition of machines in history,
Like the cavalcade of triumphs of the dashing cavalry.
Thro’ a thousand years of history countless stories have been told
Of the valour and the courage of the horse and soldier bold.
But the times have changed in Warfare as they’ve changed in every game
We must modernise our killing tho’ the object’s just the same.
We must think in terms of engines as we never thought before
And the folk who work the factories are the one’s who’ll win this war.
All the squatters and the cockies from the scrubs and plains out west,
All the drovers and the stockmen, all the shearers and the rest,
Have to turn their minds to engines and forget the things they’ve done,
For this is a war of experts and mechanics – with a gun.
There are men who ride the skyways who for years just rode the “run”
On the stations that lie westward neath the scorching summer sun.
There are men in tanks and carriers, there are men in every force
Who have lived across a saddle somewhere on the Watercourse.
There are men who rode the ridges over Warialda way,
There are men who rode the mountains riding on the sea today.
And the horse is getting rarer in the wars they fight today
Midst the clash of tanks and bombers, a Neddie has no part to play.
So they’ll send him back aroaming in the paddocks that he knew,
He will miss the care and grooming and the comradeship that grew
Between him and his rider, thro’ the years that now have flown.
He will miss the crowded horselines when he wanders on his own.
He will miss the man who helped him thro, the blazing years of drought,
And the man will miss the horse he could not do without.
And I seem to sense that sadness, like a shadow in the air,
Tho, it,s silent and unspoken I can somehow feel it there.
We must re-adjust our outlook as a Mounted Motor Force,
But we still will miss that comradeship and fondness for a horse.
And the boys will feel it keenly as the parting moment nears,
But there is a job to finish and there’ll be no time for tears.
They will manage without horses, when they come from the north,
And the answer will be ‘Present’ when they call the 24th.