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The Regimental March - "Onward The Greyhounds"

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When, towards the end of February, 1941, the various units of the 27th Australian Infantry Brigade were brought together at Bathurst for the first time, it was only natural that there should he a certain amount of inter-unit rivalry. In fact, from a Brigade point of view, a state of healthy rivalry was highly desirable and as the three Battalions were drawn from N.S.W., Victoria and Queensland this was never very much in doubt.

The inter-unit rivalry was responsible for numerous happenings at Bathurst, one of the minor ones being the writing of the following verses, which was brought about in the following manner:

The 2/30th had a band, and a very good one too. The 2/29th also had a good band and in addition they had a Regimental March to which had been set their own words. Everywhere one would hear the words:

"Like the rising sun, we are "Second to None"
The second twenty-ninth".

This was set to the beautiful melody of "Sussex by the Sea" - the regimental march of the 2/29th Battalion.

This, of course, would never do. Admittedly, we had our own regimental march "Waltzing Matilda", which the C. O. had chosen at Tamworth, and our band was always working on it and trying out new arrangements, but it lacked words. Not A.B. Paterson's original words, which are immortal to Australians, but topical words for the 2/30th Battalion. Words that the men could easily learn and sing. We remember the C.O. continually asking "Couldn't anyone in the Battalion do something about it?" It was rather felt that this "rising sun" and "second to none" business was getting on his nerves.

And so it happened, while coming down by train to Sydney for our May leave, the Captain Booth conceived the idea of "Onward the Greyhounds" - in fact the chorus was written during that trip, our old friend Captain John L. Taylor showing his approval in his usual manner.

The word "Greyhounds" was first applied to the 2/30th Bn. at Tamworth in December, 1940, when we were the first unit to wear the new A.I. F. colour patch. This colour patch displayed the original A.I. F. units colours in replica on the 2nd A.I. F. grey background. Our small purple and gold rectangle on the large grey oval of the 8th Division left an unusual amount of grey margin, with the result that "Galleghan's Greyhounds" was a very natural nickname, and "our dearly beloved friends" of the 6th Infantry Training Battalion at Manilla Road wasted little time in spreading it abroad.

They had other names for us too. "Galleghan's Canaries" was probably inspired by the brilliant gold of the 30th rectangle and was later made popular by the quip "He whistles and they hop”. But the "Greyhounds" won the day, and when the Battalion moved to Bathurst it took on an entirely new meaning, one that was to cement it finally and for ever.

Who will ever forget those marches and those timings?
3.19 MPH - "Too slow!" screamed the C O.
28 miles in nine hours - "Still too slow!" he roared.
120 miles in six clays - "Faster, faster!" he cried

Surely we were real "Greyhounds" now - the name had come to stay. And so it was that the words "On with the Greyhounds" took shape and later the several verses were written, except of course that of the ''Johann" which was written at sea. They endeavour to tell of the main events in the life of the Battalion up to the time of its departure for overseas.

The song in its complete form was submitted to and approved by the C.O. as the Regimental March, in May 1941, and it was sung for the first time that evening in the Officers' Mess at Bathurst.

Perhaps its star performance was when it was rendered by a choir of 2/30 Bn officers at a concert on board H.M.T. “FF” at sea.

Note: “Onward the Greyhounds” should not be confused with Corporal Middleton’s masterpiece “Purple and Gold”, which is the Regimental song.

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Last updated 28/11/2013