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
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.