Some collective thoughts on the history of the Slushie War Cry - Lord Somers Camp and Power House

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Some collective thoughts on the history of the Slushie War Cry

Late on the last Friday night of Big Camp 2024 when Staff gathered in the Bush Chapel for a service to remember deceased LSC&PH members and whilst the Groupers were with the Slush learning the Slushie War Cry, I presented some thoughts into the origins of the Slushie War Cry. The same information was then presented at the 2024 Oldies Camp Remembrance Service where I was encouraged to publish more widely via the No Rest News.

It seems very little has been written about the Slushie War Cry in our Association records.

We do know that the Slushie War Cry is an adaptation from a South African traditional song known as “The Swazi Warrior” or “The Zulu Warrior”.

Andrew Burman’s recent research discovered that “The Swazi Warrior” became familiar to Europeans around the time of the Boer War, but we are not sure exactly who adapted what source material.

In Andrew’s following source materials, the lyrics are nonsensical and seem to be imitating Swazi/Zulu chants of the time rather than being direct transcriptions or translations.

The Oxford Song Book Vol 2, 1931 describes “The Swazi Warrior” as a “prince of marching songs, which appears to be a relic of the Zulu War”, while Lewis Winstock in ‘Songs of the

Redcoats’ (1970), says “nothing is known of the song in the songs of the campaign [of 1878]”.

The Royal Naval Brigade is thought to have taken up the tune as a marching song in South Africa around 1900. The first versions seem to start circulating the globe with the return home of British and Empire soldiers after the First and Second Boer Wars.

Lord Baden-Powell, who served with the British Army from 1879 – 1910 including in South Africa, is thought to have brought the words and tunes into the Scouting Movement, of which he founded in 1907 and was the first Chief Scout. From there it probably moved out into other youth groups, university colleges and sporting clubs.

It is possible that Lord Somers friendship with Baden-Powell and his connection to the Scouts, where he was the successor Chief Scout to Lord Baden-Powell, might have given him an opportunity to bring The Swazi Warrior to Camp.

A quick Google search finds a some versions of the Swazi Warrior song that are of interest.

Power House Football Club Historian, Ian Hammet found a version of The Swazi Warrior being sung by a Kiwi choir (the Christchurch Liedertafel), recorded in 1962. Of interest is that this version opens with “Kimilio, Kimilio, War”. Click on this link to play that now.

In It’s Only the Game That Counts, the history of Lord Somers Camp and Power House, author Alan Gregory credits Sir William McKie, Camp’s Musical Director as the composer of the Slushie War Cry. McKie was known as “Pipes”; at the time he was the City of Melbourne organist and later become the organist of Westminster Abbey. The History states that at a weekend camp in 1933, Pipes was sunbaking on the lawn and suggested that the Slushies should have a war cry. He proceeded to the piano in Haddon Hall and knocked together a war cry to the tune of The Swazi Warrior.

The History also says that the Slushie War Cry was first performed publicly after an Athletic Club victory at the Amateur Sports Ground (now Olympic Park).

To this day the Power House Football Club uses the Slushie War Cry as its war cry. In 1947, when the Football Club reformed after the war, Orm Smith was the Slushie King and he also became Vice-President and Captain of the Football Club. Therefore, it seems likely that he instigated the Football Club’s use of the Slushie War Cry as the club war cry.

From the first Lady Somers Big Camp in 1986, the Slushees have proudly sung the Slushee War Cry and the combined Slush have regularly performed the War Cry together at significant Association events.

At the 2003 Oldies Camp, Stan Bisset explained how while playing Rugby for Victoria against the touring South African Springboks in 1936, he learnt different lyrics to The Swazi Warrior. Stan of course is a legend of our Association; he was one of the leaders of the 2nd 14th battalion on the Kokoda

Track; a regular at Big Camp pre- and post-war where he served some twenty years as a lyrical and well-voiced Games Director, regularly singing The Swazi Warrior and other songs.

Click here to play a recording of Stan singing his version of The Swazi Warrior, recorded at the 2003 Oldies Camp.

We assume that Alan Gregory’s history is correct. It is most likely that Stan was at that weekend Camp in 1933 as well, and perhaps contributed along with Pipes and possibly other Camp members, to put together what we know now as the Slushie War Cry in Haddon Hall.

Rick Burman recalls that in his early days at Camp, the Slushie War Cry was more often sung, like the recordings we’ve heard earlier, rather than chanted or shouted as it is today.

To finish, Stuart Douglas found a rollicking rendition of The Zulu Warrior being sung by around 1959/60 by a band called The Brothers Four. Click here to play The Brothers Four version.

Finally, I would welcome any comments that might contradict or add to the above thoughts on the history of the Slushie War Cry.

Going forward, Jack Hammond has suggested that it would of interest to research the origins of the Boys Camp Group War Cries.

If anyone has anything to contribute, I can be contacted via ric@printell.com.au

Ric Dakin (1981 Light Blue)

With contributions from Aaron Hammond, Andrew Burman, Ian Hammet, Ian Hopkins and Stuart Douglas.

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