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This song cycle pays homage to a group of men from Cambridge New Zealand known as the “Roto Boys”. They originated from the rural district of Roto-o-rangi, which means “The Lake of Heaven”. The Roto Boys served in the army during World War One and were part of the “Main Body” first landing at Gallipoli on the 25th of April 1915. Surviving texts by William Kemp, Francis Paine, Alexander Thomason and William Peake provide sobering and touching insights into the experiences surrounding the Gallipoli campaign. It has not been possible to locate any texts written by Ernest Cox and in lieu of this, a letter by Thomas Phillips of Cambridge has been selected. Phillips was with the Auckland Mounted Rifles and arrived at Gallipoli with the Second Reinforcements. The five songs that make up this work cover the themes of preparation for the battle, letter censorship, facing enemy fire, a dying mans words from hospital and a struggle for remembrance back home.


released April 24, 2015

Album cover background image source: Collection of Puke Ariki. Accession number: ARC2002-861

Permission has been obtained for the use of the following texts:

Francis Asbury Paineʼs postcard:
Paine family private collection.

William David Kempʼs letter home:
Ref: ARC2002_861_1, collection of Puke Ariki.

Thomas Wallace Phillipsʼ letter to his brother:
Courtesy of Margaret McLean, niece of Thomas Phillips.
Arranged via the Cambridge Museum.

John William Peakeʼs public address:
courtesy of the Cambridge Museum.

William David Kempʼs diary:
Ref: ARC2002-861, collection of Puke Ariki.

The following public domain text was obtained from online resources:

Excerpts from the diary of George Wallace Bollinger.
National Library of New Zealand

Alexander Thomasonʼs letter published by the New Zealand Herald 1915. Papers Past Web Site, National Library of New Zealand.

According to the Papers Past copyright instructions, where the author or publisher can be identified, in New Zealand the copyright term is the life of the author plus 50 years. Alexander Thomason died in June 1916 while in his 23rd year, therefore the copyright on his letter expired in June 1939.



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Bruce Paine Auckland, New Zealand

Recognized as one of New Zealand’s finest classical guitarists, Bruce Paine has had experience in a wide and varied range of guitar performance situations from private house concerts to more prestigious events. He is known for his engaging guitar performances, his own original guitar compositions and several compact disk releases of his work. ... more

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Track Name: Before the Fun

Route march church parade,
light drill, on fatigue,
on guard at half past four,
washing day and cleaning up,
afternoon off!

March down, to the canal,
company in attack
had a look at football match,
after dinner relay races,
thirteen platoon top the score,
went for a swim

Route march, muster parade,
battalion drill, on fatigue,
on guard at quarter to six,
cleaning tents in morning
rest for the night!

Very hot, marching through
the loose sand
parade in full marching order
drill and lectures during the day,
dismissed half past four,
swim in afternoon!

Route march, company parade
bayonet drill loading camels,
on guard edge of the canal
cleaned up the officers tent
having a rest!

Morning off, down Cairo,
went to All Saints church,
seen three French weddings,
seen the tree where Mary rested,
drank water from Joseph's well,
sleep rest of the day!

Route march battery parade,
company drill, striking camp,
on guard relieved this evening,
washday ing and feet inspection,
rest of the day off!

Orders came, two o' clock,
thirteen platoon, fall in as soon as possible
prepare for a minute's notice,
order cancelled twenty four hours,
all are ready!

Route march, on patrol,
back a bout four hours,
heard firing over canal not far from us,
all our leave stopped,
so we may see some fun,
very soon...
Track Name: Dear Mother

Mother, Mother, Dear Mother,
Just a few lines, to say say,
I cannot give you much news,
as all mail is censored

All letters, All letters,
All letters are now censored

I am out of the hospital
and "A" "1" again
also joined mates again

Censored, All letters are now censored

Jack is with us once again
Which we are pleased

All Roto boys
All Roto-o-rang-i boys
are "A" "1" and fit!

All letters are now censored

We had a few drops of Rain
few drops for a change

Censored, all letters are now censored

Well now, well now.
Love to all
I remain your son.
Track Name: Day of Days

Close to the shores of southern Gallipoli
the day was beautiful and fine
What a day of days!

we could see the Australians,
under fire from Turkish shrapnel
and ma chine guns placed in gullies

when torpedoers towed us in fast
we sang "Just before the battle mother",
bullets flipping round us

barges carried us
right up on the beach
we landed among our wounded mates
who'd disembarked before us

we moved up the hill full of snipers
dug in under bushes
we pushed on to the main line
got a very warm reception

we got bullets and shrapnel
introduced to us there!

Every officer and sergeant
was either killed or wounded

They were calling for medical men
and stretcher bearers
they had some daring work
which they did nobly

it was a great day
but we got what we joined for
with interest

I am the only Roto
that has been spared through it all,
the other boys, all went down
the first day in action
Track Name: The War is Finished for Me

I am now in dear old England
In a beautiful mansion
a beautiful mansion

the war is finished for me

I am getting every thing you want
chocolate sweets and fruits
any dish you can think on
any dish you can think on

the war is finished for me

It is all New Zealand nurses
they are simple goodness itself
simple good ness itself

the war is finished for me

When I am quite alright
I am allowed to go to Scotland
allowed to go to Scotland

the war is finished for me

Never tell Dear Mother
I am looking forward to seeing her
looking forward to seeing her

the war is finished for me

I return to New Zealand when bet ter
my left hand not much use
which means pension

the war is finished for me

I will close now wishing you well
as it leaves me
the war is finished for me
your dear old brother
Track Name: In Times Like These

If you are not prepared to solve
solve your difficulties
in times like these, in times like these, in times like these

then far better let those boys
rest in peace than to convey,
to convey, to convey, to convey

Convey to them in spirit
that you will not make a sacrifice to your views,
to your views, to your views, to your views

Sacrifice and do them honour
where all are united, united
Sacrifice and do them honour
where all are united, united

If you are not prepared to solve,
solve your difficulties
in times like these, in times like these, in times like these

let those boys rest in peace