Tuesday, February 4, 2014

(What Will We Do With) Maud Butler

Words and music:  John Thompson

Mark Cryle was kind enough to tell me about the amazing Maud Butler, a seventeen-year-old girl who was so keen to help the war effort in 1915, that she bought up a uniform one piece at a time and then stowed away on a troop ship.  Twice!

Her amazing story is well worth telling.  There are some especially good links online to original news stories about her exploits:


and for her persistent offending:


Maud Butler had a brother in the army
And so she made her way to Sydney town
At 17 she knew her mind
She wouldn't just be left behind
And so Maud tried to join the army

Oh, what will we do with Maud Butler?
She dresses as a soldier and she wants to go to war
She jumped a ship to cross the foam
Better than any stay-at-home
The prettiest little soldier-boy the Army ever saw.

A lovely farmer's daughter from old Kurri Kurri town
When she tried to sign on as a nurse they turned the poor girl down.
So she bought herself some soldier's gear
Cut her hair and wiped her tears
And she climbed up a rope to board a transport

Three days in a life-raft with not a bite to eat
Til bold as brass she walked the decks, the sailor-boys to meet
An officer saw her walking about
Her boots were wrong, they found her out.
Poor Maud was put ashore in dear old Melbourne

Only two months later, Maud was back on board again
Another attempt to see the front, in the company of men
I'll do my bit to help the war”
She told them when she was back on shore
"I just want to be a soldier"

This young girl's an example to all of those who shirk
Where other's would have given up, Maud Butler went to work
A lesser girl would have had enough
But Maud was made of sterner stuff
So raise a cheer and sing of Miss Maud Butler