The Unstoppable Scottish Fighters
This poem pays tribute to the courage and fighting spirit of the Scottish soldiers (Jocks) who served alongside the Australians during the Boer War. Paterson uses lively rhythm, repetition, and Australian vernacular to celebrate their reliability in battle.
The speaker describes how the evasive Boers often avoided direct combat, retreating and taking cover rather than squaring off against standard military tactics. However, when the Boers hid behind defenses, the Scot soldiers were regularly called upon to flush them out.
Paterson characterizes the Scots as unstoppable fighters – hairy, hardy, and fierce. Their raw physical power and fury contrasts with the finesse of cavalry who rely on weapons and carefully groomed horses. The Scots charge straight into danger undaunted.
The repetition of “Send for Jock!” whenever the battle stalls highlights how the Australians depended on their Scot allies to revive the attack with their close-combat intensity. Paterson admiringly depicts them breaking barriers through sheer fighting spirit.
The contribution of Scottish soldiers during the Boer War
Paterson romanticizes the Scots in stereotypical ways, but ‘Jock!‘ accurately reflects the Scots’ real reputation and contribution as tenacious shock troops when confronting Boer defenses. This allowed the Australians to play to their strengths as well.
- Several Scottish regiments served in the Boer War, notably the Black Watch and the Highland Light Infantry.
- The Scots were known for ferocity in close combat and aggressiveness in assaults. This aligned with their Celtic warrior traditions.
- They were relied on to lead attacks against fortified Boer positions, which required courage to directly charge at entrenched enemies.
- The Boers’ guerrilla tactics often rendered standard cavalry charges ineffective, so the Scots’ infantry attacks were valuable to break defenses.
- Contemporary accounts do depict the Scots as fearsome fighters who revived stalled attacks with their furious charges at the enemy without inhibition.
- The Australians greatly respected the Scots for their combat effectiveness and complementary partnership at the frontlines. The Scots reciprocated this admiration.
- Shared dangers forged a strong bond between the allied contingents. Paterson captures this interdependence and mutual esteem.
With minimal lines the poem pays sincere respect to the Scots’ crucial partnership and bravery, which complemented Australian ingenuity. Paterson memorably captures the Scots’ warrior ethos and tenacity which inspired their Australian comrades in situations where standard tactics failed. It’s a cheerful tribute in Paterson’s distinct Australian vernacular voice.
There’s a soldier that’s been doing of his share
In the fighting up and down and round about.
He’s continually marching here and there
And he’s fighting, morning in and morning out.
The Boer, you see, he generally runs;
But sometimes when he hides behind a rock,
And we can’t make no impression with the guns,
Oh, then you’ll hear the order, “Send for Jock!”
Yes—it’s Jock—Scotch Jock. He’s the fellow that can give or take a knock. For he’s hairy and he’s hard, And his feet are by the yard, And his face is like the face what’s on a clock. But when the bullets fly you will mostly hear the cry— “Send for Jock!”
The Cavalry have gun and sword and lance,
Before they choose their weapon, why, they’re dead.
The Mounted Fut are hampered in advance
By holding of their helmets on their head.
And when the Boer has dug himself a trench
And placed his Maxim gun behind a rock,
These mounted heroes—pets of Johnny French—
They have to sit and wait and send for Jock!
Yes, the Jocks—Scotch Jocks, With their music that’d terrify an ox! When the bullets kick the sand You can hear the sharp command— “Forty-Second! At the double! Charge the rocks!” And the charge is like a flood When they’ve warmed the Highland blood Of the Jocks!