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‘Only One of the Toys’

The dismal lyrics of ‘Only One of the Toys’ suggest that the soldier in question is merely a toy with no authority. He eventually dies on the battlefield, fulfilling the destiny he predicted to his son before leaving for war. Despite its gloomy subject, this 1914 song was surprisingly popular in its day.

Year:1915

Location:Australia

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‘Only One of the Toys’

The dismal lyrics of ‘Only One of the Toys’ suggest that the soldier in question is merely a toy with no authority. He eventually dies on the battlefield, fulfilling the destiny he predicted to his son before leaving for war. Despite its gloomy subject, this 1914 song was surprisingly popular in its day.


Year: 1915

Length: 03:06

Credits: Performer: Harrison Latimer; Lyrics: Mark Ericson, Music: P. Clay-Bealer

Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Catalogue Reference: 229912 Only One of the Toys


Location: Australia

Tags: Australia, song, music, popular music, Harrison Latimer, Mark Ericson, P. Clay-Bealer


Image Title: Screenshot NFSA title: 6979

Image Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia


‘Only One of the Toys’, described on its sheet music as a ‘pathetic soldier song,’ was written by Mark Erickson and P. Clay-Bealer only a few months after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

An extra verse and chorus were later added, supplying patriotic themes missing from the original version. The soldier’s son grows up and, ‘ans’ring the Old Country’s call,’ goes to war himself. ‘With our flag unfurl’d, we are going to show the world, what Australian soldiers can do.’

This recording is sung by Harrison Latimer.

Lyrics:

A soldier was saying “Goodbye” to his wife

He was marching that day to the war

His little son played with a gallant toy brigade

Of brightly painted soldiers on the floor

The boy looked up from his scene of mimic strife

And he said, “Daddy when to war you go,

Will you have a reg’ment too, will you drill it like I do?”

But his father answered “No”

I’m only one of the toys, my boy,

I do what I’m told to do

Perhaps I’ll fall, be forgotten by all

All but your mammy and you

I do my best along with the rest

When I march with the Brave Old Boys

No command is mine, just a number in the line

For I’m only one of the toys

The battle was over and there on the ground

Lay a soldier in pain waiting death

His comrade bent his head just to hear the words he said

That came so slowly with his dying breath

“My dear old pal, you will soon be homeward bound

Tell my wife all that you have heard me say

And remind my little Jim of the words I said to him

On the day I marched away”

I’m only one of the toys, my boy,

I do what I’m told to do 

Perhaps I’ll fall, be forgotten by all 

All but your mammy and you 

I do my best along with the rest 

When I march with the Brave Old Boys 

No command is mine, just a number in the line

For I’m only one of the toys