‘Digger’ was one of several wartime patriotic songs written and recorded by prolific singer-songwriter Jack Lumsdaine, and was released midway through the Second World War.
The song recalls the history of the Diggers of Gallipoli having ‘made Australia’s name’, before describing a soldier in a trench at the battlefront in Europe wistfully recalling iconic parts of his homeland back in Australia.
Popular songs like ‘Digger’ played an important role in motivating Australians and propagandising First and Second World War efforts. ‘Digger’ is also one of a group of songs considered to be from the birth of Australia’s ‘Tin Pan Alley’. It represents the rise of publishing local professional songwriters rather than the work of amateurs, which was the case during the First World War.
John (Jack) Lumsdaine (1895-1948) was one of Australia’s most prominent singers and songwriters of the first half of the 20th century, well known for his topical and patriotic songs.
He worked for print music publishers Allans Music and J Albert and Sons after his First World War service, touring Australia and New Zealand to promote new works, including his own. He later worked as a composer, arranger and performer on the Tivoli vaudeville circuit, and as radio announcer for 2FC then 2GB.
He began his recording career in 1926 with Columbia in Sydney, with many of his songs also recorded by notable singers of the period such as Peter Dawson.