Category Archives: wartime

ANZAC Poems by Leon Gellert

THE ATTACK AT DAWN

At every cost,’ they said, ‘it must be done.’

They told us in the early afternoon.

We sit and wait the coming of the sun

We sit in groups, — grey groups that watch the moon.

We stretch our legs and murmur half in sleep

And touch the tips of bayonets and yarn.

Our hands are cold. They strangely grope and creep,

Tugging at ends of straps. We wait the dawn!

 

Some men come stumbling past in single file.

And scrape the trench’s side and scatter sand.

They trip and curse and go. Perhaps we smile.

We wait the dawn! … The dawn is close at hand!

A gentle rustling runs along the line.

‘At every cost,’ they said, ‘it must be done.’

A hundred eyes are staring for the sign.

It’s coming! Look! … Our God’s own laughing sun!


THE LAST TO LEAVE

The guns were silent, and the silent hills
had bowed their grasses to a gentle breeze
I gazed upon the vales and on the rills,
And whispered, “What of these?’ and “What of these?
These long forgotten dead with sunken graves,
Some crossless, with unwritten memories
Their only mourners are the moaning waves,
Their only minstrels are the singing trees
And thus I mused and sorrowed wistfully

I watched the place where they had scaled the height,
The height whereon they bled so bitterly
Throughout each day and through each blistered night
I sat there long, and listened – all things listened too
I heard the epics of a thousand trees,
A thousand waves I heard; and then I knew
The waves were very old, the trees were wise:
The dead would be remembered evermore-
The valiant dead that gazed upon the skies,
And slept in great battalions by the shore.


Leon Gellert (1892-1977), soldier, poet and journalist, was born on 17 May 1892 in Adelaide.220px-Leon_Gellert

As a lance sergeant with the 10th Battalion, he landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Wounded by shrapnel, he was suffering from both septicaemia and dysentery when evacuated to Malta in July and then on to London. He was diagnosed with epilepsy, repatriated and discharged medically unfit on 30 June 1916.

In November he re-enlisted in Adelaide, only to be discharged almost immediately. 

He died on 22 August 1977.

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Simpson and his donkey.

“Despite the fear the men mostly took everything that was thrown at them. I saw some brave things at Gallipoli. One thing that made a big impression on us was the actions of a man we called ‘The Man with a Donkey’. He was a stretcher-bearer and he used to carry the wounded men down to the clearing station on the beach… This man, Simpson his name was, was exposed to enemy fire constantly all the days I was there, and when I left Shrapnel Gully he was still going strong. I considered, and so did my mates, that he should be given the Victoria Cross.” – A. B. (Albert) FACEY, A Fortunate Life

Simpson_and_the_donkeySimpson landed at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915, and with a donkey he found soon became known to the men fighting at Gallipoli.  Together they are famous for transporting over 300 wounded soldiers from the frontline at Gallipoli.  He continued his work until May 19 when he was killed in action by Turkish machine gun fire.

In spite of ongoing efforts, John Simpson has never been awarded the Victoria Cross.  See ABC news article here.

“G’day Troops”

G’day troops, it’s us again,

You’re probably lying in some bloody drain.

With the wind-n-the sun, the flies-n-the rain,

And we all hope that soon, you’ll be back home again.

The footy is over, and some teams have won,

We saw you on telly, you were all having fun.

In our country’s hearts, you’re still number one,

While you’re over there, we all say “well done”.

When you arrive home, you’ll be in for a shock,

The wharf will be crowded as you come in to dock.

There’ll be loved ones-n-children-n-old uncle Joes,

Some Aussies down there that you don’t even know!

So keep up the good work, the world’s watching you,

We’re all Aussies together, and that’s called “true blue”!!

by Waldo Bayley, Bush Poet from Humpty Doo

 

 

Unlikely Mates

When I was only 6 months old, my parents moved to a hippy commune near Elands in northern NSW.  Elands is an inland town south of Port Macquarie and is perhaps best known for the nearby Ellenborough Falls. At 200 metres, Ellenborough Falls is one of the longest single drop waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere and a popular tourist attraction.

xvjftWe lived at the commune together until I was around 16 years old, and it was an interesting place to grow up, with many interesting people but there is one man who I remember best.

He was a local farmer named Preston. His farm was near the commune so he was fairly well known to everyone at the commune.

Preston was not a very good farmer. He lived there with his elderly parents and was incredibly lazy.

He was the crustiest old bachelor you could imagine. He didn’t spend any time tending to farm maintenance and over time, grass grew long and fences rot and fell down. When the cows escaped he would send his Mother out to collect them.

The house too began falling apart and Preston did nothing to maintain or repair. It was literally falling down around them. Preston was a confirmed bachelor, never having a girlfriend and very few friends.  Eventually both his parents passed away and Preston was left to run the farm on his own.

Preston didn’t drive a car. He had a tractor. Once a week he would ride his tractor along the highway into town. The tractor was loud and slow, and at the commune we could hear him coming along the road for hours. One day, he drove his tractor into town, it took him 2 hours to get there. He bought his beer in town and began drinking it as he drove back home. Not far from home, he realized he had drunk all his beer so turned the tractor around and drove back to town to buy more beer! Needless to say, we heard his tractor chugging at a snails pace along the highway all day long.

One day a Frenchman named Jacques arrived at the commune. He was a long way from home, looking for a new home. He told everyone he was a builder and had fought in the French Resistance during WW2 and I don’t think anyone doubted this was true. He told how his job was to lay ambush mines for Germans soldiers. This was towards the end of the war when the German army were recruiting the Hitler Youth. On this one day, he saw that the German soldiers he was targeting were all 13 or 14 years old and he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger.

Jacques found a piece of land he liked and camped there. He soon decided it was a good place to build a small house and began building around his tent. He did not know that he was living on Preston’s property.

Now, because Preston was such a lazy farmer, it took him six months to realize Jacques was squatting on his property. By this time, Jacques house was half built!

Preston’s reaction on discovering Jacques was not as you might expect. Preston could see that Jacques was a decent builder and had an idea. He invited Jacques up to his house and made him a proposition.

He would allow Jacques to live on his land, and to finish building his own house if Jacques repaired and maintained Preston’s house. A deal was struck. No solicitors, no contracts, just a verbal agreement.

And so it was. For many years the two men shared the land and became unlikely friends and constant companions. In fact they lived together for decades until Jacques was put into a retirement home by his daughter Veronique.

Preston and Jacques, unlikely and lifelong mates.

by Brad Lucas.

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Bring Them Home (poem)

Fifty years ago our troops were sent to war,
in a country called Vietnam.
The folks back home despised us
and didn’t give a damn.

The cost to bring them home was as much as 500 pounds!
which many families couldn’t afford it was such a bloody shame
521 soldiers were killed 496 were brought home
This left 25 soldiers whose families felt that they were the ones to blame!

These Australian soldiers were NOT buried with respect,
in a Commonwealth War Grave like the others
Twenty four still lay in Terendak and one in Kranji too
Respect could not be paid by their brothers sisters fathers and mothers

Now the time has come to bring these troops back home
and bury them with the respect
at home at last with their families and friends
their lives we now reflect

Now let us bow our heads in sorrow,
and give a helping hand.
So that our troops may now be buried here,
In Australia’s great homeland!

by Waldo Bayley, Bush Poet from Humpty Doo

“Lest we forget”

Vietnam Vets pledge
“Honour the Dead, but Fight like Hell for The Living”

©Waldo’s Australian Bush Poetry
Waldo & Sue from Humpty Doo NT 0836 Ph 08 89881258
Email barrashack@bigpond.com

PS. Please visit http://www.bringthemhome.org.au and register your vote to bring them home as they cannot !

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