An Observation (make of it what you will):

I once overheard some colleagues bemoaning the introduction of a new rifle, not because of its small caliber but because of its cumbersome appearance:

I was once a soldier smart,
Learned to stamp my feet, the art
Of calling out ‘The Time’, the thrill
Of perfect, synchronising drill.

We did it in the Sunshine glare
On what was called parade ground square.
It’s something that I’ll always miss.
Those halcyon days, what perfect bliss

To march along in line abreast,
Our arms swung well up to our chest.
Rhythmic, gravelled, crunching feet,
With Pipes and Drums, and pagan beat.

When marking time we’d raise our knees,
Oh what a jape, oh what a wheeze.
We’d point the toe, dig in the heel,
Stay with the marker on the wheel.

Saluting dais comes in sight
So make your dressing by the right.
Neck to collar and chest out,
This is what it’s all about.

Look at us, performing fleas:
Shoulder, order, stand at ease;
Perfect creases, looking good,
Just like all good soldiers should.

Mick Shave

My Toast to The Regiment

The well aimed shot, the instinctive kill,
Return the same intrinsic thrill.
To see it twitch then lie quite still,
Was once the measure of our skill.
So, being alive and because we can,
Let’s raise our glass to the fighting man
Of The Royal Australian Regiment.

(all stand and with raucous voice)
Tip your glass e’n when your old and roar back down the table.
Boast and glare, give back the stare, for you, sir, have been able
To cut and thrust, to fire and move, to prove yourself in might,
To show that you enjoyed the gore and carnage of the fight.
So, being alive and because we can,
Let’s raise our glass to the fighting man
Of The Royal Australian Regiment.

(pass the beer from hand to hand while this is said)
Ah! Here’s the horn of plenty. Drink from it deep without a fuss,
Then bone the bard – but not too hard – would you believe he’s one of us?
That Viking fought at Maldon which, ’tis said, was quite a brawl.
And be careful with that legionnaire he’s just got back from Gaul.
So, being alive and because we can,
Let’s raise our glass to the fighting man
Of The Royal Australian Regiment.

A toast to those who enjoyed their war,
But never dwell on “things” they saw,
Who gain a quiet satisfaction
When thinking of themselves in action.
So, being alive and because we can,
Let’s raise our glass to the fighting man
Of The Royal Australian Regiment.

Mick Shave

Champion Company – a tragic comedy that really happened

One morning safe in barracks while sitting on the loo,
Our Colonel, who’d put duty first, was wondering what to do.
Now, he’d sounded out the adjutant and the R.S. M.
He’d asked that pair what did they think would occupy the men.
They had answered ‘drill, sir. Men love parade ground stuff’.
But the Colonel, after consultation, thought they’d had enough.
Their morale it should be lifted, satisfaction thus enjoyed.
‘We must not have the men abused, but gainfully employed’.

Thus, next morning doing block jobs, the diggers were astonished
When told by sergeant of platoon that toilets must be polished.
”Tis for honour and the Company’s pride’ he’d said to busy soldier
‘And pleased it is you’ll be my boy before you’re too much older.
That instead of stamping feet on square or theory of the gun,
Or concealment from an enemy, or stalking (which is fun),
You will spend your time with elbow grease each morning here with me,
Polishing taps and porcelain and cleaning lavatory’.

So that every week when CO. comes to look at WC.,
Accompanied by the Major and all the powers that be,
And they poke round toilet ledges, check louvred slats for dust,
These expert, fighting officers smelling drains because they must
Ensure their Colonels wish, and we to quench our Major’s thirst,
So that of Battalion’s toilets it’s his that comes in first.
And young, fit, soldier volunteers, now feeling damned annoyed,
Are to be denied all training to be gainfully employed.

But enough of silly moralising, holier than thee,
Who was it beat up all the rest for champion company?
Well, that was Sergeant Kusba, who were a devious swine.
He’d doctored water closets so they smelled like table wine.
Well, ‘twer lemon essence really, after which one could not flush.
And a secret guard on toilet bowls to ward off morning rush.
Which was borne by me and Sergeant Glen ’til trickery did we smell,
After which we cornered Kusba in the Mess and gave him Hell.

So we as well began to use the lemon essence trick.
We all professed to satisfy but thought our Colonel thick,
As he stood at water closet breathing deeply, satisfied,
The diggers standing by their beds all laughed until they cried.
And the CSM., cognisant, fed-up as much as we,
Served the Colonel and his minions a scrumptious morning tea,
Whilst they stood relaxed and at their ease upon our polished floor,
Between urine trough on one side, on the other, closet door.

Mick Shave

Some Advice

Beside that track in jungle green
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.).
Sweat-soaked, dirty, thus unseen
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.).
These young men who crouch so still
Are poised to pounce, to make their kill,
In doing so they’ll do your will; if you
Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.

Platoon or Company, Section strong
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.),
Led by those who can’t do wrong
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.),
Trained by the same consummate skill,
Focused thus to do your will,
But – yours to pay is the butchers’ bill; if you
Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.

And when they stop too old to serve
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.),
Ensure they get what they deserve
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.);
For at that time they must not find
That you and yours have changed your mind.
So, if you’ll then feel less than kind, don’t
Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.

Mick Shave

Political Will (comparing then with now)

Last night I spoke with Caesar’s ghost.
We’d quaffed a glass or two of wine.
But then the bastard made a boast,
How his blokes would be beating mine.

Now, a General I have never been,
I’m saying that reluctantly;
And could not argue what he’d seen.
Thus had to think most carefully.

Therefore I spoke of contact drills,
Of duty weeks and other thrills.
And of the things that I have seen
Tales of what I once had been.

But carefully, not beating breast,
For after all His was the best.
Recounting only what I saw,
Not saying much about my war.

But why not tell of where I’ve been?
Am I ashamed of what I’ve seen?
Or, I’m asking, is it wrong
To beat one’s chest, to sing one’s song?

That man of Caesar’s who jumped ship
With Eagle held in calloused grip
Inspiring witnesses to roar
Then wade with him to Britain’s shore.

Is he so different? Or might I say
To Caesar, oiy come have a look
At all these men so brave today.
Would you have put them in your book?

No, really what I’d meant to say
To Caesar was that on that day
He’d launched his men through thick and thin
Because he meant those men to win.

Whereas in our bold day and age
No matter who might shout and rage
We don’t do that any more.
We’ll fight, but not to win the war.

Which is why I left the swine,
Came back to Earth, peered at my wine.
He knew, thus his boasting leers.
I knew he knew, thus my shame and these my tears.

Mick Shave

A Warriors passing…

Do you remember the place where we lay our heads upon bed of root, so finely twined, a mattress made?

Where buttress root giant must have spoken with Jesus when young? Where words were spoken in hushed whisper?

Light shafts so bright they startled eyes, and made caution grow for fear of what lay beyond in such darkness?

Where mind wandered to fairy-tale where creatures ran through such place, making merry, or encroach heart with fear?

Yet, our warring no tale, just fearsome task, with moment’s respite for such gentle rest and meandering thoughts.

Making no path, moving as shadow through the dark. Lined and waiting in morning mist, the day the clouds wept their thunderous pain.

Loosed with such violence that trees groaned and wailed in sadness. The ground tried to swallow the pain, dragging all down;

Onward, step by torturous step, another taken by angry metal and mire. The wind not ours to hold but foretold of doom.

Trees and men shedding their skin and soul in violent frenzy of menacing metal and conflagration, scents of wood, battle, ordure, and blood.

Rivulets of muddy water tinged red, sweeping downhill and swallowed by jungle, a fern lay over one as blanket, while awaiting the final journey.

Night swallows all, but streaks of fire red, green and flash, screams of the unknown haunting the night, tentative motions to bring them in.

Morning breaks to find once again we are alone, fleeing in the night, leaving predator and rodent in their wake, feasting on such carrion.

Leaving you to be carried home on rotary wings, the steady beat lost in minutes, never to be seen again, salt water on stone the final farewell.

Craig Hannan 03/04/2018…

Warrior Poet – To Dare or Not to Dare

History tells us of cheering crowds on the day we became as one
A proud flag signalling that the pulse beat of a new nation had begun Coloured bunting in joyful city streets where blokes tossed hats so high
In the outback, drovers, shearers, farmers and swagmen drank pubs dry 

Then time for all, young and old, to roll up sleeves and seek tomorrow
A secure happy nation for all generations which would follow
As time went by; despite nature’s tantrums and depression and war 
Always the smiles and unity, never faltering to ask why or what for

At footy you could boo at the opposition; it was part of the Aussie way
As was the applause for winners and losers at the end of the day
Speech included “politicians are up that creek in a barbed wire boat”
Or someone who disagreed could yell “shove a sock down ya throat”

A generation dared to build the Harbor Bridge for all to see
The Snowy River scheme made the world gape at what could be
Blood, sweat and tears linked East and West with a railway line
Bridges, dams, new towns, Holden cars, wool, oil, and world class wine 

The Opera House became another new landmark because we did dare
Such vision with grit and purpose swept our nation, no matter where
Today, our once lucky country has empty pockets and heavy national debt Vision and purpose packed their bags, and in growing darkness, have left

Greens so often lay minefields on our route leading into tomorrow
Meekness is common, so compromises abound and no true path to follow Political promises are made, no matter the lies, always with fingers crossed Soon or late there is betrayal, and more dreams for our nation are lost

Canberra bragged of food to ease world famine and misery often seen
Sadly, empty words and poor excuses have replaced what could have been Often we’ve spoken of fire, drought and flooding rains our nation must master
Yet no new dams for three decades plus, and no more it seems forever after
We talk of unity but carry three flags and still speak of them and us
Our country is at the crossroads; we must find our way or miss the bus

George Mansford ©September 2019

Warrior Poet – Life’s Journey

                  Life’s Journey

At last I have reached the peak
The final goal of life, to rest, no more to seek
Behind me, a winding track of life’s stage
A trail of challenging and happy seasons of mortal age
So many memories quickly fleeting by, year after year
Flickering visions of smiles and tears

Scenes of failure, second chance and sweet success 
Familiar ghostly faces I see more and more, not less
Loved ones I walked with, leaving life’s stage and lost from sight
Comrades in arms waving farewell, and then merging with the night
Countless footprints going forward, sometimes back
Happy and light footed or trudging with heavy burden on life’s track 

So many obstacles with stumbles and heavy falls 
“Get up and try again” always came as a ghostly whispering call
How often did I spurn good advice and charged like a bull at a gate? Instead of more time and thought to let impatience abate
So often in calm waters I cast aside my faith and its rules of life
Yet sought refuge in praying if dark storms threatened terrible strife

Seizing each day, drinking greedily the sweetness of life
Such good fortune with beautiful children and a devoted wife
Often empty pockets, yet always rich with smiles, laughter and song Learnt from mistakes in the hope next time I would not go wrong Striving to make dreams come true of happiness for tomorrow Trying to be brave to cope with sudden and terrible sorrow 

Now as I rest and study my new surrounds
I wonder if this is a false crest and the true peak yet to be found? 
It’s time to seek beyond the gathering misty fog just to make sure After all, life is so sweet and I am greedy for more 
Perhaps there is another signpost with an arrow for me to follow
A precious gift to guide me if there is to be another tomorrow

George Mansford ©July 2019

Warrior Poet – Faith in Tomorrow

In recent times, my talks with youngsters of varying ages in North Queensland continue to reinforce my views of their immense potential for future leadership.  However, such assets may be lost, if we, as today’s torch bearers do not provide leadership including moral courage, social discipline, sense of purpose and more drive to protect our treasured values of life.

We can huff, puff and beat our chests and rightly claim with much pride, past achievements of our nation, yet such pride is diluted when we continue to have politicians wearing blinkers, labouring with heavy egos, and racing in sticky mud behind the pack. Our youth need to emulate leaders who lead.

Our tough and determined pioneers reached their goal of unity and independence by achieving Federation.  Our beloved ANZACs, their sons and daughters and subsequent generation have defended such unity and freedom with their blood, sweat and tears. In my view, the bible they passed on to us of “duty, honour and love of country” is gathering dust, and thanks to politicians of all types, has been replaced by a novel, titled “what’s in it for me?”

Today, not only is there procrastination and apathy but a willingness by our political leaders to appease and tug forelocks.  Our traditional cries of “A fair go for all” and “We are as one” have been replaced by a new Anthem; “Them and us” while political correctness is demanding we say and do what we are told to say and do. There must be sound example by all of us for our youngest generation to follow and emulate. If we fail to set the right standards, then we have betrayed those who lit the torch, and subsequent generations who carried it.  Have no doubt, even our fiery torch without the right fuel will die.

Our leaders at all levels need to roll up their sleeves, use the right compass and once more find and use the track which made our nation a lucky country. The youngsters who will carry the torch into their tomorrow are waiting.

George Mansford April 2019

            

  ANZAC Spirits visit Saint Mary’s College

With pride and joy, all students in the hall shout “We are as one’’
Such a strong call reaches for the High Heavens where life begun 
Via green fields, dusty paddocks and surf where heroes once played  Past shearing shed, factory, office or mansions where they stayed  Then become faint echoes bouncing to and fro as shadows grow tall Suddenly a whispering breeze reaches out with ANZAC coo- eeee calls

It brings a message where the fallen speak with pride of you
No better compliment, for they use the term, Young True Blues

“Stand tall, stay together and help mates who are falling behind
To share with each other and knowing the truth, speak your mind

The best way to protect your values of life is never to ignore its rules
Truth, respect, duty, honour, love of country are essential tools

Set the examples for the next generation which will follow you Freedom of speech and action are precious gifts to use; not abuse
Be alert for evil which can slowly surface to erode a free way of life Your strength is to be united, all as one, be it in peace or strife
Learn as we did, of those before us who also gave blood, sweat and tears 
They changed Colonies to Nation, slowly but surely, year after year.”
  

The gentle wind pauses and a brief silence again
Then in the distance the faint sound of tramping boots reigns

Column of ghosts gathering at Memorials we hold so dear
Ready to mingle with the living at the coming of dawn does near
For a short-time, the fallen are home again; waiting for a new sun
So proud of youngsters who yesterday had shouted “We are as one”
C

George Mansford © April 2019  

AND THEN AT DAWN – 25 April 2019

                      Rain Drops or Tears on ANZAC Day

Columns of Spirits wearing battered slouch hats join us as we mourn Soldiers from some generations, long before were born
They watch as many wreaths for them are carefully laid
Listening via crackling, shrieking microphone as tributes are paid That is not the wind rustling as the bugle sounds
It’s our confused, unhappy, restless ghosts flitting round and round

The Brown Shirts of Berlin with different names are back again Scheming, heckling, bullying, and threatening is part of their game Masters of political correctness vilifying those with other views Politicians still planning for yesterday know naught of what to do False green Prophets guide two legged sheep towards a Utopia never to be
The Spirits whisper “what worth duty and our sacrifice to keep Australia free”

Disabled war veterans searching empty pockets listen too
While buckets of gold are paid to retiring Suits for what they didn’t do
Our sovereignty stolen, be it farms, ports and so much more, day by day
Free speech is the cry, but toe the politically correct line with what you say
Now it seems.
diversity not unity, is the strength of our land
What odds of foreign compass and our heads soon buried in the sand?

Ghosts of Pioneers mingle with our fallen and groan with disbelief Freedom with their pain, sweat and tears slowly stolen by a thief More sad news on hearing that many nursery rhymes are taboo
Like Hitler’s bonfire of truth, some of our books are off limits too Drugs, home invasions, carjacks and fear of walking streets at night Rhetoric and band aids with flawed scales of justice never get it right

The parade is over and the Spirits from yesterday’s nation fade away Australia bleats, as politically correct shepherds gather more strays Teams of coloured shirts gather at polling booths on Election Day
Free to harass, pester and lie to ensure the vote goes their way
Dark clouds rumble and wetness falls from a darkening sky
Is it rain? or angry tears of the fallen as they ask “why?” 

George Mansford ©April 2019

Sabotage at its Best

Enough is enough. Today, we are seeing new rules of engagement being developed to appease a few and which are highly questionable. The very base of our proud military is being exposed to a new rule of “them and us” with some receiving special treatment. Do the experts really believe this will enhance team cohesion and spirit? And what of sense of purpose, individual and collective pride and battle discipline?

Thus my scribbles scrawled in haste and anger this very morning. I make no apologies for any of my comments.

George Mansford 

                 Sabotage at its Best

The military brass of the space age is at it again
Besotted by political correctness and seeking more fame
Bowing to Canberra Masters who know naught of bloody war
Changing the rules and not knowing what for

Who cares about extra risk to pilots and crew?
The bridge must be destroyed even if we lose a few
However, if women are gathering firewood in the area as well
To attack or abort is the decision for pilots to make and later tell

Orders are orders and the air crews think they know what to do
Ground fire is heavy and casualties more than few 
Is that a woman with firewood as the attack is about to begin?
A split second decision determines if they lose or win

No doubt, ruses from past wars will always be the go
Add to the list, lots of firewood carriers running to and fro
Our sky warriors, obeying such orders will suffer loss and pain
Then the fools who made the rules will each receive more medals again

When will this the madness stop which erodes purpose and spirit
Why blunt a very sharp sword with stupidity that seem to have no limit
Team spirit will dim and sense of purpose with pride will surely wither
Unless we rid ourselves of political correctness and Blimps who grovel and dither

George Mansford  2019