Poem – Our Mate Billy

There are generations of Regimental Sergeant Majors who have aged quite quickly while disciplining wayward soldiers’ intent on challenging rules and procedures or creating their own. It is also true to say that the names of such soldiers were also well known to their commanding officers, who with rare exceptions developed facial twitches whenever such names were mentioned.

In the main, these rogues were among the old hands of the unit and knew all the tricks of the trade. To them, regulations and rule were there to be ignored or manipulated in the name of a fair go for diggers. They were bush lawyers after much experience from standing to attention in front of the Colonel’s desk. It was very rare for any of them to escape punishment which I might add, they readily accepted as a “fair cop’. However they should never be confused with shirkers, jack-men or whiners who after a short time of soldiering were given incentives to seek other employment.

The larrikins I write of were known to all who wore the same badge.  Some even became legends.  In my mind, despite breaches of  Barracks discipline, they carried out demanding tasks wherever and whenever; not because of pompous orders but because they were part of the military family and believed in it.

On operations, they borrowed, traded and liberated valuable and much needed resources from neighbouring allies who had more than they required. The hierarchy on most occasions in such circumstances turned a blind eye.

History records that in the fog of war and without guidance; more than one rebel stepped forward to lead.

One of the penalties in today society is that the powerful computer is slowly but surely removing the initiatives, judgment and authority from unit commanders. There was a time when the commanding officer with the advice of the RSM would decide the future of a reprobate within the family. Today, such authority is being consumed by hungry computers which then spit out the records of offences without any knowledge of the victims they have processed.   It is all in the name of enhanced administration.

Computers do not see the hidden assets so many of these warriors demonstrate when needed.  Good commanders and their experienced junior leaders do.

I have selected a Digger called Billy who is just one of many to have trudged the military track through barrack life and in the field. He readily accepted his punishment as part of the game and no matter when or where was true blue to his comrades and unit.  So here’s to you, Billy Boy, and all the others like you who were very much part of the military family and always there when needed. Let’s hope such genes will still be soldiering long after the Space Age.

 

                 Our Mate, Billy

Billy was the nightmare of every CO and RSM

Ran the Two Up and Dice Games in many a secret den

He was known to liberate Gurkha Rum from the Q store

Often forged leave passes as long as you paid at the door

The truth or not, swearing a sacred oath on a bible was survival for him

Thus there were times that Billy, according to military law, was free of sin

A bush lawyer, he knew all the tricks of the army game

Even Generals shuddered at the mention of his name 

The story of him finding unguarded bottled beer while on a troopship is true

The feat was celebrated on the lower deck by more than a drunken few 

He rigged a Melbourne Cup sweep so no senior rank could win

Alas, before the draw, their tickets accidentally fell into the bin

Threw a wild party for the rival team the night before the big footy game

Won a fortune backing his own mob and gained more fame

A young officer still wet behind the ears claimed to be the best of the best

So extra weight was hidden in his pack and he failed the endurance test

Today’s computers would mark Billy in red and a liability to all

Yet he was always there in the field when our bugle did call

No matter the hardships, danger, the fearful unknown and mile after mile

Always he was sharing, caring and making many a weary soldier smile

Then one very sad day, our unit radios spluttered the news

Billy’s luck had run out and the grief was felt by more than a few 

Old soldiers still talk of Billy’s time and such a great mate

Even the CO and RSM bet that he has already raffled the Pearly Gates

George Mansford ©January 2018

 

Editorial Comment.
We can all recall at least one person in our Unit that fits – Our mate Billy

Paul Hogan as Pat Cleary in “The Anzacs” mini-series 1985 would be one

Poem – Regimental Square ANZAC Day, 2017

I thought “I’ll march this Anzac Day,”

To Sydney thus I’ll make my way.

But then, to set my medals straight,

I pause a moment at my gate

To ponder ‘neath the starry sky

On where I’m going to and why.

To there, the Square on George Street.

The place where all we blokes do meet.

To greet once more to have a say,

Gathered there on Anzac Day,

To think for moments in that Square

About the men no longer there.

 

 

No longer there but always there

These ghostly memories on the Square.

Their presence felt as we give thanks,

Shuffling, murmuring in their ranks,

And as the bugle calls last post

We proudly stiffen with that host.

Standing tall with all those men

Who link our presence now with then;

Their bayonets, bullets, marching feet

Providing terms on which we meet:

Our bridge, our nexus, common ground

For sharing with them that sweet sound

Which gently fades away.

Poem – Shuffling in Clanking Chains or Running Free 

         Shuffling in clanking chains or running free 

No magic wand was waved to create our precious way of life 

Our genesis was pain and misery mid terrible strife

Of clanking iron chains, the lash and a dangling noose of rope

Despite such hardships over many years, there was always hope

Dreams of a new life gathered appetite and with it came a plate

A bowl of liberty and unity that even for the hungriest did sate

With blood, sweat and tears, those before us forged a proud nation

To challenge old worlds as it reached out for tomorrow’s station  

So why in this Space Age have we ignored lessons from the past?

Bending to noisy minorities groups eroding our way of life so fast

Our national spirit blurred by ignorance, mischief, greed and conceit  

Canberra’s reckless spending sprees will cause poverty and bare feet 

Balding Wigs of Court pampering felons and ignoring their victims 

Big brother is freezing tongues and twisting truth with sly systems

Misfits wanting, yet giving naught while dawdling in life at lazy pace   

Growing contempt for law of the land and no responsibilities to face

If only we could stop this mad stampede to quicksand

To recapture precious values in family castles within our land

To once more apply commons sense and sound reason 

Fight that political correctness poisoning us more with each season

To insist on social discipline and justice so essential to our way of life

Never to blindly follow drums and bugles into terrible strife

No longer mute and blinkered but speaking out to keep us free

To honour those whose dreams became reality for you and me 

If we seek shade and sleep under a leafless tree 

What of those yet to be born in a country once free?

Never forget that our way of life is based on a fair go for all

“United we stand or divided we will fall” must always be our call

To watch our course and steer true bearings we all understand 

To decide what’s first; the whim of a few or the voice of our land  

Our pulse beat of life must be unity, vision and never doubt or fear 

Stand tall now or bow meekly to clanking chains in coming years 

George Mansford © December 2017

Poem – Train to Win not Fall

Train to Win not Fall

Always is the pain and horror of war

No different from all generations before 

Nor changed is the bible of self-preservation for all

Still the battle cry screamed at recruits “train to win; not fall’ 

 

Our military is now under fire from politically correct fools

For them, war’s a game where they ignore proven rules 

Such amateurs cannot read past lessons, even in bright light

Besides, far better with heads in the sand to appease, not fight

 

A curse on Canberra’s recruit quotas to please a few

No matter who, selecting on merit is what you must do

Common sense demands soldiers who are the best

The smartest soldier from any quota may not pass the final test

 

Special badges and pandering to some is now a space age trend 

However, if you seek unity, it’s a dangerous message to send

In war it’s all about the team facing danger together

Obeying Gods with chevrons despite fear, hunger, thirst, or weather

 

Unity and mateship are the keys. 

Mid gore, blood, and mud, there’s no time for diversity

On the Field of Mars, soldiers will be required to risk all

Always going forward if “all for one and one for all” is the call

 

Combat is the ultimate test for discipline and caring for each other

Where the best of the best become true sisters and brothers

Forget quotas and rules for “them and us” at the starting gate

War is “horses for courses” where all must carry the same weight

George Mansford ©October 2017

 

Poem – In Memory?

A  poem written by Mick Shave at  Keswick Barracks in Adelaide on 14th November 2017  at 9 RAR’s reunion and commemoration of  its 50th Anniversary.

Old soldiers never die,
They just keep on marching by,
In revue or by the right,
Their legions prove a wondrous sight
When viewed in memory.

But looking on with memory,
Shows only what we want to see.
And while illuminating youth,
It hides from us the actual truth,
Does memory.

It never shows the blood, the fear,
It obfuscates the anguished tear,
And as those shadows march on by,
Do we forget they had to die – to live
In memory?

Poem -WHY?

A proud Caesar decides on what must be done

If the noble cause is to be won

Orders are issued through the chain of command

His legions obey and prepare for more carnage in the land

The seeds of defeat and victory have been sown

Life, death, fear and courage yet to be known

Such is the bloody arena of war

And too few politicians ask the questions “What for?”

In dark surrounds, weary soldiers hear the distant bark of guns

It is the signal for bloody work to be done

Soon Into the muddy mire of combat, soldiers slip and slide

Dreams of precious loved ones faraway are cast aside

Side by side and trust in each other

With the demands and harshness of war, they become brothers

When it all ends they count their dead and no more the battle cry

Later with the sanity and calmness of peace, veterans ask “why?”

The years pass and a new Caesar is on stage with terrible ire

Preparing for the field of Mars with space age laser and fire

While his soldiers in brand new uniforms march through the streets

A war widow watches and revisits another time and quietly weeps 

She recalls dreams, laughter and sweet love as it was meant to be

Etching two names with Eros and arrow on the trunk of a shady tree

Was it so long ago when her husband had waved a last goodbye

Now her son marches to war and she too asks “Why?”

George Mansford © October 2017

Opinion – A Legacy So Dear

                          A Legacy So Dear

Oh what have we done to our legacy, so precious and dear

Now with leaderless tribes and damaged moral compass I fear

Once so strong, proud, united and standing tall

With a free way of life envied by all

A nation built on faith, vision, blood, sweat and tears 

Now slowly sliding into a mire of apathy in recent years

Where Jesus has been blindfolded and stood against the wall  

Our history mocked and smothering PC revision is compulsory for all

So many miles of our journey since convict chains, pick and spade

Once a fair go, open doors and meals where conversation was made

Today, shut and lock crowded streets, pollution and blinking lights 

Sedated two legged sheep grazing on electronic text day and night

From prosperity to an empty treasury and not one brass razoo left

Family castles in cold darkness thanks to national energy plans bereft

Gone is our beloved soap box in the park to express a point of view

Now replaced by PC with many rules of what you can and can’t do

Where is the sense purpose and vision we so desperately need?

Why kill Unity by constantly sowing “Them and us” as toxic seed?

What of dams to taste sweet water and no bitterness of drought?

How can we sleep safely when night is owned by thieves and louts?

Are we robots mid crumbled concrete and windows of opaque glass? 

How can we be so blind to tomorrow and shun lessons of the past?

Can’t we see the angry dark storm clouds looming so very near?           

Oh, what have we done to our legacy, so precious and dear?

George Mansford © September 2017

PC—#***#% Political Correctness

Opinion – It’s Time to Stand Tall—No Compromises

We live in a world of increasing social changes and shrinking common sense.  Thus as we blunder into tomorrow without understanding yesterday, it does beg the question, “where are we going?

Can we really expect our youth, (tomorrow’s leaders) to march forward with confidence and sound sense of purpose when they are continually bombarded with new and questionable culture?  Surely it is a critical phase of development when they should be mastering the basic skills and values of life?

Can we really expect they will appreciate the  wonders and beauty of life including love, sharing , caring and responsibility when they are brainwashed in many dark corners of our society to believe it’s all a free ride without commitment and respect?

Do we believe that honour, duty, love of country, personal discipline and choice of spiritual belief will come from increasingly family breakdown, the current pathetic examples of political leadership or some drug dazed star on stage?

When did we decide that the education of minors provides no choice of their own to accept or deny religion?

Can we really expect a youngster to develop confidence and resilience when always wrapped in cotton wool?

How can you pursue the dream of enhancing one people and one nation when governments continually encourage the theme of “them and us” and more often than not at the expenses and inconvenience to the majority of our community?

Why should we demonstrate tolerance to those who publicly state their evil intent to destroy our society and its way of life?

Incidentally, is there a national plan in action for progressive and positive assimilation for migrants from day one of arrival? I think not. I remember clearly in early post WW2 years when my mother and other ladies met New Australian families (as we called them without malice or spite) and guided them to help adjust in the early phases after their arrival. Even youngsters were tasked to escort their new mates to school.

Attitudes and standards have changed dramatically since those days when once the law was enforced, regardless of circumstances.  Today, the opposite is true. There are examples where our government is turning a blind eye to illegal conduct. There are increasing numbers of incidents where exceptions to our rules dilute authority and breeds resentment. Masked polygamy, hidden child brides, defiance to court procedures and incredible leniency for the drug dealers who are poisoning our society are examples which already cause irritation and in time will develop marked hostility within our society.

How did all this deceptive and smothering social engineering start? Who are the authors and on whose authority? Just how many of us agreed to such monumental and very questionable change?

There is no doubt we should seek knowledge, master new procedures and pursue vision to enhance our society. However, it does not imply we charge hell bent into tomorrow and discard proven and well established values in our haste to go where we know not where.

The bitter irony of it all is that in past war when our way of life was threatened by alien forces, we were as one and gave all to protect such values. Today they are slowly being eroded, assisted by our apathy, political correctness and   obsession for compromise.

Like it or not, we are in war of social change and must defend our precious values. There is a real and urgent need for positive and sound leadership. We must stand fast in our beliefs. It is a legacy passed on to us by past generations who achieved it with blood, sweat and tears.

There is no room for compromise.

 

               A Changing World 

Forgotten are the silent scarred hills from not so long ago

Where once came screaming curses of friend and foe

Pain and misery etched in earth soaked blood

So many dreams and hopes lost in the mire of mud

 

Came the day white doves flew and church bells rang

Dancing in the streets and victory songs sang

Politicians preached of “peace and precious values for all”

For those lost in the hills came the sobs of bugle calls

Young and old gather on our special day of the year

To recall sacrifice in times of bloody strife and fear

Sadly, some still wet behind the ears with empty heads seek fame

They demand revision of our past and for war, we were to blame

Others intent on mischief to change our proud way of life

Slyly infect us with political correctness, so smothering and rife 

Space age bands blare with deceptive tunes called diversity 

While old choirs no longer sing that the power of a nation is unity

Illegal drugs, child abuse and faltering family structure  too

Xmas trees and friendly Christian wishes on cards soon to be taboo

Greedy inept politicians pick poor people’s pockets for more taxes

At schools, proven social skills and disciplines face sharp government axes 

On those now forgotten hills come the echoes of pain 

As restless ghosts whisper of betrayal, again and again 

Their youth stolen, dreams buried and a way of life lost bye and bye

Can you hear the wails of all past generations as they ask “why?” 

George Mansford ©August 2017

 

Are We Burning Our Bridges?

Are We Burning Our Bridges?

History is the soul of any proud nation

Deeds in a never ending journey via many stations 

A reminder of who we were and what we are now

A legacy from those who strived with shovel, pick, horse and plough

Recorded are the rights and wrongs and lessons to be learnt

Never should our proud past be shamed, scarred or burnt

 

There are those starved for recognition seeking to change history

No rules for such empty heads and their tantrums are common to see

Planned mischief is their aim and tempts the naive to follow

Going backwards seeking yesterday while stumbling into tomorrow

It’s all about manipulation of power to change our way life

Farewell unity and harmony –welcome diversity and strife

 

The new order demanded by revisionists is busily at work

Never a sound reason from its unknown authors who in shadows lurk 

Christianity is very much on the list as a whipping boy

Ridicule, no xmas cards, tinseled trees or magic toys

Sweet nursery rhymes censored yet blinkers used for drugs and hate in songs  

Jesus is mocked (and please tell me, “what did he do wrong?”)

So here’s to Namatjira, Henry, Banjo and Melba who helped open doors

The migrant, butcher, ANZAC, shearer, Drover’s wife and more

Revere the Pioneers who began the journey to make our country as one

Despite flood, fire, drought and famine, they always won

Shoulder to shoulder, we too must go forward; all for one and one for all  

“To seek tomorrow and honour our past” will always be our rallying call   

George Mansford © September 2017

 

Vietnam Reflections – Always as One

Address by George Mansford (Cairns 18 August 2017)

Today throughout our nation there will be gatherings such as ours to reflect on our involvement in the Vietnam War and above all, to honour our fallen. In doing so, we also pay our deepest respect to yet another generation of our military currently on operations. It seems nothing changes on our troubled planet

Was it so long ago that our men and women went to war in a place called Vietnam?

It was a time when frequent government lotteries in rolling barrels full of birthday numbers determined which 20 year old males would be conscripted for two years’ military service.

It was a time of anti-war demonstrations and vilification of those in uniform and their families which caused our military to become closer and united more than ever.

It was a time when protesting mobs burnt our national flag and the consequences were that our troops cherished the sacred cloth even more.

In Vietnam our units stood fast in battle. They endured the physical and mental demands placed on them. They refused to relent against what seemed impossible odds on more than one occasion. Always evident was their battle discipline, confidence and trust in each other and even when battle weary, no matter when or where, were the grins.

As well as major battles, it was also a time of countless patrols, ambushes, cordon and search operations, much of which is now long forgotten and gathering dust in history records

Always are the veteran’s memories of such times. How could they ever forget the wok wok of the beloved Huey and the familiar drone of the Caribou or perhaps they were on one of the warships patrolling a very dangerous coast line. The nurses waiting at the landing zone called Vampire ready to receive yet another group of wounded.  Do you remember counting the days until it was one day and a wakey before going home and so many dreams to pursue?

It was a time of varying farewells such as watching mates struggling with heavy packs and weapons boarding a chopper or armoured personnel carrier to commence another operation. Departing on Rest and Recuperation to escape the madness for just a few days or going home. No matter the circumstances, always was the firm hand shake, sharp wit, a hug, a wave, a thumbs up as a fond farewell or perhaps a shout of “Take care”. Unknowingly for some, it would be for the last time.

There were forgotten lessons of war from previous campaigns and re-learnt the hard way in Vietnam. There were also new lessons learnt in Vietnam which have since been neglected or distorted thanks to social engineering and the continual onslaught of political correctness.

 Common was the immense camaraderie, determination, wry humour and battle discipline which demonstrated that the magnificent qualities of the original ANZACs had not been diluted.

There was pride, duty, honour and acceptance of responsibilities which had been developed from early age in our society then strengthened in the military during training and mastered on operations.

It was a time of loved ones waiting for news and dreading any unexpected knock on the door. We should never forget the wives, mothers  and families who bore the brunt of isolation, not knowing and always searching for mail and the media for any fragment of news. They met the challenges with dignity and stood the test. Wives were both mother and father and always praying that the next knock on the door would not be by a grim faced official

At war’s end it was a time for adjustment and sadly that was not to be for so many who thought they had come home but hadn’t. There are still those who confront the consequences of war in so many ways.

There were those who in desperation said “enough is enough” and left us to join the fallen.

Today the ranks grow thinner and always are the increasing nudges from Father Time to remind all of their mortality. If the fallen could speak, perhaps it would be to remind all “Who they were and what they were”

They would say “Australia is indeed the lucky country and will remain so, if you, the living strive to keep it so”

They would remind us “To fight the good fight for what you believe to be right”

They would demand “Honour us by your actions as active members of the community; for you are us and we are you. While you live, we live. ”

GM 7/2017

                   

 Reflections of War

On this special day, old warriors will meet here and there

To recall times of duty and when they did dare

To honour fallen comrades, perhaps with a band or choir

Others will reflect at home, even a park bench or beside a campfire 

Father Time has caused more gaps in the ranks since last year

Often a gentle nudge from the River Boatman who is ever so near

Memories will be stirred of comrades, laughter, song, mud and tears

For many, the haunting sounds of battle and sudden fears

Waiting for hidden death to explode in a silent jungle so green

Listening to familiar sounds of wocking blades soon to be seen

Watching a Caribou* high above and all wondering where it had been 

Knowing our warships patrolled a coast line so dangerous and mean 

The electric shout of “contact” and collision with danger yet again   

Fleeting shadows, hostile sounds, racing pulse and heat or drenching rain

Devoted nurses waiting for Dust Offs* loaded with dead and dying 

Casualties in blood soaked muddy rags with grins and rarely crying

Finally came that last roll call and war weary veterans said hooray

Soon after, the first glimpse of excited loved ones screaming “gidday”

Days or years later, waking from nightmares of battle and reaching out

Believing they’re alone, no matter how often they shout 

The gathering will end and the square will be silent once more 

In lonely rooms, parks or by dying campfires, some will ask “What for?”

Whatever they were or what they did or did not do

Let no one forget, they were all as one who served true blue

They march with pride in the column until the next life to be 

Always will be their example of duty, honour and love of country 

Even after the Boatman has taken all of them from life’s stage

Their brave deeds remain forever in many a history page

George Mansford© July 2017

 

*Dust Off— “Dedicated and Unstinting Service To Our Friendly Forces”

*Caribou—RAAF aircraft