For Like minded people who like to see-
I thought it appropriate to bypass the politicians tomorrow for Remembrance Day and post this to Just Grounds. Later, if I can find an old photograph of a Light Horseman I will ask my son in law to create an illuminated address to The Anzac on the Wall and perhaps get it published. Here it is. The author is unknown. The Stewart here is no relation
I wandered through a country town, 'cos I had some time to spare,
And went into an antique shop, to see what was in there.
Old bikes, and pumps, and kero lamps, but hidden by it all,
Was a photo of a soldier boy - an Anzac on the Wall.
'The Anzac have a name?' I asked. The old man answered 'No,
The ones who could have told me mate, have passed on long ago.
The old man kept on talking, and according to his tale,
The photo was unwanted junk, bought from a clearance sale.
'I asked around,' the old man said, 'but no one knows his face,
He's been on that wall for twenty years, but deserves a better place.
For some one must have loved him so, it seems a shame somehow.'
I nodded in agreement and said, 'Well,I'll take him now.'
My nameless digger's photo, well it was a sorry sight,,
A cracked glass pane and a broken frame - I had to make it right.
To prise the photo from its frame, I took care just in case,
'Cause only sticky paper, held the cardboard back in place.
I peeled away the faded screed, and much to my surprise,
Two letters and a telegram, appeared before my eyes.
The first revealed my Anzac's name, and regiment of course,
John Mathew Francis Stewart - of Australia's own Light Horse.
This letter written from the front, my interest now was keen,
This note was dated August seventh, 1917.
'Dear Mum, I'm at Khalasa Springs, not far from the Red Sea,
They say it's in the Bible - but it looks like a billabong to me.
'My Kathy wrote I'm in her prayers, she's still my bride-to-be,
I just can't wait to see you both, you're all the world to me.
And Mum, you'll soon meet Bluey, last month they shipped him out,
I told him to call on you, when he's finally up and about.'
'That Bluey is a larrikin, and we all thought it funny,
When he lobbed a Turkish hand grenade, into the CO's dunny.
I told you how he dragged me wounded, in from no man's land,
Then stopped the bleeding and closed the wound, with only his bare hand.'
'Then he copped it at the Front, from some stray shrapnel blast,
It was my turn to drag him in, and I thought he wouldn't last.
He woke up in hospital, and nearly lost his mind,
'Cos out there on the battlefield, he'd left one leg behind.'
'He's been in a bad way Mum, he knows he'll ride no more,
Like me, he loves a horse's back -- he was a champ before.
So, please Mum, can you take him in, he's been like my brother,
Raised in a Queensland orphanage, he' s never known a mother.'
But strewth, I miss Australia Mum, and in my mind each day,
I'm still a mountain cattleman, on high plains, far away.
I'm mustering white-faced cattle, with no camel's hump in sight,
And I even waltz my 'Matilda', by a campfire every night.
I wonder who rides Billy, I heard the pub burnt down,
I'll always love you, and please say 'Hooroo', to all of those in town'.
The second letter I could see, was in a lady's hand,
An answer to her soldier son, there in a foreign land.
Her copperplate was perfect, the pages neat and clean,
It bore the date November 3rd, 1917.
'Twas hard enough to lose your Dad, without you at the war,
I'd hoped you would be home by now - each day I miss you more'
'Your Kathy calls around a lot, since you have been away,
To share with me her hopes and dreams, about your wedding day.
And Bluey has arrived - and what a godsend he has been,
We talked and laughed for days, about the things you've done and seen'
'He really is a comfort, and works hard around the farm,
I read the same hope in his eyes, that you won’t come to any harm.
Mc Connell's kids rode Billy, but suddenly that changed
We had a violent lightning storm, and it was really strange.'
'Last Wednesday just on midnight, with not a single cloud in sight,
It raged for several minutes, it gave us all a fright.
It really spooked your Billy - and he screamed and bucked and reared,
And then he rushed the sliprail fence, which by a foot he cleared'
'They brought him back next afternoon, but something's changed I fear,
It's like the day you brought him home, for no one can get near.
Remember when you caught him, with his black and flowing mane?
Now Horse breakers fear the beast, that only you can tame.'
'That's why we need you home son' - then the flow of ink went dry-
This letter was unfinished, and I couldn't work out why.
Until I started reading. the missive number three,
A faded yellow telegram, with news of tragedy.
Her son was killed in action - Oh!, What pain that must have been,
The Same date as her letter - November, ‘17.
This letter which was never sent, became then one of three,
She sealed behind the photo's face - the face she longed to see.
And John's home town's old timers - children when he went to war,
Would say no greater cattleman, had left the town before.
They knew his widowed mother well - and with respect did tell
How when she lost her only boy, she lost her mind as well.
She could not face the awful truth, to strangers she would speak,
'My Johnny's at the war you know , he's coming home next week.'
They all remembered Bluey, he stayed on to the end,
A younger man with wooden leg, became her closest friend.
And he would go and find her, when she wandered old and weak,
And always softly say 'Yes dear – John ‘ll be home next week.'
Then when she died, Bluey moved on, to Queensland some did say,
I tried to find out where he went, but don't know, to this day.
And Kathy never wed - a lonely spinster some found odd,
She wouldn't set foot in a church - she'd turned her back on God.
John's mother left no will, I learned on my detective trail,
This explains my photo's journey, to that clearance sale.
So I continued digging, 'cause I wanted to know more,
I found John's name with thousands, in the records of the war.
His last ride proved his courage - a ride you will acclaim,
The Light Horse Charge at Beersheba, of everlasting fame.
That last day in October, back in ‘17,
At 4pm our brave boys fell - that sad fact I did glean.
That's when John's life was sacrificed, the record's crystal clear,
But 4pm in Beersheba, is midnight over here.......
So as John's gallant spirit, crossed the great divide,
Were the lightning bolts back home, a sign from the other side?
Is that why Billy bolted, and went racing as in pain?
Because he'd never feel his master, on his back again?
Was it coincidental? Same time - Same day - Same date?
Some proof of numerology, or just a quirk of fate?
I think it's more than that, you know, as I've heard wiser men,
Acknowledge there are many things, that go beyond our ken
Where craggy peaks guard secrets, 'neath dark skies torn asunder,
Where hoofbeats are companions, to the rolling waves of thunder.
Where lightning cracks like 303's, and ricochet again,
Where howling moaning gusts of wind, sound like dying men.
Some mountain cattlemen, have sworn on lonely track,
They've glimpsed a huge black stallion, with a Light Horseman, on his back.
"No", sceptics say, "it's swirling clouds, just forming apparitions",
Oh no my friend, you can't dismiss, all this as superstition.
The desert of Beersheba - or windswept Aussie range,
John Stewart rides forever there - Now, I don't find that strange.
Those who gaze this photo, often question me,
And I tell them a small white lie, and say he's family.
'You must be proud of him' they say, - and I tell them, one and all,
'That's why he takes the pride of place - my Anzac on the Wall'.
this is one that brings a tear to the eye as well.
all about the futility and disiasterous effects of war
sorry about that, but i think futility is the wrong word.
the song sort of explains the hardships of dealing with returning from war.
if you search yourube you can find this sung by john williamson and also one by slim dusty.
just type in "and the band played waltzing matilda" and it should list a number of different artists.
The writer and composer of 'And the Band played Waltzing Matilda' is Eric Bogle, Scotsman who came to Australia in the late sixties and wrote the song (I think) in 1971.
As has been rightly written there have been many 'cover' versions, but none as good as the original, which I had the pleasure of hearing in the Albany Town Hall last year, sung by the man himself.
Lucky you Al, to meet Jim Brown, of course Anzac on the Wall is a beautiful tribute and brings tears to my eyes, but Mr Brown being Secretary to the C.J Dennis Society makes me envious of you actually meeting him. I love Ginger Mick and all the crew, the poems can make you laugh and make you cry. Here is one to fit in with the topic:
C.J.Dennis - A LETTER TO THE FRONT
I 'ave written Mick a letter in reply to one uv 'is,
Where 'e arsts 'ow things is goin' where the gums an' wattles is -
So I tries to buck 'im up a bit; to go fer Abdul's fez;
An' I ain't no nob at litrachure; but this is wot I sez:
I suppose you fellers dream, Mick, in between the scraps out them
Uv the land yeh left be'ind yeh when yeh sailed to do yer share:
Uv Collins Street, or Rundle Street, or Pitt, or George, or Hay,
Uv the land beyond the Murray or along the Castlereagh.
An' I guess yeh dream of old days an' the things yeh used to do,
An' yeh wonder 'ow 'twill strike yeh when yeh've seen this business thro';
An' yeh try to count yer chances when yeh've finished wiv the Turk
An' swap the gaudy war game fer a spell o' plain, drab work.
Well, Mick, yeh know jist 'ow it is these early days o' Spring,
When the gildin' o' the wattle chucks a glow on everything.
Them olden days, the golden days that you remember well,
In spite o' war an' worry, Mick, are wiv us fer a spell.
Fer the green is on the paddicks, an' the sap is in the trees,
An' the bush birds in the gullies sing the ole, sweet melerdies;
An' we're 'opin', as we 'ear 'em, that, when next the Springtime comes,
You'll be wiv us 'ere to listen to that bird tork in the gums.
It's much the same ole Springtime, Mick, yeh reckerlect uv yore;
Boronier an' dafferdils and wattle blooms once more
Sling sweetness over city streets, an' seem to put to shame
The rotten greed an' butchery that got you on this game -
The same ole sweet September days, an' much the same ole place;
Yet, there's a sort o' somethin', Mick, upon each passin' face,
A sort o' look that's got me beat; a look that you put there,
The day yeh lobbed upon the beach an' charged at Sari Bair.
It isn't that we're boastin', lad; we've done wiv most o' that -
The froth, the cheers, the flappin' flags, the giddy wavin' 'at.
Sich things is childish memories; we blush to 'ave 'em told,
Fer we 'ave seen our wounded, Mick, an' it 'as made us old.
We ain't growed soggy wiv regret, we ain't swelled out wiv pride;
But we 'ave seen it's up to us to lay our toys aside.
An' it wus you that taught us, Mick, we've growed too old fer play,
An' everlastin' picter shows, an' going' down the Bay.
An', as grown man dreams at times uv boy'ood days gone by,
So, when we're feelin' crook, I s'pose, we'll sometimes sit an' sigh.
But as a clean lad takes the ring wiv mind an' 'eart serene,
So I am 'opin' we will fight to make our man'ood clean.
When orl the stoushin's over, Mick, there's 'eaps o' work to do:
An' in the peaceful scraps to come we'll still be needin' you.
We will be needin' you the more fer wot yeh've seen an' done;
Fer you were born a Builder, lad, an' we 'ave jist begun.
There's bin a lot o' tork, ole mate, uv wot we owe to you,
An' wot yeh've braved an' done fer us, an' wot we mean to do.
We've 'ailed you boys as 'eroes, Mick, an' torked uv just reward
When you 'ave done the job yer at an' slung aside the sword.
I guess it makes yeh think a bit, an' weigh this gaudy praise;
Fer even 'eroes 'ave to eat, an' - there is other days:
The days to come when we don't need no bonzer boys to fight:
When the flamin' picnic's over an' the Leeuwin looms in sight.
Then there's another fight to fight, an' you will find it tough
To sling the Kharki clobber fer the plain civilian stuff.
When orl the cheerin' dies away, an' 'ero-worship flops,
Yeh'll 'ave to face the ole tame life - 'ard yakker or 'ard cops.
But, lad, yer land is wantin' yeh, an' wantin' each strong son
To fight the fight that never knows the firin' uv a gun:
The steady fight, when orl you boys will show wot you are worth,
An' punch a cow on Yarra Flats or drive a quill in Perth.
The gilt is on the wattle, Mick, young leaves is on the trees,
An' the bush birds in the gullies swap the ole sweet melerdies;
There's a good, green land awaitin' you when you come 'ome again
To swing a pick at Ballarat or ride Yarrowie Plain.
The streets is gay wiv dafferdils - but, haggard in the sun,
A wounded soljer passes; an' we know ole days is done;
Fer somew'ere down inside us, lad, is somethin' you put there
The day yeh swung a dirty left, fer us, at Sari Bair.
This poem was originally published in The Bulletin, 23 September 1915, p6, in a version with a different emphasis - basically this version shows the letter as being written by Bill (the Sentimental Bloke), whereas the version in the Bulletin has it written to Bill by Ginger Mick. In addition the first verse here is entirely new.
Thanks for the update Al. I had a feeling that someone somewhere would fill in for me.
alan mikkelsen said:
The iconic Anzac on the Wall is not annonymous. Today at my Probus club (see below) my wife and I met, heard and had a great subsequent chat with its author, bush poet, performer, former print and media journalist, policeman and more, Jim Brown. Here is just one of the many pages that anyone can Google on Jim.
Jim is absolutely the real deal. His performance as our Guest speaker was exceptional, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house after he closed with TAOTW. Wish I had taken my camera (I frequently do), but I was loaded up with more than enough paraphenalia as Club speaker (on walking in the Pyrenees, with Mozart, Schumann and Grieg musical accompaniment), preceding Jim.
He bought the photo in question at an antique shop in Yarra Glen some years ago, and had it with him today, all spruced up and re-framed. The Anzac was a handsome lad who sadly died at the world's last great Charge by Horse Cavalry, our own light horse, at Beersheba in 1917, during the Sinai Campaign. Jim had come back down to Melbourne from Corryong just this morning especially for our meeting, foregoing celebratory festivities, having (again) won the Victorian Bush Poet of the Year award last night, and been runner up for the Australian award. (Amongst other things, he is also Sec/Treasurer of The CJ Dennis Society, Inc).
A few words on my Probus club, La Trobe (named after Vic's first Lieutenant Governor, pre - federation). To my knowledge it is unique in that we have no geographic boundary, and members come from all over Melb, and some from the country. Although we only became a 'mixed' club a year or so ago, right from its inception back in the mid 80s, partners have always been welcome at all activities, including monthly meetings. Which finish with lunch, good coffee, wine on the table.
Now how good is that? (Well, having done the Newsletter for years before retiring and being a past president who fought for equal opportunity, what would you expect me to say? :-)
Cheers bro' al
By Tip Kelaher
I've seen some lids in days gone by
From Bris. to Dunedoo;
Top hats that strive to reach the sky,
And cloth caps round the "Loo;
The sombrero and the stockman
That shade from Queensland suns,
The topi that is favourite
On many outback runs
I've have seen in busy roadways
All the fashions cities know-
The bowler and the pork-pie
With its crown so very low.
I have seen the swagman's relic,
The turban and the fez,
And all the hats that cut a style
From Sydney to Suez.
But there's a hat I'm wearing,
And I think it beats them all
From the Cape to San Francisco,
From Melbourne to Whitehall;
For it's been in many countries
And in each it did its share,
From the mud and slush of Flanders
To Sinai's heat and glare.
So I'm proud to wear my rabbit's fur
Although she's creased and worn,
And not so slick as polished caps
The Tommies' heads adorn;
For it has an air of Aussie,
Of "Come and have a drink?"
The good old easy style that leads
To glory or "the clink."
It exudes the smell of gum leaves
From crown to sweaty band
And often makes me homesick
In this Palestinian sand;
But it stands for Right and Manhood-
And who'd want more than that?
That's why, one day in '40
I took the Digger hat
Tip Kelaher was born in Bronte, Sydney in 1914. In 1940 he enlisted in the 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion and sailed for the Middle East later that year. In the Palestine camp of Khassa Tip turned his hand to writing poetry. The product was his first and acclaimed poem ']he Digger Hat'which captured the spirit of the AIF. Subsequently he wrote several poems while on furlough in which he poured his longing for home and his love for the Australian Bush. Some of these were published by The Bulletin back home and distinguished him as a balladist of great potential. Unfortunately, Tip was tragically killed at El Alamein in 1942 by a Spandau Bullet on 14 July.
They have forgotten him, need him no more
He who fought for his land in nearly every war
Tribal fights before his country was taken by Captain Cook
Then went overseas to fight at Gallipoli and Tobruk
World War One two black Anzacs were there
France, Europe's desert, New Guinea's jungles, did his share
Korea, Malaya, Vietnam again black soldier enlisted
Fight for democracy was his duty he insisted
Back home went his own way not looking for praise
Like when he was a warrior in the forgotten days
Down on the Gold Coast a monument in the Bora Ring
Recognition at last his praises they are starting to sing
This black soldier who never marches on ANZAC Day
Living in his Gunya doesn't have much to say
Thinks of his friends who fought some returned some died
If only one day they could march together side by side
His medals he keeps hidden away from prying eyes
No one knows, no one sees the tears in his old black eyes
He's been outcast just left by himself to die
Recognition at last black ANZAC hold your head high
Hi to All. These guys fought bravely, and should be recognized for their wonderful efforts and lose of life, fighting alongside our boys all under the Australian Flag. I think I saw written somewhere describing the aboriginal thinking of Anzac day a party that they haven’t never been invited too. I’m not aboriginal at all, born and bred Aussie, and I didn’t like what happen on Australia day burning of our wonderful flag for whatever reason that was about. But these guys fort bravely along side with our guys, and so should be made to feel every bit important, that had played a brave and scary part and loss of life and had their very souls taken from them never to return home. I feel all of us need to be reminded that the aboriginal did fight alongside our guys, and our white guys treated them as a regular Harry Ben and Joe while fighting alongside for their very life’s together to protect one another, and so they should have a very special part in our celebration of the Aboriginal Anzacs who lost their lives.
You just don’t hear enough of the Aboriginal who fought so bravely.