KOKODA a poem

KOKODA a poem

John O'Neill

Twisted jungle, mud and rain, the mozzies and the foe!
And only our "unhappy few" to face the mighty blow.
What chance had they to stop this horde, and who else was there to care?
The Ninth would come from desert sands, but just "our few" were there.

Down along that dreadful "Track", the unseen enemy came
In thousands, full of hate, well-trained: the Aussies stopped them, just the same.
Torn from out their peaceful land and shoved right into hell –
What could they do? What should they do? And who was there to tell?

Retreat? It wasn't in their blood – Australians don't give in
Tho' clothes were hanging off them, their bodies all worn thin.
Nothing but the green wet hell! Save Moresby by the sea
Or else they'll get our Great South Land – no more shall we be free.

No more to shout for Carlton, or cheer on old Balmain,
To sail the Brisbane River or relax in the Domain,
To catch a wave at Bondi, stand on Blue Mountain height!
"Come on boys, no matter what – we have to win this fight."

So fight they did, up Shaggy Ridge and back along the Track
Until the beaten enemy had the water at their back.
The 303, the trusty Bren, the Aussie Owen Gun,
No troops in war's long history would ever dare to shun.

The boys who saved Australia. What a job those men have done!
How sad it is to look around – now most of them have gone.
So many left to die in mud, from malaria or wounds –
But they're not gone, they're just "out there" on God's parading grounds

Where they "line up" with the "angels" who saw them through the fight –
And heal their wounds, and give them peace, no horrid dreams at night,
For their nightmares are all over, they're all in endless day
And missing those few mates who have been asked to stay.

To stay and tell their story, if only all would listen
And do what our bold soldiers did – Oh would our country glisten.
In the light they shone before us, the day that's never over
Even when they've joined their Aussie mates – the heroes of Kokoda.

In December 2013, a Kokoda veteran, Reg Chard, spent the day with the Doonside parish school. Its Grade 5 class had won the NSW 1st Prize for a Kokoda Memorial Garden. Reg opened it. Later, Father O'Neill "got inspired" and wrote the above poem. He gave Reg three laminated copies, two of them for his mates who were too ill to come.

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