1969 – In A Far Off Place

The flag’s been raised, the anthem played, we’ve sung our last refrain

And I have finally made it here, to stand before your name

It’s been fifty years or so, since you in battle fell

Whether the pain will ever ease, only time will tell

 

We were both called up together, barely out of teens

When we embarked we looked the part, slouch hat and jungle greens

The veterans all had told us, just what lay ahead

We sat there captivated, by every word they said

 

The great unwashed saw us off, with their hoots and boos and jeers

But all we could remember, was our loved ones tears

We’d throw a party when we got back and paint the old town red

But sadly that for some of you, we’d have a wake instead

 

And that hippy girl with the banner stating, “Make love not war”

Well I married her and soon found out, what the sign was for

With all our kids and grandkids, how our family has grown

Little did she realise, she’d have a regiment of her own

 

We slogged through the mud and rain, remembering what the sergeant said

“There’s only two types of soldier son, there’s the quick and there’s the dead”

Our Lieutenant trained at Scheyville, a bit young but he was keen

A natural born leader, the best we’d ever seen

 

We had to let our hair down, we were all on the same team

So we went and found a shady bar, just to let off steam

We were drinking and yahooing and making a right din

Having such a good time, then the Provo’s all stormed in

 

We figured if they caught us, we’d be on the mat

But you have to get up early, to snare a tunnel rat

We knew every hidden passage, as we set off at great pace

To another off limits bar, in another off limits place

 

The Yanks they landed on the moon and went for their lunar roam

We were counting down the wakeys, till the day that we’d go home

Yet despite the hardships, our loyalty did not lag

For three generations, we’d proudly served the flag

 

In a village known as Binh Ba, the enemy made a stand

Backed by armour, artillery and gunships ,we fought hand to hand

Those who were to follow us, would recall our deeds with awe

Operation Hammer, now the stuff of lore

 

But life can be a fickle thing, when you trip a jumping jack

I wish I could have escorted you, on the Herk that brought you back

We stood there empty hearted, in humidity and the rain

As we recalled all the mates, we’d not see again

 

Now you are just a weathered name, on a small town monument

A fitting simple tribute, to the sweat and blood you spent

Maybe we’ll meet in a far off place and work out what it was about

And if we do, my dear old mate, it will be my bloody shout

 

By Tomas ‘Paddy’ Hamilton
28 August 2019

 

FILE PHOTO: Centurion tanks from 1st Armoured Regiment, and armoured personnel carriers from B Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, move along the main road of Binh Ba village. Over three days, armour and infantry dislodged a strong North Vietnamese Army group that had entered the village, for the loss of one Australian killed in action. AWM BEL/69/0389/VN. Binh Ba. 

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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