Kokoda Battles Historical Poetry By Mike Mcarthur
Posted 14 September 2009 - 08:09 PM
Mike, have you ever considered collating all your poetry and writing a book? Would be well worth looking into. I would be the first to buy it. Seriously.
Posted 15 September 2009 - 04:14 AM
Non semper erit aestas.
Posted 15 September 2009 - 01:11 PM
Posted 15 September 2009 - 03:41 PM
I will be using this for my photos of when I trek Kokoda and am doing a practice run with our trip to Girraween National Park (Granite-belt - border of QLD/NSW).
Posted 01 October 2009 - 12:08 PM
A Kokoda Digger’s Burden.
In the jungles of New Guinea years ago,
Brave young diggers took on a formidable foe.
Confronting the Japanese on the Owen Stanleys,
Eventually pushed them back to the Solomon Sea.
What did they carry on the Kokoda Track?
In addition to his clothing, boots, gaiters and pack.
Typically he had ½ a blanket and a ground sheet,
A water bottle, webbing, and five days rations to eat.
½ a towel, tooth brush and soap for hygiene
Thrust into an environment he’d never before seen.
To fight in this mountainous jungle of hell,
Had to carry his weapon and ammunition as well.
150 rounds of Ammo, a .303 rifle on his back,
A Bren magazine and two grenades in his pack.
Also he was responsible to lug along,
A 3 inch and a 2 inch mortar bomb.
The mortar crew had their work to do,
Carry the weapon and the bulk of the bombs too.
The Lee-Enfield .303 weighed about 4 Kilo,
The Bren Gun about 10 even without ammo.
A popular weapon for those who used it there,
Stood up to the jungle fighting, stoppages were rare.
One Bren was shared between eight to ten men,
So each digger carried between 20 to 30 kilograms.
Introduced late was the Vickers machine gun,
Carried 3 belts of ammo and the heavy weapon.
Weighing 10kg each were the 250-round belts,
The gun 13kg and a hefty tripod as well.
If available there were native carriers for a battalion,
But not expected to accompany troops into action.
Consequently distributed amongst the men,
2picks, 2 axes, a machete and spade per section.
5 full carrier loads of medical supplies,
Cooking gear, signal equipment and wire.
Often each digger had to carry in addition,
A varied assortment of excess gear and ammunition.
I’ve had the honour to struggle over the Kokoda Track,
And it was bloody tough with out carrying any of that.
I had leather boots with special non slip soles,
Staminade, gloves and ergonomic walking poles.
A bladder pack and clothes that could breathe,
Every modern advantage to help me achieve.
It took nine days just to trek my way over,
And many months for my body to recover.
My modern backpack weighed under 10 kilograms,
Proves just how tough were those brave men.
For despite all the hardships they had to meet,
Inflicted on the Japanese army its first defeat.
Posted 05 October 2009 - 08:26 AM
Non semper erit aestas.
Posted 11 October 2009 - 08:00 PM
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. by M.G.McArthur
Have you heard the legend of the “Fuzzy Wuzzy”?
Native carriers on the Kokoda Track in New Guinea.
During the war carried the injured and supplies,
On makeshift stretchers saved so many lives.
Over almost impassable mountain terrain,
Transverse that track again and again.
Bringing fresh supplies forward over the track,
And transporting the badly wounded back.
What was their motivation one may ask?
To doggedly stick to this monumental task.
Did the local natives volunteer against the Japanese,
Supporting the Diggers against their natural enemy?
Like most legends it’s more complex then it appears,
Let’s try to explain how it occurred here.
The 1st important thing to understand,
Is the system of indentured labour in place in the land.
There were recruitment drives across the nation,
To find workers for the many rubber plantations.
Signed up as labourers these strong young men,
Went to work willingly each one of them.
If employed it seemed they were set for life,
3 years work, earn an endowment for a new wife.
Called a Bride-price it was paid to the brides clan,
A practice still widespread throughout the land.
Return to his home village almost haled a hero,
With a machete and axe, prizes to show.
That he had earned money as a working man,
Escaping the subsistence life of his own band.
The outbreak of war, the plantations received a call,
Round up your labourers one and all.
The message was brief and to the point,
Labourers were under contract and had no choice.
Report to the Kokoda Track don’t hesitate,
Thousands of workers arrived from many estates.
At a hastily prepared camp at McDonalds Corner,
They promptly reported to receive their orders.
Across the land civil administration was suspended,
To all Papuan males military control was instituted.
So irrespective of colour or creed after this occurred,
At labour officers many were conscripted to serve.
Off to the local villages the district officer went,
His quota to round up a figure of 30%,
Of all eligible males to come and help out
Every man was needed, there was no doubt.
Not all were coerced and history makes it clear,
Many saw it as their duty and volunteered.
And when these people joined the cause as well,
The carrier numbers continued to swell.
Whether indentured labourers, volunteers or conscripts,
Their work ethic was beyond what one might expect.
As they struggled with huge loads towards the front line,
So many occasions returning a second time.
Their pride and joy was their fuzzy hair,
Adorned with flowers, sometimes one over the ear.
They were very cheerful and most polite,
Moving of the track so others could pass alright.
Most wore gaudy loincloths, some short khaki pants,
Upper body covered with assorted garments.
Singlets, shirts, sweaters, old coats worn no doubt,
To keep the bitter mountain night chill out.
The conditions for the carriers was very grim,
With overloading and exposure taking a toll on them.
Completely exhausted to the ground they would drop,
Over work and underfeeding was the common lot.
Each evening scores of carriers would come in,
Throw down their loads, then flop down with them.
A night of shivering discomfort to look forward to,
With one blanket supplied, shared between two.
Ignoring all hardships throughout the day,
Stuck steadfast to their tasks all of the way.
Often working beyond the call of duty,
And mostly showing complete loyalty.
For weeks they toiled with only a little rice to eat,
Yet each day they carried tins of bully beef,
Such things as this often happen in war time,
Difficulty supplying the men at the front line.
It is not an exaggeration at all to say,
They were ‘angles’ in the eyes of so many.
To the wounded the compassion and care they showed,
Convinced many a digger they had an invisible halo.
I had the privilege to meet a modern day Fuzzy Wuzzy,
When I trekked over the mighty Owen Stanleys.
In 2007 I walked the Kokoda Track,
Flew to Kokoda and made my way back.
At Kokoda Airstrip I was introduced to him,
He simply nodded, on his face a massive grin.
Employed to be my assistant porter,
Carry my gear; tell me when to get water.
A little shy, stand offish, not much to say,
But keeping me safe every step of the way.
Little conversation and no advice at all,
But always nearby to catch me should I fall.
When we came to an obstacle thought difficult,
A strong hand extended to give me help.
The going got tough I feared I couldn’t go on,
There he was behind me just plodding along.
Exhaustion over took me, I might be through,
He just sat quietly with me and took a rest too.
Each evening camp he’d gladly help me,
Pitch my tent and prepare my tea.
All the porters on the trek acted the same,
Always cheerful, they never complained.
Whatever the situation they could be seen,
Helping each trekker realize his Kokoda dream.
When finally the Memorial gates came into view,
I knew in my heart what I needed to do.
I stopped and I gestured to my new friend,
Triumphantly together we walked to journeys end.
After nine days together I fully realised,
Why these amazing people are “angels” in many eyes.
Their humble, helpful nature makes you love them,
Perhaps part of the reason for the Fuzzy Wuzzy legend.
please if you have taken the time to read this poem please take the
time to coment on what you thought of it.
Posted 11 October 2009 - 11:00 PM
They told stories of some of the trekkers who struggled and how they would get trekkers into camp and then how some would go back up the track to meet up with the remainder of the group and how they worked as a team to get them to the camp. On the track at the moment we have exactly the same thing happening. Two different guys struggling on separate days yet they are now only one day away from finishing and achieving their dream.
Like many a trekker before them I know in advance how they will come in and inform me how good our porters are and will explain to me in detail what they did for them. It does not seem to matter which staff or guides are selected as they all pull together as a team and are just so proud of the job they do in looking after their clients.
As this week saw the last of the biggest treks of the year come off the track with Soc Kienzle, it was our chance to meet up with them. Most of the staff on this trek were our guides working as porters mainly because they are like sponges and want to absorb everything that comes out of Soc's mouth as he is trying to teach them the history of the track before his legs give out and he cannot walk any longer.
In our meeting today they asked if our trekkers were happy with the way they looked after them and if we as management were happy as well. With all the comments that continue to come our way about our staff, I assured them we were more then happy with them.
As I write this, our staff are at Open Bay Guesthouse which is situated approximately 3 hours outside of Port Moresby on a white sandy beach. They went there yesterday and when I caught up with them today, they had caught fish; gone for walks up the beach to neighbouring villages to barter for more fish; had been hunting in the bush surrounding the area last night and were having a great time.
Photograph: Left to Right
Back Row: Taylor Keamo; Clement Harika; Tony Ogonemi; Wayne Urina; Harold Hauro; Kingsley Boropi; Cyprian Haera; Tarina Bore and Arnold Jinga
Centre: Brendan Buka the trek champion
Owers Cnr to Kokoda - 16 Hours 34 Minutes
Kokoda to Owers Cnr - 17 Hours 20 Minutes
Front Row: Frank Taimbari; Romney; Ramsi Idau; Wallace Lemeki; Trevor; Cyprian (Driver)
Posted 12 October 2009 - 05:48 PM
thay are certainly brilliant people
and take great pride in helping us to
reach our dreams and goals.
Posted 01 November 2009 - 09:17 PM
Posted 02 November 2009 - 09:19 AM
it seems you both enjoy my writing.
i was not going to post any more but your
kind words Flups convinced me to give one more!
I have completed 17 poems now that give a good
history of the Kokoda Campaign and are now
looking to find a publisher... any one interested in a copy
please email me at email@example.com.
The Kokoda Diggers Courage. by M.G.McArthur
All through history since time began,
Generals of armies in every land,
Have strived to develop amongst their men,
Espirit de corps, a formula to win.
The diggers in Kokoda had it in spades,
But what made these young men so brave?
Here daunting obstacles were over came,
The enemy, bad planning, the rough terrain.
Supply blunders and sickness against these poor sods,
They still managed to excel against the odds.
Three main ingredients said someone who’d know,
Phil Rhoden the former 2/14th C.O.
First was interdependence upon each other,
The cornerstone of Aussie mateship, just like brothers.
Mateship gives a special feeling, when you feel so low,
Along comes those mates, they seem to know.
They may just sit with you and not say a thing,
Everything seems better cause mateship they bring.
The second characteristic that Rhoden rates,
Is the ability to fight for the sake of your mates.
When there is scarcely breath left in your body to fight,
You keep going for the blokes on your left and your right.
Here we think of the selfless actions of many men,
Like Bruce Kingsbury, ‘Lefty’ Langridge, John Metson,
Charlie McCallum, Claude Nye and many more on the track,
Who made the ultimate sacrifice and never came back.
They found some inner strength that allowed them to rise,
And perform courage’s acts for the mate by their side.
The final quality is perhaps the most important of the three,
Generally the diggers had little respect for authority,
But when genuine respect was earned, when it was won,
They’d follow those leaders no matter what the outcome.
Like wise respect for the cobber next to you,
Had to be earned by the things they would do.
Through good times and bad stuck by one another,
Lived together, died together like a band of brothers.
At the Isurava battle sight stands a monument,
That acknowledges the amazing achievement.
Overlooking the Kokoda valley way down below,
Representing the resolute commitment of those Heroes.
No mention here of fighting for King or Country,
But four black sentinel stones, a sight to see.
A single word on each one gives the true message,
Mateship, sacrifice, endurance and courage.
The essence of the Kokoda campaign in a nut shell,
For it was these diggers, who broke the spell,
Of Japanese invincibility on land and saw,
The first defeat of that arrogant army in the war.
Posted 02 November 2009 - 11:18 AM
Posted 23 November 2009 - 12:08 PM
a poem about the fire power the Japanese had.
THE JAPANESE MOUNTAIN GUNS. by M.G.McArthur
On the Kokoda Track as the Japanese advanced,
They had many advantages over the defence.
Not only out numbered the Australians’ by 6 to 1,
They had more fire power, the booming Mountain guns.
One gun deployed was the Model 92 Howitzer,
Fired a projectile with a 70mm diameter.
It was the standard Japanese heavy support weapon,
Two were supplied to each infantry battalion.
Relatively light, by one platoon they were handled,
Quite manoeuvrable and could be partially dismantled.
But the heavy projectiles caused much carnage,
It’s burst covered a 40 metre diameter, image the damage.
The gun was disassembled and carried by teams,
The barrel took three men, it weighed 94 kilograms,
The myriad of parts were placed into rucksacks,
Dedicated troops struggled with them over the track.
These guns took a great toll, created misery and havoc,
Range 2,800 metres but fired from only 500 back.
But also in action was a gun even more sinister,
The larger more devastating model 94 Howitzer.
This monster fired an even bigger shell,
It’s 75mm projectile rained down it’s own hell.
The Japanese 55th Mountain Artillery had come,
From Rabaul, and started using these guns.
Into 11 sections the massive gun could be split,
And groups of dedicated men would carry it.
A remarkable effort because of it’s sheer size,
A width of 1.35 metres from side to side.
The barrel alone was 536 kilos in weight,
And six kilos for each projectile it takes.
Including carriage about 4 metres in length,
Required extraordinary team work and strength.
Evidence suggests that carry it they did,
All the way forward to Ioribaiwa Ridge.
Over the rugged range what a herculean feat,
And carried them back as they made their retreat.
I’ve visited a spot with Eora Creek down below,
Looking at the shell casings it clearly shows,
At this former fortress they’d made a stand,
And definitely had a 94 Howitzer to hand.
There are piles of mortar and 92 Howitzer shells,
But it easy to identify the longer 94’s as well.
The complete and utter dedication of these men,
Is difficult to understand and comprehend.
Perhaps the memorial that stands at Kokoda today,
May help explain their allegiance in some way.
Here stands Australian memorials painted white,
And one dedicated to the Japanese on the right.
The barrel of a Japanese Mountain gun sits here,
And the history it tells of patriotism is clear.
On the 10th of November in 1942,
At the village of Gorari as the Japanese withdrew.
First Lieutenant Takaki Yoshijo,
Received orders difficult to follow.
Destroy his gun and assist the wounded in going,
Over the Kumusi River ahead that was flooding.
He had a firm belief, he knew what this meant,
Called his men together and obtained their consent.
The gun was then destroyed and buried there,
Gave orders to take the wounded to the rear.
Returned to the spot, put a pistol to his head,
Calmly pulled the trigger and shot himself dead.
See to these devoted, fanatical artillerymen,
Not just a job, the Mountain Gun was part of them.
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