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Kokoda Battles Historical Poetry By Mike Mcarthur

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#31 mikmac1959


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Posted 21 December 2009 - 12:53 PM

a poem with a slightly different angle... adapted from a advertising poster used in WW2 by Perth Legacy


“Missing in Action” three words say it all,
Mum says be brave, we must all stand tall.
“It’s what your father would expect of you”
It’s her message when the long day is through.

As she tucks you into bed at the end of the day,
She kisses you extra hard, then turns away,
So you can’t see into her eyes,
The pain these words have brought to her life.

And you’ve never let her see you cry,
Not since that telegram arrived,
And she twisted it up into a little ball,
Then smoothed it out, to read it once more.

But lying in bed you play “Pretend”----
Pretend you hear his footsteps again.
He comes to your room and up to your bed,
Pretend you feel a stubble brush your forehead.

And sometimes in the dark, you’re sure you can smell,
Fathers cigarette-y suit close by as well.
Later you dream---- dreams you must hide,
And wake with that funny, empty feeling inside.

Poor little chap, they all say of you,
Wish there was something we could do.
You don’t even know what’s the Kokoda Track,
But it took your Dad and you want him back.

Don’t care about country or the King,
Want Dad here, want to be with him.
You are still too little to understand,
He done his duty to keep Australia a free land.

please let me know what you think.
seasons greeting to all

#32 Fluppy


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Posted 21 December 2009 - 08:43 PM

Mike - this was great.  It's refreshing (although of course as usual, it nearly made me cry), but it was refreshing because it was from a child's point of view.  Also, I like how you are able to write short poetry as well as lengthy ones - straight and to the point.  Well done.  And a Merry Christmas back to you and yours too.


#33 mikmac1959


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Posted 11 January 2010 - 03:45 PM


Here is a short poem, probably less emotive and more informative.

The Jungle Stretcher by M.G.McArthur

Ever wonder how in the Kokoda Campaign,
The wounded were moved over the rough terrain?
Sure by native carriers they were transported along,
But were did they get all the stretchers from?

The answer is quite simple and yet ingenious,
A stretcher could be made in about ten minutes.
With big scrub knives two saplings were cut down,
And thin strips of bark twirled round and round.

Used to sew together two ends of a blanket,
Leaving the hollow through the centre of it.
The two sapling poles were then pushed through,
Very serviceable and so easy to do.

Often the wounded would be strapped to them,
Enabling the stretcher to be tipped on it’s end,
As the carriers made the harrowing journey back,
Over the rough mountains of the Kokoda Track.

For a wounded soldier the key is time,
Must be quickly extracted from the front line.
These simple constructions saved many men,
Who were transported from danger on them.

#34 Fluppy


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Posted 11 January 2010 - 06:00 PM

Nice one Mike *thumbs up*

#35 mikmac1959


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Posted 18 March 2010 - 03:48 AM

people who have been to the Isurava battle sight
will never ever forget it. This little poem is about
the rediscovery of the sight I hope you
might find interesting and maybe educational

The Isurava Battle Site by M.G.McArthur

Are you familiar with the battle of Agincourt?
One of the most renowned the English fought.
Because they defeated a larger French force,
They effectively altered history’s course.

During World War Two in New Guinea,
A battle raged as crucial to Australian history.
By some historians it is even thought,
That Isurava was Australia’s own Agincourt.

Here the rampaging Japanese invaders,
Were delayed by dogged Australian defenders.
A quick easy advance was denied,
This battle helped to turn the tide.

Each day on the track damaged the Japanese,
Over extended supply lines, starvation, disease.
The Isurava stand it is widely thought,
Saved Australia from this invading force.

That’s why it is so difficult to understand,
A place of such historical significance to our land,
Could be lost after the war, to just disappear,
Reclaimed by the jungle, its location not clear.

By the 1990’s people had started to trek,
To honour the diggers, show their respect.
Graham Scott was one such adventurous man,
Aware of the history he couldn’t understand,

Why no one knew the exact location,
Of this battle site so important to his nation.
Thought it was essential so in 1997,
Contacted Stan Bisset a Kokoda veteran.

Stan had been an officer in the 2/14th Battalion,
And now heavily involved in their association.
Graham suggested they arrange a pilgrimage,
To Isurava by veterans to pay homage.

To mates and brothers who had died,
Finally have a chance to say goodbye.
The idea flourished, many wanted to go,
Back to the place were they’d fought long ago.

So Government assistance was sought,
And they gladly offered their full support.
Arranged an RAAF Boeing 707 to be ready,
To fly from Australia to Port Moresby.

Then a Caribou to travel over to Kokoda,
Where a Blackhawk Helicopter took over.
Taken to the wartime Isurava location,
To a clearing prepared for the occasion.

August 1998 the momentous trip was made,
46 proud veterans partook in the “Last Parade.”
After an emotional service it soon was found,
As all the veterans took a look around,

They couldn’t agree, they couldn’t say,
Where the major Isurava battle site lay.
The jungle had nearly 6 decades to hide,
The scars of battle, so they couldn’t decide.

John Rennie who had accompanied them,
Returned in early 2000, with a team of men.
Camped at New Isurava about an hour away,
Walked over and searched the area each day.

Armed with local reports and knowledge,
He’d gained from elders at the village.
Made a discovery to the west on the high ground,
In a shallow grave human remains were found.

After this discovery it was originally thought,
This was where the major battle was fought.
Believed the bones were of an Australian man,
But later identified as a soldier from Japan.

Seems the spot were the skeleton was found
Is were B company held the crucial high ground.
So on the 1st of October Rennie went back again,
Taking a select group of veterans with him.

Flew in by helicopter, camped for several days,
No time restraints, no rush, certainly the best way.
There was Stan Bisset, Col Blume, Roy Watson,
Matt Power and Con Vapp of the 2/14th Battalion,

Also Douglas McClean and Ken Phelan,
Who were both proud 39th Battalion men.
After debate it was agreed they’d found,
The central Isurava Battle Ground.

Another two years before the Government,
Erected an appropriate, impressive monument.
Dedicated to all who fought and acknowledge,
Their resolute commitment, bravery and courage.

August 2002 sixty years after the event,
Prime Ministers of both countries finally went,
To pay homage to all Kokoda Campaign men,
Who’d routed the Japanese invasion.

The monument constructed is as impressive as any,
And rightfully now a place of pilgrimage for many.
Four tall black stone plinths mark the spot,
The Eora Creek valley the perfect backdrop.

A mystical aura, as mists and clouds swirl around,
On the face of each stone one word to be found.
“Courage”  “Sacrifice”  “Endurance”  “Mateship”
With simple poignancy describes the hardships.

Thanks to Graham Scott a patriotic man,
John Rennie and the others who helped them.
They raised awareness of the terrible neglect,
Embarrassed our leaders, made them show respect.

It’s extraordinary this site was lost until 2000,
With trekkers nearby unaware of its location.
It can only be described as a countries shame,
This long wait before deserved recognition came.

#36 Fluppy


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Posted 18 March 2010 - 12:17 PM

Nice one Mike.  I learn something new about Kokoda every day smile.gif

Given any more thought to putting these in a self-published book??


#37 mikmac1959


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Posted 24 March 2010 - 03:39 AM

thanks Flups,
yea finished some 20 poems that give a good historical overview of
the Kokoda Campaign from 1st contact until the beach head battles..
life has got a bit busier now but i do hope to self publish the entire
series some time in the future. You will be one of the 1st to know
when it is done.
cheers mike

#38 mikmac1959


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Posted 25 April 2010 - 03:12 PM

G'day All,
after attending the local dawn service my thoughts are of all the
diggers from every war . Lest we Forget.
i just wanted to share this poem about one brave digger from the
kokoda campaign on the northern beaches .

One Diggers Sad Demise by M.G. McArthur

On the northern beaches of New Guinea,
Australians attacked an entrenched enemy.
For months there’d been a colossal struggle,
On the Kokoda Track in the thick jungle.

But by the latter months of 1942,
The Australian troops hotly pursued,
The Japanese who retreated with haste,
Prepared defence networks, lay in wait.

Brave Lieutenant John Bruce Taylor,
Was a 2/31st platoon commander.
He led an attack on the 22nd November,
On heavily fortified positions at Gona.

The 2/31st moved to the coast on the east,
About 300 metres from the Japanese.
At zero hour as they rose to attack,
By heavy gunfire their line was racked.

As they charged they cheered and yelled,
And returned a barrage of fire as well.
Advancing  bravely into the fray,
Sadly 32 men were killed on the way.

Some managed to reach the enemy pits,
Killed the occupants, but,  that was it.
Not strong enough now to continue on,
The attack aborted, momentum gone.

Taylor was shot in the throat and the head,
Left where he fell, presumed to be dead.
Regained consciousness but could hardly move,
And unable to drink due to his throat wound.

Cleverly kept himself alive by rolling in,
Pools of water, absorbed moisture through his skin.
In a bad way, all he could do was lie there,
Soon even more suffering he’d have to bare.

His comrades stepped up attacks the next days,
And unfortunately in the target area he lay.
Peppered by aerial bombardment and artillery,
He was hit causing additional painful injury.

Wounds from a bomb splinter and a bullet,
Worsened his terrible predicament.
He remained there for eight long days,
With the enemy only 14 metres away.

Very weak and delirious by then,
Wanted to crawl right up to them.
Let them shoot him, to end the pain,
Tried yelling, but, no voice came.

Eventually rescued as the Diggers advanced,
At last medical treatment to give him a chance.
Suffering badly from the terrible ordeal
Repatriated to Australia to help him heal.

But sadly for this proud Queensland son,
To much damage had been done,
Survived the voyage home but passed away,
In Australia on Christmas Day.

It makes me sad and doesn’t feel right,
That after such an inspiring, incredible fight.
That John Taylor with the amazing will to survive,
Did not escape the Kokoda Campaign alive.

#39 Fluppy


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Posted 25 April 2010 - 03:55 PM

Another great read Mike.  I never knew about this guy.  Is the man in your poem your father?  Grandfather?  Your poetry not only is moving, but also one of informing as well - to which you write to this day - to tell people, to inform them, to move them and to educate them.  Today, you have educated me.  Thank you.


#40 mikmac1959


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Posted 17 August 2010 - 12:00 PM

hi all been a while since I posted , been very busy!!
any way here is another historical poem hope you like!!

Do you know about the Kokoda Battles!

If you ask around most people will know,
Brave acts of our 1st World War heroes.
But not so renowned are the exploits of their sons,
Who in New Guinea faced the might of Japan and won.

Sadly many Australians are still not aware,
Of the battles that occurred in the jungles there.
So each Anzac Day as thousands gathered at Gallipoli,
Why were these places overlooked by our country?

Was it because the full truth was not known,
About the courage, endurance and mateship shown?
Unfortunately Australia had surrendered her sovereignty,
To an American General to lead against the enemy.

Douglas MacArthur a pioneer in public relations,
Expertly worked the media to create his own legend.
After local news reports suggested the true hardships,
General MacArthur instituted complete censorship.

Now totally in control of all the war news,
The notorious self publicist pushed forward his own views.
To denigrate the fighting ability of the Australian,
Suited his purpose as he lobbied Washington.

Wanted American troops to come save the day,
The Might of America would be the only way.
Promised he’d quickly dispense with the Japanese,
The mighty Marine’s will bring them to their Knees.

Trumpeted to the media as our troops kept falling back,
Saying we outnumbered the invaders on the track.
In reality and as the available intelligence said,
The diggers performed very admirably instead.

He should have known what he said was wrong,
The Japanese heavily outnumbered us all along.
When the crack American Troops finally entered the fray,
Over the Kapa Kapa track, cut off the enemy, save the day.

Emerged on the other side of the Owen Stanleys,
All suffering from malaria, malnutrition and dysentery.
They’d disappeared and weren’t seen for 42 days,
Did not fire a shot or see a single enemy on the way.

Became known by all as the “Ghost Battalion”,
For months unable to resume effective action.
None of this showed up in MacArthur’s controlled press,
Released incorrect information to cover up the mess.

The truth never got in the way of a good story,
The newspapers told of American battle glory.
The Aussies alone pushed the enemy across the track,
He sent fresh Americans’ to Buna to have a crack.

The soundly constructed bunkers had to be seized,
Earthen roofs, well concealed by the Japanese.
The Americans were stymied, the going got hard,
They sat down, and hardly moved forward a yard.

The Australian 18th Brigade had to come in,
Lend them a hand and show them how to win.
True to form MacArthur issued a press release,
The Americans had achieved an amazing feat.

Single-handedly taken Buna and won the campaign,        
Completely ignoring the Australians again.
Sanananda finally fell on 22nd January,
Ending the most gruelling campaign in our history.

Soon the Americans celebrated the Guadalcanal victory,
To become glorified in countless Hollywood movies.
The Aussies caused a turning point in the Pacific war,
The Japanese land forces never defeated before.

So by denying the enemy on the Kokoda Track,
Triggered allied resurgence there’s no doubt about that.
Despite their achievements against extraordinary odds,
The men of Kokoda felt they just done their job.

For years remaining silent about what they’d achieved,
Not blowhards, but done a good job they believed.
Did not want the honour or all of the glory,
It took many years before they’d tell their story.

Most did so out of duty to mates killed on the track,
Or for those who had died since they’d come back.
Men in power may create their own destiny.
But time exposes the truth for all to see.

The untrue stories the MacArthur media portrayed,
Combined with the dignity the diggers displayed.
Meant for years and years the truth was not told,
But time has let the true story unfold.

Isurava, Brigade Hill, Mission Ridge, Kokoda,
Ioribaiwa and to the beaches of Buna and Gona.
I cant help being disappointed, and ashamed,
These battle fields are not now household names.

#41 Fluppy


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Posted 17 August 2010 - 02:06 PM

When oh when is your book coming out Mike?!!!!!!  

love flups

#42 mikmac1959


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Posted 18 August 2010 - 08:06 PM

G’day again flups,
Can’t really afford to have books published..
But was considering creating a disk myself..
with pictures , sound  text and me resiting poems...
do you think?
it would take several months!!
Would anybody be
Interested.... please post here to let me know
cheers mike

#43 Fluppy


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Posted 19 August 2010 - 09:21 AM

That sounds great Mike - sounds like a big task - but well worth the effort.  I say go for it!  biggrin.gif

Also perhaps you could create your own anthology of poems - put them on your computer (if you haven't done so already), print them out & put them in a display folder with a cover page & a table of contents/index.  You have so many that maybe you could divide them up into volumes (Volumes I, II & III etc) - a different colour folder for each volume.


#44 mikmac1959


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Posted 21 July 2011 - 07:34 PM

Hi all can't believe it has almost been a year since my last post ! life is so busy.
here is another poem i wrote last year this one about the brave local infantry

The Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB) by M.G.McArthur

In World War 2 in the jungles of New Guinea,
Local native carriers worked relentlessly.
But the local war effort went way beyond that,
Some took up arms and fought on the Kokoda Track.

Formed early in the territory’s history,
Was the armed Royal Papuan Constabulary.
So when it was announced on 19th April 1940,
Volunteers were needed to create an infantry,

Constabulary men made up the bulk of them,
Forming the Papuan Infantry Battalion.
Most officers were Australian military,
Selected for their experience and compatibility.

It was important they knew the locals style,
Most having worked in the territory a while.
Non-commissioned officers were Aussie personnel,
From the mines and plantations, old hands as well.

Many later PIB recruits were Island men,
Most coming from nearby New Britain.
Conscripted from Rabaul to carry for the Japanese,
Managed to escape and came to help the Aussies.

History recorded now lets us see,
The PIB were the first to contact the enemy,
The first allied stand of the Kokoda Track Campaign,
Ambushing the Japanese as they came into range.

Soroputa Hill the 23rd July 1942 at 4pm,
Four Australian’s led a band of thirty five PIB men.
Warrant Officer Jack McWalters and Lieutenant John Chalk,
Sergeant Harry Bishop and Lieutenant William Wort.

Armed with their .303 rifles and one Tommy gun,
No match for the well trained enemy who had come,
Well armed with machine guns, rifles and mortar bombs,
Meant the delaying action didn’t last long.

After fifteen minutes they had to pull back,
To Awala about two kilometres along the track.
The Australian Militia had set another holding position,
They joined the 11th platoon, B company 39th Battalion.

Although the first skirmish was quick to end,
Battle lines were drawn, they’d set an allied trend.
The hit and run tactics would be used on the track,
After months of fighting turning the invaders back.

Despite varying views on the PIB’s war contribution,
Their success led to the formation of three sister battalions.
Part of the Pacific Islands Regiment formed by General Blamey,
The forerunner to the PNG Defence Force that exists today.

So think of the Fuzzy Wuzzy’s and applaud a job well done,
But don’t forget the PIB natives who took up their guns.
Fought with the Australians and by the end of all hostilities
They’d lost 29 killed but claimed 1476 enemy casualties

#45 mikmac1959


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Posted 21 July 2011 - 07:35 PM

P.S i have a few more if any one wants to read them .
they are lesss emotive and more factual .
cheers mike

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