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The Best New Zealander Poems

Details | New Zealander Poem | Create an image from this poem.

Ramsay Roe

I am Flight Sgt Ramsay Roe, and my memories have faded,  
Of my experiences in Burma, and their chronological order, 
But into my memory’s deep recesses i have dug and waded, 
Although the exact sequence of events may be in disorder. 

When i was just due for home leave on my twentieth birthday
On May the 18th in 1945 when I’d done 300 flying hours
I’d been stationed at Jessore in Bangladesh, the Indian way
With the 358 Special Duties Squadron who flew Liberators

I was an Air Gunner/Dispatcher, prepared equipment to drop, 
I was lucky to have survived since so many had passed on, 
Along with the Japanese, our enemy was the weather, flop, 
The monsoon season saw us avoid cumulus nimbus, won. 

It was mountainous terrain, but our skipper who was Phil Adams
Had trained as a native New Zealander in their mountains craggy
And on 28th May i was asked to do one more mission, no qualms
With Flying Officer Harry Smith, one of the crew was new, shaggy

I put all my belongings in order, my kit box and my money box, 
And I left a note stating i had a uniform that was at the cleaner;
And then I met the crew, Jack Draper, Pool, and Harry, the cox, 
Woods, Bill Pugh, Peter Benchley, and Bill Pinckney, gunner. 

“Curly” Copley was a rear gunner, Parsons, and three agents
John Gildee, McCarthy and Naporalski; and a special person
A special agent Reid Moore; so we took off then as regents
At about five past midnight headed for the intended drop zone

Just at about 06:15 hours, when we reached ourselves the target
Near a small village, Klong-Pai, nine Japs appeared from nowhere
Shot us down in a noise and clang that would drown thunder’s fret
Killed Pool, Draper, Pinckney and Brenchley dead, the war to bare

Their bodies were transferred to a war cemetery in Thailand
And all the rest of us were injured, treated in a Japanese hospital
Taken to an internment camp but treated not to badly, tho’ not grand
Because Japanese POW camps were better than the Nazi’s rebuttal

I can’t remember getting out of the plane after the massive crash,
Only that the other survivors were amazed, startled i was alive;
I had shrapnel wounds and burns right down my left leg, ash, 
But i was mobile, and all of the nine of us loved the skipper’s dive.
I got to know the Americans mostly in the concentration camp 
Paired up with one, a Taff Thomas, who was small, unlike me
And we attended the first reunion of our squadrons, did tamp
Forty long years later, when I could thank Harry for saving me

Copyright © Rhoda Monihan | Year Posted 2016

Details | New Zealander Poem | Create an image from this poem.

The bleached bones of ANZAC

They were straight of limb as the bullets flew
Made up of true blues and fair dinkums too
When they landed on that bloody April day
They were told to push inland to ensure the stay

The fighting was fierce and brave men fell
Australian, New Zealander and Turk in the hell
The bravest men fought the hardest fight
And went inland further than others might

They fought and they died showing they had pluck
The Turks told of wounded men not giving up
Struggling it out to the last bullet they fought
And were left lying facing the foe as they ought

In the end when they evacuated ANZAC Cove Beach
With those brave men lying in the sun out of reach
The Turks left them as the sun bleached their bones white
As the days turned into months into years as we won the fight

In 1919 Charles Bean led the Australians back to Gallipoli
And they searched the battlefield from beach to the gullies carefully
The bones were gathered and were identified for some
As the  graves were lined up and headstones stand in the sun

These men who came from across the world for a war
Are now part of the Legend of ANZAC for all to explore
But I wonder on those windy hills where they stayed and didn't flee
There are young Australians looking out quietly to the sea.

© Paul Warren Poetry

Copyright © Paul Warren | Year Posted 2017