The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The fires of hope were dying,
And Juda's heart was cold;
The pristine wealth was lying
Beneath the hoary mould;
The Land of Christ and David,
Where Christian faith was born,
Seemed weary, and content to sleep
Till resurrection morn.
Then life and high elation
Came laughing from the south,
Where voiceless desolation
Had mated with the drouth;
And Christmas came to greet us
By hill and palmy hord,
When all the bells of Bethlehem
Were pealing forth to God.
The foeman's power is broken,
And happy is Judaea,
So let us weave a token
Of love, and Christmas cheer;
Oh, let us send a greeting
To hearts that yearn afar.
For we shall soon be sailing home
Triumphant, from the war.
"Ironbark Bill": A chit received in the Claims Office, Damascus, just after the recent Turkey Trot, read as follows: "From Mohamed el Fat-much. One sheep for twelve Aussie warriors who was hungry." Another ran: "This bloke wants payment for four nose-bags' of tibbin taken for four 'ungry 'orses".
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"Banshee": "Two rings are right" murmured someone, as three bombs fell within 20 yards of us, amongst the E.L.C., killing oneand wounding nine. Graves were dug for the dead man, and one of the wounded, who was dying; but the latter refused to die, and was taken to the hospital, leaving his grave vacant. That afternoon some planes gave us a hearty reception. We did a get before they came too close, not waiting to ascertain whether they were Taubes or not, as they were looking too business-like for us. My cobber and I, looking for some crevice to duck in, thought of the vacant grave, which we made for in double quick time. When we arrived at the underground residence, we took a flying leap in head first. Someone yelled as we blew in; it was already occupied by four, but we scrambled in. Later, when the raid was over, nine of us came to light out of the grave, all smiles, like a Cheshire cat.
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"Baltaggi": Quite a lot has been written in disparagement of Palestine. Let us consider the facts. Those who were in the initial advance into this chosen land, will well remember the luxuriant vegetation which greeted us on all sides, and how, in a later push, the aspect of the area from Gaza to Jaffa, and beyond, and even the now despised Jordan Valley, were all in a most flourishing condition with their crops of barley, maize, and fruits of varied assortment. East of the Jordan, all bushmen were loud in praise of the country's productiveness, and it is this part the inhabitants of Western Palestine rely on for their grain. Of course, stationary military occupation, with its innumerable traffic, dosen't tend to improve the appearance, or even better the facilities for using as regards production; but with the regions cleared, even the fellaheen can do wonders. The question of water conservation should present no insurmountable difficulties. The average rainfall of the country is 25 to 30 inches per annum, and with a system of draining, there should be no need to strike the rock. We can see the result of this process in its infancy as coped with by our people at Jerusalem and Bethlehem. All that is needed is concerted action. Even in the most inaccessible parts of the country, the primitive native, with his still more primitive implements, can be found with his well-watered crops, the water being drawn from a small stream coming from some where.
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"Boori": An excellent all round hardening process for soldiers in the making on this side is always supplied by the native caterers, in one form or another. Our particular delicacy for the surviving of a vigorous training and ravenous appetite was a round, melting species of doughnut. These, after purchase, were topped off with icing sugar from a tin on the vendor's stand. One morning this tin was missing, the sugar being mysteriously produced from hidden interior regions. That, coupled with the proprietor being short of a sock, led to a stormy search of the premises. Result: one greasy sock holding the missing sugar, and an agitated Bung being deftly hoisted, in short, sharp dashes, towards Abbassia.
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"Ex-Jackeroo": My tale harks back to Christmas Eve, 1917. We had been relieved a few days previously from that portion of the front line we had held for some weeks, and were comfortably settled in a camp where flying ironmongery was at a discount. Our bivvies were elected on a black, evil flat, which sloped down, to a wadi. On the eve in question we had turned in and were sleeping the sleep which an ancient saw asseverates solemnly, albeit erroneously, is the privilege of the just. Some time in the "wee sma" hours of the morning I awoke with a strange feeling that something unusual was happening. Somehow I felt things weren't quite as they should be. Wonderful thing, instinct. I found things most certainly were not as they should be. A minature river was pouring through the bivvy threatening immediate destruction to the whole edifice. " Smithy ", says I, "are you a wake?" Smithy, be it known, is my section mate. He grunted and muttered something about fools and fool questions which my natural modesty forbids me to repeat. "Get up then," says I, "and dig a drain at the back; I'm swamped out." "What's wrong with getting up yourself?" growled Smithy, evidently in a bad temper. "Can't be did", says I, kindly but firmly. "Smithy, old dear, you're section leader, it's up to you to set an example to the men. Now's your chance." Smithy's reply was lurid in the extreme and picturesque to a fault. So we lay there for a while longer, then 1 heard him grunt and sit up. "Jimmy", says he, "I'm section leader, am I?" "Certainly, you are, old thing", says I, grinning under cover of the friendly darkness. "Right o, old colt", says he, "hop your frame out here and dig that drain. That's an order—get me?" "I get you, Steve", quotes I. So we turned out into the driving rain and dug a drain which eased the situation somewhat. But Christmas Eve, 1917, will live in my memory while memory lasts.page 5
Butler Gye writes from France: Just souvenired a copy of the September issue of "The Kia Ora Coo ee" from a Maoriand "Digger's" dugout. It's good reading, but I, on behalf of my cobbers over here, object to what "Gunga" has to say concerning the derivation and application of the term "Digger'. In his interesting article, 'The Two Leaves", he states that its origin is recent and obscure. It's neither. The term "Digger" is as old as the most ancient gold field in Australia or Maoriiand, and it has nothing whatever to do with dig-ging-in. In the Roaring Days in the lands of the Southern Cross, a "Digger" was one who, regardless of all dangers and hardships, pushed out beyond the marge of civilisation in quest of gold. He was a big-hearted fellow, too. He never hesitated about sharing a last crust with a needy stranger, and accepted the responsibilities of a mate who went under as his own. He had a high, almost exalted, sense of morality, and by him justice was not measured by legal standards, but embodied the principles of right and wrong in direct relationship to obligation, and ownership. And he had a healthy hatred of sham and ostentation. Thus the term "Diggei" was an honourable appellation. And so it is to-day, when the decendants of those who pioneered the goldfiels of Australia—Bendigo, Ballarat, Gul-gong, Tumut and numerous other "Rushes"—and in New Zealand -Gabriel's Gulley, The Dunstan, Thames Valley, and the West Coast—along with others who were born under the Southern Cross, and those who have made their homes there, are fighting on the battlefields of France and Palestine to win for this and future generations the pure metal of a free and untrammelled civilisation. The Maorilanders applied the term to members of the A.I.F. soon after arrival in France implying that the Aussies were real dinkum mates. It quickly caught on and it now embraces all the forces from the Sauthern Dominions. It was never, to my knowledge, restricted to ground privates only, but always included the mounted troops, whether in France or Palestine. An Aussie invariably greet a Maorilanded as "Digger", and the men from the Pig Islands, in common with us, use the term in relation to one another, whether Infantrv, Artillery, or Mounted. As regards"Billjim", it never was a generic term in France. That corruption of William and James is quite a recent coinage by Arthur H. Adams of the Sydney "Bulletin", while "Billzac" has had no place except in print, and then only used by persons who have no more than a nodding acquaintance with us.
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"Jack": Great and varied is the correspondence received by a Padre in the field. On one occasion Chaplain the Rev, had occasion to advise a soldier's wife that her husband had been absent without leave for some time. A reply was received as follows: "I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of the 11th, inst., advising that my husband is an illegal absentee. I would be pleased if you would advise me where I could find him."
J H.H.: The mule's soliloquy must be something like this: I am the Mule. Though I say it that shouldn't, I am the cove that is winning the war. Owing to peculiarities, over which I had no control, I have a pair of long ears and a rather asin.ne expression. Tney never let one chose one's progenitors. In consequence of this everybody tries to put it right across me, forgetting that I am at least half thorough bred, Shire, Clydesdale, Hackney, Percheron or Station bred. There is only one way to get it back on these ignorant goats, and that is to pull them out when they get stuck. Meanwhile 1 have got a most terrible set on those Donks, for there is absolutely nothing meek about me."
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"Fetlock": The night was cold, and the rum issue was short. From the dim recesses of the Q.M.'s bivvy came the sound of voices; I heard the following pleas: Toothache, birthday, anniversary of sailing from home, "Just dropped in to have a yarn", extract read from a letter announcing the birth of a son and heir. The last nearly did the trick; but not quite, for the Q.M. is addicted to burgoo.
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S.F.C.: One pleasant memory which will be cherished by most, if not all, A.S.C. men in recollections of Light Horsemen, is the first consideration given by the mounted man to the welfare of his horse. No matter how hungry he may be himself, his only plaint when searching for tucker on dumps is always, "So long as I can get a feed for my old moke, I'm satisfied; poor brute's nearly starved"—the Light Horseman always reckons his prad is starving, no matter how much tucker he's got. "How about yourself, Digger?' "Oh, 1 m all. right; a tin of bully'll do me" That's why, when horses of other units are not too robust as the result of stunts just gone through, the average Billjim's horse is looking well.
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"Malurus": The Gyppo snake charmer is pretty slick, but I guess Mornssey could give some of them a few points in the art of handling reptilts. I'vesen two oi the Rifai brotherhood at work; and though they seemed dinkum enough, I spotted a bit of circumstantial evidence in connection with one display, that confirmed my doubts as to their possessing any real powers of "charming". Tne first snow was in a garden at Shuora. The charmer caught about nine snakes, mostly small and non-venomous species. And he put up a veiy pretty stunt with a big cobra, produced from a leather bag carried by an assistant. Discovered later, that the said cobra's fangs had been torn out. One thing he did with it, however, mysufied all the spectators—there were about fifty of us. Gripping it firmly berund the head, he forced the snake's mouth open,, blew down its throat, and instantly it became limp and apparently lifeless. The charmer cast it on the ground where it remined perfectly still for a couple of minutes, then it gradually came to life. The other display I witnessed in a garden at Luxor. The charmer did the usual "business", chanting and holding out his right arm as at "beer" in semaphore signalling. He struck oil, as it were, at five different spots. One snake was dragged from a drainpipe, two were brought from under a heap of brushwood, and' another, a vicious horned viper, was raked with a stick out of an old shed. This last mentioned serpent got home on its captor, fleshing its fangs in his arm. But he didn't seem to worry about it, merely smiling as he sucked the punctures, and then carrying on as usual. Well, his next capture was a slender brown snake, about five feet in length; hepulled it out of the thatch of a chicken-house When it was thrown down, the snake glided close to?, me, and on its back I saw a bruise, evidently the result of a blow with a Stick. Yet the charmer had secured it with his hands and at once tossrd it on the ground. Draw your own conclusions; I've drawn mine.
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"Bindali": Tell "Acrabah" that if he is counting his deferred pay in poddy calves he wont need a college education to count his herd. If "Joe" is a '14 man, his deferred pay to date will be about 80 quid. With meat at the price it is in Sydney Town to-day, he should be able to buy about four staggering poddies with his back pay. "Joe" seems a contented cuss, so, on second thoughts, it might be unkind to wake him up.