The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Where the tracks are hard and dreary, the tracks are long and dry,
The tropic sun a-beating down from out a cloudless sky;
There's naught to see but sand, at times you'll maybe see a clump
Of palm-trees—it's no wonder that the camel's got the hump.
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A never-ending stretch of sand, to where the sky and land
Meet in a like of blue of brown, and poets say it's grand!
But did these blinking poets live as we've been forced to live?
If not, then let them have a go, and then their version give.
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If poets had to rise at dawn, and feed a blinking; horse;
If poets had to eat our grub, plain bully beef, of course;
If poets rode beside us when the way was dry and long
And liked it, let the Poets go and sing their blinking song.
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But poets stay at home in ease, and travel not afar
To where the way is lighted by a pale, unwavering star.
They never scorch or swelter, at the desert never swear;
The reason why's not hard to find, they never have been there.
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Now, when you hear a poet rave of "Vast encircling sands,
Whose magnitude is circumscribed by cloudless azure bands
Of Heaven's vault", his poesy's imagination grows;
Just think of all those scorching sands, and bash him on the nose.
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"Bill D D" writes, from Kersheber Prison Camp Constantinople: A wounded "Jacko" blew in here a week ago, from with a copy of the "Kia Ora Coo ee". You could have knocked me over won a feather when I saw it. Strike" me pink! you blokes are hot. The blessed war is becoming an institution. They had nothing like it in my time. I was nabbed on Gallip., and have been here ever since. Yes, you blokes are having a bocker time. I've cobbered up with the bloke on guard here; he yaps a bit of English, so tells me all about you. He was wounded at Amman. It was dead funny how I met him. Before the war he lived in Cairo. Well, he told me all about the scrapping round about Saellal, and those places that are foreign to me. How your screen used to ride up and draw fire, and then wheel and go like blazes. Lumme! but I longed to be with you. I said to him one day, "Why don't you let them come right up to you?" Well, you should have seen the look of disgust on his dial. "Ginger", he says (he calls me by me old nickname), "you never know what they are going to do; at Beersheba, when they came at us, our officers said, 'Fire when they dismount;' but they never dismounted till they were on top of us." I laughed some. Allemet (that's me cobber's name) has a lump on his nut yet; some big New Zealander dismounted on top of him. He worked a trip out of it, though, and was up here with me for a month. They sent him back, but he returned a couple of days ago with a Camel Corps chap's bullet in his shin, and the copy of your magazine referred to above. Allemet and I, and a couple of other coves, got a great shock yesterday morning. A bunch of shots and curses, and all the bints in Soleman Pasha's harem oppositt our camp started to yell. As soon as I heard them, I jumped up. "The boys are here", I said. Allemet blew out of the window, and hasn't returned yet. As I rushed across the yard, all sorts of visions flashed across me nut, but when I reached the road, I received a terrible disappointment. It was only old Soleman Pasha, with a big automatic, chasing a Turkish doctor named Jeffid Bey; and all the harem bints were hanging out of the windows, cheerin' the old man or the quack, I don't know which, Good Luck to the K. O. C., anyway; and here's hoping more copies will lob over here.
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"Section's Right": After two hours strenuous drill, the long line was filing past the dixies, and each man received his dole of to a and bacon from the mess orderly. Drill on an empty stomach usually ruffles the men's tempers; but on this particular morning, insult was added to injury by the particle of pig's fat which the orderly dumped on each man's dixie lid. It was the fifth man from the end who stuck his bit of bacon very aggressively under the orderly's nose, and said, "D'yer call that a fair cut? Why, a man can hardly see it." The trooper-waiter was not less aggressive, "Buzz off", he said, "what d'yer think Allenby gives yer binoculars for?"
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"S. S ": I'm a bloke that hates to ask questions, but for the love of Mike, will you let me know why it is that, wherever a chap goes in this fusty old land, he's dead sure to see a notice, "Out of Bounds". I've been wondering, when we get to the Pearly Gates, will the same old sign greet us; or will Peter say cheerily, "Welcome, Cobber, this ranch is in bounds." I'll be blanky well surprised if he does.
"Aussie": We were sitting in our bivvies, smoking and yarning, when the talk drifted around to the primitive methods of the Bedawin people in their agricultural pursuits. We generally agreed, that they were at least two hundred years behind any European race Bill, who had until now taken no part in the discussion, broke in with, "I reckon I have seen people in Aussralia who are every bit as far behind the times as any of these Bedawin. Up our way there was an immigration settlement, and here there arrived two new chums, with their wives. They settled on a piece of land near our place. Not being too flush of cash, they started with old Regan, across the creek, and decided to clear their own land in their spare time. They soon found out that Regan demanded all their time on week days, and also on portion of the Sabbath. So it seemed as if the trees on their own property would have to stand a mighty long time. At last, the two wives put their heads together, and hit upon a plan for removing those trees. They got to work one Saturday morning, and chuckled when they thought of the surprise they would give their husbands on their return from Regan's, the following day. Armed with a ladder and a long rope, they approached the bluegums One of the women climbed a tree and tied a rope to the topmost branch; then she climbed another tree, a little distance from the first, and there tied the other end of the rope. They then carried buckets of water to throw on the rope, with the idea that the water would shrink the rope, and so pull un the trees." We didn't say much to Bill, but thought a lot.
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"Muzzle Cup": During target practice with the guns the other day, a lanky Cornstalk was sent to the officers' cook to obtain paste for the target, and as Old Bill was absent, he helped himself to three bowls which had been placed on a shelf in the Mess. These were brought down to the targets, but after using the contents for a few minutes, we discovered that the stuff was bank mange. The boys sneaked it back to the Mess, just in time to hear Old Bill threatening to bash someone's head in for pinching portion of his dinner. Nevertheless, he served it out the same evening with peaches, a la Melba; and "the heads" were quite pleased with the dessert. Just about all that it was good for, anyhow, for it made poor pastepage 5
"Sections Right": Billjim is sentimental all right, as the following true story shows. During the worst stage of the 1914-15 drought, two brothers tossed a coin to decide which of them would enlist. Bill won the toss, and duly embarked to do his bit, while Jim remained behind to fight the mortgage. Good seasons followed the drought, enabling Jim to strafe that enemy with reasonable success; and he decided to erect some improvements on the farm. He wrote to Bill, asking him to suggest what form these improvements should take. Back from Sinai came the reply, "Dear Jim, plant some gum trees."
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"Baltaggi": No use trying the get-rich-quick stunts in these parts. I had visions of strange and rich ruins, and even mermaids waiting with outstretched arms to welcome me, when I went for a swim in the Dead Sea. Shut my eyes and took a header, but to my surprise, still found myself on top. I then asked my friend Bill to push me down; but it was no go. The water—even in this area, where the Jordan empties itself at a rate of 25 miles an hour—is very thick and heavy. The Sea's white, oily water, like limestone, contains bitumen, exuded from the Hills of Moab on the East, which burns and is very severe on the eyes. In the central part of this pond, I understand, it is possible to walk along in an ordinary fashion, only sinking waist high. Haven't tried it yet, but I'm game to wager on it.
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"First Major": A Gyppo came into the Q M's store armed with a couple of very old brooms and a requisition, which latter he handed over to the Q M's offsider. And inquest was held on the old-brooms, and by and bye, two new ones were handed to the expectant Gy po, who started to leave the store. "Hold hard", said the offsider, "put your name here", pointing to the requisition. Achmed didn't understand, so he was further enlightened with, "Write your name just there". "Me no write English" said Achmed. The reply to this was, "Write your name in Arabic, write anything, I don't care". The Gyppo took the proffered pencil and wrote. The result looked like a pair of 3's lying, all out, on their sides. "What's that mean?". asked the offsider, looking at Achmed's scrawl. "Anything", was the quick reply, as Achmed hurried with his new brooms from the store.
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"Twenty-two": Heard a rather good and new way of finding the points of the compass the other day. It was at a class on topography, and the lecturer had asked whether anyone could find the North "point, if out on the De ert at night. No stars were to be seen, and you had no compass, the country was new to you; and, in fact, you had a dickens of a job ahead. For a long time there was no reply, and then some bright bird asked if you could use a watch. ''Certainly, but that will be no good," was the reply. "Oh, but it would be all right. You just get your watch and tie it on a piece of. string, and whirl it rapidly round your head." "Well, what then?" asked the lecturer. "Oh, just let go, and you can bet your life that it will go West." The class then went home.
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"Barcus": Some Tommies are keen on gaining knowledge of Australia. One asked me, the other day, if the-Immigration Bureau could give him any information about treacle wells, and whether they ran the rabbit incubators on the same principal as for chicks. I was waiting on the line for my turn at the Canteen counter, and a Tommy standing behind me asked, "What part of Australia do you c me from, choom?" "Sydney", I told him proudly. "Then you'll know Bluey Jones; he owns Redfern Station, the biggest in Australia; and his Choom owns Stanmore, alongside of it". "I wish I did," I remarked, as I threw my last few' pies" on to the counter, and sot a tin of sardines.
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"Taini": Unless you have been in a Tommy hospital, you can't know just how a bed should be made You are as a babe in this mystic art, unless you've had two or three lessons from a V A.D.—not the V.A.D. whose pictures you see in the "Graphic" and the "Sphere"—the other sort. But it's only when there isn't a definite standard pattern that "Matron insists upon" in a hospital, that this bed-making becomes a joke. If Gilbert and Sullivan had lived to b come soldiers, they would have gathered sufficient material to build quite a number of 'Pinafores", if they had wangled it to land in a Base hospital. The hospital day begins at 3.30 a.m., when you are washed and your bed is made by the night sister. The day sister comes on at seven, and insists upon the bed being made all over again. You demur, but she is adamant. Then to is made after breakfast by some young person whom the M.O., thinks "light hospital duties' wouldn't hurt. It is made once again before the Matron comes round; ten to one she'll order a new method, and it will be done again before the Colonel comes. About II a.m. some enthusiastic V.A.D. will decide that it's time "those sheets were changed". After that comes the "afternoon tidy up'; and at 6 o'clock, if you aren't feeling grousy and cussing everything—Well, your name ought to be Job.
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"A Remount": Sergeant Jack Dempsey's article on back jumping has caused a great deal of discussion, especially in reference to those mentioned as master hors men. Rough riding is probably as hard to judge as it is to practice. I would like to mention some men, who have uphold the fame of the A.R.D. as horsemen, and have given their services on numerous occasions for the of the outside public: namely, Jack Cott, Reg. Dye, Peter Kay, "Tiger" Rehards, Bill Gairy, Jacky Smith, and Billy Gibson.
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"Baltaggi": Quite an element of diversion from the usual routine in these parts, is the appearance of willy-willies that bow before the footlights here daily. From a respectful distance the other day, I watched one of these "Devil-Devils"—as the native term them—about 200 feet high, taking everything in its stride. It swept past a bag of paper, and after going about 15 yards, suddenly remembered the fact, and racing back, folded the bag to its breast. Haven't seen one yet to equal in strength the specimen I met in Northern Queensland. It swept down a dusty lane, gathering speed and power every second, and upset a wagon—similar to our G.S. style—horses, driver and all; ginghams and hats were fluting everywhere.
"Gerardy": Illustrated tributes are paid to women engaged on road making and other strenuous manual tasks during these days of war. Let us hope that the fruits of their lab ours far exceed these of the Arab women who are engaged to crack stones on several Jerusalem highways. On a journey to Jericho recently, our column passed numerous gangs. Each bind was using a napping hammer, at a pace that would make the most casual Government-stroker in a suburban municipality appear to be a glutton for toil. During the long term of our snaillike progress through the hive of gossiping femininity, never once did I see a single piece of stone broken. Naturally, I'm puzzled to know who napped and gathered the stone that is heaped into little pyramids along the road.
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"Bomber": Went around the other day to see a cobber off to Australia. You should have seen the glory of the candidates for Home: spick and span uniform, blue, red and gold stripes, A's, colours, and many other brilliant attractions; but we need them all. Last year, when I hit Sedney again, everything was bright and fashionable. Only those with gold stripes on the tunic sleeve have been to the Front, in the opinion of some people. "Oh", a girl said to me, 'when I was leaving for the second time, as a reinforcement for the I.C.C., "you won't have to do any fighting this time as the Camel Corps only do transport duty." I smiled.
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"Emma G.I.": Speaking of "iron jaws" I enter a Bananalander. It was while on the push from Sinai into the Promised Land that it happened We were camped in a had, and a series of troughs had been erected on to a small well for the purpose of watering our steeds The Queen-lander was one of the pumping party. Alter a certain period on the pump, he decided to have a spell, and sat down on the well. My old nag, who is usually very quiet, suddenly lashed out, and caught him right on the point, the blow causing him to lose his equilibrium and fall to the bottom of the well. After an exciting five minutes, a very wet and semi-dazed man was extracted from the well, and finding himself intact, dived his hand into his trouser pocket and pulled out an old and very fractured pipe. His only remark was: "They've broke my only pipe". He finally withdrew, firstly to change his togs, and secondly, to get his much swollen face fixed.