The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Come, gather your verses together, you bards of the rhythmical pen,
While gold of the blossoming weather breaks over the Southland again;
Take heed, if September you treasure 'bove seasons of fever and flood,
And give us the galloping measure that simmers and quickens the blood.
Our eyes are nigh blinded by gazing through crazy, implacable years,
And that which of old was amazing now jars on the drums of our ears.
O, lest for a song we should perish unseen in the toils of distrust,
Afford us the music we cherish adrift in the smothering dust.
It seems to us ages and ages since martial cadenzas were made
By trumpeting striplings and sages, to herald the stagnance of trade;
But we, who've been tempered in battle, and blighted by withering drouth,
Love ever a song of the wattle that wakes in the blossoming south.
Agression is hard to dissemble, defiance is harder to break
When "Mars" and his worshippers tremble, and thundering ire is awake;
Bat weavers of rhyme and of reason can soften the Warrior's curse,
And give us the rhyme of the season in rhythmical, fanciful verse.
Nor terror nor toil can impugn us when far-flying missiles assail.
For gay inspirations attune us to laugh in the teeth of a gale.
At home, in the timber and clearing, gay birds fleck the bosom of spring,
And presently we shall be hearing the bards of Anzalia sing.
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"Camelero": Put him in a tight corner and the Gyppo is full of grit. During the second stunt at Gaza one of them found himself and a cacolet camel in a hot place. When shells began to burst around him he wavered for a second, but noticing that several of our chaps had been wounded, he coolly barraked the camel and hoisted two of the casualties into the cacolets. When about to return to the dressing station, he came across a wounded Billjim, who was wandering about the field in a dazed condition. Bar-raking the camel again, he followed Billjim, and holding him up with one arm, returned to the hoosta and led it to safety. I believe the Gyppo was rewarded by a gift of P.T. 200 for his bravery. He earned it.
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"87": When at Anzac "Birdy'' always had a cheerful word for a wounded Billjim being carried down a trench. One morning the bearers brought along a chap who had come off second best in an argument with a "Jacko" bomb, and whose face was almost hidden by bandages. As he passed the "Soul of Anzac" the General said, "Well, my man, are you wound ed?" "Naw", replied the casualty, "I don't look it, do I? Can't you see I'm only going for a joy ride?"
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"First Major": One day three patients were admitted to the ship's hospital and, without any enquiry into the fitness of things, but purely by accident, they were put in cots beside each other. They were very ill when admitted and later on all suffered from sea-sickness. The troopship hospital was perched, lighthouse-like, away up over the top deck, and well aft. The weather was pretty rough coming across, consequently our three sick pals looked the picture of misery. Whenever their faces appeared above the bedclothes, they showed up against the pillows, a dull, yet livid greenish yellow, and I'm sure no artist would have desired more fitting models for a picture of woe, anguish and agony. Most of us wondered how long it would be before the whole hospital, with it's equip ment, patients and orderlies, would be swept off and deposited with a bump into the stormy billows, oyer which, every time the ship rolled, we appeared to hang suspended for an hour. There were only three men on board who did not speculate on the ultimate fate of this or any other hospital, or, in fact, on any event in this or any other world. But I must come to the point. The respective surnames of these unhappy Billjims, lying side by side, were, and I hope still are, Joy, Bliss and Jolly!
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"Den. Ton": "Summer" is a Boer war veteran, cunning, and the owner of a tongue that could raise blisters on the desert. He had "swung it" often in Australia, and when, at length, he arrived at Moascar he lost no time in reporting sick. But the M. O. would have none of him, and shortly afterwards he was transferred to the A. S. C, and sent along to do his bit with that unit. He was a regular attendant at our little sick parade; but at last the M. O. told him flatly, that he would not send him to hospital. That discouraged him, and for a time we knew him not. But we heard of him, He spent his spare time in torturing unwilling victims with long-winded tales of his rheumatism. Then a new M. O. arrived. So did "Summer. He was explaining how his complaint ran up his legs and down his arms when the "Doc" noticed his teeth. "Heavens! man, when did you clean your teeth last?", was his horrified question. "Summer" explained that he never cleaned them, as a dozen dentists had forbidden it; and besides, he had no brush, and was so overworked that he never had time to go to the canteen to buy one. The M. O. overcame this difficulty by presenting him with a brush. Next morning "Summer" bobbed up again, looking virtuous. " Ah!", said the pleased M. O., "that is better. You've got rid of some of that poison". " That's all right, sir, but it hasn't cured my rheumatism." For a while after this it was a fairly even game; but we watchers could see that" Summer " was gradually piling up points. He is now snugly in hospital, and our deepest sympathy goes out to the staff there.
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"Frank R": Mick Cluney and Billy Green both hailed from the same town, somewhere "Outback o' Sunset," and to outward appearances they were deadly enemies. They used to scowl fiercely at each other when they met, and one evening they fought ten willing rounds behind the Q M.'s tent. It was a draw. The hatred each had for the other continued while they were on the Peninsula, and they never spoke a word during the trek from Romani to El Arish. It was no wonder that we were astonished when we saw Mick, at Gaza, dash through a perfect shower of shrapnel, and rescue Billy, who had stopped a machine gun bullet with his right leg. We questioned him about it after the stunt. "Well, it's this way", he said. "Green is engaged to be married to my aunt, who is an old maid, and if he had been killed I'd have had to keep heron the farm for the rest of her days. If you knew my aunt, you'd sooner rescue twenty blokes out of the firing line than live in the same house with her. I never liked Green, but nothing is going to happen to him if I can help it, until he returns to Australia and takes Amelia out of our house."
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"Den. Ton": Does familiarly breed contempt or does this lop-sided country breed a particularly "fool" specimen of bird? To-day I was watching the antics of a number of the large scavenger eagles that knock about these parts. (Jordan Valley) They were circling and whirling about in the midst of a perfect hail of shrapnel sent up by our "anti" batteries for the undoing of a "Jacko" flier. The birdman was dipping and swerving for all he was worth, but the birds appeared to take it as a show especially for their edification. Suddenly one of them spread its wings and started on a long volpane earthwards; but after travelling some distance, the wings closed and the bird came down like a stone. Inspection showed that a shrapnel pellet had ripped it open from breast to tail. It's cobbers (as far as I could see) did not waste a glance on the dead eagle, but continued their aerial gymnastics, unconcerned.
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J. G. M.: A member of the Camel Corps, who had suffered a very nasty spill from the top of his ship of the Desert, was brought into the Field Hospital. In spite of his face being covered with mud and blood, the M. O. recognised him, saying, "Haven't you been here before?". "Yes", was the patient's reply. "This is my third appearance befcre you, sir". "What!" said the M. O. "this is the third time you have been here?" "Yes, sir", murmured Bill, "once bitten, twice shied".page 5
"Bill Bowyang": Wonderful the luck some chaps have with bombs. When the Camel Corps was bivouaced at El Arish, "Jacko" paid a visit one morning and dropped three bombs. When the first Jell the native labourers set out for the distant hills, with the result that they nearly ran into the third bomb, which landed only a few yards away from them. They were both thrown to the ground, but jumped to their feet and fled for the horizon. This reminds me of Jerry Lacey, who occupied, with his mate, a six-feet dugout. In the early hours of morning "Jacko" dropped an extra large one overboard and ic fell close to Jerry's bivvy. The sides of the dugout collapsed and almost buried the two men. When we excavated them, Jerry wiped the sand from his eyes and mouth, then turned upon his mate and cried: "Look here, digger, I've put up with a lot of your jokes, but pulling a bloke's dugout down on top of him is the limit. You get another place to camp in after this. I'm fed up with your silly games."
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"Jerry Ko": Had a barney with my cobber the other day concerning "the hyssop that springeth out of the wall". He knows as much about botany as a Gyppo donk does about a holiday; but he was positive as a pickaxe, that the hyssop is a little bushy plant which grows among ruins. 1 know better. I've seen hyssop "springing" out of the walls of Jerusalem, especially around the Temple area. The hyssop is the caper, a kind of creeper, with glossy green leaves and white flowers; its stems are spiny. The walls of the Holy City are tufied with all manner of plants, some pretty enough, others like a Patriarch's long beard.
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"Dingaroo": How's this for a narrow escape? In a certain town which we had just won from the Turks I was walking down the main street when a loud explosion made me fling my self face downwards on the ground. A few seconds later, finding that I was not injured, I tied a handkerchief around my face, and was on the verge of dashing away to investigate when a mass of jumbled humanity appeared from a by-way. My comrades began to explain things. They had noticed a case labelled "preserved peaches" lying in the roadway. "Longun", our lance corporal, picked it up and dropped it Immediately there followed an explosion, and the air was filled with flying missiles and a suffocating odour. It was only when I began to scrape the mass of evil-smelling eggs off their clothes that they realised what the box had contained.
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"Boori": Wallowing among piles of newly arrived newspapers, it was some time before we noticed Jimmy, sitting glumly apart, a copy of his native town's "Banner" clenched fiercely in one hand. We guessed the trouble at once. An over-proud relative had passed on one of his letters for publication. The missive related chiefly to his job as escort to a few ration camels, proceeding from a dump out to his regiment, and mentioned the theft, by native camel drivers, of thirteen tins of meat and vegetables. The editor of the "Banner", however, was blissfully unacquainted with Macon-ochie's mixed diet, or influenced by the supposed end'essness of camel trains over this way. By changing a single vowel, he announced to a startled public the theft of thirteen tons of meat and vegetables from a camel convov, under their respected fellow townsman's very eyes.
"Y": Some A.A.M.C. boys told me the tale. A Billjim, badly plugged in the right leg, was hoisted into a cacolet (an E.L.C. wallad acting as balancer) and started down hill along what, in the darkness, was an almost invisible goat track, which wound in and out of rugged ravines, —a perilous path. At a particularly dangerous turn, the camel missed its looting and did various acrobatic stunts—side slips, nose dives, lmmal-man turns, and a spin down—till it struck the rocks with a sound like bones going through a meat-grinder. Scrambling, falling and tumbling, the Field Ambulance chaps hit the bottom just in time to see a weird figure, mounted on a long-suffering donk, doing a bunk for the sky line. It was Bill. He had the high speed clutch on and was kicking the donk with his good leg. He was ordered into a cacolet away up the track. "Cacolet be hanged!" says he. "Have a screw at that camel back there. I'm off to Jericho". As the Army Meds. disentangled a valued member of the E.L.C. from a broken-necked hoosta, they heard the echoes of Bill's farewell.
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"Sportsman": Shortly before the fall of Jerusalem two of our Sappers, noticing that the surrounding district was thickly inhabited by grouse, and being desirous of a change of diet, hit on a novel scheme of capture. They soaked grain in their rum issue, and, after laying the bait, concealed themselves close by until such time as the game should became intoxicated and helpless. The effect of the rum-soaked grain on the birds, however, seemed to be elation rather than helplessness, which did not compensate for the outlay.
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"Ginger Beer": Fish is added to the Jordan Valley menu by two methods, trapping, and enticing, or, if you prefer it, fishing. Roll a a piece of wire netting (3 in. wide, 11/2j in. mesh) into a cylinder of about 2 ft. 3 ins. diameter, close each end with a funnel of same wire about 9 in. into the cylinder. Let the opening of the funnel be about 4 in. diameter. Cut a trap door, then twist the wire ends securely, but in such a manner that you may gain easy access to your breakfast, which will most certainly await you if you have been wise in your selection of the site. Well placed, a trap on the lines given keeps a section plentifully supplied and the rest of the troop smoodging for the backsheesh.. If you own a share in a fish trap it is no trouble to get someone to go to the canteen for you. You want hook and line for the other method. If you are good with the cook you may obtain dough for bait. Otherwise you spend half a day catching frogs, locusts, beetles, etc. The cicada beats the lot, but he beats you, too, as a rule, for he is just about as elusive as the fish, and that's going some. If you use a small hook, something scaly of about rolbs. weight takes a fancy and straightens it out or breaks it for you. If you use a large hook, that curse of all line fishermen, the small fry pinch the bait by degrees. Still, with patience, a chap can invariably hook a feed. Best time for this work is dawn, and again from I.30 p.m. to 3 p m. If you go fishing at sundown, the mosquitoes will soon convince you that there is no place like the bivvy, and inside the fly-net at that.
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"Yanko": TheLight Horseman and his wounded comrade in the Infantry met in Alexandria the other day. "That's a great gun the Germans are using," said the chap with the emu plume. "It's some gun, sure enough," replied the Infantryman, "but it's nothing to the new gas they were using just before I stopped a lump of iron from a Minnewerfer. It's terrible stuff; so powerful that it goes right through your tunic, through your pay book, and kills your next of kin".
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