The ANZAC Spirit
To a war that was not our own in a land on a foreign sea
The ANZAC men embarked for distant Gallipoli.
Aussie and Kiwi alike, soldiers both young and old,
Men of the Southern Cross, pursuing glory and gold.
Adventure and fortune they sought, but neither met them there;
They landed on the beach to find a hell beyond compare:
Their countrymen were corpses, maimed or MIA,
The trenches thick with rats and mud, the air dense with decay.
Death by day or death by night, it seemed to make no odds
The war was just a game between the government and gods.
If a bullet didn’t catch him, disease would win its score –
That’s what the old hands said, who’d lived three weeks or more.
“Keep your head down and your spirits up,” they said,
“And just pretend it’s rice, not maggots, in your bread.”
He wrote a letter home, uncomplaining still,
“Thanks for the lemonade, Mum. The heat’s enough to kill.”
On the eve of battle he lay calm and had a smoke,
Hoped his death came quick; he was a simple bloke,
Thought of his girl at home, prayed that he’d be brave
And the bastards would at least give him a decent grave.
Dawn came too soon, the moon still sleeping in the sky;
The sergeant booted them awake as he went by.
Grumbling from a heavy, dreamless sleep they woke;
Primed their rifles, shook hands and shared a dirty joke.
He fixed his bayonet and took it all in stride;
“Good luck, mate; I’ll see you on the other side.”
The order was given to charge and over the top they went,
“Take the hill or don’t come back”: it was their one intent.
Into No Man’s Land they ran, across that cursed ground
As shells churned up the earth, exploding all around;
And in the din and carnage, as bullets rained like hail,
Our boys did not draw back when lesser men would quail.
No thought they spared for self, nor entertained defeat;
They ran to death and glory, they ran on faithful feet.
Hundreds and then thousands, waves across the beach;
They ran unfaltering and passed beyond death’s reach.
Once, with grit in their guts and twinkling eyes they came;
Sheer bloody determination gave the ANZAC spirit fame,
Born and bred in hardship, moulded from a tougher cast,
And in the end they proved their stuff, even at the last.
On crisp white pages scholars write of what it cost,
Generals dumb as asses and a generation lost;
But when courage was required, the ANZAC spirit shone,
And though they’re gone, that spirit in our blood lives on.
Honour those who paid the price; use your freedom well.
They gave the only life they had. Honour those who fell.
The reason for those wars we’ll never understand
But the spirit of the ANZACs is a legend in our land.
** Image ID #1929233 Unavailable **