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Our Cambridge Collection has changing exhibitions about Cambridge. Much of our collection is in storage to ensure its preservation for future generations.
by ‘Inky Finger’ – 6 November 1942
(Homeguard and Army Manoeuvres)
At the finish of this war
There’ll be wondrous tales in store
For those who like the dinkum stuff
Of soldiers who are brave and tough.
The battalion is building a story,
Not yet over-tinged with glory.
But one great conquest must be told
Of days in mountains wet and cold.
At dawn of day with heavy packs
We travelled miles up boggy tracks;
Pushing in through bush and scrub,
Weighted down with tools and grub.
Our goal was reached amid loud cheers,
For we were truly mountaineers,
‘Banaka’ was the cry we used;
For once the heads were not abused.
Spreading ferns and leaves were cut,
So every man could build a hut.
And glowing fires were soon ablaze,
Hot M and V was ours for days.
And then the glamour all departed
For it seemed the heavens had parted.
It rained all night and into day,
While soaking in our beds we lay.
What had been mud became a bog,
Each step we took our boots would clog.
Our clothes became a sticky mess,
We thought of that new battledress.
Grim parties travelled back each day
To bring up rations miles away.
For them, the mud was up to knee,
Oh! How we cursed the A.S.C.
Huge trees were felled by axemen strong
To keep fires burning all day long.
The blaze was crowded round by those
Who tried each day to dry wet clothes.
When flames licked high some things were lost.
The J.M. he will hear the cost,
Some officers even lost their kit,
‘Twas not like in the last outfit.
For Sabbath, as a special treat,
We had dried fruit instead of meat.
They promised us a tot of rum,
But late at night it had not come.
Patrols by day and guards by night,
But never a Jap did come in sight.
So after six long days of waiting
We started daring enemy baiting.
The prisoners taken were sad and weary,
Their bellies empty – their eyes bleary.
We fed them up on bully beef –
They said it was a great relief.
We laboured on that sixth day through,
Our laboured breath we deeply drew;
But this was quite correct, they say,
For was it not our Labour day?
The Japs then made their full attack.
But the battalion nobly drove them back.
While others fell we held out fast,
And so brought victory at last.
That night we drank the cheering grog,
For once we did not mind the bog.
Our hearths and homes were safe once more –
We’d driven the enemy from our door.
And then it was the rain abated,
Out came the sun so much belated,
For we were on our homeward way
To change our clothes and draw our pay.