Poetry - Tiger Battalion

For Frank

Frank was from down the Range,
A shy son of honest farmers,
Boarding at school with other sons
Of Christ from nearby and far away.

Fellow boys from the bush
Challenged by the academic,
Struggling with maths and science
And learning of peace from God.

Frank left early as others struggled
On to seek higher schooling,
Wasting time in the year that
Kennedy bluffed Khrushchev.

All out war missed us then,
But the battle was escalating
On the thin end of Asia
As Frank enlisted of free will.

A few years later a ballot called
Many others to the same theatre
While others marched the streets
Wanting an end to the apocalypse.

In among the rubber and rain,
Frank and his boys were caught.
A long way from the land of his dreams
In the nightmare of Long Tan.

Eighteen young lives were to end,
Faithful to their tradition, Old Anzacs
Should not mind that we call them
Young Anzacs, doing their Duty First.

The brave come home in boxes,
As did Frank, his mother’s eldest son,
A platoon of irony from his old school
A silent tribute as he is interred
Just down the road from the family farm.

To Frank Topp, died at Long Tan, Vietnam, 18 August, 1966.

(The author was a classmate of Frank’s older brother Bernie and knew Frank at Downlands College,
Toowoomba. Kerry served in Vietnam after Long Tan with 5th Battalion RAR.)


© Kerry White
B Company Vietnam 1st Tour

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