Poetry - Tiger Battalion

The Nasho

I was young and fit and twenty, with the earth beneath my feet,
I felt there was no challenge upon that I could beat.
The world was mine to master, I knew I could not fail,
But then my life turned upside down, when opening the mail.

Was a letter from the government I read with shaking hand,
Your birthday's just been drawn out, it's time to make a stand,
We need you in the Army, the threat is plain to see
So pack your bag and grab a train, you will report by three.

They transported me to 'Pukka' for ten weeks of basic hell,
And what they put me thro', I knew I couldn't tell.
They shaved my head, degraded me and treated me like dirt,
Then tried to build me up again, so I became alert.

And then more training followed, I wondered would it end,
Then they shipped me to a unit, it was the next that they would send,
To a land I'd never heard of, and a war I gave no thought,
So off I went with all my mates to use the skills I had been taught.

And then one day whilst on patrol and walking thro' the bush
The reality of war came home, arriving in a rush,
Someone yelled out contact! As firing began,
As my best mate was blown apart ne're to be seen again.

This was my life for 12 long months continually in fear,
For no one knew how close they were, or were they very near,
Behind a tree, or up a hill or in a tunnel small,
The sneaky little bastards did really have some gall.

It wasn't just the enemy that made the job so tough,
The mines and snakes and spiders that were hidden in the rough,
Adrenaline kept pumping all the time that I was there,
Combine that with rashes t'was really hard to bear.

Then suddenly it's over, my tour is at an end,
I'm on a troop ship homeward bound surrounded by all friends.
No more walking in the jungle where one step could be my last
And any thoughts of dying there are relegated past.

I was a callow youth before departing and with fears,
But on return I'd grown up and way beyond my years.
I couldn't understand the reception I received
Whilst telling of my tour why were all the listeners peeved?

Nobody there to help me from the politicians down,
There was no one there to listen, they just offered up a frown,
One day you are a soldier, a man who's trained to kill
The next you are a civvy and they treat you like a dill

Why do they throw red paint on us and spit upon our face?
And call us baby killers, they could use a little grace
I did the job they asked of me and really did it well
As far as I'm concerned they can all go straight to hell

But one straight fact they can't dismiss as much as they deride,
I wore the Aussie uniform and wore it with great pride.
I did the job was asked of me tho' quietly not loud
And I will say till my last breath I was a digger, PROUD.

Bob Alexander
Assault Pioneer Platoon 1st Tour

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