HAMMY LAMB POEM. Submitted by Tony Lamb OAM (son of VX22347 G. H. Lamb).
Background : This poem was written by Lieutenant G. H. Lamb in Leles, Java after the surrender of Allied forces in Java by the Dutch command. It concisely illustrates the frustration and anger of the troops who were now P.O.W.s.
After Hamilton Lamb died, the poem was rescued by Cyril Scriven who kept it with his P.O.W. souvenirs until, alerted by an article in a newspaper, he forwarded it to Lamb’s son Antony in August 1991. He explained that the scribble was due to a lot of doodling they did those days in captivity and the piece cut out, which had no typing on it, was used to make a cigarette with native tobacco.
Notes : The spelling has been retained from the original. N.E.I. was the abbreviation for Netherland East Indies. The Dutch Queen’s name was usually spelled ‘Wilhelmina’. Queen Wilhelmina headed the government in exile in Canada when her country was over-run by the Germans and did everything in her power to encourage resistance. [Extract from Dictionary of World Biography Jones B. O. (Information Australia Melb. 1994) p781].
Than India no brighter jewel
Adorns the English Crown,
But Java was the golden thread
In Holland’s seamless gown;
And mindful of its glorious sheen
So proudly ruled Queen Wilhemena.
When Nazi hordes, with westward drive
Achieved swift victory,
And Quisling Dutch betrayed their land
Around the Zuyder Zee,
Behind England’s protective screen
She ruled- the widow Wilhemena
Yet men are loyal beyond the seas,
The Indies will not flinch,
Stout Netherlands in the East
Will never yield an inch;
So, far from changing Eastern scene
Said proudly boasting Wilhemena.
Though boldly may the Japanese
Challenge Britain’s might;
They smashed the gates of Singapore
‘We are prepared to fight,”
Till not a Gulden left between
The lot of us!” cried Wilhemena.
For masters go benevolent;
A million Javanese
Will help the Dutch and Allies
To save the Dutch East Indies
It’s rubber, tin and oil,
“To the last man” quoth Wilhemena.
But merchants rich, in Buitenzorg,
The army in Bandoeng,
And Sourabaya’s motley throng
Had different views to this,
And failed to echo - Wilhemena.
If we resist the Jap assault
Our lovely homes we’ll lose,
The bombs will fall, we’ll all be killed
Oh what a fate to choose,
But we must all so keen appear
To fight the foe, for Wilhemena.
Then we’ll have the sympathies,
Of the great Democracies;
Without our fighting, we will get
Our islands restored to us - just see,
Our mock defence will not be seen,
We’ll bluff the world, and Wilhemena.
But then to Java by some chance
3,000 Aussies came, and
500 Yanks with their artillery
To set the hills aflame;
A thing entirely unforseen by
These false friends of Wilhemena.
A witness to their perfidity,
They feared that it was such;
Though Wavell called it, as he left
“A gesture to the Dutch”
For be it from malign
These plans, unknown to Wilhemena.
It looked as if the game was up,
Should these soldiers land;
One way to keep them quiet
Was under Dutch command;
Once more the Dutch crows became serene
They drank a beer - to Wilhemena.
We really don’t require your help
They told our forces, so hence
We’ll send you up to Tjianpia,
Our third line of defence;
There, you may vent your famous spleen
On behalf of Wilhemena.
But when the Jap attack did come,
The Aussies bore the brunt,
This “silly” third line of defence
Had now become the “front”
And where, all through the Dutch should be
T’were not a man, O Wilhemena.
Some Dutch were fighting bravely now
In Bandoeng - for a beer,
Their mobile forces of great speed
Advancing to the rear
They left quite fifty miles between
Themselves and Japs, Queen Wilhemena.
At least 8 bombs fell on Bandoeng,
Why let us hesitate!
We cannot hold out further hope
So let’s capitulate;
As per plan, their arms up-raised
Complete surrender, Wilhemena.
Not quite complete 900 Dutch
Escaped to southern ports,
With barely 30 hours to spare
Ahead of Jap cohorts,
While Aussies in Tjandgang ravine
Cursed them and Wilhemena.
Hospitals were quickly filled
With friend and foe alike,
T’is said there were two Dutchmen there
Who’d fallen off their bikes,
Not fighting, but escaping
Japanese, Queen Wilhemena
While back in Aussie Dutch go free,
Who from this job did quail,
Australians who alone did fight
Are languishing in gaol;
Guerrilla fighting! None has been
Just Van Mook’s lies, O Wilhemena.
And now upon the radio,
We hear this bit of blurb,
How Dutchmen in the East
Offered resistance so superb;
The whole world rings with it, I swear,
Or so claim dear old Wilhemena.
We know that some day we will win
This fight for Liberty,
And then I wonder what the facts
Of N.E.I. will be,
When they stop, the war machine
Will all go back to Wilhemena?
By Lieut. Lamb M.P.