Background : Francis served in the second forming of the Battalion and fought in New Guinea at places like Nadzab and Lae. The following is a poem he wrote. Tsili Tsili and Nadzab are places the Pioneers were sent to in New Guinea during World War 2. Longbloke is the pseudonym that Francis George Faram wrote under.
For months and months we marched around, we of the Pioneers,
In Vic’s cold wet, New South’s mild clime, and Queensland’s Sunny cheer.
We spent three months in the blinking heat, out in the Golden West,
And we fair would bet that Strawberries Plain was worse than all the rest.
We tramped it here and we tramped it there, with sore and blistered feet,
We marched, at times, through rain and mud but, mostly blazing heat.
At various times they got us trucks, and, sometimes Yankee Jeeps,
But most times, even if we rode, ‘twas with Frog-like Leaps.
Full half the trips were done on foot, much to our sore disgust,
The most we saw of Motor Trucks was their tailboard through the dust.
A thousand times we wondered where our feet would make us stray,
And then we landed in New Guinea that was a sorry day.
Days came and went; Nights did the same, in the Land where Boongs are rich
From place to place, and day to day, Lang’s Circus changed its Pitch.
The General said ‘For this new Stunt, I need a crack Battalion.’
And Joe Lang said, ‘Each Man I have is as fit as any Stallion.’
‘We haven’t many Transport Planes; but there’s a hell of a way to go’
‘A thousand miles? Mere child’s play.’ Was the answer he got from Joe.
But the Divvy Major was listening in, and jumped to our defense,
The points he raised, you’d be amazed were only common sense.
‘The time, he said, is far too short, and the track’s a trifle hilly,
So we must relent and let them fly, they can was from Tsili Tsili.’
‘I believe you’re right,’ the General said, ‘but still it’s a crying shame
If they don’t go the whole way marching, they won’t feel quite the same.’
‘From the Waput to the Markham, is a paltry Fifty-five,
To them, that’s just a saunter of four days, may-be five.’
So he came to see our Colonel, his opinion to consult,
And Joe Lang said, ‘Now, look here Charlie, that’s a flaming cold insult.’
‘Five days for that short saunter,’ and he chuckled loud with glee,
‘Cor strike me pink, that’s easy, My boys need only three.’
From that day for a week or so, the thought gives me the shivers,
They taught us how to pack our gear for the art of crossing rivers.
It was even shown on B.R.O’s, typed out in the usual way,
‘Wherever possible each man must cross at least one river a day.’
And now it’s Unit History just what we suffered then
We crossed ten rivers daily, then crossed them back again.
We packed our gear a thousand times, in as many different ways,
And we could not get our boots dry for days and days and days.
At last we got the warning, to pack, once more, our gear,
But not to cross more rivers, of that we had no fear.
This time, it was ‘fair dinkum’ we had a job to do,
But they didn’t tell us where it was, nor if we walked or flew.
They took us from the camp by Truck, down to the Moresby Drome,
And bunged us in the D.C.3’s and we thought sweet thoughts of home.
Away we flew, as the Dawn-light grew, o’er green, but muddy plains
And the Jungle thick with Mud and Slime, passed far below those planes.
But we didn’t mind that mud and slime, it was of something else we talked
We were moving camp to another place, and we didn’t have to walk.
At last they set the Transports down, on the Drome at Tsili Tsili,
And we clambered out to gaze around at some scenery a trifle hilly.
On September 1, we started out, ‘twas a day of sultry heat,
And the Boongs up front with Major K., set the pace with twinkling feet.
One grim warning was given us then, one thing to keep in mind,
No giving in or turning back, our Bridges were burnt behind.
The march was led by Company B, followed by H.H.Q.
H.Q. was next, then ‘C’ and ‘D’, with ‘A’ at the end of the Queue.
As we struggled on, the belief was born, in the minds of the men who knew
That the Trust the General had placed in us was founded well and true.
We climbed o’er mountains a thousand feet, and ridges even more
And struggled through swamps of mud and slime, and stumbled on logs galore.
The darkest thought that oft returns to my mind, as I ponder back,
There wasn’t a man but cussed and swore, at the weight of his Haversack.
They dragged, they pinched, they held us back, the straps left our shoulders raw
They rubbed and sagged and pulled and dragged, till our bodies were stiff and sore.
But our hearts were true and pulled us through, to the end of each tortuous day,
And we didn’t give up, or toss it in. That’s not the Pioneer way.
When we start a job we carry it through, till it’s finished and out of the way.
If it’s done it’s done, and there’s nothing left to be done the following day.
At last we arrived at the closest point, some where on Markham’s shore,
And our sleep that night was oft disturbed by the River’s gurgling roar.
At Dawn next Morn we were on our feet, each Man ready to fight,
All thoughts, of peaceful days ahead, had gone with the fleeing night.
Each man wondered as we waited there, ‘were the Japs on the other shore?’
‘would we face, as we started off a Machine Gun’s stuttering roar?”
‘Had we been trained as we should have been? What would our Officers do?”
‘Will I be first to fall by the way, or will it be Bill or Blue?”
These thoughts keep coming try, as we may, to think of more cheerful things,
But, to worry and fear, at times like this, will the mind more stubbornly cling.
But deep in our Hearts is the fondest love for Sweetheart, Mother or Wife,
And those wonderful thoughts determine us to cling to our share of Life.