Background : Grandpa served in the second forming of the Battalion and fought in New Guinea at places like Nadzab, Heath's Plantation, Markham Point, Lae, Ramu Valley and Shaggy Ridge. He didn't really talk much about the war until later in life and even then, tended to gloss over the really bad bits. Recurring bouts of malaria for years afterwards also took its toll. His Soldier's Handbook and copy of Jungle Warfare (both Australian Government publications) only hinted at what happened. I know he would never lie to me and that is why the stories are real. What these men went through defies belief!! Here are a few stories he shared with me:
I am standing at my window; I can hear the tramp of feet,
I can hear the soldiers marching down the bush roads and streets,
They are coming into vision; now they can be plainly seen,
That shining line of figures in their faded suits of green.
Suits that went into dyepot in a hurry as you know,
For the Jap was at our doorstep; a crafty cruel foe,
No time for fuss or finish; very little lay between,
Those swarming hordes of Nippon and those faded suits of green.
The dye came out in patches of pale yellow, green and brown,
They were fashioned for the jungle; not for touring around town,
They were not meant for dandering, to strut in or to preen,
They were made for men of action; streaky faded suits of green.
These men who went to outposts; to flies muck an heat,
To monotony and boredom; no offensive; no retreat,
And they missed the path to glory with their mates at Alamein,
They were left to guard Australia in their faded suits of green.
On the battlefields of Papua; on the shores of Milne Bay,
On the road to far Kokoda and down Buna Gona way,
Thru fever laden jungles where Nippon lurked unseen,
Into slime and slush a slaughtering went those faded suits of green.
Pressing onward; ever onward; rivers crossed; pathways strange,
Facing death; defying danger on the Owen Stanley Range,
Up cliffs and down valleys; thru the deep and dark ravines,
Torn and battered splashed with crimson glory faded suits of green.
Standing watching at my window my thoughts wing as before,
To rice fields of Malaya to the docks of Singapore,
To prison camps of Nippon where our loved ones gaunt on lean,
Weary wait there to be rescued by those faded suits of green.
They are coming captive soldiers tho the way be hard and grim,
They will fight onto finish inch by inch yard by yard,
Forming suits of shining armour worn by knights before a queen,
Ever held such pride and honour as those faded suits of green.
When peace bells are aringing as they did in days of yore,
When the hated sound of war drums cease for ever more,
When we live in love and laughter and happiness serene,
Oh, Australia please remember those faded suits of green.