Re-unions – If you close your eyes and recall

Great reunion with some of the old and wonderful bastxxds from days gone by after they flew into Cairns last week.

All ugly as ever and still standing tall.

Fred Fairhead arrived from Adelaide looking for the suit I borrowed from him some 50 years ago, so I’m a bit short on socks, shoes and  trousers at the  moment. 

SO PROUD OF THEM. They have all been attending the compulsory lessons on gender in their home towns. Sadly, some are having problems.

Luv ya —Stay safe 

 George (Runner up to Terry Holland for champion scruffy soldier in our beloved Regiment)

The Background Story from Butch Buttigeig:

Some of us have trekked up to Cairns to see George numerous times before. We all have a bond in that we deeply respect each other and are proud of the service we gave together for our country. Glenn Willmann and I were in George’s original 2 RAR platoon in 1964 when he was first commissioned (4 PL B Coy). Our solid bonding came about with an unforgettable challenge when George took us to PNG in 1965 to act as enemy for 1 PIR…. a sort of ‘run for your lives’ exercise at times when we encountered new recruits who thought the exercise was real war! George’s leadership was outstanding and inspirational to us 17-18 year-olds.

All in this photo served with George later with 6 RAR in Vietnam.

Remembrance Day 2020 at the Cairns RSL sub-branch. L-R: Stewart Smerdon; Glenn Willmann; Graham Smith; George Mansford; Fred Fairhead; and Butch Buttigieg

If you close your eyes and recall

You too will see an endless column of soldiers in slouch hats marching by 
And hear a rhythmic stamping of army boots and distant bugle cries
A moving sea of sunburnt faces from Gallipoli to Afghanistan
Brave deeds and sacrifice in fields, jungle, icy hills and desert sands 

Khaki kitbags to green duffel bags, then space age packs when on the move
Standing tall and proud, heads high, and devotion to flag proved
Shoulder to shoulder, duty and love of country always to the fore
No matter when the journey, most dreamt of a beloved faraway shore

Around campfires, dreams of joy and comfort returning home would bring
Spurred by Canberra promises so often made, with the same familiar ring 
Vows by Suits for eternal vigilance, recognition of hardships endured, and more
After all, a promise used to be as good as a handshake, be it peace or war

They soldiered night and day, weary, shivering or sweating; always the fear Yet reassuring was the comfort of comrades ever so near
So often the dice of death were rolled and losers added to the toll
To join the phantom column with their names etched on honour rolls 

Old soldiers still living imagine sounds of marching feet
They too seek the ghosts of old comrades, and reach out to greet
Then as the column fades, they merge with crowds and shuffle into tomorrow
With empty pockets and tortured minds, still waiting for old promises to follow

Come a new dawn, the ghosts will be back again
Proud but weary faces etched with both pride and pain
Duty done, still marching in step and as tall as before
Yet angry of political betrayal and apathy, war after war  

         if you close your eyes and recall  …….

George Mansford ©November 2020

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