Remembering them

Peter Coverdale, 2nd 31st Battalion,

The stories entrusted to a Museum’s collection are held for sharing, but they don’t always immediately come to light due to regretful resourcing (space, people) constraints. Discoveries in the collection can then be serendipitous – a confluence of timing, or the result of a request for information. And when resources do become available, reviewing a backlog may also find a moving example such as this.

On the way up to our present camp we met up with some of our Battalion just out of the lines. Cpl Alan Kay, one of our crowd, has just made up these verses


We had stopped along the mule track to have a spot of tea,                              Just Reos going up to join our Company.                                                                        We were biting into biscuits which were on the bill of fare.                            When their trucks pulled in behind us – you could see that they’d been “there”.

You could see that they’d been through it by the lustre of their eyes                     And the horros they had witnessed would be hard to realize,                                  Dirty and unshaven with their clothes all torn & tattered,                                         The fever was within them, their hair was thick and matted.

[disrespectful content removed]

Men of the 31st Battalion with their circle black & red                                                Have won glory in many battles & scent there’s more ahead.

* reinforcements

Found in a collation of poetry written by Peter Coverdale 1942 – 1959 – 1963  

Here is part of the verse which “Peter the Poet” himself wrote,  with typing quirks, during November 1944:

Civvie Street

I’ve taken off the Kahki, that I’ve worn five years or so, I’ve hung my old slouch hat up in the hall,

The colour patch and badges that I once so proudly wore,  They now adorn a pennant on the wall,

And instead of service rifle, my hands now hold the plough, And I ride my horse, to fetch the cattle home

And my kiddies play around me, and my wife is by my side, And I’m thankful that no more, I’ve got to roam,

I sometimes miss the army, and the mates I used to know, Those hectic times, in many a varied place,

And Civvie clothes and civvy ways still seem a trifle queer, These Civvies seem to me a different race.

But I guess I’ll get accustomed to the joys of civvie street, My army days will grow dim with time,

I’ll forget about the hardships and the miserys we had. The jungle mud and horros of the line, But old mates I’ll still remember, and the happy scenes will stay,

Especially when I read my book of verse, That I wrote just as a hobby, to fill in odd idle hours, Instead of playing swi or something worse,

As it wasn’t penned for the ladies but for soldiers of the line, I’m afreaid a word or too is not polite,

But my book brought lots of pleasure to old tent mates that I had, They often made me read by lantern light.

And though its only gingle, without polish, grammer, wit, It still recalls to me, eventful days,

But my rhyming is now finished and I’m laying down my pen, For I’m starting off in brand new Civvie ways.

Peter wrote poetry for the Korora View. The Museum has not seen copies of this publication. Information on its whereabouts would be welcome.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *