Monday, 30 December 2013

Cyril Tawney - Naval ditties, The A25 Song

I’ve noticed that a couple of my posts featuring naval ditties sung brilliantly by Shep Woolley or Cyril Tawney attract a bit of interest (probably from ex-RN’ers around the world).  Anyway, where I think there might be interest I will endeavour to please, so here are the words to another favourite Cyril Tawney Navy song.  It’s called, The A25 Song.  As with most of Cyril Tawney’s work, the song is ‘old’ Navy – fledgling days of the Fleet Air Arm and set in the struggle of WWII.  Cyril did thirteen years in the RN (joined at 16 years old), but had talent and left to do time as the longest serving professional folk singer in Britain.

The A25 Song
(Cyril Tawney 1930 -2005)
They say in the Air Force a landing’s OK,
If the pilot gets out and can still walk away,
But in the Fleet Air Arm the prospect is grim,
If the landing’s piss poor and the pilot can’t swim.
Cracking show! I’m alive!
But I still have to render my A25.
I fly for a living and not just for fun,
I’m not very anxious to hack down a hun,
And as for deck landings at night in the dark,
As I told wings this morning, blow that for a lark.
Cracking show!  I’m alive!
But I still have to render my A25.
When the batsman gives lower, I always go higher,
I drift o’er to starboard and prang my Seafire,
The boys in the gofers think that I’m green,
But I get the commission from Super Marine.
Cracking show!  I’m alive!
But I still have to render my A25.
They gave me a Barra to beat up the fleet,
I shot up the Rodney and Nelson a treat,
I forgot the high mast that sticks out from Formid….
And a seat in the gofers was worth fifty quid.
Cracking show!  I’m alive!
But I still have to render my A25.
I thought I was comin in high enough but,
I was fifty feet up when the batsman gave ‘cut’,
And loud in my earphones the sweet angels sang,
Float, float float, float, float, float, float, float, float,
Cracking show!  I’m alive!
But I still have to render my A25.
The moral of this story is easy to see,
A Fleet Air Arm pilot you never should be,
But stay on the shore and get two rings or three,
And go out every night on the piss down at Lee.
Cracking show! I’m alive!
But I still have to render my A25.
I have seen versions of The A25 Song where there are up to seven additional verses, but this is the one I have on CD.  For the uninitiated, an A25 is an accident report form; a Barra is a type of aircraft; and ‘Formid..’ refers to HMS Formidable, an Illustrious class aircraft carrier in commission during WWII.  The times I read this song, it makes me feel how quickly we distance from actual experiences and recollections of what we once knew as familiar technology and methods.  Very soon, the people of a time won’t receive that feeling of how it was and what it was like.  That’s why it’s important for poets in the present to capture and preserve observations, emotions and experiences of our time, no matter how mundane.

I use a poem of mine titled, ‘Nirimba’ as the link in this post.  It’s a Fleet Air Arm link.  I was totally unaware of the history of ‘HMAS Nirimba’ when I first joined the Navy and that establishment to undertake my three and a half years of trade training.  We had joined the Navy to see the sea so why were we being bussed inland, miles from any water, to an abandoned airfield west of Sydney?  The Navy’s hold on an inland aerodrome went back to the second world war when the British Pacific fleet used the RAAF facility (Schofields aerodrome) as a maintenance base for their Fleet Air Arm (a Mobile Naval Air Base – MONAB).  At that time, it was commissioned as HMS Nabstock.  After the war, the RAN set the base up as their apprentice training establishment (RANATE).  In my poem I try to go back and capture ‘Nirimba’ and the beautiful innocence of our young time when we were Naval Apprentices.  Soon, there will be too much distance for anybody to feel how it truly was or know what it was like.  The Navy’s ‘Nirimba’ decommissioned in 1994 and the facilities handed on to the Education Department to become a college precinct in western Sydney.

2011.  HMAS Nirimba was the Royal Australian Navy’s apprentice training establishment from 1956 to 1994.  It was located at Quakers Hill in Sydney, miles inland on the site of a fleet air arm base from the second world war.  Apprentices spent three and a half years (seven terms) at Nirimba before going to sea.  A lengthy time by today’s terms to develop a unique culture.  I was an apprentice there from January 1969 to July 1972.



Go back,
way, way back,
  before the Richmond line was electrified,
    before Parklea,
      before muppets, before round rig,
when Bruno was the bouncer at the Blacktown RSL,
  and the Robin Hood was out of bounds,
before Facility 12,
  before purpose built brick buildings
    replaced corrugated iron and concrete floors,
      open ablution blocks left over from the war,
bucket and pogo stick laundering,
before rough play became bullying and bastardization,
  when character guidance was still taught,
    debutante balls with white gloves,
      cardboard detachable collars and crisp starched shirts,
Look up, look up! Don’t look down,
  there’s nothing on the ground,
    one day you may find,
      you have to square off and show you are the better man,
and some of the old salts still remembering,
modeled it on the British,
with an emphasis on pride,
loyalty, example, perseverance, guts and heart,
  Saturday morning working parties,
    winter afternoons on sporting fields,
     assembled under patron explorers,
Bass, Banks, Stirling and Tasman,
Dampier, King, Bligh, then Cook,
  where cheers went up for service,
    for division, for term, for hut
     for being a part, and the love of life,
when attendance at Sunday service was compulsory,
and lingering, longing looks,
upon Chaplain Rossier’s daughters,
  when rejection hurt,
    before free love,
when local schoolgirls were bussed in to cinema dances,
no alcohol, no drugs and strict ten o’clock finishes,
  before videos, before computers and personal television sets,
    competed with the focus and jibes at Mr Marks movies,
clacking mechanically through projector sprockets and guides
reel changes, jams, burnt celluloid and missing cinemascope lenses,
  and the cinema, the cinema the central point,
    when warrants were read from the steps,
to the prejudice of good order and discipline,
and a boy could get fourteen days in Holsworthy prison,
or seven days MUPs for silent contempt
  and a man’s morals were measured in his performance review,
    and Mrs Clarke knew every boy’s name,
      looking eagerly and expectantly for mail,
back when folk packaged parcels and wrote letters, cards
for which waiting taught virtue of patience, and receiving
was something held to carry treasured
in a private corner of a cheap wood ply locker,
  kit musters, cleanliness and inspections
    when liberty men presented at the main gate
     before cars,
      before civvies
shaven hair, blue blazers and private school pocket rig
uniforms massing down Quakers Hill road on foot
when that was still a brisk walk in the country
and a full weekend and freedom tasted sweet
released early from Friday workshops and classrooms
divisions and gunnery jacks with red faces
Look up, look up!  Don’t look down,
  there’s nothing on the ground
    look me in the eye, stand tall!  With men
who believed pride and confidence, something
having to be yelled into a boy,
  before economies and efficiencies argued
    and a seven term investment
      seemed not too long
        to have to wait for return
and it was mind, body and soul to be fed
  before R & Q, before outside catering
    when tables were always laden with generosity
fresh bread, unopened jars, clean butter, and
canned herrings in tomato sauce
take all you want, eat all you take
  you have to be fighting fit, to be fit to fight
when Sister Hazel practiced a brand of military nursing
based on the Crimea, when PTI’s were still feared
and leather soled boots struck at the double on roadways.
Look up, look up.
  don’t look down.
nothing on the ground, anymore
  nothing on the ground
    .... anymore.
                                                                   J. O. White

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Charles Causley - Timothy Winters

I’ve been wanting to post this well known poem by Charles Causley for some time.  It’s called, Timothy Winters.  I love the poem for a number of technical reasons – the rhyming, a four feet five feet rhythm and a voice that I guess is Cornish (Charles Causley came from Cornwall), so it makes you want to recite it in your best British accent.  Then there’s the entertaining sense of humour and the nice hook at the end, ‘come one angel, come on ten: Timothy Winters, Lord.’
Charles Causley was a schoolteacher, and this poem certainly stands testimony to the belief that if I am to be a poet I should write about things I know or have observed.  Well, OK, about the things I know, as well as what I have considered toward my observations, together with what my emotional response is to them.  I think that’s how I’ve come to select Timothy Winters for this post.  I’m thinking how society treats people wrong sometimes, especially from lack of justice within our social systems.  We all have a built in sense of what is fair and of what makes something wrong – sometimes we need reminding of it.  Here in our news in Sydney we have public outcry from the parents of an innocent young boy who was walking with his girlfriend through the city when he was ‘king hit’ and killed by some thug who went on attacking other victims on the same night.  The thug received a prison sentence of only four years on good behaviour.  I know revenge is not a part of justice, but I feel for the parents – at their faith and trust in the system and how they can’t help feel they’ve been let down.
Let down and duped by the system – the legal system, the political system, the welfare system.  Poor Timothy Winters, needing all the help in the world makes social justice and the school’s prayers of petition look like a joke when he, “roars ‘Amen’!”
Timothy Winters
(Charles Causley – 1917 to 2003)
Timothy Winters comes to school
With eyes as wide as a football pool,
Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters:
A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.
His belly is white, his neck is dark,
And his hair is an exclamation mark.
His clothes are enough to scare a crow
And through his britches the blue winds blow.
When teacher talks he won’t hear a word
And shoots down dead the arithmetic-bird,
He licks the pattern off his plate
And he’s not even heard of the Welfare State.
Timothy Winters has bloody feet
And he lives in a house on Suez Street,
He sleeps in a sack on the kitchen floor
And they say there aren’t boys like him any more.
Old man Winters likes his beer
And his missus ran off with a bombardier,
Grandma sits in the grate with a gin
And Timothy’s dosed with an aspirin.
The Welfare Worker lies awake
But the law’s as tricky as a ten-foot snake,
So Timothy Winters drinks his cup
And slowly goes on growing up.
At morning prayers the Headmaster helves
For children less fortunate than ourselves,
And the loudest response in the room is when
Timothy Winters roars ‘Amen!’
So come one angel, come on ten:
Timothy Winters says ‘Amen’
Amen amen amen amen.
Timothy Winters, Lord.

At first reading, this poem may appear to be a swipe at Christian belief, a mockery of religious process, a suggestion that the Lord is powerless and blind to reality.  But I don’t think that is what the poem says.  If it is a swipe, then it is a swipe at one individual’s (the headmaster) and the system’s (school) blindness to recognize that there is already one among them who is in immediate need.  Yes, Timothy Winters roaring ‘Amen’ is a joke but it is a joke on the system that goes through a ritual of morning prayer yet never thinks that it should bear true witness.
I haven’t read much of Charles Causley.  He was an English poet, born in Cornwall.  He served in the Royal Navy during WWII so he must have been a decent sort of bloke and because of that I’m keen to read more of his work.
I wrote my poem for this post some time ago.  It comes from what I observed in the press, my consideration toward that situation and my emotional response to it, which was a sense of injustice and social misunderstanding.  I don’t know, a lot of times I can’t help but feel for the underdog no matter what shit he’s in or what he’s done.  Don’t let the bastards win man!
2000:  Listening to the news, I couldn’t help but feel the anguish and hurt of a man in a hopeless situation.

What About the Man

A man snatched his son
at Port Norlunga and
took him to a warehouse
in Lonsdale.
The man had been living there
since being estranged
from his wife,
it was a custody battle.
The man
threatened to set fire
to himself and the boy.
Police said there was a smell of fuel in the area.
They had to surround the factory with a SWAT team,
ambulances, fire engines
red hoses run out
police negotiators.
They got it all for television
on the six o’clock news,
you could see the news reader thought
the man had done something wrong.
She was calm
on the side of right
and was caring
and beautiful.
The soft and sweet potential
of a mother’s love
assured us the man gave himself up
and was taken into custody.
Everything was OK,
the boy was re-united with his mother,
a happy ending to a nasty situation
thought the lovely news reader
And she carefully smiled to assure us
that the woman was good and loved her son
while the man
was led away by two very official policemen.
will be charged
with abduction
and endangering life.
what about the man
who snatched his son
at Port Norlunga!
                                   J. O. White

Monday, 4 November 2013

Les Murray - Cotton Flannelette (bush fires)

We’ve had a tough few weeks here in New South Wales with early hot, dry summer conditions and out of control bush fires.  Australia is well acquainted with the fury, tragedy and loss from huge fire, unstoppable fire.  We have a network of Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers who answer the call to give up their time and risk life to fight these fires and save property and life.  Whenever, wherever there is an outbreak and the yet slow boiling brown white smoke in the distance agitates dread.  To when racing flame becomes visible metres above bursting tree tops leaping and licking to grip onto the living with fear.  We were lucky this time not to have anybody lose life in the fires, only property destroyed - more than 100 houses.  One of the landmarks near where I live somehow survived.  There’s this roadhouse at Lake Macquarie that has a big prawn out the front, fabricated, painted and stuck on top of a tall pole.  Everybody knows the landmark and refers to it as the ‘big prawn’.  You give and receive direction by following the ‘big prawn’, “just past the big prawn mate and then turn left”; “wait for me at the big prawn”; “if you pass the big prawn then you’ve gone too far”.  Well, the service station buildings are totally ruined, but that old ‘prawn’s’ still standing.  And people talk about it as if the ‘prawn’ was all there ever was, “did you hear the big prawn servo got burnt out?  No mate, it’s OK, the ‘big prawn’s’ still standing”.
The fresh experience of fire and the hero status of the survivor have drawn me to post a favourite Les Murray poem.  It’s called, Cotton Flannelette and it describes the agony of a young girl so badly burned that the country doctor has given up on her.  Only through the unsleeping absolute mother’s persistence (in the untrained perfect language) and her own plea to shake the bed does the child bear the pain, survive and live to carry terrible scarring, Braille tattoos and contour whorls.  Like a lot of Murray’s work, this poem is written from part experience.  Les Murray had an aunt (Myrtle) who had suffered terrible burns as a child.  I’m not sure if he knew how the accident occurred, but Les recalls seeing his aunt when he was a small boy and wondering about the scars that covered her exposed skin.

Cotton Flannelette
Les Murray (1938 – )
Shake the bed, the blackened child whimpers,
O shake the bed! Through beak lips that never
will come unwry.  And wearily the iron-
framed mattress, with nodding crockery bulbs,
jinks on its way.
Her brothers and sisters take
shifts with the terrible glued-together baby
when their unsleeping, absolute mother
reels out to snatch an hour, back to stop
the rocking and wring pale blue soap-water
over nude bladders and blood-webbed chars.
Even their cranky evasive father
is awed to stand watches rocking the bed.
lids frogged shut, O please shake the bed,
her contour whorls and Braille tattoos
from where, in her nightdress, she flared
out of hearth-drowse to a marrow shriek
pedalling full tilt firesleeves in mid air,
are grainier with repair
than when the doctor, crying Dear God woman!
No one can save that child.  Let her go!
spared her the treatments of the day.
Shake the bed.  Like: count phone poles, rhyme,
classify realities, bang the head, any
iteration that will bring, in the brain’s forks,
the melting molecules of relief,
and bring them again.
O rock the bed!
Nibble water with bared teeth, make lymph
like arrowroot gruel, as your mother grips you
for weeks in the untrained perfect language,
till the doctor relents.  Salves and wraps you
in dressings that will be the fire again,
ripping anguish off agony,
and will confirm
the ploughland ridges the gum joins
in your woman’s skin, child saved by rhythm
for the sixty more years your family weaves you
on devotion’s loom, rick-racking the bed
as you yourself, six years old, instruct them.
To me, it’s the repeat of the plea, O shake the bed; rock the bed; please shake the bed, that conveys the sheer agony a young burn victim must have suffered in the period when Les Murray’s aunt Myrtle was a girl.  I can’t help wondering how it happened.  The clue is in the title, Cotton Flannelette, and the lines, ‘in her nightdress, she flared out of hearth-drowse to a marrow shriek pedalling full tilt firesleeves in mid air.”  The girl has fallen asleep in front of an open fire (hearth drowse) and her nightclothes, pyjamas have heated to ignition point.  She has run and waved her arms in panic and fanned the flames even more (pedalling full tilt firesleeves in mid air).  Suddenly bursting into flame in front of a fire was not uncommon in Les Murray’s aunt’s time and even up until the 1980’s.  I can recall strong warnings about sitting too close to the fire and what to do if I did catch on fire – drop and roll, drop and roll!  In later years, manufacturing standards tightened to ensure children’s pyjamas were made from fire resistant material.  Cotton flannelette was one material that must have had a low flash point.
My own poem for the post was written many years ago.  It is from the country, is from experience and is from fire – not bush fires, but cane fire, back in the days when they used to send a raging fire through sugar cane to burn off the leaf and tops prior to hand cutting.
1980.  Growing up around Pinnacle in the Pioneer Valley surrounded by sugar cane and all activity of it’s farming.  The setting conjures back sweet emotion, but I could never have been a farmer.
I know cane.
I know cane as a kid,
Living in cane fields.
I know the sour smell of a mill,
Tall silver smoke stacks,
Belching white brown smoke,
Whisping white clouds of heat from vents,
At night in the light of scattered yellow lamps,
The huge black bulk of sheet-iron sheds,
Train tracks,
Loaded carriages and activity of the crushing.
I know the trains.
Sugar trains, ghost trains.
Counting the carriages,
Car after car of white square boxes,
Each encrusted with spilled raw sugar,
Set in crevices and corners,
Rock candy to be broken away,
While the black loco argues through the cutting.
I know the fields
The sweet smell of fresh ploughed dirt,
Rich black or red or brown,
Furroughs running straight and true forever,
Distance vast distance,
Black birds dotted far away,
Fussing and feeding,
In the clear open spaces,
Left clear and clean before the planting.
I know the fire,
Racing unstoppable through the cane,
Can hear the fire coming,
Burning cinders thrown high,
Into the dark sky,
Tall grasses beside rutted dirt tracks,
Where men wait with wet sugar bags,
For the cinder to fall burning,
Swiftly there’s silence,
And the men gather in the gloom,
To talk of the cane and the cutting.
I know hot afternoons,
Burning tops,
Row upon row of dry brown foliage,
Left over from harvested crop,
Bundles of coarse leaf in my hands,
Running the rows setting fire,
To the debris and thoughts,
Swimming away in the creek,
Cane swimming away in the creek.
                                     J. O. White

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Cyril Tawney - Ballads for the Navy

The Royal Australian Navy is about to celebrate one hundred years from when the first ships that were to make up the Australian fleet sailed into Sydney harbour, 4th October 1913.  Before that, the ‘Australia Squadron’ belonging to the Royal Navy had responsibility to provide protection for Australia.  That responsibility transferred to the Royal Australian Navy when it formed in 1911.  The ships that arrived in Sydney harbour in 1913 to a patriotic public welcome were HMAS Australia, HMAS Melbourne, HMAS Sydney, HMAS Encounter, HMAS Parramatta, HMAS Yarra and HMAS Warrego.  This weekend we are going to celebrate and re-live that event with 50 warships and tall-ships from nations around the world gathering for a fleet review in good old Sydney town.  Nothing like having mates over for a party!  If you’re wondering where I’ll be on the weekend, I’ll be in Sydney!  It’s put me in a right mood to post something Navy, something early Navy.  My contribution is crafted from direct experience in the Royal Australian Navy, but the influence comes from a pommie folk singer called, Cyril Tawney who sang fantastic ballads about the Royal Navy.  It shows we are in need of more naval poets to capture our unique Australian traditions – I shouldn’t have to be copying from the poms.
Anyway, for historic nostalgia at this time of fleet celebration I could think of no better verse than Cyril Tawney’s, ‘Flotilla No. 23’.  Cyril sings this to the tune of Lili Marlene.  It’s a poignant telling of what life and conditions were like on a destroyer assigned to Russian convoy escort duty in the North Sea.  I believe the words were written by a couple of officers serving in the Flotilla.  They would have to have been!  I’m sure anybody who ‘was there’ would be awash with the mood and emotion captured in ‘Flotilla No. 23’.
                                               Flotilla No. 23
(Cyril Tawney 1930 -2005)
Up to Kola Inlet, back to Scapa Flow,
Soon we shall be calling for oil at Petsamo.
Why does it always seem to be,
Flotilla No. 23,
Up to the Arctic Ocean,
Up to the Barents Sea.
When we get to Scapa, do we get a rest?
All we get is signals invariably addressed,
Savage, Scorpion, from your Com (D).
“What brings you here? Get back to sea.
Back to the Arctic Ocean,
Back to the Berants Sea.
Now and then we get, a slightly different job,
But it’s always screening around the same old mob.
Watching the “A” boys prang the Hun,
With never a chance to fire the quarter gun,
Up in the Arctic Ocean,
Up in the Barents Sea.
Once we lay in harbour, swinging round the bouy,
Waiting for the drifter, but still there was no joy,
In came the signal, weigh, proceed,
At your best speed, great is your need,
Up in the Arctic Ocean,
Up in the Barents Sea.
Over in our mileage, due for boiler clean,
When we’re not with convoys, there’s shooting in between
Now as you have surely guessed,
We do our best, but need a rest
Out of the Arctic Ocean,
Out of the Berants Sea.
Battleships and cruisers lying round in state,
Watching poor destroyers sailing out of Switha Gate,
They’re the ships the papers call “The Fleet”,
They look so neat, but have no beat,
Up in the Arctic Ocean,
Up in the Barents Sea.
What it is to have a crazy Number One,
All the boys are chocker although they’ve just begun,
The Wretched pilot sits and drinks,
The Captain thinks, the whole thing stinks,
We hate the Arctic Ocean,
We hate the Barents Sea.
My emotive memory of the Royal Australian Navy takes me back to when our ships used to do lengthy deployments ‘up top’ around Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.  From 1971 to 1974 a tripartite force made up of military units from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom were stationed in Singapore and Malaysia.  This force was known as the ANZUK Force.  It’s role was to ensure stability in the Singapore/Malaysia region following the full withdrawal of British forces.  Looking back, they were beautiful madcap days and we were sailors in the romantic tradition of sailors of that time.  Like ‘Flotilla No. 23’, I’ve tried to capture some of the mood and emotion of being deployed as part of ANZUK in my poem, ‘Up on the ANZUK Station’.  Happy one hundred years to the RAN.
2012.  My RN mates gave me a copy of a Cyril Tawney CD some time ago.  It had a song on it called ‘Flotilla No. 23’.  Cyril sung it brilliantly to the tune of Lili Marlene.  I carried it in my head for many years and wished I could capture some of the mood and emotion of time we spent at sea like the boys had in Flotilla No. 23 up in the Arctic Ocean.  It’s nice to be original, but then, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  So I started putting my own words to the tune.
                                           Up on the ANZUK Station
Serving on a Daring in the China Sea
Six months on deployment, then another three
My girl has met a soldier from, the infantry,
Now she’s ditched me,
Set me free,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Transit through the Sunda, shape for Singapore,
Two days steady steaming, the Navvy finds Johore,
A big Yank ship with marines on board,
Has put ashore,
There’ll be fights galore,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Battling with a ‘genny’ when it won’t excite,
Stand-by trips a breaker, we’re as black as night,
Our passage through the basin’s tight,
What a sight,
They all take fright,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Hanging out with bar-girls when the work is done,
They ask for me you buy one drink, and it’s never rum,
Then through primed and loosened tongue,
It could be fun,
I’ll buy just one,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
An S.M.P in honkers, we should be on the town,
But COM-D’s joined the squadron, it makes the skipper frown,
The crew last night, they let him down,
In grog they drowned,
Disgraced the crown,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Waiting for a mail run that they cannot find,
It could be at Osaka or in the Philippines,
The helo transfer snaps it’s line,
Our letters float behind,
In the churning brine,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Bullshit whiskey-tangos we meet off the strip,
I’m the tail gunner, sits in a Jindavik,
And this here’s Mick, he commands the ship,
It’s his last trip,
Shrapnel in his hip,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Bang away at targets with our four inch guns,
Set three degrees of off-shoot, but we manage none,
The Brits with their tow say the shootings done,
They cut and run,
We’ve only just begun,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Powdered eggs for breakfast, powdered milk in tea,
The cooks add more saltpetre, to every recipe,
They kill appetites in their baine-maries,
Where we beat disease,
Pussar’s food succeeds,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
We make up our fresh water, you’d think we’re making gold,
Caught underneath the shower, when I ran it cold,
So I will be watching the vaps I’m told,
I’ll be the Chief Tiff’s moll,
Til I’m quite old,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Wack-a-tack is bunked in, our mortar metadyne,
Along with chinkie tailors and a dozen dhobey lines,
A sub could attack us from behind,
Now we must decline,
So solly, not good time,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Stokers drag their click-clicks up to the quarter-deck,
Off watch they act like tourists, paid to rubber-neck,
The bosun’s mate makes a sure-thing bet,
He will not get,
A soot blow yet,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
Back home to Sydney harbour in need of much repair,
A chance to spin our dits, to girls with golden hair,
But alone in the pub we sit and stare,
For they don’t care,
That we’ve been up there,
Up on the ANZUK station,
Up top in the China Sea.
                                               J. O. White