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13 July 1917

By July 13, 2017November 21st, 2018No Comments

The trees are becoming a little greener. The other morning I woke up, and the sun was shining brightly… There was not the sound of a gun firing, and the little skylarks were bucking into it for all they were worth. It sounded so good, so peaceful, and quiet. For the nonce I was right back in good old Australia, but boom went one of our guns, followed by others of both sides, and the lovely spell was broken – I was back in France.

Just ten days after writing this John would be killed in action in the Second Battle of Bullecourt

  • Albert Roy Collins of Byng Street writes home to say that he is well despite having been injured. He says: [The Huns] don’t like the Australians, and I can tell you we have no time for them.
  • The Leader reports that yesterday’s inclement weather did not deter the people of Orange turning out to support French widows and orphans, with more than £154 donated. France’s Day Held in the Rain
  • Orange Public School students raise £5 for France’s Day. School Celebration of France’s Day
  • Russian troops on the Eastern Front advance at Kalusz in Galicia; taking 1,600 prisoners
  • The Leader publishes the poem Why He Went by Dryblower (Edwin Greenslade Murphy)

He was clad in his soldierly khaki,
By his side was his bayonet blade;
He was none of your larrikin larky,
But a soldier severe and staid.

Not a glance of his eye was shifty,
He looked you full in the face;
Though winters and summers fifty
Had left in his tread their trace.

And a lady came by where he guarded
A prison sort of a place,
Where the scallywags all are yarded
Till the commandant tries the case.

She’d a son who in France was fighting,
Where they’re giving the Huns no rest,
And the bullets their way are biting
To the hearts of the brave and best.

I’ve a son in France, said the mother,
A stripling, handsome and young;
Next year I shall send another,
Where the songs of battle are sung.

But you are as old as their father,
And I honor you, sir, she said;
I honor the lie you told them,
I honor the grey of your head.

But why, asked the loyal old lady,
Have you past the prime of life,
To shoulder the burden of Empire,
Left home, left your friends, left your wife?

And why is it you, who should stay here,
Are facing the shot and the shell?
Are you going to avenge some dear one
Who has fallen where so many fell

Did the loud voice of duty awake you
And point out your pathway clear,
To the shame of the fit and the single
Who are lagging behind in the rear?

The man from whom youth had departed,
He with no spring in his tread,
Stood to a stricter attention,
And unto the lady he said:

It isn’t no vengeance that drags me
where the rifles and cannonades roar;
But I married a woman wot nags mo.
An that’s why I’m going to war!