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Misplaced poetry from a brutal jungle jail, nonetheless seeking a house


And but the soldier-poet chronicled, in dozens of poems, your complete path of his conflict, from Egypt, Palestine and Syria and on to Java the place he was taken prisoner and became a slave for the Japanese on the Burma-Thai railway.

He was, we are able to glean from his work, a soldier of Platoon 8, C Firm, of the two/third Machine Gun Battalion. His initials, from one tiny entry, might have been R.P.

Inside his extra amusing poems, he speaks cryptically of mates. In a single, there are “Dickie of Lockington fame, Prune from Ardmona, McKinn the scourge of the pubs, Edwards the loon of the Loddon, Norman the fruit packing king, Simpson the scourge of all ladies, and ‘Tom Keays – what he’s recognized for I can’t right here unfold’.”

In one other, he speaks of “Ziffer from Mildura”, “Larry the bat from Adelaide”, “Mounsey with waves in his hair” and “Niemann you possibly can’t name him good-looking”.

Of his origins, the poet writes of wishing to “return one glad day, to my house down outdated Kilkenny means”. Kilkenny is a suburb of Adelaide. One other poem, nevertheless – presumably written by one other – speaks of affection for Western Australia.

Whoever he was, the poet’s works sit inside somewhat ebook sure in cardboard coated with inexperienced material.

The material, presumably scissored from an Military uniform, may need served as camouflage to cover the ebook within the jungle, for writing supplies have been forbidden to POWs on ache of bashings or worse.

On the flyleaf, the nameless author inscribed his work “Poems of Struggle from Second AIF”, and devoted it “To DAD, from DICK”.

The unnamed dad would by no means obtain his son’s reward.

After the surviving skeletal males of the dying railway have been liberated, the ebook was left behind, solely to be discovered later in a abandoned hut within the jungle.

It stays unknowable why the poet and his work have been separated. The worst is perhaps imagined: 139 members of the two/third Machine Gun Battalion died as prisoners of the Japanese.

The mysterious little ebook, nevertheless, set off on new travels.

“The Prisoner’s Dream”, by an unknown POW.

The person who stated he discovered it was Warrant Officer Second Class D.W. Wynn, apparently a jail officer at Changi, Singapore, the place after the conflict Japanese troopers have been held, awaiting conflict crimes trials. Right here was darkish irony: Changi was the grim jail the place the Japanese had held allied prisoners earlier than a lot of them have been trucked away to their lengthy torture on the railway.

Wynn handed the ebook for safekeeping to an Australian girl on Singapore till it was handed on to a Church of England Padre, Harry Thorpe.

Thorpe, from Bathurst, had himself suffered as a POW on the railway.

Recognized to a lot of his fellow prisoners as “Completely happy Harry”, the Padre returned to Thailand in 1952 to go to new conflict cemeteries constructed to grant some closing dignity to the hundreds of his fellow prisoners who died on the railway.

He revealed, when he arrived in Perth after his pilgrimage, that he was in possession of a ebook of poems present in an deserted jail camp.

The Padre appealed by means of newspapers – first in Perth and later in Melbourne – for anybody who may be capable to establish the poet to contact him.

The appeals have been unsuccessful.

However the Padre discovered of a Melburnian named Peter Webster, an ex-POW who was a member of the eighth Platoon of the two/third.

The declaration by J.D. Wynn, that he had found the book in a deserted hut and had “brought it back after the war”.

The declaration by J.D. Wynn, that he had discovered the ebook in a abandoned hut and had “introduced it again after the conflict”.

Webster, an industrial chemist, had labored with the well-known prisoner-doctor Weary Dunlop in dressing the injuries of POWs on the railway. He turned out to be most anxious to grant the poems his safety.

“It’s laborious luck that the proprietor or subsequent of kin can’t be traced, however because it was a 2/third curiosity, it’s higher to be within the fingers of a kind of chaps,” the Padre wrote to Webster, sending the ebook on the following leg of its journey.

Peter Webster, as promised, saved the ebook shut, and when he died, his son Ross ensured its security.

However now he’s gone, too, and the ebook has moved to a good friend, Pleasure Koren, of Mansfield, the newest in a stream of guardians hoping the household of an unknown poet may but seem.

If no-one comes ahead, nevertheless, Koren says the outdated poems’ closing passage will likely be to the Australian Struggle Memorial.

Tony Wright could be contacted at [email protected]

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