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Jim’s Australiana Spot – 2UE - April 24, 2016

Banjo's Wars

On the eve of Anzac Day let's remember how war affects people and look at one poet's experiences. Our best loved poet A B Paterson.

1 What was Banjo Paterson's role in the Boer War?
2 What were Banjo Paterson's two roles in World War 1?
  Ambulance officer - major in remount division
3 What was Banjo's role in World War II
  Father of Hugh who served at Tobruk

Banjo Paterson was not only a War Correspondent at the 2nd Boer War, he travelled across from Sydney with the first contingent of NSW Cavalry and their horses on the troopship and livestock transport SS Kent. He wrote about the horses, the routine on board and the stowaway running off to war.

Attached to General French's column, for nine months Paterson was in the thick of the fighting and his graphic accounts of the key campaigns included the surrender of Bloemfontein (he was the first correspondent to ride into that town), the capture of Pretoria and the relief of Kimberley.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Paterson travelled to England in the hope of obtaining an appointment as a war correspondent. Unsuccessful in this ambition, Paterson served on the western front as a volunteer ambulance driver, and was subsequently commissioned as an officer in the Australian Imperial Force, serving in the Middle East.

He returned to Australia early in 1915 and, as an honorary vet, travelled on three voyages with horses to Africa, China and Egypt. He was commissioned in the AIF  2nd Remount Unit,  on 18 October 1915, serving initially in France where he was wounded and reported missing in July 1916 and latterly as commanding officer of the unit based in Egypt. He was repatriated to Australia and discharged from the army having risen to the rank of major in April 1919. His wife had joined the Red Cross and worked in an ambulance unit near her husband.

His son Hugh served at Tobruk but Banjo died in February 1941 just before the siege began.
Jim is giving a talk on Banjo on Thursday at 2 pm at The Coast Centre

Open letter to the troops, 1915

We're All Australians Now   
Australia takes her pen in hand
To write a line to you,
To let you fellows understand
How proud we are of you.
From shearing shed and cattle run,
From Broome to Hobson’s Bay,
Each native-born Australian son
Stands straighter up today.
The man who used to “hump his drum”,
On far-out Queensland runs
Is fighting side by side with some
Tasmanian farmer’s sons.
The fisher-boys dropped sail and oar
To grimly stand the test,
Along that storm-swept Turkish shore,
With miners from the west.
The old state jealousies of yore
Are dead as Pharaoh’s sow,
We’re not State children any more–
We’re all Australians now!
Our six-starred flag that used to fly
Half-shyly to the breeze,
Unknown where older nations ply
Their trade on foreign seas,
Flies out to meet the morning blue
With Vict’ry at the prow;
For that’s the flag the Sydney flew,
The wide seas know it now!
The mettle that a race can show
Is proved with shot and steel,
And now we know what nations know
And feel what nations feel.
The honoured graves beneath the crest
Of Gaba Tepe hill
May hold our bravest and our best,
But we have brave men still.
With all our petty quarrels done,
Dissensions overthrown,
We have, through what you boys have done,
A history of our own.
Our old world diff’rences are dead,
Like weeds beneath the plough,
For English, Scotch, and Irish-bred,
They’re all Australians now!
So now we’ll toast the Third Brigade
That led Australia’s van,
For never shall their glory fade
In minds Australian.
Fight on, fight on, unflinchingly,
Till right and justice reign.
Fight on, fight on, till Victory
Shall send you home again.
And with Australia’s flag shall fly
A spray of wattle-bough
To symbolise our unity–
We’re all Australians now.



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