I wandered from the darkening tent,
My mind steeped in unrest,
And standing ‘neath a stately gum,
Gazed, unseeing, to the west.
For my soul was sick and weary,
In my heart was sad regret,
As I pondered o’er the sordid things,
Which made my spirit fret.
I thought of days that used to be,
Of things that might have been,
The condition of the world today,
And the yawning gulf between.
Those happy, carefree, pre-war days,
The days we must restore,
So that others may enjoy them,
As we used to, once before.
by Ern Bywater
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all the poems included were written by Ern Bywater. All were written during his time in uniform in the Australian Army. Most were written while in the Pacific Islands, and a few were written while in Australia. All are copied from the pocket notebooks and note papers he wrote them on at the time.
The photos and drawings are by his mate Kanga.
No Names - No Pack Drill
Ern ‘Firey’ Bywater, NX155023
My children used to ask me about my experience during World War II, and I often heard them say, “Dad only talks about funny happenings during the War,” and they probably wonder why. I suppose this is the case in the families of all returned soldiers. When ex-diggers get together on Anzac Day they remember those who died, they remember the horrors and bad times, but they don’t talk about those memories. They prefer to talk about the things that made those days bearable, the lighter moments. They weren’t in a war because they wanted to be there, but because they had to be. Whatever the role they fulfilled, they tried to make the best of it, and larrikinism and horseplay often helped to preserve sanity.
My son has asked me to write down some of my reminiscences, so I have chronicled here some of the things I like to remember.