Once Were Guardians Of Our Nation - Poem by Wayne Falconer
Once had three uncles and one grand uncle,
who volunteered in wartime to serve.
Serve their native country New Zealand.
In earliest darkest days of world war II.
Perhaps they imagined it some grand adventure.
Keith Hammond was the youngest serving one.
I believe he lied about his enlistment age.
He fought in Greece and finally Crete.
Was shot and wounded twice and left behind.
Keith survived four years behind barbed wire.
Bill Hammond was rough, tough and wore Kharki.
Saw action, blood, sweat, fire, dust and war.
Served in Greece, Crete, Egypt and Italy.
He returned home with his body intact.
Although Bill's scars lasted his whole lifetime.
Pat Falconer was an artistic charismatic man.
Who served with the ground crews in the Pacific.
He was strafed and bombed by the Japanese.
Had to contend with tropical disease and action.
Pat was grateful to return home after wars end.
Lastly Jim Blackler my courageous grand uncle.
He signed up at age forty five I believe.
Fought in Greece and Island off Crete.
Was captured and escaped, lived with the partisans.
Crazier than fiction he was larger than life.
Without these ordinary extraordinary New Zealanders,
who fought in Africa, Europe and the Pacific.
Baptised in blood torn flesh courage and tears.
Freedom each and everyone cheerfully jokes about.
Might wear jackboots carry rifle and bayonet.
Today only memories are burned in my mind.
Yet none of my uncles spoke openly about war.
Think enormity of experience was simply too much.
The human emotional trauma and physical suffering.
And do they deserve one moments grateful silence.
These heroic kiwi men who served their country.
Perhaps my lines might add memorial praise in verse.
Yet they need no clumsy prose from me friends.
They were the brave defiant ones who went.
And they were once the guardians of our nation.
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