The Luck of the Draw

The many flickering images from the past I see

All those times together; a young generation so free

Happy, vibrant and not a care what tomorrow would bring

It was a time for love, fun and to sing

We were immortal and the world was ours

No thought of hate and fear, just laughter mid the flowers

Yet dark clouds gathered and a storm of war was rumbling

Then came a rolling barrel with its birthday numbers tumbling

Winners swore an oath and traded mufti for an army suit

Soon in a camp marching to and fro in brand new heavy army boots

Conscripts and Regulars as one, herded by shouts and whistle blast

Inspections, drill, weapon training then late at night; sleep at last


Complete as a unit they were sent to war in jungle green

Here are extracts of a soldier’s diary of battles, trials and dreams

“Sudden unexpected enemy fire but coming from where?”

“Radios crackling news of more casualties here and there” 

“Dead and wounded being winched above and reaching for the sky”

“Shrapnel whirring as we waited for the howling shells to pass by”

“There are gaps in the ranks and we pretend not to care”

“The fear of mines and each slow agonising step becomes a dare”

“Whispering, flittering shadows and sudden sounds are the norm” 

“The smothering blackness of night and the joy of a new dawn” 

“Battle weary warriors counting each day where ever they do roam”

Until that final page scrawled in joyful haste; “we’re going home”


Arriving in OZ at in the secret cloak of darkness at night

Told to go and put their proud uniform out of sight

Time for some to return to familiar work places in the nation

Many were lost and wondered if they’d arrived at the right station

Veterans and their loved ones became the hidden casualties of war

Meanwhile from a blind barrel, birthdays tumbled as before

George Mansford © December 2016


  1. Geoff (Butch ) Mathew says

    I have plenty of George’s Poems , He sends them to me, as he writes them ,I save them to my computer, print them & save in a folder in a cupboard & then pass them on world wide . Everyone loves them

  2. Stuart Fairbairn says

    Thank you for this, my number came up but I was one of the fortunate ones who did not go overseas. My thoughts are forever with those that did. Lest We Forget.

  3. Derrill de Heer says

    George soldiers returning home did arrive at night, but not in ‘the secret cloak of darkness’. As they left Vietnam during the day and landed in Australia at night is a time of flying not as a secret. Love your poems

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