The Thailand Tigers will play their 10th ANZAC Match on 27 April. The following is an excerpt from their current newsletter which includes a poem from World War II.
For those who have attended the ANZAC Day Kanchanaburi War Cemetery Service, you will know there is no moment more moving than when one of the veterans reads the Mates Poem. In the lead up to ANZAC 2013 and our footy match, this poem is a true reminder of what ANZAC stands for, why we play the game, and why it’s so great to be part of the Thailand Tigers.
By Duncan Butler, 2/12th Field Ambulance
Duncan Butler had enlisted in the Army during WWII, was captured and spent three-and-a-half years as a Prisoner of War working on the treacherous Burma Railway. This is Duncan Butler’s poem about his mates on the Railway:
I’ve traveled down some dusty roads
Both crooked tracks and straight
And I have learnt life’s noblest creed
Summed up in one word, “Mate”.
I’m thinkin’ back across the years
A thing I do of late
And these words stick between me ears
“You gotta have a mate.”
Someone who’ll take you as you are
Regardless of your state
And stand as firm as Ayers Rock
Because he is your mate.
Me mind goes back to ’43
To slavery and hate
When man’s one chance to stay alive
Depended on his mate.
With bamboo for a billy-can
And bamboo for a plate
A bamboo paradise for bugs
Was bed for me and mate.
You’d slip and slither through the mud
And curse your rotten fate
But then you’d hear a quiet word
“Don’t drop your bundle, mate.”
And though it’s all so long ago
This truth I have to state
A man don’t know what lonely means
’til he has lost his mate.
If there’s a life that follers this
If there’s a Golden Gate
The welcome that I wanna hear
Is just “Goodonya mate”.
And so to all who ask us why
We keep these special dates
Like ANZAC Day, I tell ’em “Why?!
We’re thinkin’ of our mates.”
And when I’ve left the driver’s seat
And ‘anded in me plates
I’ll tell Ol’ Peter at the door
“I’ve come to join me mates.”