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By Bede Tongs
What do you say to a dying man?
What do you say to a dying man,
Do you call him Bob, or Digger, or Mate?
As you look down at the face you knew so well,
And the look in his eyes says, "It's late",
You remember your first hand-shake,
On a troop train going to war,
Training in various military camps,
Wallgrove, Greta, Ingleburn, Bathurst and more,
To have tired muscles,
To go hungry. Thirst
And the pub - the Duke of York
Where we had our last beers
Before leaving Australia's fair shores.
A fleeting sad glimpse of his loved ones,
You knew that from being his friend,
And you know that if you happen to survive this onslaught,
They will surely ask you of his life's end.
Just three minutes ago he was so full of life,
Firing his bren from the hip,
The platoon attacking as it had many times before,
When all of a sudden - he's hit!
A Japanese sniper, so deadly,
Fires from a dark weapon pit,
And my best mate falls close to my feet.
"Tell them I tried" he said,
My words of goodbye froze on my lips.
One of the granite pillars at Isurava has the work 'mateship' inscribed on it. When Private Bruce Kingsbury VC was shot by a sniper after an instinctive heroic action that saved his battalion from a perilous situation, the first to reach him was his life-long friend Alan Avery. The moment is captured in a poem by Sergeant Bede Tongs of the 3rd Battalion. © by owner. provided at no charge for educational purposes