Contrast is the theme for this week’s photo challenge, but it made me think also of contrasting experiences.  The poems in my father’s poetry book demonstrate strong contrasts between the life he had led at home in Australia and the life he was struggling to endure in North Africa in 1941/42.  Here are the first verses of two poems he recorded that show the difference.  I have transcribed the poems (below the images) in case his handwriting is unclear.

The first poem was written by Pte. L. Partridge (NX2196) and was published in the A.I.F. News, 20th December 1941.  The Tweed River forms part of the border between the states of Queensland and New South Wales.  The countryside and coastline south of the river are fertile and scenic and would well be missed if one was on the other side of the world in a war zone.  My father spent a lot of time fishing along this coastline.

The second poem was written by a soldier in Tobruk, a town in Libya which was taken from the enemy by the 2/15th battalion of the A.I.F. (Australian Imperial Forces) at Easter 1941.  It was Germany’s first defeat in WWII (Tobruk’s Easter Battle 1941, John Mackenzie Smith).

Springtime on the Tweed, attributed to Pte. L. Partridge
The Shell at Dusk, written by a soldier in Tobruk, Libya, 1941

Springtime on the Tweed

Far away my fancies wander
And in wayward dreams they lead
Out across the blue seas yonder
Where it’s springtime on the Tweed.
There are scrub-clad hills surrounding
The river’s emerald sheen,
Crops of corn and cane abounding,
Wondrous shades of brown and green.

The Shell at Dusk

A flash in the sky, a distant roar
The awful approaching screaming whine,
You drop on your face, in the dust once more
And curse the Hun and his 5 point 9.
She bursts to your left where Fred went to ground,
You’re deaf as a post and covered in dirt,
Hot jagged shrap has whistled around
And that one’s gone, and you’re still unhurt.


Author: Trish

Literary translator, French to English. Family history amateur.

8 thoughts on “Contrast”

    1. Thanks Laura. Blogging has made me see these things as well, things I’ve never thought of before. It also helps me think carefully about what I want to show the world – many of the poems have politically incorrect terms for both the enemy and the locals in the towns, so I’ve avoided putting them on my blog. Perhaps one day I’ll throw caution to the wind…

    1. Good morning Gerry, I’m just starting my Saturday, and have come out to the computer to find out what the photo challenge is for the week. There isn’t one yet (!), but as a great compensation I found that you have nominated me for an award. Thank you very much. This is a new thing for me, so I’ll have to think carefully about my responses.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I post poems from my father’s poetry book from time to time; some of them are his and some are by other soldiers. Sometimes a ‘weekly photo challenge’ theme suits a particular poem. Or two.

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