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"Oh, but they
say tlie tongues of dying men
tion, like deep harmony."
I70R a moment he is still. * The tearing, burning wound in his breast is a frightful, unbearable torment. His senses dull ; the clear blue
of the sky is like a misty veil before his eyes. His ears shut out the sound of battle and course with the roar of pain unending, merciless pain, eat- ing into the deepness of his
Sweating, groaning, twisting, the dig- ger fights his last battle alone.
He MUST tum over. He MUST know where he is.
The storm of conflict has passed. The Malayan air, hot and damp, is heavy with the smell of men and machines. Near him are thc shapeless forms of others who have fallen-tall, bronzed, fair-haired young figures; yellow mon with teeth bared in maniacal grins.
At last, long last, the digger rolls his shoulders round and props himself on his elbows, but the striving has sap- ped the little life that remains in him. He slumps back and the sweat trickles from his fevered brow into his closed
j The end is near. War's hand is heavy I upon him.
Life is a funny business. His tired brain is forming the last thoughts he
will ever have.
* * . .
A year or two apo I iconic! have sworn I'd never end like this, but it's a chance we've all yat to take.
Damn those Japs. // they don't know how to live their lives, why mnst they stick their yellow noses into everyone else's lives?
Perhaps H's because they've never played cricket. Perhaps they've vevcr known the joy, thc bracht!/ joy, of i/rcen fields and bat and ball. Of course, thai haven't. I"
They've never learnt the lessons that come to all of us who have had a match to win, with our backs to tho wall. Thank God we've learnt all that.
Thc rest, of the boys tvill finish them off even though it's all over for vie. Then used to sa]/ about Australians in the Test watches that thcu were most dangerous when they were up against it. That's right. Backs to the wall. Bill O'Reillu and Tim Wall saving the follow-on at Manchester:
Backs to the wall. We've had our backs to thc wall ever since this damned war started, but. thank God, they'll never break our spirit. We'll stick it out.
« » * .
v i T h e h e a t ?>'/:-' is overpower
ing. For the young Australian, life is almost finish- ed. Each time he tries to move, the pain is worse and the blood seeps from his wound into the good earth beneath him.
We've got ta stick it out. His
thoughts come quickly as his life
Someone who matters must bc
told that a man can't fight a tank, ' that, .an army travels on its air strength, that men and more men are wanted if this job is uoing to
It seems all wrong that politic- ians should pull the strings that viake us move out here in thc front linc when theirs is thc talk and
so-called, diplomacy that let us in
for it all.
I Thc officers I've viet, have been all
right-in the same boat as the rest of its-but those who sit back in I high places 7nust spend restless
nights; that is, if they've got any j consciences left to trouble them.
\ Someone must sec that it's put
right. It's too important to let it pass. The boys who are coming after ns have got to be sure that thc buttle i's not lost before it's
I begun, that democracy IR something
worth lighting for, that it means
« * * *
His mind races swiftly over the cease- less grind of training, the fun on leave, the songs they sang.
"Then no more, will 1 roam
"When I'm heading right for home "Along the road to Gundagai."
No. he didn't come from
V," Gundagai; no one ever does. ::é¡^. But to him Gundagai means r""' the surf at Bondi, football in
the Winter, a plain job in a big city, a pretty girl, a mother whose heart is soon to be broken.
* * » »
Some of the boys must get hack to tell thc truth. Someone munt be brave enough to see that we start again, and start from scratch. If I hadn't got hit bu that damnation thing I might have been able to do it myself. I'd see there was a change. There'd have to be!
* ? » *
His thoughts are weakening now. The body of the young Australian, full of the strength, the sunshine, and the hope of a new, vigorous nation, convulses for a few short moments. Then it is still. Not far away the sound of guns shatteri
tho quiet air.
« « . »
Back home, another young- ster-tall, fair, and bronzed
^ walks into a recruiting depot.
"How soon can I join up?" he 1 says.