Men In Green


David Campbell

1944



Oh, there were fifteen men in green,
Each with a tommy-gun,
Who leapt into my plane at dawn;
We rose to meet the sun.

We set our course towards the east
And climbed into the day
Till the ribbed jungle underneath
Like a giant fossil lay.

We climbed towards the distant range,
Where two white paws of cloud
Clutched at the shoulders of the pass;
The green men laughed aloud.

They did not fear the ape-like cloud
That climbed the mountain crest
And hung from ropes invisible
With lightning in its breast.

They did not fear the summer's sun
In whose hot centre lie
A hundred hissing cannon shells
For the unwatchful eye.

And when on Dobadura's field
We landed, each man raised
His thumb towards the open sky;
But to their right I gazed.

For fifteen men in jungle green
Rose from the kunai grass
And came towards the plane. My men
In silence watched them pass;
It seemed they looked upon themselves
In Times's prophetic glass.

Oh, there were some leaned on a stick
And some on stretchers lay,
But few walked on their own two feet
In the early green of day.

(They did not heed the ape-like cloud
That climbed the mountain crest;
They did not fear the summer sun
With bullets for their breast.)

Their eyes were bright, their looks were dull;
Their skin had turned to clay.
Nature had meet them in the night
And stalked them in the day.

And I think still of men in green
On the Soputa track,
With fifteen spitting tommy-guns
To keep the jungle back.




David Campbell served in the Royal Australian Air Force from 1939 to 1945, serving in the South Pacific, he reached the rank of Wing Commander and received the Distinguished Flying Cross with bar.



Fire of the Southern Cross: A Collection of Poetry for Australian Nationalists

Australian Nationalism Information Database - www.ausnatinfo.angelfire.com/~natinfo