​     The infantry, stationed at Nui Dat in 1966, were supported by two batteries of Howitzer artillery guns, one battery from Australia and one from New Zealand. Later, a detachment of U.S. 155mm mobile guns were added to this support group.                                                                                    
     This poem is a tribute to these ‘arty’ men and the important role they played in securing the base and ensuring the safety of the ‘grunts’, when the latter were out patrolling on operations. It was initially written as a song but it can also be read as a conventional poem.

                                               ♪♪   I come from a land Down Under,
                                                   Where the beer does flow ... and men chunder!
                                                   Can’t you hear ... can’t you hear the thunder?
                                                   You better run ... you better take cover! ♪♪

  - from the song I Come from a Land Down Under  (modif.) by Colin Hay (of the band Men at Work), 1981.

From  Down  Under


We’d flown all night, and crossed the e-quat-or,
Arrived at Vung Tau, ’twas one day la-ter ...
From freezin’ cold nights ... to 40 ... instead.
I’d left my home in the Great Southern Land,
Ended up over there, in South Vietnam ...
For a one year tour ... that lay ahead! 

So I jumped in a Huey, bum on the floor,
With rifle and gear, legs danglin’ out the door,
Why the hell I was there? ... I began to wonder!
‘Choppered’ 30 Ks up, to our base Nui Dat,
Viet Cong all around, this place I was at ...
Joined up with ‘arty’ boys, from way Down Under!
Oh yeah! We boys had come up … from Down Under!


*

In a rubber plantation, the entire damn year,
Ate field ration packs, drank warm Yankee beer …
‘Drop Short Diggers’ ... in Battery ... 1-0-2.
Bent our backs each day, in the blazin’ sun,
Unpacked and loaded shells, for Gun No.1 ...
There were five of us ... who made up our crew! 

And not far away were our Kiwi mates,
And the 155’s, of the U-nited States ...
And all of these Guns ... sounded just like thunder!
We’d zero in on, some radio call,
Two rounds for effect, then adjust their fall ...
’Cause we were ‘arty’ boys, from way Down Under!
Oh yeah! We boys had come up … from Down Under!




They reckon it was safe, back there in base,
But in fact that wasn’t, always the case ...
Some even now say ... there weren’t any fronts!
Though that may be true, yet we all well knew,
Nobody would swap, with one of those who ...
Called us up for support! … Those poor old ‘grunts’. 

‘Twas August ‘66, under heavy fire,
2,000 VC, 3Ks from the wire ...
Stopped dead in their tracks … bodies torn asunder!
Our Howitzer’s had roared, lightin’ up the night sky,
3,000 odd rounds, our message in reply:
Don’t mess with ‘arty’ boys, from way Down Under!
Oh yeah! We boys were now up … from Down Under!




Twelve months up there, ’round all of Phuoc Tuy,
We’d shelled everything, things we couldn’t bloody see …
Using all of our skills ... just like we’d been taught!
Countryside ended up, pock-marked and shattered,
But hey! This was war! So that never mattered! ...
Now they tell us ... it was all ... for nought! 

Arrived back here, folks were kickin’ up a fuss,
No Welcome Home Parade, for blokes like us! …
We’d been ‘sucked right in’; a bloody ‘pollie’ blunder!
Forty years have now passed, Iraq to our surprise,
Middle East quagmire, a new pack of lies! …
Bet they’ll call up the ‘arty’ boys, from way Down Under!
Oh yeah! New boys to go up ... from Down Under!


©



From  Down  Under