Ingham Daily Press

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Herbert River ANZACS: ‘The Death of Digger Martin’

Abergowrie poet Dan Sheahan, who saw active service at The Somme and in Flanders (image provided by Kieran Volpe).

The Death of ‘Digger’ Martin (written in March 1944 on the death of George ‘Digger’ Martin of Long Pocket.)

By Dan Sheahan

Sad and dejected I stand at the bar

Around me are yankees all winning the war –

My heart is not with them my spirits are low

And my thoughts wander back to a day long ago.

As treading the gangway we came off the ship 

With joy in our hearts to be done with the trip –

In our ‘Billy Hughes’ suits we were glad to be free

And you journeyed along to the north lands with me.

Our arms were strong we cared not for toil –

We had faith in ourselves and faith in the soil 

We vanquished the trees as we vanquished our foes

And soon in its verdue the sugar cane rose.

It grew and it grew and we thought we were set 

Till the parasites came after all they could get –

They were varied and many and it would take me too long 

To detail it here and to put it in song.

First wallabies came in the night from the scrubs 

And dawn brought the ‘hoppers, the beetles and grubs –

We had salesman and agents who took us for goats 

And suave politicians who looked for our votes.

All the pests of Australia that walk fly and crawl –

And swim in its waters, we met with them all –

And it’s well I remember the year of the drought 

And cruel ‘27 that flooded us out.

But you came back again with your head held on high

For yours was a spirit that never said die –

Though our battles were hard we had happy times too 

In our homes on the ridge where the orange trees grew.

And we’d saddle the ponies and solitude seek

Where the black bream were biting on Broadwater creek –

And there well away from the world’s mad strife 

We’d smoke and we’d talk on the problems of life.

But you’re gone, Digger, gone – all your troubles are o’er –

And the shades of Broadwater will know you no more –

May the soft winds of Ingham blow over your rest 

In peace and in war, you were one of the best.

From ‘Songs from the Canefields’, by Abergowrie poet Dan Sheahan (born in Cork, Ireland in 1883-died in Ingham in 1977) and published with the permission of the Sheahan family.

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