[Editor: This poem by Beulah Gravestocks was published in The Laura Standard and Crystal Brook Courier, 14 April 1944. It was written during the Second World War, regarding the First Victory Loan (a government scheme to raise money for the war effort).]
First Victory Loan.
(By Beulah Gravestocks, Gladstone).
We have a land, a lovely land,
From rugged range to rolling sand;
A land of drought and bush fires too —
Our native land, the land of the kangaroo.
Australia, this land so bright and free.
The land of wattle and the old gum tree,
Of fertile plains and beauty rare,
Australia, our land of hope and care.
Australia needs our money now,
To equip those men of the sweating brow,
Will we deny it now to them?
They, whom the Japs do try to stem.
Young men have fought and died,
Young men, Australia’s hope and pride,
Is money more to us than blood?
In this dear land of drought or flood.
A few “bob” may save a laddie’s life,
And return him safe to bairn or wife,
Or ’praps an aged parent’s son,
To come back home when the war is won.
Hundreds of our fighting men
Have died — you will remember them;
And thousands more in prison camps,
The mark of time their brow it stamps.
We think of Greece and Crete,
Of men with tired and aching feet,
For the ammunition never came,
To save these boys so tired and lame.
Think of Malaya and Singapore,
More ghastly scenes of modern war,
And bright young lives there given away,
Of the youth that fell that fatal day.
As we think of those boys who have been slain
The whole nation looks with sorrow and pain
On dark, dull days without those planes,
And the heated blood runs through our veins.
But they get the ammunition now,
And they turn the foe in every row,
And what was the news the other night?
“Casualties comparatively light.”
I pray this loan will then be filled,
To save more boys from being killed,
If money’s needed by the flood,
It’s never more than red, red blood.
We get interest, but what interest for those boys?
Who gave their lives with boyhood joys;
For us there’ll be brighter days of peace,
But not for our dead in Singapore and Greece.
We’re asked to lend and not to give,
But those boys gave that we might live.
The Laura Standard and Crystal Brook Courier (Jamestown, SA), 14 April 1944, p. 4
Also published in:
The Areas Express and Farmer’s Journal (Gladstone, SA), 14 April 1944, p. 4
An article on page 3 of the same newspaper reported on a public meeting being held to promote the First Victory Loan.
See: “War loan rally at Jamestown”, The Laura Standard and Crystal Brook Courier (Jamestown, SA), 14 April 1944, p. 3
bairn = (Scottish) child
bob = a shilling (equivalent to twelve pence); after the decimalisation of the Australian currency in 1966, the monetary equivalent of a shilling was ten cents; the phrase “a couple of bob” could specifically refer to two shillings (and, later on, to twenty cents), but it was generally a common reference to a small amount of money, as in “can you lend me a couple of bob?”
Jap = abbreviation of “Japanese”; a Japanese person (could be used in a singular sense to refer to an individual Japanese person, as well as in a collective sense to refer to Japanese in general)
laddie = (Scottish) a boy, a young lad, a young man
’praps = a contraction of “perhaps”
[Editor: Changed “daught” to “drought”; “thise boys” to “these boys”.]