Soldier’s Poetry

The following poems have been copied from many sources, where known the author has been indicated. They are poems of particular significance to the men of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion and to the families and friends they have left behind. Many of the poems were first published in the Battalion’s postwar ‘Borehole Bulletin’.

  1. Those Young Dorizzi Boys by Chris Taylor
  2. The Poppy by John McCrae
  3. Mates by Duncan Butler 2/12th Field Ambulance
  4. To A (WX) Mother by Pte Frank Collins NX32561
  5. Free Again by Cpl. G.W.Wills  8048958 US Army
  6. Fifty Years by ‘Slim’ Pitts WX7626


  1. Those Young Dorizzi Boys

Three brothers joined to fight the war, three brothers and a friend,

With no idea of where they’d go or when that war would end.

These boys were the Dorizzi brothers, Gordon, Bert and Tom

And Toodyay was the country town these brave young men were from.

Their friend was Reggie Ferguson, who signed up with his mates

To fight against the Japanese, prepared to meet their fates.

Their country needed soldiers to help even up the score,

So our four boys from Toodyay town marched off to join the war.


Tom had a wife and daughter, Reggie had two girls as well,

And who could know how hard it was to bid them all farewell.

And other towns across the state with men of fighting age

Would send their sons away to be a line on history’s page.

With other West Australians off to training camps they went

As soldiers of the 2nd/4th Machine Gun Regiment.

Then onto ships and sailing to another foreign shore,

Our 2nd/4th machine guns would be sent to Singapore.


This tiny island nation was important for Japan.

A step toward Australia it was vital to their plan.

Malaya had been taken, they had Singapore in sight.

The 2nd/4th Machine Guns were now thrown into the fight.

Along with other forces they put up a grand defence.

For one long month they held against fierce Japanese offence.

The enemy were far too strong and captured Singapore.

Our Dorizzi boys and Reggie were now prisoners of war.


Some men were sent to Changi for the Burma Thailand rail

To suffer new brutality of monumental scale.

But our boy’s fate would be much worse, they’d suffer to a man.

Our four young lads from Toodyay town were sent to Sandakan.

They had to build an airfield for the Japanese Air Force

And knew they would be there until the war had run it’s course.

But our brave men would not forget what they were fighting for.

Defence of Home and country was their purpose in this war


One thousand young Australian men were sent to Sandakan,

And each one to a soldier was worth ten of any man.

They suffered from starvation and were worked until they dropped.

They beat them if they faltered and they shot them if they stopped.

But when the allies dropped their bombs the prisoners all cheered.

The airfield was beyond repair before the smoke had cleared.

And our four boys from Toodyay town cheered too at what they saw,

They knew though they were prisoners they had not lost the war.


The Japanese were beaten so they fled from Sandakan

And forced our men before them as their final march began.

One sixty miles through jungle growth they marched toward Ranau.

Through three long years as prisoners, their fates were final now.

We cannot know of their last thoughts, or how they might have passed,

But hope they knew salvation as they found relief at last.

One thousand of our finest men, all prisoners of war,

Yet only six Australians would make it home once more.


For Gordon, Bert and Tom and Reg their fight was not in vain,

But all their friends and family were left to feel the pain.

The 2nd/4th Battalion still revere the men they lost,

But only those brave men could know what freedom truly cost.

So let us not forget they sacrificed all they could give

So you and all Australians could have the life we live.

Three brothers and a mate who will be coming home no more,

They lost it all in Sandakan when they went off to war.









2. The Poppy

3. Mates by Duncan Butler 2/12th Field Ambulance

I’ve travelled down some lonely roads,

Both crooked tracks and straight.

An’ I’ve learned life’s noblest creed,

Summed up in one word … “Mate”.


I’m thinking back across the years,

(a thing I do of late)

An’ this word sticks between me ears;

You’ve got to have a “Mate”.


Someone who’ll take you as you are,

Regardless of your state,

An’ stand as firm as Ayres Rock

Because ‘e is your mate.


Me mind goes back to ’42,

To slavery and ‘ate,

When man’s one chance to stay alive

Depended on ‘is Mate.


With bamboo for a billy-can

An’ bamboo for a plate.

A bamboo paradise for bugs

Was bed for me and “Mate”.


You’d slip and slither through the mud

And curse your rotten fate,

But then you’d ‘ear a quiet word:

“Don’t drop your bundle Mate.”


And though it’s all so long ago,

This truth I ‘ave to state:

A man don’t know what lonely means

Til ‘e has lost his “Mate”.


If there’s a life that follers this,

If there’s a Golden Gate,

The welcome I just want to ‘ear

Is just, “Good on y’ Mate.”


An’ so to all that ask me why

We keep these special dates,

Like “Anzac Day” …

I answer: “WHY??!  – We’re thinking of our MATES.”


An’ when I’ve left the driver’s seat,

An’ handed in me plates,

I’ll tell ol’ Peter at the door,

“I’ve come to join me Mates.”


4. To A (WX) Mother by Pte Frank Collins NX32561


5. Free Again by Cpl. G.W.Wills  8048958 US Army


6. Fifty Years by ‘Slim’ Pitts WX7626