Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Bravest Thing God Ever Made …

My tribute to Anzac Day this year comes about as a result of a little book I came across recently when looking through a box of old books:

THE AUSTRALIAN and other verses, by Will H. Ogilvie.  Published in Australia in 1916 by Angus & Robertson.

William Henry Ogilvie (1869-1963) was a Scottish poet and journalist who spent some 12 years in Australia as a young man.  Inspired by the works of Adam Lindsay Gordon, his poems told tales of life in the Australian bush.  Back in Britain during the 1st World War, he overheard a British Officer describe Australian soldiers as “the bravest thing God ever made”, and consequently penned his poem The Australian.

Clement Semmler, 'Ogilvie, William Henry (Will) (1869–1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 23 April 2016.
“The bravest thing God ever made” –
A British Officer’s opinion.

The skies that arched his land were blue,
His bush-born winds were warm and sweet,
And yet from earliest hours he knew
The tides of victory and defeat;
From fierce floods thundering at his birth,
From red droughts ravening while he played,
He learned to fear no foes on earth –
“The bravest thing God ever made!”
The bugles of the Motherland
Rang ceaselessly across the sea,
To call him and his lean brown band
To shape Imperial destiny;
He went, by youth’s grave purpose willed,
The goal unknown, the cost unweighed,
The promise of his blood fulfilled-
“The bravest thing God ever made!”
We know – it is our deathless pride!-
The splendour of his first fierce blow;
How, reckless, glorious, undenied,
He stormed those steel-lined cliffs we know!
And none who saw him scale the height
Behind his reeking bayonet blade
Would rob him of his title-right –
“The bravest thing God ever made!”
Bravest, where half a world of men
Are brave beyond all earth’s rewards,
So stoutly none shall charge again
Till the last breaking of the swords;
Wounded or hale, won home from war,
Or yonder by the Lone Pine laid,
Give him his due for evermore –
“The bravest thing God ever made!”

Private Leonard James POSTLETHWAITE died 3 May 1917

Private Mark SMITH died 25 April 1918

Private William Humphrey GRADY died 4 October 1917

Private William Joseph BYRNE

Driver James Joshua PERRY

Staff Nurse Eleanor Anne PERRY

Private John Patrick PERRY

Private Percy Victor Bristow VINCENT
Private Louis Adrian VINCENT
Bombardier Leslie Moore VINCENT
Private Victor Valentine VINCENT

Private William Dale VINCENT died 22 July 1916
Private Arthur James VINCENT died 8 June 1917
Private Hubert Claude VINCENT

Private George White VINCENT
Lance Corporal Roy Curtis KENNEDY died 4 October 1917
Driver Ernest Vincent WHITE
Private William Henry DOBBIE
Private George Ernest Vincent WOODBERRY
and all Australians who served.