The Rhyme of the Ancient Bombardier

Come gather round 'me hearties',
I've a salty tale to tell,
of Gunners sailin' dinghies,
Thru' foaming, surging, hell.

Of 'Ahab' Mac, and Maori Joe,
old bos'n Bev Culhane,
and Matt Tepou was there as well,
four boats and gentle rain.

"So it's paddle down the river
and don't be slow,
we're gonna take the boats
where a duck won't go...
Floatsam! Jetsam! Gunners in the tide;
the Whakatane river, is deep and fast, and wide. "

The river flows, the wind it blows,
the rain comes fast and thunder,
White capped rocks and waterfalls,
the first boat goes asunder.

There's four men in the river,
"I'm drown'in" what they yell,
then Snow he pulls the others out,
the waters cold as hell.


We can't give up, we just won't stop,
for it's nay been done a'fore,
the first boat she's a'floundered,
but we've still got three boats more.

So on we sail, past 'Ahabs' boat,
just twelve men left are we,
there's 'Radar' eating chocolate,
his paddle on his knee.


Young Maori Joe, his boat is next,
it's sinking by the stern.
Was it the rocks that claimed his craft?
I guess we'll never learn.

There's 'water water everywhere',
and not a drop to succor,
into the tide went all their gear,
followed by their tucker.


The river rushes onward,
there's cliffs on either side,
a log, it blocks the way 'me lads',
the gorge is ten foot wide.

'Hey Mita!' push the bow down,
and Wally raise the stern,
we've got to fit her thru' the gap,
there's death at every turn.


Well it's eight bells ringin',
and it's two boats still afloat...
Is that a banjo playin'?
or do I hear a goat.

A tearing sound, a boats gone down,
it's hull is torn wide open,
old bosun' Bev, his one boat left,
he'll sail on I'm a'hopin.


There's Bev and 'Radar', Pete and Wally;
in the last canoe.
There's a waterfall that's comin' up...
'Ye Gods!' what should I do???

So: Leave the sailin' to the Navy,
the walking to the Grunts,
get back to Papakura...
and clean those bloody guns!

- Mike Subritzky
161 Battery

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