Pictures

Les Robertson with The Garden Party

Les Robertson with the Garden Party

Les Robertson with the New Zealand contingent, June 1944

Les Robertson with Australian and New Zealand prisoners, June 1944

A caricature depiction of Les Robertson and the Garden Party

A caricature depiction of Les Robertson and the Garden Party

A caricature depiction of Les Robertson

Sapper Les J. Robertson

 

Served : North Africa, Greece, Crete (captured).

Army No. : 32171

POW No. : 39423

Camps : Oflag IXA/Z

 

A Wartime Log

 

For British Prisoners

This book belongs to : Leslie J. ROBERTSON - Oflag 1X A/Z 39423

8 Korari St., Auckland, New Zealand

 

Embarked 29th August 1940 Empress of Japan - Mauritania Orcades Achilles escort. Good view of S. Island, crowded ship. Slept in hammocks, great confusion - 2/3 space reserved for NCOs & Officers - remedied later. Four days out met Aquitania & Aust. escort, sighted Wilsons Prom, farewelled Achilles, rough sea in Australian bight.

 

Sept 5 Fremantle leave, visited Perth nice town, taxi drive and strong beer. Fine warm weather, slept on deck. Bombay 16th Sept, marvellous port, crowded city, taxi with Bob STRANGE. Two 1/2 days leave, stayed 4 days. Very hot, - Bat.dress unsuitable uniform. B. crowded city. Electric storm last night. Left Orcades & Mauritania. Picked up Orion, fine hot weather. Sighted barren islands near Arabia, also barren coastline is Red Sea. Beer very warm, food fair, bread sour and deck very hard. Parted with destroyer. Port Tewfick 30th Sept, delay disembarking, waited all day for train, first view of desert, short trip to Cairo, Maadi Camp 10pm. Very tired, pleased to get off boat, trip a little monotonous. Six weeks training, very easy, large tent comfortable. NAAFI convenient. Weak beer. Sat. & Sun. leave in Cairo, interesting town. L1 soon vanishes. Trips with Bob, Sgt. CRAIG & G. KNOX. Climbed pyramids. Visited Memphis & Sakhalin. 1st air raid 15 Nov. Company shifted to Ismailia by truck. Nice camp by canal and monument. Air raid near Ismailia - incendiary bombs. Pleasant 3 wks training - pontoons, bridges, boats & tubular steel, best training we have had, good swimming, crowded tents, weather cooler after very hot month. Good sports, C. CLIFTON took part. Visited Suez with Bob, tour Ismailia with Ken BAFF. Tommy rations quite fair, return by train. 2 wks at Maadi. Maadi tent fine place. Bought bags for Mum & Flo.

 

FORSYTE killed Xmas eve by bombs. Big booze up last night in Cairo with G. KNOX. Bought good razor. 18 Dec 40 night train trip to Sidi Enebce, camp near Bagoush oasis by coast. Christmas here - 1st parcel from Mum also from NZRC & D. THURSTON. Boxing day AWL trip to Mersa with George & Bob, weather cold. Shift to Mersa camped in old Turkish barracks, weeks CB. One day job at Charing Cross water point. 1st Jan Sidi Barani camp by sea on old battle field, interesting tours in dugouts. Dust storms, weather cold & fine. 3 section sent to Bug Bug. Lost in dust storm, collecting trucks & gear. Return to S.B. after 3 wks - rescued. Italian prisoners exciting sight. 1st Feb return by train to Cairo & Helouan. Training on Nile canal, new clothes & news of expedition to Greece. Review by A. EDEN in desert. Met chaps of 24th, also reinforcements. Trips to Cairo, Barrage & Mohammed Ali mosque, Sultan Hassan mosque. Bought bags for presents, good meals & drinks. In Palm du Nord, C section made up - 12 reinforcements. 4 chaps killed at Sollum in barge - "Stake" DORSET, Bob CONNELL, Sgt. ROBINSON and ?. Review of engineers by G. FREYBERG. 5th Field Park arrived from Libya. Pleasant time at Helouan NAAFI & good picture theatre, night with Barach BROOKES W. Cold & fine, food good, always same in base. Trip by truck to Amyra near Alex. Company fully equipped tools & gear. Camp in desert - 20 in tent, shortage of water. Arrived here 1st March. Met Sandy DONALDSON & Charley KELLY. Good weather. Egypt is not bad place. Climate agreed with me.

 

March 12th embarked on Ionian, small Greek steamer, 800 men slept on deck, day in Alex harbour rough trip, very unpleasant, seasick. No hot food. Sighted snowy mountain on Crete, very pleased to see Athens. 15m Hymettus camp near snow hills, one blanket. Athens fine town, plenty of leave, trip with Dick BAFF. 27th train to Larissa in trucks. Lorry to Elthason Camp in cemetery. Pleasant place. good weather & tents. Work on dugouts, Easter there. Working with Cypriots, learning Greek, drinking wine, short of money. Paid L1.18s in Athens = 1000 drachmas. Sold bully beef. Trip to front at Aliakinon river. Strengthening bridge & demolishing. Saw first G planes - very lucky, return to El. More bombing, retreat to Larissa. Busy day at Peneus Gorge, exciting, Larissa bombed, retreat to Lamia. All NZ's along beach, pleasant country, swimming etc. Plenty bombing & strafing. Long night trip to Athens. Plenty food from dumps, also beer, good time, day at Marathon. Embarked Glengyle 25th April. Bombed on way to Crete, thousands disembarking, cup tea, orange biscuits very welcome. Wandering round Crete for week, very warm weather, beautiful island, trip into Canea. Position 1 mile from Maleme. Very pleasant time, swimming. Early & late stand to - plenty air raids, camping with J. TRASK, plenty water. Mail arrived 5 parcels 8 letters, plenty papers. Laying wire & digging trenches.

 

Parachutists on 20th, G planes everywhere, plenty bombing. No P's closer than 200 yds did not get a shot, shifted back on hills. Good view of Maleme & Gallatos. Thousands planes & parachutists. 22nd back with section, no sleep, retreat back to Platinus, machine gun fire, very lucky, chase over hills scrapping with Ps. Tom TAYLOR wounded, LORD killed. Wnd myself 12 o'clock, carried back, trip to hospital by beach. All walking wounded sent to Canea Church, two days in Convent. Bombed all day. Ambulance to Kah Leavis, felt miserable, missed evacuation, wounds full of maggots food very short. (Laid) in yard for month, hard stones. Arm wound healing. Prisoner on 27 May. Js did not bother us. (Laying) with chaps of 23rd Battalion. Very hot weather, chest leaking. Snowy ERICKSON died. Met J. Blue & Lt. SMART. Cretans very good to us, brought food, very hungry. Lorry to Maleme on 20th June, trip in G plane to Athens 21st June, 8 sit & two stretcher. Len FRAZER with me - marvellous. Number of smashed planes at M. Saw thousands British prisoners in compound by beach. Good trip 1hr 20 m. Arrived Kokinnia Hospital near Pireaus. Seemed only 100ft up, probably 1000. 800 wounded, 200 sanitators. Clean place, bathed & shaved first for month, comfortable beds. 5th A. G. H. in charge, rations very light, 3 small slices bread a day, no tea, senna tea, black lentil soup, tunny pie, very few spuds. Chaps are starving except those on extras, plenty rackets especially with sanitators & cooks. Doctors get in booze. Wound dressed every day, arm wound healed after four months, arm very good full movement. Met Tommy TAYLOR & Jim BLUE, few others of 19th. Tom very thin, has dysentry. Met Capt. STANTON, gave me 300ds, very decent chap. Met Bill JACKMANN sanitator, loaned me 300ds. He left in August. RC give us 20 ds week. Canteen run for Doctors, Officers & Sants. O.Rs can only buy through ward reps, get very poor deal. Ds Os & Ss get paid & buy up all best fruit etc. Grapes 30ds. late 20 dks. very good also tomatoes 5 ds. Concerts very good, quiz competitions & spelling bees - made money at latter. Two operations on chest found no bullets, still leaking, M. FOSBERG good surgeon. Good views of Athens, Pireaus & Aegean Sea, land round Kok is like a desert. Left Kok 24th October 1941 with 223 Ors & S. Good trip on Italian Hos. ship. 300 Js on board, very good trip, comfortable qrs & good food. Arrived Salonika 27th, good Italian nurses. Great view of Athens from sea. 1st RC parcel on 15 Oct - 1/2 pint each, chaps very excited, very welcome & good.

 

Tom TAYLOR & I mucked in at Salonika. Old dirty Turkish barracks, mass wire, plenty parcels, very short of fuel, burning furniture. Great trouble over burning lav. doors. Met Bob STRANGE, paralysed leg, lousey dirty only one shirt. Hospital is near stable, plenty flies. Weather is much colder, can see snowy mountains, good view of town & ancient fortifications. Town built round large bay, poor buildings. Port full of Italian & Greek ships, same as Pireaus. Greeks & Cretans fine people. Peculiar custom - bury dead for two years, wooden cross, dig them up & store bones - saw large vault full of bones in church near Elason.

 

Great move to Russia of Luftwaffe. Left Salonika 17 November in German Hospital train - 200 Ors & S together with 300 Js. 14 in a carriage, very comfortable, good food, scarcity of water. Jack HINTON in with me. Sorry to part with Tom TAYLOR, he is making good recovery, suffers from causalga. Fine trip, five days to Germany via Belgrade & Vienna, Nish, Gratz, B & V. Both passed in dark & Linz South Jugoslavia very poor especially villages, rough mountains. North much better flat land, maize crops, cabbage etc. Train very slow, comfortable bed, passed train Italian troops. Saw our chaps working on bridge near Marburg. Cold weather. Austria beautiful country, saw Dolomite Alps, great scenery. Day travelling in SE Germany - passed through Linz, all land under cultivation, sugar beet harvest on, horse wagons & bullocks in use, cows also used, same all over Germany.

 

Arrived at Schleitz, small town 6000 near Gera & Plauen, 80 in party, Bob STRANGE among them. Warm welcome from RAMC, sanitators & Capt. DICKEY, nice chap. Few patients from France, first we have met. 300 in Hospital which was school - good brick building. Russians, French, Belgians & Serbs. Rs in very poor condition. RC parcel every 5 days. My weight in Athens 10st 3lb. Tom T 6st 7lb, he was 3st short, all boys are very thin, soon picked up. Wound still leaking. Colonel Le SWIFT ordered new xray in Salonika, xray in Athens was failure. Wound dressed and syringed every day, treatment a failure. Most chaps getting better slowly. Very comfortable ward, 18 beds. Weather in Nov. & Dec. mild, no snow until Xmas then very heavy falls. Very good central heating. Issued with G. blue striped suit for day wear. Very short of clothes, have two good flannels from A, poor battledress, odd boots, good Aus. socks, civvy Greek overcoat. Most chaps have poor Greek boots. Later issued new trousers, good overcoat & RC shirts & socks, new boots when I left. Very small yard, stinking lavatory, also shed with geese, rabbits, turkeys, fowl, & pigs. Later fowls kept in main building. Issued with number 39423. Very nice Xmas dinner given by Sanitators. Tomato soup, cottage pie, Xmas puddings & custard, enormous meal, bottle beer. Very nice turn out. Started writing rhymes & poetry, very long nights, amused chaps reciting & telling yarns.

 

Heavy fall of snow in January - temperature 14 C below. Did not notice cold much, played ping pong, darts & other games mostly in teams. Continued heavy frosts - all pipes frozen. Hair all clipped off. Some chaps still have lice. Hospital is very clean, hot shower every week. HAYDON causes plenty of fun in the ward. Started to learn French, talked with F. prisoners. Met Marcel SUORRE & Com WEYLER, both Belgians, picked up French very quick. Often walked in snow in yard with C.W. G. food fair, bread very hard. Potatoes in skins, greasy small piece beef for Sunday dinner, bread 5 to loaf. RC parcel every 5 days, trade with French, give plenty tins to Serbs. Every ward has Serb washing dishes, cleaning, etc for cigarettes. Recited poetry in ward, impromptu speech evening. Debate in ward also rhymes, poetry etc., some very amusing, evening lights out at 9 o'clock. Played auction bridge.

 

January continued cold weather 29 F below. Chaps leaving for Stalag. Captain DICKIE good man does his best to keep boys in hospital. Horse racing betting with marks very lucky, good outfit - sanitators run totalisator. Received first pay 10 mks month, bought few notebooks & odds & ends.

 

February cold, snow falling. Still learning French, making good progress. Trouble with Serbs & French about lavatory. We have guard ward a day, wrote poem about it. February 7 received first letters from Leo, Anne & Rita - very pleased. Received Xmas parcel.

 

Carrying coke, shovelling snow. Talked with Sam about Germany - very interesting. Bert O'BRIEN & Jim BLUE left for Obermesfield.

 

Watched caretaker feed big pig & rabbits, bright snow weather. Trip to post office for RC parcels with Jack HINTON in snow storm.

 

February 23 snow thawing, old men shovelling snow. Schleitz very old fashioned town. Maurice Jew boy very interesting, suspected typhus - isolated. Mucking in with J. DODD nice chap, bit lazy.

 

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Names mentioned in text and poems.

 

EDEN A. British Prime Minister

FREYBERG G.

KNOX George

CRAIG Sgt. John Stewart CRAIG, Gnr 63580, 26y, d. 26 Jun 1942 bur. Western Desert Cemetery. Ref. 1A Series W1834 WW2.

STRANGE Bob

BAFF Ken (Kenneth b.1903 s/o Robt BAFF of Paparoa, returned from WW2, retired at Pataua, d. & crem. Whangarei Jan 1979 a 76y) 

FORSYTE Killed Xmas eve 1940 (Athol Henry FORSYTH 32y, Cpl 32266, d. 24 Dec 1940, bur. Halfaya Sollum, Libya - Ref. 1A Series W1834)

DORSET "Stake" Killed at Sollum in barge 1 Feb 1941 (Richard Francis Spr 33198, 27y, d.3.2.41 bur. Halfaya Sollum Libya - Ref. 1A Series W1834)

CONNELL Bob " (?Gordon William CONNELL 26y, Pte 29518, d. 2 June 1941, Bur. Suda Bay, Crete - Ref. 1A Series W1834) 

ROBINSON Sgt. " ( Alfred Bert 36y, Sgt 34644, d. .3 Feb 1941, bur. Halfaya Sollum Libya - Ref. 1A Series 1834)

BROOKES Barach W.

DONALDSON Sandy Met 1 Mar 1941

KELLY Charley Met 1 Mar 1941

BAFF Dick " (Richard Harry 40y, Spr 32222, d. 20 May 1941, bur Suda Bay, Crete - Ref. 1A Series W1834) - Radio salesman of Whangarei, s/o Robt BAFF of Paparoa.

TRASK J.

TAYLOR Tommy of 19th Wounded 20 Mar 1941 (?Thomas William TAYLOR L/Cpl 2nd NZEF 260818, NZ Infantry d. 9 Nov 1974 a. 53y, bur. Gore Cemetery, Blk102 / Plot104, NZ)

LORD Killed (Maxwell Raymond 23y, Pte 31277, d. 20 May 1941, bur. Crete - Ref. 1A Series W1834)

ROBERTSON Leslie J. b. 27 Dec 1898. Enlisted, then embarked 29 Aug 1940 for the Western front. Oflag 1X A/Z 39423. Wounded 20 Mar 1941. Prisoner on 27 May 1941. Returned to NZ. d. 26 Dec 1986 Auckland, NZ aged 87yrs. 32171 Spr 19A TPS Goy. Auckland Carpenter.

ERICKSON Snowy Died (William Carl John 28y, Spr 60002, d. 2 June 1941, bur. Suda Bay, Crete - Ref. 1A Series W1834)

BLUE Jim of 19th left Schleitz in 2/42 for Obermasfeld.

SMART Lt.

FRAZER Len

STANTON Capt.

JACKMANN Bill (sanitator) ? Ernest William H. JACKMAN of Kaiwaka, Rtd farmer d. 1967 Kaiwaka, Northland, NZ.

FOSBERG M. (good surgeon)

HINTON Jack Met 17 Nov 1941

RAMC

Sanitators

DICKEY Capt. (DICKIE)

A (Adolf)

SUORRE Marcel Met Jan 1942

WEYLER Com

JONES Roland Escaped from Schleitz in Feb 1942. Roland Percival JONES returned to NZ, occ. storeman, d. 1967 in Auckland.

? Sam " 2/42 I talked with Sam about Germany - very interesting.

HAYDON Ted Met April 1942

O'BRIEN Bert left Schleitz in 2/42 for Obermasfeld.

Maurice (Jew boy)

DODD J. Nice chap. John Robert DODD returned to NZ, retired farmer, d. 1980 Dargaville, bur. Maunu Cem. Whangarei, NZ

 

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New Zealand family and friends mentioned in text and poems.

 

Pa ROBERTSON

Mum ROBERTSON

Flo - ? a girlfriend

D. THURSTON

Leo - brother-in-law

Anne ROBERTSON - sister

Rita -? Nita GIBBS

Uncle Joe GODDARD - his mother's brother

Bill ROBERTSON - brother

"Crownie" PHILLIPS - Maori neighbour

ROADLEY Bros. - neighbour

Fred ROBERTSON - brother

BUCKLANDs -stock agents

"Rammy" RAMSBOTTOM - related to Auntie Ruby

Ruby ROBERTSON - sister in law and two daughters.

 

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The following are poems that Les Robertson wrote during his time as a Prisoner of War.

 

Receiving the first RC Parcel - Sept. 41

 

Back in the civvy street day, When a Red Cross collector came our way,

We were always willing To give a shilling

And to forget the Red Cross, Like so much dross,

For we were too busy with our sports To heed their reports.

 

After five months in the pens Of old Crete and Athens,

Where we hungered for meats And craved for sweets,

We will always remember the day

When the first Red Cross parcel came our way.

 

For we ate real meat And biscuits and jam so sweet,

And we drank real cocoa and tea. So you will easily see

It will be a treat When we walk again in civvy street,

To give a real good contribution To the Red Cross institution.

 

The Scheitz Lavatory - 1/42

 

If by chance and some mischance You should visit the Scheitz Lazarett,

You'll see something you'll never forget

And you'll find three hundred men Saying things I can't repeat

About a lavatory with one seat,

And if you look through an open door, In a corner on the second floor,

You'll see this lavatory of ancient make. Using it at all is a great mistake.

You'll find among the three hundred, Not all of our kith and kindred,

Some with minds so mean They cannot keep the seat clean,

And a sentry must keep watch and guard, For warnings have been in disregard,

And outside in the passage a dozen fume and wait, While they curse their fate.

 

N.Z. Schleitz 1 / 42

 

Go visit far New Zealand, The land of the long white cloud,

The bright and beautiful land Of which we are so proud.

Go view the sea - girt isles, Where sea birds sweep the skies,

And see the windswept miles Of this precious Pacific prize.

 

The Tasman rolls round the western shore, With the broad sandy beaches,

And the Pacific sweeps the eastern shore With it's long tidal reaches.

Land of bushclad hills And grass grown grounds,

With meandering rills And scrub strewn surrounds.

 

Land of snowy mountain top With the glaciers slowly moving,

And the great rock outcrops, With the avalanche swiftly falling.

Visit the steamy springs and baths Where the mud pools perpetually heave,

And climb the rocky paths Where the volcanoes angrily smoke.

 

Land of lovely lakes and rivers With the rising rainbow trout,

And brown browsing deer, Paradise of sportsmen without a doubt.

Go view these favoured isles, With their grassy greenery,

And you'll always remember the miles Of very beautiful scenery.

 

Changing a Bucket Schleitz '42

 

An old man named WOOD thought he could,

Exchange a bucket As easily as receiving a packet,

He was very cunning But was soon out of the running,

And the large bucket he has to return, While his own does it's turn.

Mr. WOOD wrote a rhyme Though this time

It was a failure Of the most dismal nature.

He had to resort to filth and fiction, Which did not aid his diction,

When he wrote the scrawl, He had to creep and crawl

And gain his wit, Where other other people sit.

 

The Men of the British Nations 3 / 42

 

The Men of the British Nations Of many different stamps

And all life's stations Mustered at the camps.

They all had health and strength When they left their native land

And they travelled at great length To answer war's command.

Now they sleep beneath the waves Or in the storied lands,

Where they grace the mountain graves And the desert's burning sands.

While some are lost to sight, Buried beneath the olive tree and vine,

For they have fought their last fight, Though they will not want us to repine.

For some day we will meet them In the land of the blest,

And we will greet them Where they are laid to rest.

 

Ron's Adventures Schleitz '42

 

Rambling Ron was a bachelor bold, Loved by the ladies far and near,

The young, the fair and the old, All said he was their darling dear.

Then he met lovely Leila And said he would ever be true

To that golden headed sheila With the eyes of brilliant blue.

 

So lovely Leila and Rambling Ron Plighted their love and troth,

But before many moons were gone Their love had turned to "wroth".

For in the morn the butcher would call And instead of talking of meat,

They would be lost beyond recall, Tasting something they could not eat.

 

The baker's man had manly charms And was seldom in a hurry,

But when he was in lovely Leila's arms, He was more often in a flurry.

Now Rambling Ron had met a brunette Who had bright black hair,

And he was caught safely in her net By her "come to bed" air.

 

They were a bonny pair and Ron said 'twas the mating season,

So he would not take care or listen to advice and reason.

Now 'tis a brace of certs That lovely Leila & Rambling Ron

Are a pair of foolish flirts, For their love life has gone.

 

No wonder they had rows, They'd both forgot (sic) their marriage vows.

Rambling Ron played the races And was a good judge of paces

And he liked to watch a noble horse Galloping swiftly on the course.

So his thoughts would always turn To the money he'd have to burn

 

If he could change a neddy, And work a successful ready.

Now Ron knew a trainer Who wanted to be an easy gainer

And he had a good horse Which could win on any course.

So they bought a young brother Which was like to him as any other,

 

And they made the change, Though to make sure of nothing strange,

They did a little mixing And a bit of fixing.

At a convenient date They entered him in a maiden plate

At a small country meeting Where they hoped for no greeting.

 

And the bookies fell into the trap, For they delivered the spoils into their lap,

As he started at twenty to one, And the horse's part was well done.

He came home an easy winner, so Ron gave a champagne dinner,

For they had won a packet Without displaying the racket.

 

And now he is all the vogue, For he is a successful rogue.

Ron was a lucky punter, And he had the money to play,

So he made a great display, And became a great lady hunter.

He was very struck On the lady of his choice,

And his heart would rejoice About his great run of luck.

 

He could pick the winners, And he raked in the hay,

With which to pay For his champagne dinners.

Alack Alas! The best of punts Sometimes come undone,

The bets that were not won Were very costly stunts.

 

For sometimes fate disposes, And his horse met defeat,

When they were beat By the shortest of noses.

Now he has gone broke And I am sorry to say

That he can hardly pay For even a smoke.

 

He has lost his manager's job, As the factory owner's son

Has in the works begun, And Ron hasn't a bob.

His lady friend made him despair, For her fancy pantees he can't pay,

And no longer he watches their display, As she has given him the air.

 

He rides no more in a lordly benzine eater, For the instalments he can't pay,

So the garage man has taken it away, And now he rides in a fifty seater.

One day walking in the street, He met lovely Leila,

The golden headed sheila, He was very pleased to meet.

 

Leila had not found a life of ease, For she had suffered much strife,

And longed for a quiet life Where all bickering would cease.

Their fates ran in twain, For he was so pathetic

And she was so sympathetic, so they married again!

 

Now you will understand Why Ron whistles while he mows the lawn,

For his first son has been born, And he's the happiest in the land.

 

The Prisoner's Needs Schleitz 2 / 42

 

What's the use of the mail When he has a hell of a thirst,

For whatever comes first, The sparkling pale ale

Or the bright brown beer, Which makes us all cheer.

 

Give him a juicy steak With fried eggs and ham,

Or green peas, new spuds and lamb, Or nice brown cake

Followed by a rich plum duff, And a nice cream puff.

 

Give him a day at the races, Where he can see gallopers race

Or the fast pacers pace In the green spaces,

Where a gay coloured jacket Can win him a fine packet.

 

Let him easily reach, With a good car load

Leading to a sandy beach Where he can feel the sea breezes

And the roar of the surf never ceases.

 

Give him a fast trip At the earliest of dates,

With all his mates On a good steam ship,

Leaving for the Southern sea, Where far away New Zealand beckons to me.

 

Give him home and a quiet life, With a good pair

Of comfortable easy chairs, Where he can forget the strife

Which has brought foreign sights And our present plights.

 

Receiving A Parcel From Home 7 / 42

 

In faraway New Zealand, Set in the Southern Sea,

Mum and Pa and sister Anne think very often of me.

And they've posted me a parcel Which has travelled many miles

Over the long sea lanes Leading from those favoured isles.

As I unpack this parcel, Filled with garments of the right size,

Mum's and Anne's wise work I can easily recognise,

And as I feel the warm woollies I think of the sheep grazing

On the green hill, and the maire trees Where they may be lazing.

 

I can see a red roofed house, Set in prosperous Pakaraka farm,

Looking down to the mangroves Growing in Kaipara's muddy arm.

And Anne is hanging out washing, Using the clothes pegs.

Mum is cooking breakfast, Frying bacon and eggs.

Uncle Joe is carrying in The new split firewood,

Pa is on the verandah saying The rain has been good.

Soon they'll be listening To the wireless war news,

Or reading the newspapers And airing their views.

 

I hear the white rooster crowing And the sweet song of the skylark,

Brother Bill's cheery call And the sheepdogs answering bark.

Hark! Somebody shouts to the horses, That will be nephew Ross

And yonder is the back section Where he took a nasty toss.

There's Crownie PHILLIPS, Waiting near the gate,

And Bill says that spreading Will start at an early date.

And there's ROADLEY Bros. Collecting the morning mail,

And Pa and brother Fred must be going to BUCKLAND's sale.

 

I'm sure that's "Rammy" Arriving with a large load,

So I'll take an easy trip Along the winding road

To see sister- in-law Ruby and her small daughters two.

You'll see that this parcel Brings precious memories of all you.

So Pa, Mum and sister Anne, My love and thanks I send.

Here's hoping the war will finish And imprisonment soon end,

Then home and Pakaraka farm Will beckon to me

And I'll soon be sailing Far across the Southern Sea.

 

Escape From Schleitz 2 / 42

 

Where's JONES, where's JONES, The search is already on,

For the boys have gone And we hear the Jerry's moans

As they walk from room to room With an air of despair and gloom.

No more will they see JONES, With his one eye and red hair,

Or Sam with his independent air, And useless are their groans,

For the boys are far away And they have gone to stay.

Sam and Roland began to tire Of eating soup and cartoffels

Or other rubbish and offals, As they did not like life behind the wire,

And they had plenty of grit, So they did an early morning flit.

 

The Goose That Bit Me 3 / 42

 

You silly foolish goose, When you were let loose

You quacked and bit me Very near the knee.

Oh lucky lucky goose, Though no longer loose,

You're still monarch of the pen And may again chase men.

Your owner is a German, And if he was any other man

Your life would be cut short, Without much report

And sad but easy to relate, Your career would have ended on a plate.

 

Trip To Schleitz Post Office 3 / 42

 

We numbered a score And mustered at the door

Of the Schleitz Lazarett, Just inside the barb wire net.

Twenty men of all life stations, And several different nations

Walked through the streets Where no friendly eye greets.

We walked to the Post Office, For that simple service

Brings us Red Cross comforts, And we commend their efforts.

As we are exiled by all people on the road, Who would like our load

Of very fine foods, Which are the dinkum goods

That will keep us in good nick, Until our mates take the final trick.

 

Ted HAYDON Schleitz 4 / 42

 

We all know Ted who brings us therms

To keep away the germs which we all dread.

Ted is good lad And he sang so gay

On a fine April day When he was so glad.

He sang a fine song and he sang so well,

He earned a day in a cell Where the hours seemed so long.

He roused the Black Prince's ire And he committed a crime,

So he spent nine hours time Looking through the wire.

 

Haina Lazarett (Hospital) Patients 6 / 42

 

If you should visit Haina Lazarett, You'll see inside the barbwire net

The halt and the maimed Walking with the sick and the lamed,

And you will find They keep company with the blind.

Some have descended in planes, Others are wreckage of five campaigns,

Together with a few rescued from the deep, They are all cast on the scrap heap,

Where losses and amputations Fit them for repatriations.

Their spirit is hard to beat, And they won't admit defeat

While they wait for news And they air their views.

For they are a cheerful band, Though exiled from their native land.

 

The Dieppe Patients 8 / 42

 

In the Haina Lazarett A tale was told

But 'twas all thought A yarn was sold.

'Twas a sad tale, Alas too true

And seventy new prisoners Arrived from across the blue.

They were Englishmen and Canadians, All full of pep,

And they were all caught In the raid on Dieppe.

 

In this silly raid The raiders were plucky,

But they fell into a trap And they were very unlucky.

They landed on the beach, Faced a hail of lead,

Many were soon wounded, Many alas! were soon dead.

The Jerrys were waiting And their mortars were many,

The prisoners were taken And soon sent to Germany.

 

Two years training, An eight hour fight,

And they have joined us In our present plight.

Such is modern war, 'Tis a game of chance,

The survivors were lucky In their trip to France.

They are welcome As we like new faces,

For we are all tired Of these confined spaces.

 

So these new "gefangenons" Must be of good cheer,

Maybe another twelve months And they'll again drink their beer.

'Tis a Continental tour, But they won't like the breakfast,

And perhaps they are wondering How long it will last.

They are A's guests, And they'll dance to his tune,

Just as he says, They are the men of misfortune.

 

The Haina Lazarett 3 / 43

 

Fate casts a net, History turns a page,

So the prisoners live in the Lazarett, Set in an oldfashioned village.

Surrounded by the forest so green, Of fir and tall birch,

And hard by inbetween Is an ancient stone church.

 

Looking down on the Lazarett, Built of stone of gray brown tone,

Enclosed in a barbwire net, With a yard of cobble stone.

It's three stories high And looks on a forest slope.

In the yard prisoners pace and sigh. They wait and live on hope.

 

A Red Robins Nest Haina 43

 

Two Robin red breasts Raising a large family,

Made their neat nest Under a stone canopy.

Two little Robins Gather food and take no rest,

While feeding the birdies In their neat nest.

A cluster of open mouths They struggle to fill,

And working very hard They make many a kill.

From early morn to even fall They pursue the unending quest,

Feeding the little birdies With the plentiful pest.

On a fine June day The Robins were so gay,

The birdies had feathered And flown faraway,

 

Xmas Card Mulhausen 43

 

Just try and picture me Right in the heart of Germany,

Writing cards on Xmas Day, Thinking of friends and home so far away.

Eating mashed spuds and stewed steak, Christmas pudding and currant cake,

Thinking of the days of yore, Waiting for the end of the war.

 

Mulhausen Routine 2 / 44

 

Hark 'tis reveille's sound, Out of bed with a bound, Plankface is coming round.

Most take a chance, Waiting for his entrance, Leading him a merry dance.

"Noomer, Noomer!" he shouts out, The bloody ugly lout, He's always round about.

The bugle sounds cookhouse, That means all rouse, Time for our daily grouse.

 

Then sounds first appel, The Hauptmann, may he roast in hell, Sends a man to a cell.

He has his morning strut, Looking for the lowly cigarette butt, Sticking out his big pot gut.

Shouting like a kid from school, Acting like a bloody fool, More stupid than a mule.

Then Doby has his say, Fatigue men come his way, And start the day.

 

Oh Canada Oh Canada the bugle sounds, The Jerrys bring chains around, And 29 Canadians are bound.

After fruhstick work begins, Opening RC parcel tins, Throwing empty tins into bins.

Later in the day Jerry rations come our way, Orderlies run without delay.

And many rude remarks are made, After the dinner parade, If the soup is not up to grade.

 

Then comes the hour of rest Spent in the warm nest, Tis the hour we like best.

Sometimes spoiled by the "inspection wallah" Who struts round in a fur collar, Worth less than a dollar.

He is cursed at evening parade, Where many bets are made About a possible air raid.

Tis time to cook and eat, Tinned vegs, spuds and meat, Red Cross tins are hard to beat.

 

Hark tis the siren's sound, The Jerrys rush around, And the civvies tear into the underground.

Out goes every light, And all the boys are merry and bright, Listening for the bomber's flight.

On goes the fire picket, The boys are on a poor wicket, But they have to stick it.

The rest enjoy a lark, Getting supper in the dark, Hoping every bomb hits it's mark.

When they've supped & fed, Tis high time for bed, The day has quickly fled.

Sweet slumber has it's way, The boys dream of home and back pay, So ends the Mulhausen day.

 

Recited Mulhausen Concert 18th March 1944.

 

Rotenburg Gardeners 8 / 44

 

Four jolly gardeners are we Gardening in the heart of Germany,

Arriving at work half an hour late, After cursing children guarding the Commandantur gate.

We hoe and plant day by day, Dig and rake for 70 fennig pay,

Watch the women walking by And look for welcome visitors from the sky.

 

Four jolly gardeners are we, Weeding the garden very leisurely.

We eat the onions, the carrots and peas, Clasp the hoes and lean at ease,

Watch the "Piggies" parading in the park, Curse the watchdogs and their awful bark,

Trade with tobacco, cigarettes and soap And we bring in eggs and bottles of dope.

 

Four jolly gardeners are we, Walking to the lager very slowly.

We inspect all people walking in the streets, Curse a summer of very temperate heats.

Notice all the builders' rackets and the foresters' squeeze,

Observe all the idle rich living at ease,

Thirst for pints of dark brown ale And we wait for the boat that's going to sail.

 

Recited at Rotenburg Xmas '44

 

Baseball Ballad

 

Mandarines v Tomcats

All the sports had gathered to see the play, Some had pledged their pants and backpay,

And the "old school tie" boys had the "oil" from Comrade Bob,

"The Cats will piss in" said he, Plunge with your marks,

We'll have an easy victory.

 

Play ball, play ball was the cry, And a mighty swipe was made by Johnny De FRY.

Little Tich took a nasty catch, A very nice start for the match,

And Henry DUFF made first base. At the second he wasn't in the race,

While Doormat DORMER made a masterly bunt, Alas! he wasn't in the hunt.

 

Then the Mandarines started to play, And showed the opposition the way.

They hit pitcher Bob for six. Said the OS Tie boys "We're in a hell of a fix.

So Comrade Bob stopped the game & argued the toss, Of course he's always the baseball boss.

He brought out two new rules, shit hot, They'll bash them on the spot.

Alas the Mandarines fell into a panic, Something terrible swift and titanic.

Said Taddy the Terrible tadpole, we've got into a hell of a hole,

While Tommy TURNBULL tumbled a ball, And murmured "Our backs are against the wall.

 

Just then three flash fruity frauleins looked through the wire, Their eyes full of fire and desire,

Jimmy TOUGH was all of a dither, For their eyes said "Come hither",

While Jimmy BISHOP squeezed his belly,They'd knocked him into a jelly,

But Davey said "On with the game, think of the money you'll have to send home.

 

With good luck and very good play, The Mandarines carried the day,

And the OST boys lost their backpay, They were later heard to say.

We'll all patch our pants again, And the old shoes will still stand the strain,

While the lager king said "This is better thsn chasing the leather All through the wintry (weather)

 

And Comrade Jim said "This is better than backing the best bloodhounds.

He's making a fortune by leaps and bounds,

So off to supper they all toddle, Life in a Kriegy's camp is all of a doddle.

 

Rotenburg 44

 

Christmas Day passed again With a dinner, very good but plain

Except for a pudding that gave many a pain.

You see, prison life is still my bain And hopes of peace wax and wane.

Never mind, next Xmas Day I'll be home again.

 

 

The following poems were found in the back of Les Robertson's "Wartime Log", though none of them were written in his hand.

 

The Cause

 

The fields of France are filled with weeping, O'er shattered houses'falls the rain,

And under the stones the rats are reaping The sickly harvest of the slain.

 

The skies are charged with change and sorrow; Not only devils dare to say,

That those who may not see tomorrow, Should suck the medlars of today.

 

The flame within me

 

I feel a flame with in, which so torments me, That it both pains my Heart, and yet contents me,

'Tis such a pleasing smart and I so Love it, That I would rather die, than once remove it.

 

Yet for her, whom I grieve shall never know it, My tongue does not betray, nor my eyes show it;

Not a sigh, nor a tear, my pain discloses, But they fall silently, like dew on a Rose.

 

Thus, to prevent my love, from being cruel, My Heart's the sacrifice, as'tis the fuel,

And while I suffer this, to give her quiet, My faith rewards my Love, though she deny it.

 

On her eyes, will I gaze and there delight me, While I conceal my Love, nor frown can fright me,

To be more happy I dare not aspire, Nor can I fall no lower, mounting no higher.

 

To my wife

 

Soft winds blow over the seas And bring sweet thoughts of Love to me,

Days seem long and Hearts are true, Clouds roll by, and skies are blue,

Whate'er the future holds in store, Love is ours forever more.

 

My thanks to Thelma McMurchy for supplying a transcript of her Uncle's POW diary.

 

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