Higaturu hangings complicate Australia’s national narrative
Anzac Day at Bomana War Cemetery, Port Moresby, 1970

The battlefield


Battlefield burial of three NCOs by Ivor Hele (Australian War Memorial, )CAROLINE EVARI

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

Dedicated to all who fought for their country
and to those who lost loved ones in war

Soldiers on guard on both sides
With weary hands on rifles
They watch their enemies

Bullets in exchange
Bombs sweep over
Flames and smoke rise in splendour

Swords and shields
Come clashing
Arrows of bitterness fly high

Blood spills and thousands damaged
Warriors run from every direction
Yelling, shouting, screaming

Orders from commanders
Soldiers march on
I watch with heavy eyes

Brave men dead
Champions fight on
In a red pool of anger

Bones cracked open
Limbs ripped apart
Falling one by one

The cry of warriors arise
Vanishing into the air
The path of every suffering

Those who fought before
For their country
Awake in delight

My head bows low
Tears trickle down
The thought of loss hits

Wives await husbands
Children watch the distance
For loved ones to appear

Mothers yearn for their sons
And pray for their heroines
Far, far away

Pillars swept away
In the battlefield’s heart
Rifles rise in celebration

Swords clatter
Champions chant victory’s song
As they stand

That’s the glory of war
The sorry seed of hate
Buried away today in the battlefield


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Peter Kranz

And to give the Poms their due, they have Graham Sutherland, who was probably the best ever war artist.


Peter Kranz

Caroline - thank you for a brilliant verse picture of the horrors of war.

One amazing and rather strange tradition is that both the British and Australian authorities have sponsored official war artists since WW1, who have been some of the most trenchant critics of the senselessness of war.

A visit to the Australian War Memorial is well worth it - not least for the dioramas and great art.


And here's a list of them.


It seems a strange paradox that Governments wish to eulogise war memories but at the same time employ war artists to bring the horrors back home with a twisted beauty.

Robin Lillicrapp

Thank you, Caroline. Well put.

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