Red Soldier

Anthea  Slade

Carlton North, Australia

Artist's Description

Red Soldier featured in Painters Universe 23-12-11
Red Soldier featured in Impressionism Cafe 11-9-11

Drawn with black ink and red ink for Drawing Day the 4 June 2011.


Red Soldier by Anthea Slade


Red Soldier Detail by Anthea Slade

I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green)

Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing out parade at Puckapunyal, (it was long march from cadets).
The Sixth Battalion was the next to tour and it was me who drew the card…
We did Canungra and Shoalwater before we left.

And Townsville lined the footpath as we marched down to the quay;
This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean;
And there’s me in my slouch hat, with my SLR and greens…
God help me, I was only nineteen.

From Vung Tau riding Chinooks to the dust at Nui Dat,
I’d been in and out of choppers now for months.
But we made our tents a home, VB and pin-ups on the lockers,
and an Asian orange sunset through the scrub.

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can’t get to sleep?
And night time’s just a jungle dark and a barking M16?
And what’s this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only nineteen.

A four week operation, when each step could mean your last one on two legs:
it was a war within yourself.
But you wouldn’t let your mates down ’til they had you dusted off,
so you closed your eyes and thought about something else.

Then someone yelled out "Contact"’, and the bloke behind me swore.
We hooked in there for hours, then a God almighty roar;
Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon: –
God help me, he was going home in June.

I can still see Frankie, drinking tinnies in the Grand Hotel
on a thirty-six hour rec. leave in Vung Tau.
And I can still hear Frankie lying screaming in the jungle.
’Till the morphine came and killed the bloody row

And the Anzac legends didn’t mention mud and blood and tears,
and stories that my father told me never seemed quite real
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn’t even feel…
God help me, I was only nineteen.

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can’t get to sleep?
And why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet?
And what’s this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me,
I was only nineteen.

Recorded under Redgum’s name in 1983 but from Redgum only Hugh McDonald and I performed on the track. Other instruments were played by Brian Czempinski, Trevor Lucas and Peter Coughlin

John Schumann: Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd

Artwork Comments

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