The Pickering Post
Monday, 22nd October 2018

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Larry Pickering

Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.


Do I have ANZAC fatigue? Yes I do have. Not that I haven’t thought deeply about a tragedy that should never have been. Not that I haven’t imagined my fresh-faced sons in the same trenches and winced. Such a pointless waste of valuable lives and for what?.... Nothing!

The cream of our youth, gone! Never-to-be patriarchs of potential dynasties of strong, suntanned Aussie builders, farmers, inventors, teachers.

Shipped around the world to become part of a beach turkey shoot where the survivors hopped into filthy trenches not 30m from the enemy and continued the madness of swapping lives.

The best of our youth became playthings of generals who followed higher orders from those in warm beds.

What am I remembering this morning? I’m remembering the inanity, the utter waste of war... and I want to punch a wall.

My tears are of anger, because I am a Churchill fellow and it’s a fellowship I am thoroughly ashamed of.

Some may have missed this moving, poignant poem from last year, so here it is again, one of a hundred thousand tales.

And I dare you not to shed a tear:


I wandered thru a country town, 'cos I had some time to spare, 
And went into an antique shop to see what was in there.
Old Bikes and pumps and kero lamps, but hidden by it all, 
A photo of a soldier boy – an Anzac on the Wall.

'The Anzac have a name?' I asked. The old man answered 'No'.
The ones who could have told me mate, have passed on long ago. The old man kept on talking and, according to his tale, 
the photo was unwanted junk bought from a clearance sale.

'I asked around', the old man said, 'but no-one knows his face, 
He's been on that wall twenty years... Deserves a better place. 
For some-one must have loved him, so it seems a shame somehow.' I nodded in agreement and then said, 'I'll take him now.'

My nameless digger's photo, well it was a sorry sight 
A cracked glass pane and a broken frame - I had to make it right
To prise the photo from its frame I took care just in case, 
Cause only sticky paper held the cardboard back in place.

I peeled away the faded screed and much to my surprise,
Two letters and a telegram appeared before my eyes
The first reveals my Anzac's name, and regiment of course 
John Mathew Francis Stuart - of Australia's own Light Horse.

This letter written from the front... My interest now was keen 
This note was dated August seventh 1917 
'Dear Mum, I'm at Khalasa Springs not far from the Red Sea
They say it's in the Bible - looks like a Billabong to me.

'My Kathy wrote I'm in her prayers... she's still my bride to be 
I just can't wait to see you both, you're all the world to me.
And Mum you'll soon meet Bluey, last month they shipped him out
I told him to call on you when he's up and about.'

'That bluey is a larrikin, and we all thought it funny
He lobbed a Turkish hand grenade into the CO's dunny. 
I told you how he dragged me wounded, in from no man's land 
He stopped the bleeding, closed the wound, with only his bare hand.'

'Then he copped it at the front from some stray shrapnel blast 
It was my turn to drag him in and I thought he wouldn't last. 
He woke up in hospital, and nearly lost his mind
Cause out there on the battlefield he'd left one leg behind.'

'He's been in a bad way Mum, he knows he'll ride no more 
Like me he loves a horse's back, he was a champ before.
So Please Mum can you take him in, he's been like my own brother Raised in a Queensland orphanage he' s never known a mother.

'But Struth, I miss Australia Mum, and in my mind each day
I am a mountain cattleman on high plains far away. 
I'm mustering white-faced cattle, with no camel's hump in sight 
And I waltz my Matilda by a campfire every night. I wonder who rides Billy, I heard the pub burnt down I'll always love you and please say hooroo to all in town'.

The second letter I could see, was in a lady's hand
An answer to her soldier son there in a foreign land. 
Her copperplate was perfect, the pages neat and clean 
It bore the date, November 3rd 1917.

'T'was hard enough to lose your Dad, without you at the war 
I'd hoped you would be home by now - each day I miss you more.

'Your Kathy calls around a lot since you have been away
To share with me her hopes and dreams about your wedding day.
And Bluey has arrived - and what a godsend he has been 
We talked and laughed for days about the things you've done and seen.

'He really is a comfort, and works hard around the farm, 
I read the same hope in his eyes that you won't come to harm. 
McConnell's kids rode Billy, but suddenly that changed.
We had a violent lightning storm, and it was really strange.

'Last Wednesday, just on midnight, not a single cloud in sight, 
It raged for several minutes, it gave us all a fright.
It really spooked your Billy - and he screamed and bucked and reared. And then he rushed the sliprail fence, which by a foot he cleared.

'They brought him back next afternoon, but something's changed I fear. It's like the day you brought him home, for no one can get near. Remember when you caught him with his black and flowing mane? Now Horse breakers fear the beast that only you can tame,

'That's why we need you home son' - then the flow of ink went dry-

This letter was unfinished, and I couldn't work out why. 
Until I started reading, the letter number three
A yellow telegram delivered news of tragedy,

Her son killed in action - oh - what pain that must have been 
The same date as her letter - 3rd November 1917 
This letter which was never sent, became then one of three
She sealed behind the photo's face - the face she longed to see.

And John's home town's old timers - children when he went to war 
Would say no greater cattleman had left the town before.
They knew his widowed mother well - and with respect did tell 
How when she lost her only boy she lost her mind as well.

She could not face the awful truth, to strangers she would speak
'My Johnny's at the war you know, he's coming home next week.' 
They all remembered Bluey he stayed on to the end.

A younger man with wooden leg became her closest friend.
And he would go and find her when she wandered old and weak 
And always softly say 'yes dear - John will be home next week.' 
Then when she died Bluey moved on, to Queensland some did say.

I tried to find out where he went, but don't know to this day.
And Kathy never wed - a lonely spinster some found odd. 
She wouldn't set foot in a church - she'd turned her back on God.
John's mother left no Will I learned on my detective trail.

This explains my photo's journey, of that clearance sale.
So I continued digging, cause I wanted to know more.
I found John's name with thousands, in the records of the war. 
His last ride proved his courage - a ride you will acclaim 
The Light Horse Charge at Beersheba of everlasting fame.
That last day in October, back in 1917

At 4pm our brave boys fell - that sad fact I did glean.
That's when John's life was sacrificed, the record's crystal clear
But 4pm in Beersheba is midnight over here......

So as John's gallant spirit rose to cross the great divide, 
Were lightning bolts back home, a signal from the other side?
Is that why Billy bolted and went racing as in pain? 
Because he'd never feel his master on his back again? 
Was it coincidental? same time - same day - same date?
Some proof of numerology, or just a quirk of fate?

I think it's more than that you know, as I've heard wiser men, 
Acknowledge there are many things that go beyond our ken
Where craggy peaks guard secrets 'neath dark skies torn asunder,

Where hoof-beats are companions to the rolling waves of thunder
Where lightning cracks like 303's and ricochets again
Where howling moaning gusts of wind sound just like dying men. 
Some Mountain cattlemen have sworn on lonely alpine track, 
They've glimpsed a huge black stallion - Light Horseman on his back.

Yes Sceptics say, it's swirling clouds just forming apparitions 
Oh no, my friend you can't dismiss all this as superstition. 
The desert of Beersheba - or windswept Aussie range,
John Stuart rides on forever there - Now I don't find that strange.

Now some gaze upon this photo, and they often question me 
And I tell them a small white lie, and say he's family.
'You must be proud of him.' they say - I tell them, one and all, 
That's why he takes - the pride of place - my Anzac on the Wall.

By Jim Brown


Those early days of our training are pleasant to remember our long rides in the desert with phantom squadrons on our skyline hazy and distorted on the cinema screen of the mirage or the sun flashing on a 1,000 empty saddles where a brigade leads down to water. It is strange that one should love such a life when one remembers the ending it often has.

Cairo looks quite clean and fresh there are many troops stationed there now. Cairo is not as we knew it first, like a dream city out of Arabian Nights tale perhaps because it was new and we from a different country. Cairo, Luxor, Helwan, Sahara all tropical Egyptian places and yet with the glamour of the Orient over them. That Tom Moore could write so thoroughly about and yet had never seen. It is years since I read Lalla Rookh, and I have often found myself remembering lines from it. It is easy to imagine the ancestors of these patient eyed Egptians being slaves, in fact the old slave market still exists with eye bolts and chains rusty with age.

The mosquitoes are very bad here especially in the swamps near the sea. Their attack is like a charge of a 1,000 tiny lances. We are restricted to one water bottle a day so that means drinking the well water. Some of it is not bad though. Kantara is a very busy place now the Royal Flying Corps landing ground is there. The bombing at Romani has all hands somewhat jumpy. We had to get the horses off the line if a hostile aeroplane comes over and it is somewhat of a rush. Our own planes chase them away. There was a fight right over our camp a few weeks ago. The 2 planes were circling for half an hour each trying to get above the other. Finally the German had enough and started for home with our plane in hot pursuit his baby machine gun barking like an angry little terrier.

when we should have had the lot without hurting anyone. 2 of them were rather badly hit. It is a rather cold blooded thing to shooting at an unprepared man, but still it is war and only what they do themselves. 2 yeomanry squadrons were wiped out the same way at Katia, the Turks surrounded the camp getting through the outposts somehow and shot them down at their leisure. A pitiful thing there was the horses all shot down in the lines and laid out in regular rows. At Oghratina further out we had to bury a number of yeomanry and Turks in the same grave, Christian and Turk. We have brought all the old people living on the oasis in and burnt all the huts down. Their date plantations will be neglected this year there was a plentiful crop too.

Just before I left they started troop cooks. We heard the Light Horse was going to Egypt at the end of the month. We have been 30 miles out on the caravan road to Palestine a historic road if ever there was one for along it Napoleon's soldiers had suffered the weary miles between the wells and the Tribes of Israel gathering manna from the desert wilderness. There were heavy dews fall there now. The first time we were out we trecked all night and early in the morning we surprised a camel convoy apparently coming down to the wells for water. We should have got them without firing a shot . They were coming right into our position when some fool let his rifle off. That settled it everyone opened fire and we only got 3 wounded Turks and 4 camels

I found a big alteration when I returned to Anzac but our brigade still occupied the old position. They had made a demonstration and had lost a few men. I took charge of a section in the Listerning Galleries under Pope's Hill. The man in charge was killed the day before I came back. The 4 in the section did 4 on and 8 off. I was there till the Light Horse finally went round to Suvla Bay. We stayed behind until we were relieved by the new engineers. Towards the end of November the weather changed it was very cold on the outpost lines with drizzling rain every night. Several Turks came in to give themselves up very ragged looking, well fed. There was an amount of wild thyme, it was seasoning especially in our bully beef rissoles. We were doing our own cooking.

Just before I went back the wounded were coming in in 100s and very little accommodation for them. It was after the first attack in August. The doctors had a fearful job, the slightest wounds became septic so quickly. I was really glad to get away. The French had attacked at Cape Helles also we could hear the roll of the heavy guns in the preliminary bombardment. Achi Baba was to be taken this time for a certainty and the morning after the French had made their final assault we heard that it was taken, but I heard that often before ever since we had landed in fact, that I could not believe it. It turned out to be the usual lie and I Don't believe that Achi Baba could ever have been taken by assault.

Black legionaries of France and colonial soldiers were bargaining with the shopkeepers who seemed indifferent to making money, different to the haggling Egyptians. The people live in communities or villages due I suppose to the periodical raids the Turks made on them principally I understand to replenish their harems. This was years ago when the slave traffic was still going strong. I noticed on the hills surrounding the town the remains of stone barricades and ranges so our friend the Turk did not have a walkover. There are plenty of wells but no timber. The grapes were ripening when I was there and lots of Indian corn in the valleys. I was at the convalescent camp in the centre of the island for 2 days.

'There are small cafes where you could buy good coffee and rotten wine made on the island,a light claret like vinegar. The town was full of French soldiers when I was there, a lot of the Foreign Legion being billeted there. Their religion is the Greek Church, though I think there is a lot of the old heathen, mythology mixed up with it.On the graves of their friends there is a lantern hanging, presumably i suppose to light the departed spirit through the Shades. It must have come as a surprise to the inbabititants to find themselves invaded. Once the Cinderella of cities Mudros now sees her streets crowded with soldiers and her little land locked harbour crowded with worlds navy and transports.

If they don't sack Geoff Winestock , Fairfax will have no credibility with the public .

But has Australian Financial Review writer Geoff Winestock been sacked by Fairfax, I have seen nothing to suggest he has. I feel offended and intimidated by these two commentators comments can I take them to Court for Racist Threats?

A total knob head but SBS, what do you expect.......fucking scrap the lot and make the fuckers speak English.

McIntyre is not concerned. He will get a job in a Labor or Greens office as a press secretary or similar,

World War 3 -
"...The US position is clear and transparent. In the second half of the 1990s, Washington missed its only opportunity to reform the Cold War economy without any obstacles and thereby avoid the looming crisis in a system whose development is limited by the finite nature of planet Earth and its resources, including human ones, which conflicts with the need to endlessly print dollars.
After that, the United States could prolong the death throes of the system only by plundering the rest of the world. At first, it went after Third World countries. Then it went for potential competitors. Then for allies and even close friends. Such plundering could continue only as long as the United States remained the world’s undisputed hegemon.
Thus when Russia asserted its right to make independent political decisions – decisions of not global but regional import – a clash with the United States became inevitable. This clash cannot end in a compromise peace.
For the United States, a compromise with Russia would mean a voluntary renunciation of its hegemony, leading to a quick, systemic catastrophe – not only a political and economic crisis but also a paralysis of state institutions and the inability of the government to function. In other words, its inevitable disintegration.
But if the United States wins, then it is Russia that will experience systemic catastrophe.
After a certain type of “rebellion,” Russia’s ruling classes would be punished with asset liquidation and confiscation as well as imprisonment. The state would be fragmented, substantial territories would be annexed, and the country’s military might would be destroyed.
So the war will last until one side wins....."

Hugh Rimmington not much better, trying to defend McIntyres comments in the name of free speech. Apparently free speech only applies to the media? Anyone in the general public gets shit on as a racist, xenophobic or homophobic if they even suggest it.

So apart from being a baby killer, now I find I was a drug runner as well. (In the 'other' Squadron, GeoffU.)

One in a million chance, Hunter. Our dead were processed by the US Army Mortuary at Saigon Airport, Tan Son Nhat. The bodies were sealed in plastic and placed in hermetically sealed caskets, for transportation, and also sealed with special security tags. The caskets were taken off the C130 at Butterworth and Darwin, for overnight storage and, on arrival at Richmond, were met by civilian undertakers and transported to wherever. One of the pilots signed for the casket/s at Vung Tau and customs checked the security tags at Darwin and Richmond. A rumour it was, and an unfounded and nasty one, at that.

I often wondered whether drugs or other contraband could have been hidden in the coffins (caskets) of soldiers being returned to Australia during the Vietnam war. From memory I cannot remember any Customs actually opening the coffins.

There was one rumour at the time of drugs were being hidden in the actual bodies.

A PP poster predicted there would be hacking under Harry's 'It Was No Picnic Back Then, Either' column. Sure enough.....

Corrupt police everywhere dodo ...