The Pickering Post
Sunday, 24th February 2019

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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.


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


Blamey was a copper, a detective in Vic ( I think ) and there was an incident when he was, involving his car being present at some crime...When he was in the ME, he arranged for his wife to come over there....sorta the comforts of home...something the Diggers didn't get....JF

What I would like to know is, who invited Peter FitzSymonds to be part of the official party at the ANZAC Day ceremony, he hates TA and is a staunch Republican and there he was sitting behind TA and the Royals. Didn't he write a book that tried to rewrite history about the ANZACs. I bet that Brendon Nelson invited him and had him sit where he was to try and show up TA. Brendon Nelson should not have anything to do with the Australian War Museum. Peter Fitzsymonds you are a hypocrite, I bet you couldn't wait to be introduced to Royalty, I bet you pushed people out of the way to do it.

Agreed, Jack. The Aussie 9th. Division in the Western Desert would have been one of the best trained and best led formations in WWII. Lt. Gen. Sir Leslie Morshead, in my opinion, was one of the two greatest generals this country has produced. He also had a distinguished Great War record and during WWII, after his service in the western desert he went on to distinguish himself in New Guinea and Borneo. Blamey was a 'politician', and Gordon Bennett just a boastful windbag, in my opinion.

...And don't forget folks...If you are attending a public function and you get hold of a microphone to ask a question or make a is the mantra......

" First, I wish to Acknowledge the Fighting Men of Australia, Whose Courage, Tenacity and Sacrifice made the County That We Stand on,... Free for All Who Live Here...Lest We Forget" doubt he observed the actions of the Aussies....I think even Rommel made positive statements about the abilities of Australian Troops....JF

Add to that Gordon Bennett, Jack, and his badly led and poorly trained division. Some of whom, particularly artillery and drivers acted with great courage and tenacity, and others who acted quite shamefully, running from Japanese forces, and, thankfully only a few most shamefully boarding ships that were sent to evacuate civilians and nurses, at gunpoint.

Also, Slim never commanded Australian troops, Bill. His commands in Ethiopia and in Mesopotamia consisted only of Indian battalions and it wasn't until he commanded Burcorps - later to evolve into 14th. Army - that he commanded British troops as well.

We might have the US to thank for protecting our back but it was the Aussies in the Solomons and PNG that handed the Japanese their asses not the US. Japanese were never fearful of attacking the US forces but steered clear of Aussies where they could.

Leaders like Blamey come directly from the culture of the Rum Corp. Australia has always been a "Government Dependent" nation. Right from the start, Cook, Phillip and Botany Bay as well as most other settlements and explorations have been on the Govt payroll...Unlike for example he US where private citizens bankrolling themselves did the early exploration and settlement stuff....Australia's example has bred a "dependent mentality" right from the get go...part of that is leadership that is promoted not on ability but on position and favouritism and a population which accepts such leadership...however reluctantly.....JF

Keep 'em coming, Z. Another 198 days to go until Armistice Day.

A senior citizen drove his brand new Holden Senator out of the dealership. Taking off down the road, he pushed it to 120 kph, enjoying the power of the car .

“Amazing,” he thought as he flew down the F3, pushing the pedal even more.

Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw a highway patrol car, blue lights flashing and siren blaring. He floored it to 140 kph, then 180kph, then suddenly he thought, “What am I doing? I’m too old for this!” and pulled over to await the copper’s arrival.

Pulling in behind him, the copper got out of his vehicle and walked up to the car. He looked at his watch, then said, “Sir, my shift ends in 30 minutes. Today is Friday. If you can give me a new reason for speeding – a reason I’ve never before heard – I’ll let you go..”

The old gentleman paused then said, “Three years ago, my wife ran off with a policeman, I thought you were bringing her back.”

“Have a good day, Sir,” replied the copper.

''nights when they woke to find their dreams of death and terror come true.I know I didn't think of them as patriots, only as brave gamblers who risked something worth risking.It would be a pity for their manliness if they held the same mashy sentiments that you read in the papers every day.I feel rather bitter on them things I have seen so many men only stay on the peninsula for a few days and then back to Australia and the highly coloured accounts they give.This must finish my long letter, some day if it is so I shall tell you more, Goodbye with fondest love.''

''It is hard they should be insulted and held up to scorn on account of a few wasters who are in the minority.Australia has done her share despite what the stay at home politicians and parsons say.Do you remember how at the first the newspapers and parsons reviled the Australians,that was before Gallipoli.I remember being in a burying party the first week we were Pope's Hill.It was the night I think after the big attack on the 19th May.I was rather savage at having to go on,I was in the trench all night and the greater part of the day.There was a mule cart piled high with dead waiting us in our little cemetry below Quinn's a lot of them only boys and most of them wrapped in the tattered overcoats that had been their only covering through the many fierce nights,'

''The sheik's jockey made up in vigour what he lacked in art.12/7/16 It is easy to imagine the ancestors of these patient eyed Egyptians being slaves, in fact the old slave market still exists with eye bolts and chains rusty with age.Today is Sunday there is divine service in the building next to us, somehow I hate the idea of this hypocrisy. It is not because I am unfervent or not religious but if some of those stay at home death or glory parsons in Australia had seen Sari-Bahr or Gabe Tepe battle fields at the time of the Armistice they may have felt a little doubtful of the horror and glory of war.There are plenty of men who should have gone to the war and plenty ot others whose greatest sorrow was that they could not get away.

''It is harvest time here the wheat and barley is being carted into the threshing grounds, itis carted in on camels,long lines of swaying haystacks.The winnowers top it into the wind, gradually sifting the grain, as they have done since the Pharaohs ruled.They work in the night a lot, any time in the night the water wheels are creaking and you can hear the long drawn out song of the water haulers swinging on their bucketed poles.Why they sing God knows, days of monotonous unending labour are their portion.While we were there the sheik or omadah of the village challenged our aquadron O.C. to a horse race. He had several fast Arabs one had won several races but was no match for our horse.The Arab was only a miniture horse and would not pace with the long striding colonial.

No people-smuggling venture had succeeded in landing asylum seekers on Australia for more than four months, the government says.

In the latest update on Operation Sovereign Borders, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday that vigorous border protection activities was deterring illegal boat arrivals, even into the post-monsoon period when weather conditions usually improve.

Mr Morrison said the practice of turning back unauthorised boats remained in effect.

"Anyone seeking to enter Australia illegally by boat will be faced with the same policies those who previously attempted illegal entry met," he said in a statement.

Mr Morrison said no one had reached Australia since December 19 and that continued this month. But 3351 on 47 boats arrived in April 2013 under the former Labor government.

The latest Operation Sovereign Borders operational update says there are now 1281 in the processing centre on Manus Island and 1177 on Nauru, making a total of 2458.

Another 1405 remain on Christmas Island. During the last week, eight asylum seekers were transferred to Nauru.

Seven unauthorised maritime arrival transferees were voluntarily returned to Iran.

Since Operation Sovereign Borders started on September 18, 220 asylum seekers have voluntarily returned to their home countries.

''We had heard that there'd been a smashup but hardly expected to see such a mess.Dead horses were lying about everywhere.The camp was very congested and the German aeroplane dropped 8 bombs on top of them.B squadron got the most and the wireless station. When the mess was cleaned up therer were 10 men found to be dead,20 wounded and between 30 and 40 horses killed, to say nothing,as the papers would say,of the 'moral effect'.We were very lucky in being away as our place on the lines would have caught it pretty heavy.I suppose I would be shot if this book fell into the hands of the censors,I am giving it to one of our fellows who is being invalided home.He will post it when he arrives so it should reach you safely.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman joined in the criticism of the former Liberal National Party member, saying questions needed to be asked about what cash, jobs and financial support Mr Palmer had offered the three MPs.

Ms Anderson defended her defection, describing the PUP as "the new force in Australian politics".

Asked what was in the PUP deal for the three NT MPs, she said: "I think it gives us comfort, it gives us stability, it gives us a home".

"He's welcomed us, and said that you can come on board with his party, and we're happy to do that," she told ABC Television.

Not my country

CLIVE Palmer has been accused of buying his way into Northern Territory politics after three indigenous MPs joined his party a month after walking out on the Giles government.

The Palmer United Party founder declared that Alison Anderson would be chief minister after the next territory election, after announcing that she, Larissa Lee and Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu were now part of the Palmer United Party (PUP)

Happy that you take child brides - after all, it is your culture, and who am I to argue in my country?

Oops sorry, not my country.

After many attempts to get a comment posted on another site, I am submitting this - it is really peachy to have animals slaughtered halal style. Heavens, that is why I no longer eat meat. Opps sorry, shouldn't say that. I must learn not to offend my Islamic neighbours. Far better to offend our kiwi neighbours who were part of the Anzac tradition and have them without assistance so that we can look after our Islamic brothers,

Opps sorry, shouldn't have mentioned Islam - opps sorry, won't buy vegemite because it is Halal certified - opps sorry.

I belong to a nation of opps sorry.

Really, am delighted that you slaughter animals in a way that turns my stomach