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Dennis N O'Brien


Post by Dennis N O'Brien » Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:28 am

Battle of Balikpapan, 1st July 1945


MacArthur needs a victory:
A crushing blow launched from the sea;
One last decisive episode
Before the atom bombs explode.

To make Pacific’s war complete
Off Borneo a mighty fleet,
And men aged well beyond their years:
The A.I.F. - all volunteers.

Now on this first day in July
Some who had fought for years would die;
Was by fate's fickle whim these men
Would never more see home again.

From Syria to Milne Bay,
At Shaggy Ridge; the fall of Lae,
Two men had seen each other right;
Now one last battle left to fight.

For five long years their luck had held
But now in each young mind it dwelled
The thought that now he may survive;
May see the end – come out alive.

From rocket ships a screaming wail;
From naval guns a deadly hail,
As on the shore defenders choke
On burning oil and smothering smoke.

On landing craft they hit the sand;
At Klandasan the diggers land;
The alligators push ahead,
But on the beach a man lies dead.

He thought the end within his reach
But now he sleeps upon this beach;
His blankets are the tropic sands
And at his head his rifle stands

With slouch hat for a digger’s cross,
For those to come; to mark the loss,
As by the grave there stands his mate;
The war's near end but it's too late.

© Dennis N. O'Brien, 2012

In memory of the men of the 7th Division Australian Imperial Force
who landed at Balikpapan 1st July 1945
and particularly of the 185 killed and 470 wounded in the Borneo campaign

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Maureen K Clifford
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Re: Balikpapan

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:39 pm

Don't know how I missed this Dennis - apologies - it is a fitting tribute indeed to those who served. Like what you have written here very much. Must be even more devastating for families whose sons, husbands, fathers and lovers have fought through a war only to be taken out within a day or two of war ending or their date to return home. At times like that I think people would question their Gods.

IMO Dennis this is an excellent piece.


Check out The Scribbly Bark Poets blog site here -

I may not always succeed in making a difference, but I will go to my grave knowing I at least tried.


Re: Balikpapan

Post by Rimeriter » Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:52 pm

Dennis, I was of fairly tender years when this episode occurred.

My family was fortunate not to have lost a member during overseas service.

Late losses ? Questioning the Gods - undoubtedly.

Your piece puts a perspective to it.

Dennis N O'Brien

Re: Balikpapan

Post by Dennis N O'Brien » Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:52 pm

Thanks Maureen and Jim.
All three of the war poems I have posted here are based on my father's
recollections told to me mainly towards the end of his life.
This was his last campaign and his battalion (2nd 31st) suffered particularly heavy
casualties with the end of the war only weeks away. Two instances stick in my mind:
One where a young soldier accidentally killed his veteran mate (and good friend
of my father's) which I referred to in K.I.A.
Also an older married man who had fought since the beginning of the war and had
6 children but was killed days after the war ended by a Jap sniper.
I put a link to video footage of the start of the battle (click on the blue "balikpapan")
This was filmed by Americans who landed the Australians.
Remember, all these men were volunteers and proud of it. Cheers - Dennis.
( P.S. My father always said that looking back the 6 years of the war were the best of his life.
Mum used to pull a face when he said that)

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