Thursday, 14 August 2014


Veins of exuberant joy
Life in everything now possessed
Deepest buried imparted love
Unutterable joy, pulsating grace.
Cherished by blessings kiss
Eternal union in Christ expressed
Certain hope fulfilled inside
Invigorating faith, intimate grace.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Forgotten Heroes - Corporal John Mackey, V.C.

Corporal John Bernard Mackey, 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion, Victoria Cross action on Tarakan. It was a posthumous award.

John Mackey was born at Leichhardt, Sydney, and until his enlistment worked in his father's bakery. He embarked with the 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion in November 1941, serving in Syria and in the later operations at El Alamein. He also took part in the New Guinea campaign. The landing on Tarakan Island, Borneo, was the battalion's final campaign.

Mackey had already been recognised as an outstanding and brave junior leader. On 12 May 1945 he displayed those qualities again on Tarakan Island, Netherlands East Indies. Together with his lance corporal, Mackey approached a well-defended position along a steep and narrow spur. Reaching a Japanese light machine-gun post, the two men killed four enemy soldiers, but Mackey's companion was wounded. Mackey killed the remaining Japanese, then dealt with a heavy machine-gun crew in an adjacent bunker. Taking up an Owen gun, he moved towards another heavy machine-gun nest, and managed to silence it before he was mortally wounded. Mackey was eventually laid to rest in Labuan War Cemetery.

Mackey was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, and service medals for the Second World War.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Grace Nuggets - Ephesians 2 v 19

Ephesians 2 v 19 - So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

Because of Christ’s reconciling work of the cross, I have a new position in Christ. I am a fellow citizen of heaven with all of God’s children. I am part of the same household of God and I am now part of God’s building. This is because I am united by new birth into Christ I am now inseparably part of God.

Jesus was raised was back to life and made perfect by his very own blood. The bible says he is the first fruit and the first born among many brothers. That means that just as he was raised and made perfect, so too am I when I believed in Him I was “raised and made perfect. Perfectly righteous, perfectly born-again, perfectly set apart unto him, perfectly right with God, perfectly permanently and eternally saved.

God never intended for me to be righteous of myself but, by faith, to enter into the rest of being made his righteousness. That is why when Jesus walked the earth he fulfilled the six day covenant on my behalf. He fulfilled the law for me. He did the work. And once fulfilled he said, “It is finished.” And then laid his head to rest.

He sweated drops of blood from his brow to break the curse. His body was lashed open for my healing and bled for my forgiveness. The punishment that was on him was for my peace. He became sin so I could become his righteousness. He took my poverty so I could receive his riches. His death was my victory. He is my perfect and complete salvation. I cannot add anything to it but simply believe it and rest in it.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Grace Gems - Blessed

Do you believe that every day, your family and work life are blessed? Or do you think that you are blessed only during Christmas when you receive your gifts and year-end bonus, or when you get that promotion you have been wanting? Perhaps you think that the blessed life only begins when you meet the man or woman of your dreams!

No, my friend, you are blessed every day and you have God’s Word for it. Psalm 68:19 says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!”And because God’s Word says so, believe that every day of your life is loaded with benefits. Every morning, when you get up, believe that it is a day that the Lord has made, and rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) Start the day expecting it to be loaded with the benefits that God has prepared just for you.

At night, when it is time to sleep, know that you will be blessed when you get up in the morning because there will be another load of benefits from your heavenly Father, who so loves you unconditionally, waiting for you!

You can’t make your blessings happen. But if you will just believe what God has said in His Word and act like it is so, the blessings will manifest in your life. In fact, God wants to bless you more than you want to be blessed! His Word declares it: “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out…Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!”

Joseph Prince

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Hope by Ryan J. Rhoades

In our pursuit of perfection,
We deny our reflection
Sacrificing connection
Clouding mental perception

By the lies that we're sold
From politicians enrolled
In a system I'm told
Is as corrupt as it's old

But my heart still keeps beating
I don't know where it is leading
As I ignore all the cheating
Greed and war and the bleeding

That pollutes all our minds
With fear, pop media's lies
If the blind lead the blind
Then what's to come for mankind?

Defying all norms
We will conquer these storms
Rejecting the pain and the scorn
Embrace for what we were born

As blood fills all the streets
In my heart, hope still beats
These three things we all need
Embrace life, love and peace

So abandon pursuing
That which brings our undoing
The perfection you seek
Will leave you empty and bleak

Lost, broken, hurt and confused
Just ignore all the news
And the garbage they're selling
With all their shouting and yelling

Be the change you wish to see
Look within, trust and believe

It makes all the difference, I swear that it's true

For hope to survive, it's got to start with you.

- Ryan J. Rhoades

Friday, 8 August 2014

The Rock

I sit on a rock.
solid, sure, crimson and
gaze at eternity

I listen with my heart.
touch your forgiveness
vaulting time.

Imprinted love
deep within my spirit.
eternal rainbow

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Forgotten Heroes - 2nd Lieutenant Harry Murray, V.C.

2nd Lieutenant Harry Murray of the 13th Battalion, AIF at Cheshire Ridge - Gallipoli, November, 1915.

Harry Murray was born at Launceston, Tasmania, on 1 December 1880. As a youth he helped run the family farm. He was also interested in the military and joined a militia unit, the Australian Field Artillery, in Launceston.

Murray moved to Western Australia at the age of 19 or 20 where he worked as a mail courier on the goldfields. When he enlisted in the AIF as a private on 30 September 1914, he was employing timber-cutters for the railways in the south west of Western Australia. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 as a member of one of the 16th Battalion's two machine-gun crews. Murray was wounded several times, spent June in hospital, was promoted to lance corporal on 13 May and won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery between 9-31 May. He was wounded again on 8 July and a month later experienced a remarkable series of promotions. On 13 August he was made a sergeant, commissioned second-lieutenant and transferred to the 13th Battalion.

By 1 March 1916 Murray had reached the rank of captain and soon after sailed for France with the 13th Battalion. On the Western Front Murray defied the statistics, participating in each of his unit's major actions and surviving. He received the Distinguished Service Order for his role in the fighting at Mouquet Farm, where he was twice wounded. His wounds kept Murray from the front until October.

Four months later, on the night of 4-5 February, Murray led his company's attack on Stormy Trench, near Gueudecourt. Over almost 24 hours they repelled counter-attacks, fought in merciless close quarter battles and suffered under intense shell-fire. Some 230 members of the Battalion were killed in the fight and Murray won the Victoria Cross.

In March 1918 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and given command of the 4th machine gun battalion. He remained in this position until the end of the war. In April during the attack on Bullecourt Murray won a bar to his Distinguished Service Cross. In October 1918 Murray was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and in May 1919 was promoted to CMG.

With the fighting over, Murray toured England studying agricultural methods. His service in the AIF ended on 9 March 1920 and he settled on a grazing property at Muckadilla in Queensland. The following year he married Constance Cameron, but the marriage lasted just a few years and in 1925 he moved to New Zealand where he married Ellen Cameron. The couple returned to Queensland in 1928 and purchased another grazing property at Richmond.

Murray enlisted for service during the Second World War and commanded the 26th Battalion in north Queensland until August 1942. He retired from the army in early 1944. Regarded as a shy and modest man, he was described as the most distinguished fighting officer of the AIF. Murray died of a heart attack following a car accident on 7 January 1966.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

First World War - That Ration Fatigue

This excellent little article comes from the great book “Bullets & Billets" By Bruce Bairnsfather.

Here he describes the trenches in Belgium and at the undesirable job of being on a ‘Ration Party’.


They seemed to me long, dark, dismal days, those days spent in the Douve trenches; longer, darker and more dismal than the Plugstreet ones. Night after night I crossed the dreary mud flat, passed the same old wretched farms, and went on with the same old trench routine. We all considered the trenches a pretty rotten outfit; but every one was fully prepared to accept far rottener things than that. There was never the least sign of flagging determination in any man there, and I am sure you could say the same of the whole front.

And, really, some jobs on some nights wanted a lot of beating for undesirability. Take the ration party's job, for instance. Think of the rottenest, wettest, windiest winter's night you can remember, and add to it this bleak, muddy, war-worn plain with its ruined farms and shell-torn lonely road. Then think of men, leaving the trenches at dusk, going back about a mile and a half, and bringing sundry large and heavy boxes up to the trenches, pausing now and again for a rest, and ignoring the intermittent crackling of rifle fire in the darkness, and the sharp "phit" of bullets hitting the mud all around. Think of that as your portion each night and every night. When you have finished this job, the rest you get consists of coiling yourself up in a damp dug-out. Night after night, week after week, month after month, this job is done by thousands.

As one sits in a brilliantly illuminated, comfortable, warm theatre, having just come from a cosy and luxurious restaurant, just think of some poor devil half-way along those corduroy boards struggling with a crate of biscuits; the ration "dump" behind, the trenches on in front. When he has finished he will step down into the muddy slush of a trench, and take his place with the rest, who, if need be, will go on doing that job for another ten years, without thinking of an alternative. The Germans made a vast mistake when they thought they had gauged the English temperament.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

First World War - Trench Life

This is an excellent extract from the book “ Kitchener's Mob, The Adventures of an American in the British Army” By James Norman Hall, which can be found at

It gives a great description of trench life on the Western Front. I especially like the final paragraphs on rations, flies and rats.

“All of the dugouts for privates and N.C.O.s were of equal size and built on the same model, the reason being that the walls and floors, which were made of wood, and the roofs, which were of corrugated iron, were put together in sections at the headquarters of the Royal Engineers, who superintended all the work of trench construction. The material was brought up at night ready to be fitted into excavations. Furthermore, with thousands of men to house within a very limited area, space was a most important consideration. There was no room for indulging individual tastes in dugout architecture. The roofs were covered with from three to four feet of earth, which made them proof against shrapnel or shell splinters. In case of a heavy bombardment with high explosives, the men took shelter in deep and narrow "slip trenches." These were blind alleyways leading off from the traveling trench, with room for from ten to fifteen men in each. At this part of the line there were none of the very deep shell-proof shelters, from fifteen to twenty feet below the surface of the ground, of which I had read. Most of the men seemed to be glad of this. They preferred taking their chances in an open trench during heavy shell fire.

Realists and Romanticists lived side by side in the traveling trench. "My Little Gray Home in the West" was the modest legend over one apartment. The "Ritz Carlton" was next door to "The Rats' Retreat," with "Vermin Villa" next door but one. "The Suicide Club" was the suburban residence of some members of the bombing squad. I remarked that the bombers seemed to take rather a pessimistic view of their profession, whereupon Shorty told me that if there were any men slated for the Order of the Wooden Cross, the bombers were those unfortunate ones. In an assault they were first at the enemy's position. They had dangerous work to do even on the quietest of days. But theirs was a post of honor, and no one of them but was proud of his membership in the Suicide Club.

The officers' quarters were on a much more generous and elaborate scale than those of the men. This I gathered from Shorty's description of them, for I saw only the exteriors as we passed along the trench. Those for platoon and company commanders were built along the traveling trench. The colonel, major, and adjutant lived in a luxurious palace, about fifty yards down a communication trench. Near it was the officers' mess, a café de luxe with glass panels in the door, a cooking stove, a long wooden table, chairs,—everything, in fact, but hot and cold running water.

"You know," said Shorty, "the officers thinks they 'as to rough it, but they got it soft, I'm tellin' you! Wooden bunks to sleep in, batmen to bring 'em 'ot water fer shavin' in the mornin', all the fags they wants,—Blimy, I wonder wot they calls livin' 'igh?"

I agreed that in so far as living quarters are concerned, they were roughing it under very pleasant circumstances. However, they were not always so fortunate, as later experience proved. Here there had been little serious fighting for months and the trenches were at their best. Elsewhere the officers' dugouts were often but little better than those of the men.

The first-line trenches were connected with two lines of support or reserve trenches built in precisely the same fashion, and each heavily wired. The communication trenches which joined them were from seven to eight feet deep and wide enough to permit the convenient passage of incoming and outgoing troops, and the transport of the wounded back to the field dressing stations. From the last reserve line they wound on backward through the fields until troops might leave them well out of range of rifle fire. Under Shorty's guidance I saw the field dressing stations, the dugouts for the reserve ammunition supply and the stores of bombs and hand grenades, battalion and brigade trench headquarters. We wandered from one part of the line to another through trenches, all of which were kept amazingly neat and clean. The walls were stayed with fine-mesh wire to hold the earth in place. The floors were covered with board walks carefully laid over the drains, which ran along the center of the trench and emptied into deep wells, built in recesses in the walls. I felt very much encouraged when I saw the careful provisions for sanitation and drainage. On a fine June morning it seemed probable that living in ditches was not to be so unpleasant as I had imagined it. Shorty listened to my comments with a smile.

"Don't pat yerself on the back yet a w'ile, mate," he said. "They looks right enough now, but wite till you've seen 'em arter a 'eavy rain."

I had this opportunity many times during the summer and autumn. A more wretched existence than that of soldiering in wet weather could hardly be imagined. The walls of the trenches caved in in great masses. The drains filled to overflowing, and the trench walks were covered deep in mud. After a few hours of rain, dry and comfortable trenches became a quagmire, and we were kept busy for days afterward repairing the damage.

As a machine gunner I was particularly interested in the construction of the machine-gun emplacements. The covered battle positions were very solidly built. The roofs were supported with immense logs or steel girders covered over with many layers of sandbags. There were two carefully concealed loopholes looking out to a flank, but none for frontal fire, as this dangerous little weapon best enjoys catching troops in enfilade owing to the rapidity and the narrow cone of its fire. Its own front is protected by the guns on its right and left. At each emplacement there was a range chart giving the ranges to all parts of the enemy's trenches, and to every prominent object both in front of and behind them, within its field of fire. When not in use the gun was kept mounted and ready for action in the battle position.

"But remember this," said Shorty, "you never fires from your battle position except in case of attack. W'en you goes out at night to 'ave a little go at Fritzie, you always tykes yer gun sommers else. If you don't, you'll 'ave Minnie an' Busy Bertha an' all the rest o' the Krupp childern comin' over to see w'ere you live."

This was a wise precaution, as we were soon to learn from experience. Machine guns are objects of special interest to the artillery, and the locality from which they are fired becomes very unhealthy for some little time thereafter.

We stopped for a moment at "The Mud Larks' Hairdressing Parlor," a very important institution if one might judge by its patronage. It was housed in a recess in the wall of the traveling trench, and was open to the sky. There I saw the latest fashion in "oversea" hair cuts. The victims sat on a ration box while the barber mowed great swaths through tangled thatch with a pair of close-cutting clippers. But instead of making a complete job of it, a thick fringe of hair which resembled a misplaced scalping tuft was left for decorative purposes, just above the forehead. The effect was so grotesque that I had to invent an excuse for laughing. It was a lame one, I fear, for Shorty looked at me warningly. When we had gone on a little way he said:—
"Ain't it a proper beauty parlor? But you got to be careful about larfin'. Some o' the blokes thinks that 'edge-row is a regular ornament."

I had supposed that a daily shave was out of the question on the firing-line; but the British Tommy is nothing if not resourceful. Although water is scarce and fuel even more so, the self-respecting soldier easily surmounts difficulties, and the Gloucesters were all nice in matters pertaining to the toilet. Instead of draining their canteens of tea, they saved a few drops for shaving purposes.

"It's a bit sticky," said Shorty, "but it's 'ot, an' not 'arf bad w'en you gets used to it. Now, another thing you don't want to ferget is this: W'en yer movin' up fer yer week in the first line, always bring a bundle o' firewood with you. They ain't so much as a match-stick left in the trenches. Then you wants to be savin' of it. Don't go an' use it all the first d'y or you'll 'ave to do without yer tea the rest o' the week."

I remembered his emphasis upon this point afterward when I saw men risking their lives in order to procure firewood. Without his tea Tommy was a wretched being. I do not remember a day, no matter how serious the fighting, when he did not find both the time and the means for making it.

Shorty was a Ph.D. in every subject in the curriculum, including domestic science. In preparing breakfast he gave me a practical demonstration of the art of conserving a limited resource of fuel, bringing our two canteens to a boil with a very meager handful of sticks; and while doing so he delivered an oral thesis on the best methods of food preparation. For example, there was the item of corned beef—familiarly called "bully." It was the pièce de résistance at every meal with the possible exception of breakfast, when there was usually a strip of bacon. Now, one's appetite for "bully" becomes jaded in the course of a few weeks or months. To use the German expression one doesn't eat it gern. But it is not a question of liking it. One must eat it or go hungry. Therefore, said Shorty, save carefully all of your bacon grease, and instead of eating your "bully" cold out of the tin, mix it with bread crumbs and grated cheese and fry it in the grease. He prepared some in this way, and I thought it a most delectable dish. Another way of stimulating the palate was to boil the beef in a solution of bacon grease and water, and then, while eating it, "kid yerself that it's Irish stew." This second method of taking away the curse did not appeal to me very strongly, and Shorty admitted that he practiced such self-deception with very indifferent success; for after all "bully" was "bully" in whatever form you ate it.

In addition to this staple, the daily rations consisted of bacon, bread, cheese, jam, army biscuits, tea, and sugar. Sometimes they received a tinned meat and vegetable ration, already cooked, and at welcome intervals fresh meat and potatoes were substituted for corned beef. Each man had a very generous allowance of food, a great deal more, I thought, than he could possibly eat. Shorty explained this by saying that allowance was made for the amount which would be consumed by the rats and the blue-bottle flies.

There were, in fact, millions of flies. They settled in great swarms along the walls of the trenches, which were filled to the brim with warm light as soon as the sun had climbed a little way up the sky. Empty tin-lined ammunition boxes were used as cupboards for food. But of what avail were cupboards to a jam-loving and jam-fed British army living in open ditches in the summer time? Flytraps made of empty jam tins were set along the top of the parapet. As soon as one was filled, another was set in its place. But it was an unequal war against an expeditionary force of countless numbers.

"They ain't nothin' you can do," said Shorty. "They steal the jam right off yer bread."

As for the rats, speaking in the light of later experience, I can say that an army corps of pied pipers would not have sufficed to entice away the hordes of them that infested the trenches, living like house pets on our rations. They were great lazy animals, almost as large as cats, and so gorged with food that they could hardly move. They ran over us in the dugouts at night, and filched cheese and crackers right through the heavy waterproofed covering of our haversacks. They squealed and fought among themselves at all hours. I think it possible that they were carrion eaters, but never, to my knowledge, did they attack living men. While they were unpleasant bedfellows, we became so accustomed to them that we were not greatly concerned about our very intimate associations.”

Monday, 4 August 2014

First World War - 100 Years Today - Joining Up By George Coppard

For the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Great War, I am posting a small extract from the excellent book by George Coppard “With A Machine Gun To Canbrai.”

I think this interesting snippet captures how many young men felt in those days in early August 1914.

"Glossing over my childhood, I merely state that in 1914 I was just an ordinary boy of elementary education and slender prospects. Rumours of war broke out and I began to be interested in the Territorials trampling the streets in their big strong boots. Although I seldom saw a newspaper, I knew about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand at Savajevo. News placards screamed out at every street corner and military bands blared out their martial music on the main streets of Croydon, This was too much for me to resist, and as if drawn by a magnet, I knew I had to enlist straight away.

I had no fixed idea of what branch of the Army I wanted to join and considered I would be lucky if I was accepted at all. Although weighing over ten stone I was very much a boy in heart and mind. Towards the end of August I presented myself to the recruiting sergeant at Mitcham Road Barracks, Croydon. There was a steady stream of men, mostly working types, queuing up to enlist.  The sergeant asked my age and when told replied, “Clear off son. Come back tomorrow and see if you’re nineteen, eh?”  So I turned up again the next day and gave my age as nineteen. I attested in a bunch of a dozen others and, holding up my right hand, swore to fight for King and Country. The sergeant winked as he gave me the King’s  shilling, plus one shilling and ninepence ration money for that day. I believe he also got a shilling for each man he recruited.

I see from my discharge papers that I enlisted on 27th August 1914. As I was born on 28th January 1898, it follows that I was 16 years and 7 months old. The Battle of Mons had just been fought, and what was left of the Old Contemptibles was engaged in the famous retreat. I knew nothing about this. Like a log flung like into a giant river, I had only just started to move. Later on I was pushed from behind, relentlessly, without any chance of escape."

Sunday, 3 August 2014

First World War - The Troop Went Through by Edward Dyson

I HEARD this day, as I may no more,
The world's heart throb at my workshop door.
The sun was keen, and the day was still;
The township drowsed in, a haze of heat.
A stir far off on the sleepy hill,
The measured beat of their buoyant feet,
And the lilt and thrum
Of a little drum,
The song they sang in a cadence low,
The piping note of a piccolo.

The township woke, and the doors flew wide;
The women trotted their boys beside.
Across the bridge on a single heel
The soldiers came in a golden glow,
With throb of song and the chink of steel,
The gallant crow of the piccolo.
Good and brown they were,
And their arms swung bare.
Their fine young faces revived in me
A boyhood's vision of chivalry.

The lean, hard regiment tramping down,
Bushies, miners and boys from town.
From 'mid the watchers the road along
One fell in line with the khaki men.
He took the stride, and he caught their song,
And Steve went then, and Meneer, and Ben,
Long Dave McCree,
And the Weavers three,
All whisked away by the "Come! Come! Come!"
The lusty surge of the vaunting drum.

I swore a prayer for each soldier lad.
He was the son that might have had;
The tall, bold boy who was never mine,
All brave with dust that the eyes laughed through,
His shoulders square, and his chin in line,
Was marching too with the gallant few.
Passed the muffled beat
Of their swanking feet,
The swell of drum, the exulting crow,
The wild-bird note of the piccolo.

They dipped away in the listless trees;
A mother wept on her beaded knees
For sons gone out to the long war's end;
But more than mother or man wept I
Who had no son in the world to send.
The hour lagged by, and drifting high
Came the fitful hum
Of the little drum,
And faint, but still with an ardent flow,
The pibroch, call of the piccolo.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Forgotten Heroes - Sergeant William Ruthven, V.C.

Sergeant William Ruthven, 22nd Battalion, Victoria Cross action at Ville-sur-Ancre, France.

William "Rusty" Ruthven was born at Collingwood, Melbourne, and was a mechanic in the timber industry before enlisting in April 1915. After serving on Gallipoli he went to France, where he was wounded in April 1916.

During an attack near Ville-sur-Ancre on 19 May 1918, Ruthven performed outstanding acts of bravery. He took command of a company after the officer commanding was wounded, and personally assaulted enemy strongpoints. Throughout the successful action, he led by example, inspiring and encouraging his men. During the mopping-up and consolidation, he captured 32 Germans.

Ruthven was commissioned in July 1918 and discharged in December. He became a soldier-settler for a while, but returned to Collingwood and became a local councillor. During the Second World War he served in garrison battalions, reaching the rank of major. From 1945 to 1961 he was a member of the Victorian parliament.

Ruthven received the Victoria Cross, service medals for the First and Second World Wars and coronation medals for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.


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