David J. Delaney

CAPTAIN REG SAUNDERS
(Aboriginal Hero)

The nineteen twenty’s saw his birth,
out in Victoria’s wild west,
raised by his loving grandmother;
he passed with ease his manhood test.

From the Gunditjmara tribe,
upon the Framlingham reserves;
I’ll try to honour this great man
and in a way he so deserves.

While at the sawmill working hard,
continued yearnings grew within,
to fight for south Americans,
for him they always felt like kin.

Instead this proud Australian lad,
who’s now, nineteen years old at least,
signs up, for the world’s second war,
then shipped out to the Middle East.

Surviving German aircraft strikes,
he thinks he’s granted a release:
Sent to the European fight,
the conflict being fought in Greece.

Now this disastrous doomed campaign
for many allies now on Crete,
orders were given to retreat
while facing imminent defeat.

This hero Aboriginal,
whose strength with family regains,
again he joins battalion mates,
now fighting in New Guinea’s rains.

Received promotions from the ranks
then leads his men as sergeants do;
respected by them all because
he was not false, but just true blue.

Within the final months of war,
now leader of his own platoon,
He misses family and home,
and peaceful nights beneath the moon.

Heard how his brother won’t return,
they’ll never share a fire at night.
He lies now in a jungle grave,
killed in Kokoda’s deadly fight.

Home working as a shipping clerk
now finds it hard to settle down,
he then works as a labourer
at building sites around the town.

When the Korean War began
he quickly signed up once again,
farewelled his children and his wife
hopes one day soon to be with them.

Returns a Captain of his men,
the 3rd battalion R.A.R.,
And won the hearts of those with him,
best leader they all had by far.

He fought the battle of Kapyong,
recorded by historians,
outnumbered drove the Chinese back,
those Aussies and Canadians.

Once, he was interviewed and asked,
about Australia’s own and bred
indigenous battalion group,
so, now I quote what he then said.

“The Americans had Negro officers,
but they all mostly handled Negro troops.
I’m dead against the idea;
it would mean demarcation and a separateness.
They would be treated as something apart,
that would be bad and break my heart”

Resigned in nineteen fifty four
worked in the logging industry,
he then moved onto Sydney’s shore
this famous Aborigine.

I know I tribute just one man
when many ‘Aussie’s’ gave their life,
although they’re Aboriginals
they were as one through all the strife.

I sometimes sit in disbelief
why Aussie’s don’t know more of Reg
and how himself made history,
reciting his first soldier’s pledge.

When honouring our Aussie greats,
include within their company,
these men who walked their same footsteps
our true blue Aborigine.

ALT
Lieutenant (Lt) T.C. Derrick, VC DCM (right) shaking hands with Lt R. W. Saunders (left), as they congratulate each other following their successful graduation from the Officer's Cadet Training Unit at Seymour. Lt Saunders was the first Aboriginal commissioned in the Australian Army.