Mike Subritzky

GUNNER STRATTON’S 13TH JUMP
161 Battery RNZA Gunners Day, 1974

One sunny day in Raglan,
the twenty sixth of May,
the Battery had its guns out,
all gleaming on display.

The B.C. yelled “Get Ready Boys!”
The planes are coming in,
with Para-Gunners all onboard,
the show will soon begin.

The first Herc dropped a streamer,
to give them wind and berth,
the second dropped Gus Rivers,
and we watched Gus glide to earth.

The third plane dropped a Howitzer,
all packaged in a crate,
and then the Para-Dak flew in,
‘cause the show was running late.

Inside the Gunners hooked their chutes,
and shuffled to the door,
then launched themselves out into space,
and counted up to four.

It was Gunner Stratton’s thirteenth jump,
and he was last in line,
but as he shuffled to the door,
he tripped upon some twine.

He tumbled out the aircraft door,
and spun into a candle,
then rigging lines and capewell clips,
snagged his reserve chute handle.

And as he flew directly down,
Sergeant Bill James yelled the score,
“kick out for God’s sake Stratton!”,
“you’re heading for the floor!”

Gunner Botica yelled out to the stick
“Steer Away! Don’s coming through!”
He couldn’t count his “right-left-right”,
and now he’s in the poo!

The Paratroops were soon dispersed,
and floated in the sun,
as Gunner Stratton tumbled through,
his speed now reached “the ton!”

Then as he closed with Mother Earth,
he popped his second chute,
but it hung there like a Christmas tree,
and hooked around his boot.

When all at once Don gave a kick,
and he tried to free his pack,
then he ploughed into a big sand hill,
and he landed on his back.

And as we watched in shrieks of awe,
the wind deployed his chute,
and dragged the poor unconscious sod,
by the rigging on his boot.

It dragged the poor unconscious bloke,
for nearly half a mile,
with a stick of Gunners racing behind,
running hard in the steeplechase style.

When finally they caught him up,
all that he could say was,
“If I ever find who packed that chute…
the Airforce bitch will pay!”

She didn’t pack me chute right mates,
she didn’t pack the handle,
and when I jumped out of the door,
I turned into a candle.

It was Gunner Stratton’s thirteenth jump,
and he nearly died that day,
so the Battery went to the Raglan Pub,
and we kept the ghosts at bay.