Fully Equipped for Battle

(i.m. The Australian Light Horse Regiments)

 

by Trevor Bailey

Who’s fully equipped for battle, you ask?

Who’s ready to go on a spree?

Who’s willing to test their mettle, you ask?

Who’s ready to fight for the free?

 

When Full Marching Order is Dress of the Day,

The Field Service Manual requires

A saddle and bridle and dread of the fray

That only hard training defies;

 

A sword in a scabbard, and one picket peg,

A bit and a bucket of cloth,

One rope for a necklace and one for the leg,

So none can flee from the wrath

 

Of the hunger and heat, of thirst and the flies,

Of bullets and bayonets as well,

Of the shrapnel and cannon, and smoke in the eyes,

That make for a living hell.

 

Who’s fully equipped for battle, you ask?

Who’s ready to go on a spree?

Who’s willing to test their mettle, you ask?

Who’s ready to fight for the free?

 

Field dressings, a rifle, and two bandoliers –

One strapped ‘cross the Waler’s chest –

A great coat, a mess tin, and O! three cheers!

For a bedroll (to grab at some rest);

 

A hay net, a horse brush, a nosebag with grain,

A case for two horseshoes and nails,

A canteen for water – though nothing for pain

But mateship, and all that entails:

 

A mateship among men that’s shared with the horse,

Two partners their country did send

To battle, to skirmish, to stay the one course,

Where God only knows the end.

 

Who’s fully equipped for battle, you ask?

Who’s ready to die on a spree?

Who’s willing to test their mettle, you ask?

Who’s ready to die for thee?

 

Wagga Wagga, 4/3/20 , 15/2/21               © Trevor Bailey 2021

About Trevor Bailey

 

A former policeman from South Australia, Trevor is today a government lawyer in the Riverina who has loved horses since a teenager. He lives with his wife and assorted animals on a small farm. His verse has been published in Quadrant, Meanjin, The NSW Bar News, and Spur, the magazine of the Australian Light Horse Association. He has been a member of the Riverina Light Horse Troop since 2019.

 

This photo of him in full LH regalia was taken in the front paddock on Anzac Day 2020. The Australian red ensign was still our national flag during WW1.