THE HELL BEYOND: ballad of Rowdy Sloan

Cory Bernardi
Cory Bernardi
THE HELL BEYOND: ballad of Rowdy Sloan

Here's a wonderful poem by Harry Moffitt, the author of 11 Bats. Harry served in the ADF for three decades including 20 years in the SAS.

A man sure walks slow
Might each step be ya last
It can steal the mind quickly
And harden ya heart

You yearn for your family
And you long for your wife
And all you are missing
From a wonderful life

But out here I’m a soldier
And a long way from home
And I gave up those comforts
A long time ago

Out here in the dirt
And the heat and the dry
There’s no time for nostalgia
Lest it bluntens your mind

Just then I looked round
And I caught Rowdy’s eyes
It snapped me back quicker
Than he raised up his sights

And he squeezed off two rounds
From behind a mud wall
As I dived to my guts
And I started to crawl

As the cornfields erupted
Shit scared with self-doubt
My throat was bone dry
And me heart filled me mouth

As the shots cracked around us
I remember the high
But it wasn’t excitement
I was just terrifying

The steel tore through clothing
Mud walls, trees, and flesh
And I emptied a mag
Towards nothing at best

And as I crawled forward
And looked through me sights
I turned and saw Rowdy
Give a wink and a smile

He shouted ‘WITH ME’
As he sprung to his feet
With his gun up and firing
Out into the green

And the dirt all around him
Like rain on a pond
As he made his way into
The hell just beyond

We got up and followed
Through machine guns and fire
I remember the dust
As the grit cut me eyes

We battled and fought
Through the streets, maize and mud
And when I reached Rowdy
He was covered in blood

I crawled up beside him
And lay by his side
Not sure it was sweat
Or tears stinging his eyes

He grabbed for my hand
And he winced through a smile
As the din all around him
Fell silent and quiet

The bird dusted off
Me best mate in a bag
As I licked at a rolly
And we passed round a drag

We picked up and moved
We were dog tired and beat
We were dreaming awake
And walking asleep

And as I sat with a beer
Looking over the dasht
I drank and pondered
The shit day we’d had

But nothing like Rowdy’s
So I raised up me glass
And I whispered to old mate
It was over too fast

And I’ve tried to forget
How I’ve tried
The day me best mate
Put his life on the line

1942: ode to Ted Bell

A sail on Sydney harbour
Looking for adventure
The sun is warm
Sky is summer blue

I don’t know why there’s laughter
Cause we’re headed for disaster
And laughin’
Is the last thing we should do

We’re headed for New Guinea
And the Owen Stanley ranges
The green and rain
The likes we’d never viewed

The Japs were kickin’ arses
They were giving us a beatin’
And so it was
In 1942

But nobody really won
It just left us all in pieces
And sometimes
That’s all we had left to chew

And when it was all but done
And our mothers had lost their sons
We headed home
To have a beer or two

And as the politicians gathered
None us seem to matter
The filibustering
Was nothing new

But me and me mates we talk true blue
And I’ll tell you a thing or two
There’s nothing here
To celebrate with you

Now me grandson’s on me lap
And I aint never going back
For me
There’s no more killing left to do

But I’m sure that wars not done
Australia’s got a lot of sons
And soon enough
We’ll send them off to blue

SEVEN BROTHERS (return from Fromelles)


We pulled in to the township
And we parked our car outside
I looked in through the window
And I caught the publicans eye

It seems that we was welcome
But we must be sure our wares
So I fumbled through me pay-check
To ensure we could prove our share

And as we breached the bar-room
At Her Majesty’s Hotel
I tinkered with a beer mat
As I settled for a spell

And we order a triple o pints all night
And we danced like Fred Astaire
Singing “Hold the line …”
At last without a care


I could see that there’d be trouble
From the moment they arrived
They were thirsting for a drenching
And a fixing for a fight

And after a couple of games of darts
And a couple too many pints
I called up to the station
To warn out constable Smythe

One ordered a bottle of whiskey
And another one struck a light
They sang “Hold the line …”
As the big one threw a right


By the time the plod arrived
It was on for young and old
There was whiskey in the gravy
And the cigarettes were cold

And the last thing I remember
Was my brothers’ order “Hold the line …”
As we lost the fight
But not our smile

As we pulled up at the station
They were waiting there outside
I looked out through the window
And I caught the constable’s ire

I could see we was expected
By the billys in their hands
And the beating that they gave us
As we struggled from the van

And it wouldn’t be the first
We’d been locked up in a cell
Since we’d all came home from Flanders
Where our seven brothers fell

But if ever the truth is to be told
They shall not, as we will, grow old
Nor hold the line
God rest their souls

Eleven Bats
Booktopia has Eleven Bats, A story of combat, cricket and the SAS by Anthony ‘Harry’ Moffitt. Buy a discounted Paperback of Eleven Bats online from Australia’s leading online bookstore.

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