Tuesday 13 January 2009 by Pen Roberts. 4 comments
Personal Stories, New acquisitions, Collection, Ephemera

When Kevin Wakefield found himself in an icy Canadian landscape, many miles from sunny Australia, he wrote a poem to express his feelings of homesickness. Sixty years later, one of the original hand-written copies of ‘My Home Land Far Away' has now been donated to the Memorial.

 

Poem written by Kevin Wakefield while on the Empire Training Scheme in Canada. He was there from October 1943 to February 1944. (Souvenirs: Poetry: 15/2/1) Poem written by Kevin Wakefield while on the Empire Training Scheme in Canada. He was there from October 1943 to February 1944. (Souvenirs: Poetry: 15/2/1)

Kevin was trained as a pilot in Canada as part of the Empire Training Scheme. Operating from 1940 to 1944, the Scheme trained over twenty thousand Australian airmen. On completion of his training in February 1944, Kevin was sent to England and flew with RAF Squadrons as a fighter pilot until the end of the war.

Second World War portrait of 36094 Flying Officer Kevin Wakefield. (Image courtesy of the Wakefield family) Second World War portrait of 36094 Flying Officer Kevin Wakefield. (Image courtesy of the Wakefield family)

We would like to acknowledge the role Kevin's granddaughter Shanrah has played in actuating this donation. Believing in the significance of this poem, she notified the Memorial of its existence. From a collection point of view, original hand-written poetry by serving Australian servicemen and women tends to be fairly rare. We particularly liked the fact that when Kevin wrote his poem some sixty years ago, he had used Canadian YMCA note paper. The stationery thus directly links his poem to his experiences on the Empire Training Scheme.

Shanrah with her grandfather Kevin. (Image courtesy of the Wakefield family) Shanrah with her grandfather Kevin. (Image courtesy of the Wakefield family)

Here are the words of Kevin Wakefield's poem ‘My Home Land Far Away':

There is a sunny land far, far away

And there I long to return again, some future day.

It is a land of rain and drought and heat

Of sturdy cattle, sheep and golden wheat.

It's a land of many changing moods

Where, in its centre, a lonely silence broods

But there at night the stars glow and shine

Shedding their radiance o'er that land of mine.

Upon her sunlit peaks my thoughts often dwell

And she will, I know, forever hold me in her spell

But never would I have it any other way

As she is all the world to me, that land so far away.

Her plains stretch to the far distant horizon,

White with heat and shimmering mirages so common.

The winding rivers twist and turn on their way,

Not hurrying yet never deigning to stay.

Along the rugged coastline that shields this glorious land

Are broken inlets and beaches of golden sand.

Here the mighty oceans heave, churn and break

With white capped foaming surf riding in their wake.

Little wonder it is called "the land of the free",

This great South Continent surrounded by sea.

Never will the nations consider her a failure

For she has earned her place among them, this youngster, Australia.

Comments

Bob Meade

It's a pretty good poem. Thanks to Kevin and Shanrah. I wonder if he has any more poems tucked away, not neccessarily war related?

Shanrah Wakefield

Hi Bob. I just passed on your question to Grandpa. This is his one and only poem, written because he felt the inspiration/need to write it in that time and place... for the therapeutic value of writing, perhaps? I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it!

Bob Meade

Thanks Shanrah. That makes this poem all the more special.

Pauline Powell

Very Moving Poem.. He really put his heart on his sleve. He has found the words to describe the Australia I love... Thanks for sharing Kevins lovely thoughts.