"There is a sunny land far, far away ..."
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.
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.
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.
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.