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(I was just a kid when I met this man in the very early sixties. He and a mate had called into our farm to see my father — dad had been their platoon sergeant during the Owen Stanley Campaign (Kokoda Trail). Dad told us the story later or at least started to tell us before not being able to continue. He (the ex-soldier) had been in the prone position firing at the Japanese when a bullet had hit him between the eyes near the nose. Because of the position of his head the bullet had passed through his mouth and voice box and out the back of his neck narrowly missing his spinal column. The war was over for him but he made a good recovery apart from a pronounced speech difficulty. )


I met a man who should have been quite dead.
I listened hard to hear the words he said.
He had a scar between his pale blue eyes,
And one upon his neck, of greater size.

He was my father’s friend, he said: “G’day”;
But in a strange and strangled muffled way.
I saw a tear run down my father’s cheek;
It was some time before my dad could speak.

— D.N. O’Brien

(Flag raising ceremony after the capture of Kokoda November 1942. My father, Sgt Allen Noel O’Brien is amongst these men.)