On the Sanananda Beach

The palm trees sway at the close of day On the Sanananda Beach. A cloud-filled sky bids the sun good-bye Beyond the jungle’s reach. Each swirling wave seems to engrave A pattern on the sands; A silent word, unseen, unheard, Cut out by nature’s hands.

A shadow falls and a wild bird calls To the sinking sun and the sea, The fast fading light, and the still of the night Bring a breath of a mystery. The bird’s call stops and the night breeze drops, And an awful stillness reigns; A soothing calm like a healing balm But the sound of the sea remains.

As if in a dream, there comes a wild scream, As aeroplanes roar overhead; With bombs and with fire, they leave a huge pyre, For wounded bodies and dead. The jungle recesses and lost wildernesses Resound to the battle’s affray; The earth splits asunder, and echoes like thunder, Roll onward and echo away.

Far into the night continues the fight, And the noise of the struggle is heard, Where silence was breathless and stillness once deathless, Excepting the call of the bird. After ages, at last the battle is past, The noise and the action no more The trees maimed and broken, a grim tragic token Of the terrible havoc of war.

A soft quietness steals and the moonlight reveals The result of this death-dealing game; The sky rains its dew, as if all nature too Were weeping with pity and shame. An unseen hand has sketched on the sand A pattern just out of reach, Of many a wave that flows o’er a grave On the Sanananda Beach.

By Pte. C. R. Shaw, Q126475

Submitted by Staff Sergeant Jeremy C. Mann, USAF. His grandfather was in the U.S. Army and served in Australia and New Guinea during WW2. He passed away in 1994 and the typed poem written by an Australian soldier was found among his personal effects.


AWM 079651. Sanananda, New Guinea. 1943-05. A number of wrecked beached Japanese landing barges remaining from an attempted invasion.