Charles Richard Trick - Life and Times


In my father's effects there was part of an old notebook or scribbler containing several hand-written poems. They are all in my Dad's writing, but there is no indication who actually composed them. There is one exception: A Prisoner's Return is credited to RSM Keenan.

These poems in themselves are an illuminating documentary of life in the far East during the war. Well worth a read.

In some cases I had to guess at the words, so the transcriptions may not be exact.

If anyone has any information as to the author of any of these poems, please contact me. It is quite possible that Dad wrote some himself, but I never saw this side of him as I grew up.

Forgotten Men

In a camp of Nip a barracks lost deep in the Phillipines

Are a bunch of forgotten warriors with nothing left but dreams

We are fighting a greater battle than the one we fought and lost

It's a battle against the elements, a battle of life that cost

Some came through that awful torture of days and nights of hell

In the struggle for the "Rock" where many a brave man fell

But it's not how much you know or how quick you hit the ditch

It's not the rank that once you held or whether you're poor or rich

No one cares who you know back home or what kind of a life you led

It's just how long you can stick it out that governs your life instead

This battle we're fighting at present is against flies, mosquitoes and disease

But with decent living conditions we could win this fight with ease

It's rice for breakfast noon and night; it rains most every day

We sleep on bamboo slats at night; we've no better place to lay

We eat from any old tin can that we're lucky enough to get

And the medicine we should have we haven't seen as yet

We're forgotten men of Corregidor fighting for bare existence

Through hunger, sickness and sweat

Those of us who do come through perhaps can prove our worth

When we tell the strangest tale yet told of a terrible Hell on earth

Corregidor Isle

I lived a while on Corregidor Isle, oh that sunkist God-cursed land

Where bomb and shell made life a hell with death on either hand

Then I got the thirst of the cursed with no water to be had

I heard men scream in that hellish dream and watched my friends go mad

Tis no man's fault, the water's salt or that the food is gone

Or that the guns are manned by men damned to face death with every dawn

Some hold their breath and wait the death that comes with bursting shell

As bombers moan something of home or what they will do in hell

When our bones blend with the stones you'll hear the parrots cry

Those men who owned those splendid bones were not afraid to die

The Redeemed

I saw him pass from the busy press

Of a downtown street in his battle dress

Swinging his arms as he marched along

Whistling the Beer Barrel Polka song

Head held high and the rhythmic beat

Of his bob-nailed shoes on the busy street

Steady his eyes and his face of tan

And I knew that my country had made a man


I thought of his years just after school

When his only attention was dice and pool

Then later a date with a jitterbug Jane

Poker and cards and the sucker's game

Bootleg gin and a 2 bit flop

He has gone on the road where it's hell to stop

When it's all down hill and a one way track

And a damned high grade on the long way back


I thought of our leaders of bygone years

Raving of freedom their dread and their fears

Of teaching boys war forbidding them drill

Claiming it gave them the best to kill

And our boys were denied oh God the sin

To walk in order and discipline


So our jobless lad just joined a gang

While our preachers preached and church bells rang

Our leaders' clubs I can hear them yet

Condemning with horror the school cadet

And mouthing the sacrifice tiresome prate

Of a uniform teaching the boys to hate

Don't let us forget we're all to blame

For a neglected youth and a nation's shame


So today he passed and he'll never guess

How splendid he looked in his battle dress

Swinging his arms as he tramped on by

Singing his song with his head held high

Marching to glory with rifle and kit

One in a million to do his bit

I stood on there with my shoulders straight

As he passed from sight through the station gate

Perhaps he'll come back when his battle's won

Praise to God My Son My Son


December the seventh a Sunday noon

We packed up our kits in the camp in Kowloon

While cursing manoeuvres as all soldiers will

The garrison throbs with expectants thrill

Intangible tension prevails the still air

And every Canuck is alert and aware

While back at the border behind the Grey Town

The brown hills of China stare hatefully down


Kowloon's on the mainland as most of you know

The ferry to Hong Kong is painfully slow

We disembark swiftly and swing down the street

A faint sense of urgency hastens our feet

We climb up to "Wanchai" with never a stop

To man battle stations on reaching the top

We're facing the border the heavy guns frown

On the brown hills of China behind the Grey Town


The Colony hums like an overturned hive

For the Hong Kong defenders are looking alive

Preparing positions, extracted intact

From the head of some General vacuum packed

We glance at the mainland with questioning eyes

While over the border the sun's setting down

Beneath the brown hills of China behind the Grey Town


Strike tents is the order, so we comply

And slumber uneasily under the sky

The stars shine serenely as never before

And wink their denials of rumours of war

The frontiers are quiet no strident alarm

Then why do we fear for our comrades in arms

Who guard on the Border the land of the crown

And the brown hills of China behind the Grey Town


Awaken Canucks ere the thunder of war

Roll through hills looking blackly ashore

Waken to drink with a courage that's met

Canada's share in the gall of defeat

Fate on the morrow will hand you the cup

At five in the morning the curtain goes up

Bursting the border the foe will pour down

Through the brown hills of China behind the Grey Town

A Mother's Letter

You may write a thousand letters to a girl you adore

And declare in every letter you love her more and more

You may praise her grace and beauty in a thousand glowing lines

And compare her "eyes austere" with the brightest star that shines

If you had the pen of Shakespeare you would use it every day

In composing written worship to a sweetheart far away


Youthful blood is flaming when you're writing to your love

You will rave about devotion swearing by the stars above

Raving by the moon's white splendour to the girl you adore

'Tis the one you'll cherish as no maid was loved before

You'll penful many a promise on pages white and dumb

That you can not live up to in the married years to come


But a letter far more precious bringing more and sweeter bliss

Is the one penned to mother from the lad she longs to kiss

She's the best friend you've had no matter what you say

She'll always hear you calling be it night or day

Your Dad may turn against you, your brothers and sisters too

But your Mother she'll stand by you no matter what you do

Her dear old heart is thinking each night she breathes a prayer

That God will bless her darling and be with him everywhere

Her heart grows more tender as her hair turns to gray

So sit down boys and send her a line today

Regardless of dictation its spelling or its style

Although its composition may provoke a critic's smile

She will read it very often when the lights are soft and low

Sealed in some corner where she nursed you long ago

In her old and trembling fingers it becomes a work of art

Stained with tears of gladness as she breathes God Bless his heart

Yes a letter of all   ?? look wherever you may roam

Is a letter to a mother of a dear son far from home

Call of the West


I'm sick of the Chink and the Tartar

I'm sick of the Jap and Malay

And far away spots on the maps are

No place for yours truly to stay

I've had enough undersized chicken

And milk that comes from a can

The East is no region to stay in

For this one particular man

I'm weary of curry and rice

All mingled with highly spiced dope

I'm weary of bathing in Lysol

And washing with carbolic soap

I'm tired of skin itch diseases

Mosquitoes and vermin and flies

I'm fed up with tropical breezes

And sunshine that dazzles the eyes

Oh Lord for a wind with a tingle

An atmosphere zestful and keen

Oh Lord once again to mingle

With crowds that are white and clean

To eat without fear of infection

To sleep without using a net

I'll throw away all my collection

Of iodine, Quinine, etc

To hear all the noise and the clamour

The hurry and fret of the west

I'll trade all the Orient's glamour

Those damn lying poets suggest

They sing of the East so enthralling

That's why I started to roam

But I hear the occident calling

Oh Lord but I want to go home

Ode to a Can of M&V

Oh little can of M&V shipped to us across the sea

From Argentina's sunny shore, where there's herds of beef galore

Where peas and beans and carrots grow with corn and potatoes row on row

Oh M&V, Oh M&V you're the answer to a prisoner's plea

When the dark clouds shine their silver lining

I'll see your label brightly shining

A message of cheer to a prisoner of war

Who is hungry and weary, hungry and sore

Oh M&V I've waited oh so long for thee

I've dreamed of you meat so tender and good

When my empty stomach cries out for food

And now at last you grace our board

For M&V I thank the lord

I'll cut you open with a knife

To me you are the Staff of life

I hold you in my trembling hands

And sniff your fragrance oh so grand

I'll eat you slowly chew you well

I'm happy now in spite of Hell

And when you're gone I'll not forget

I'll have your memory with me yet

Your can I'll wash out for a tray

To hold my butts for a rainy day

Each time I look at you I'll grin

Although your but an empty tin

Hurrah for peas beans and corn

Hurrah for mines that produce tin

To held your luscious contents in

Hurrah for the Red Cross and may God Bless

The man who invented the canning process


A Prisoner's Return

Who's that strange man, mother, sitting down there

With his chapstick and sandals and short clipped hair

Why can't he set at a table and eat like one of us

He keeps on mumbling "Kysang" does that mean a cuss?

He talks about his "feekaes" and "Krotski" as well

And this morning he yelled "Tenko there goes the bell"

Why don't he sleep on a bed instead on the floor?

And he goes to bed in a rain coat- what's that for?


Hush! hush! child he's your father he'll be allright before long

You see he was a soldier and went out to Hong Kong

He learned those funny habits while a prisoner in Nippon

He's quite harmless child so run along and climb upon his knee

And say "ohio" papa, "Taksan and Yerashi"

He'll soon be back to normal and forget about Japan

And we'll be happy ever after and there'll be no more Ryrang


O.C. Keenan
Winnipeg Grenadiers


They'll turn us out to pasture now

We've earned a bit of clover

To factory, office, farm and plow

The bloody war is over


We have shared the hellish China trip

We have borne a lot together

The most enduring fellowship

Is made in stormy weather


If when your discharge sets you free

You roam to distant places

We hope you see in memory

Our starving North Point faces


Most of us will meet I think

To greet each year that passes

At least it's an excuse to drink

A few too many glasses


We gave our country duty pure

No bravado flaunting

We leave her service proudly sure

She has not found us wanting


And if again the call goes forth

Again you'll find me riding

Yes riding to the frozen North

To seek a place of hiding


They issue all their other stores

In such begrudging fashion

The scale of issue for these wars

Should be a single ration


So I'll ignore the call of war

Recruiting Sergeants yelping

The brainless bore that asks for more

Deserves a second helping


There's a bloke who hears the wireless

He goes outside the wire

His news is quite authentic, I know he's not a liar

The news he heard this morning came from the BBC

The bulletin I'll tell you is what he told to me

For the sixth time in succession Heir Hitler throws it in

The Russians are advancing, there's chaos in Berlin

The war is at a standstill there's civil war in France

The Japs are retreating, they haven't got a chance

Wavell up in Burma is doing very well

Although he's still retreating he giving Nippon hell

The Yanks have taken Java, Sumatra won't be long

We've occupied New Guinea, that bit I might have wrong

Churchill in a broadcast said in 1944

Old England will be ready to wage a major war

The Dagoe's down and beaten, Rommel's on the run

He's fighting round Bengazi the war is good as won

Peace terms have been submitted we'll all soon be released

And be home about Sept if this bloke can be believed

This news he heard this morning came from the BBC

And the bulletin I've told you is what he told to me

Bayonet Charge

Machine guns mowed the slopes with death

In angry bursts which spelled defeat

And blasted by that hated breath

They fall as hail cuts down the wheat

Still stubbornly they press the strife

For well they know their cause is just

They fight for things more dear than life

The rights of men are in their trust

Upwards inch by inch they toil

For die they may but win they must


Now from their steel the foe recoil

Butt Thrust Parry and Thrust

And suddenly they have won their ground

A transient triumph all too fleet

But glory has a hollow sound

That charge with victory complete

Became their haven seldom found

In the bitter bread of self-defeat

Old Hitler

I'll tell you a story now strange it may seem

Of Hitler the ? astonishing dream

He lay in a coffin a forgotten cast

And found that his passport to heaven ? last

But still up to heaven Old Hitler went straight

And proudly he goosestepped to the Golden Gate

But the angel on guard said in a voice loud and clear

Said on your way Hitler you can't come in here

Old Hitler replied at least you are civil

I suppose that means I can go to the devil

But Satan said Boys I'm giving you warning

I'm expecting Old Hitler the Nazi this morning

Now Adolf was listening and shivered with fear

Oh Satan, Oh Satan, the poor fellow cried

I heard what you said while standing outside

Please give me a corner, I've nowhere to go

But Satan cried a thousand times no

He kicked old Hitler's paradise and he vanished in smoke

And just at that moment he ? awoke

He was lying in bed all covered with sweat

Yelling Dr oh Dr, the worst night yet

I can't go to heaven I know that quite well

But it's damned ? lines to get kicked out of Hell


I watched the sun this morning rise

And pure light to overcast skies

A bird flew lazily overhead

And sound the land to mourn the dead

Deep in "Batan" we know not where

Our soldiers breathe the enchanting air

And hope that someday they may see

A country that is great and free

They stand with vigor and with pride

To hold and win a countrys' side

In God they trust and know that this

Will see them through the midst

Of he who thought to break our will

And make us yield and not to kill

And know that in our heart there runs

A blood and fire that is never outdone

He should have known that sword and gun

Could never conquer our native sons

Nuttin' but Mutton

The "C" Force Brigade was a hard one to beat

They knew how to fight and they knew how to eat

With a natural love for Canadian meat

And a hearty abhorrence for Mutton

Vancouver to Hong Kong the voyage was stark

The ship "Awatea" with secrets so dark

Three species of beasts filled this Noah's Ark

They were Grenadiers, Rifles and Mutton


We scrambled aboard her poor innocent draft

None knew what provisions were stored in the craft

The Aussies had packed her forward and aft

The portholes were juttin' with Mutton

Many a tough sheep is asleep in the deep

That died of old age and storage is cheap

We eat it all day then weep in our sleep

The sheep that we counted was Mutton


A mutton chop for breakfast we managed to munch

They followed this up with boiled mutton for lunch

Stewed mutton for supper just strengthened our hunch

That our meals would be nuttin' but Mutton

Sheep boiled, roasted, stewed and fried

Our looks became sheepish, our patience was tried

Poor "C" Force was wilting cause Canadian pride

Just couldn't keep struttin' on Mutton

Rank, rotten and ripe was the redolent smell

As nauseous and gaseous as vapors from Hell

We pictured 5th columnists ringing a bell

Or pressing a button for mutton


A Grenadier swears that perhaps he was drunk

The odor of sheep was so strong in his bunk

He took out his clasp knife and cut off a chunk

And lay there just cuttin' up mutton

Oh bitter the ache for Canadian hams

We boarded like lions and landed like lambs

Australia knows where it can jam up the rams

Our cookhouse is shuttin' on mutton


It was thus our demoralization began

Complete in defeat with our war with Japan

We acted like sheep and some of us ran

And lost all our gutton on mutton

You may search through the ranks of "C" Force Brigade

For a lover of mutton and I'm not afraid

To bet all the wages I've ever been paid

That you won't find a glutton for Mutton


(Bowen Rd Hospital

POW Hong Kong)

Original page (PDF)

Malayan Melodrama

Rattle, sputter, crackle and stutter

Lewis guns and Brens all around

Bofors, mortars, ack-ack barrage

Help to swell the hellish sound


Overhead the Nippons war planes

Fill the sky with angry roars

Lie down flat you silly bleeders

This is what the world calls war


Men upon their bellies creeping

Through the rubber and the palm

Hungry dry bereft of sleeping

Knowing not a moments calm


Wading through marsh and swampland

Clothing stiff with mud and gore

On they go these helpless victims

Victims of the Gods of war


All around the men are dying

Fathers, brothers, husbands, sons

Some are dead and some are dying

Victims all of bombs and guns


Gasping groaning crying and moaning

Is this nature in the raw

No it's simply bloody murder

History books just call it war


Bleached and bloated stinking corpses

Lie unburied all around

Ants and flies and loathsome maggots

Use them for a breeding ground


They have died to save an Empire

Don't for God's sake ask what for

They were simply slain and butchered

In a Democratic war


While at home in Sendens (?) clubland

See ticker tapes flash in

Sharp declines united rubber

Down 10 points Malayan tin


Damn it I shall lose a packet

Lucky I've got plenty more

Waiter bring a double brandy

Yes! My Master this is war

Boys in Hospital

Cheer up you bums whatever comes

Just keep your chins up high

Help your chums and raise your thumbs

Let good cheer be your battle cry


This cussed war will soon be over

And sickness left behind

You'll hear no more the bombers roar

And peace at home you'll find


Just think of life with home and wife

And children round the door

Where surgeons knives and wounds and strifes

Can trouble you no more


You've got the guts you bunch of nuts

You jolly leather-necked Canucks

Life's full of ruts and kicks and cuts

But ride no matter how she bucks


Your stay out here may be quite drear

And you think it's a rotten shame

But never fear there's love and cheer

For the man who plays the game


So look ahead tho you're in the red

You're too damn tough to die

You've faced hot lead, and you're still not dead

Your luck is riding high


Your belly's weak and diseases sneak

Upon you in the night

The Doctor speaks of your narrow squeak

And says you put up a good fight


So cheer up I say, there'll come a day

When dreams will all come true

And we'll all be gay when we sail away

To the loved ones of me and you

HK Prison Blues

We're prisoners of war on the isle of Hong Kong

And hoping to God that it won't last long

Cause it's a hell of a place to be

It's hard on the morale

In a bloomin' corral

For a man that's always been free


I've got the Hong Kong blues

And the soles are off my shoes

My uniform is one big ragged tear

I've got the Hong Kong blues


And I'm longing for some news

Of the Homeland and the ones who really care

As I sit and scoff my rice

And scratch the bloomin' lice

That are camping in my underwear


Sure I'd trade my very soul

For some baccy, for a roll

To sort of ease the gnawing hunger there

So I'll pull my belt in tighter

And I feel a whole lot lighter


As the time drags on from day to day

Oh the flies are here in hordes

And my bed is hardwood boards

That hurt my blasted bones no matter how I lay


Now I appreciate it fully

When they mix a can of bully

With my Chinese wedding cake

I'm so happy that I'm silly

When they nearly fill my belly

I'm almost scared I'll get a belly ache


Then I go and wander around

With my eyes upon the ground

It's an army game that's known as shooting snipes

I use a needle pointed stick

And I'm very very quick

I can spear a butt or to fill my pipe


Oh I'm hungry and I'm weary

And I don't feel very cheery

And I'm kind of sick of strife and blood

But I've got one big ambition

And if I'm ever in position

I will fight like hell to even up the score


I've got the Hong Kong Blues

And I long for steaks and chews

And I dream of eggs with golden yellow yolks

I've got those Hong Kong prison blues


Oh the smokes that I could use

If I could only write back home and tell the folks

So I think I'll end this little ditty

Cause it really ain't so pretty

And the thoughts and thinking wouldn't go so nice

My guts are all crawling

And I hear a Sergeant howling

"Come and get it. Don't forget it

Come and get your little bowl of rice"

Home Sweet Home

It's five years next September and well do I remember

The call to arms and all that sort of thing

We kissed our wives and girlfriends and other people too

And "Hyakowed" to Jamaica prepared to die or do

Now in Japan we're waiting to hear the last all clear

And back we'll go to Canada to cream puffs, fags and beer

So roll on Stars and Stripes and British bulldog too

And let's go home God damnit I'm fed up and I'm through

"I'll never say Goodbye again" and "I'm dreaming of home"

And the government can go to hell before again I'll roam

Benjo Research

A Japanese benjo's a wonderful place

You climb a steep step then right about face

You must straddle a hole cut in the floor

You undo your buttons (seven or more)

Then when you're ready down you squat

And dump your load, a kind of trial shot

The idea seems with this eastern nation

To get rid of the lot without decoration

Of floors, walls or windows or any such spots

But some of the troops are most God-awful shots


I think the chief reason for this seems to be

That when a man suffers at all from "Gari"

The upstep is apt to loosen his freight

And when the door shuts it's a trifle too late

To fiddle with buttons and get down his pants

And get himself set in the orthodox stance

So he just barges in in a hell of a hurry

And everything's done in a state of a flurry

And the three or four colored jobs there that we see

Are conclusive evidence plain as can be

That we as a nation were not built to squat

On our bunkers just like some damned Hotentot

Grumbling Jim

Oh listen well, and I will tell

of Grumbling Jim Tremeer

Who left the charm of a rural farm

And became a Grenadier

He's awful small but he's got the gall

Of a man 3 times his size

He's mostly sad but when he's mad

Blue fire shoots from his eyes


His hair is thin, he just can't grin

His age is close to forty

He's got a mug like a broken jug

His manners gruff and snorty

He can't be gay it's not his way

He's awful full of woe

He must be tough or sure enough

He'd died a year ago


We're prisoners of war a year or more

But Jim hasn't changed a bit

He looks just as dour and gloomy and sour

And each day has his grumbling fit

When his pals tell a joke he'll sit there and smoke

And his only comment is a growl

When they gave out the humour they sure made a bloomer

For they fitted him out with a howl


But I guess he'll go back with the rest of the pack

I'm sure he's too crabby to die

At the end of the war we'll hear old Jim roar

If he don't get his share of pie

He may fall in love with coddling young dove

But she'll be an old lemon, I fear

A shrewish tart who'll break the heart

Of Grumbling Jim Tremeer




Note: I think I have the right name (Jim Tremeer) as he is listed as a fellow POW


A Japanese benjo's a wonderful place

You climb a steep step then right about face

You must straddle a hole cut in the floor

You undo your buttons (seven or more)

Then when you're ready down you squat

And dump your load, a kind of trial shot

The idea seems with this eastern nation

To get rid of the lot without decoration

Of floors, walls or windows or any such spots

But some of the troops are most God-awful shots


I think the chief reason for this seems to be

That when a man suffers at all from "Gari"

The upstep is apt to loosen his freight

And when the door shuts it's a trifle too late

To fiddle with buttons and get down his pants

And get himself set in the orthodox stance

So he just barges in in a hell of a hurry

And everything's done in a state of a flurry

And the three or four colored jobs there that we see

Are conclusive evidence plain as can be

That we as a nation were not built to squat

On our bunkers just like some damned Hotentot

This one which I've scanned was found in Dad's papers.