Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Mar 12


I was naive and could not understand,
Why he wept and said he’d never be a man,
For the wounds he bore, that tore him inside,
Were ones that took his manly pride.

He was so young when called to war,
Robbed of love and passion, he cried once more,
He lost his chance, war shut the gate,
To have a partner to love, now it’s far too late.

For he could never have a normal life,
Father a child to a loving wife,
I dressed his wounds tenderly each day,
Feeling so helpless, what could I say?

I’ll not forget this patient, I never could,
For the war destroyed his vital manhood,
This soldier, indeed everyone who fought back then,
Are my personal heroes, each one of them.

Hilda Oakley
Copyright © 17.08.2000


I trained in the New Zealand Army, Royal Nursing Corps.
In 1967 I was a ‘Civvy’ Civilian nurse at Prince Henry Hospital in NSW Australia, where I nursed Australian soldiers who had     returned from Vietnam.  My poem ‘Manhood’ is a poem about a patient I nursed at this hospital.
For a patient, night-time is the enemy, slow and long.
Medication can some-what ease the physical pain, but the mind stays alert.
The vital memories recalled.
When the crying begins, you hold a hand, be compassionate.
You listen and you listen.
The tears flowed and the sobs wracked his body.
Silently I cursed the enemy, I still do thirty years on, for the soldier who shared their  all.

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