South Australians at War
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future



Commemoration and Creative Responses : Literature : By veterans

Poetry composed by veterans provides a record of their reflection on the experience of war, and its impact on their civilian life. South Australian Vietnam veterans contributed to a collection of poetry, through a project funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs. A selection of these poems was published in 1992 in Sorrow is knowledge : poetry from the Vietnam War.

In his poem Confusion Phil Lamb describes the difficulties Vietnam veterans faced in adjusting to civilian life,

'To fight for a grateful country'. Those were the word that were used.
'And when yer get back you'll be heroes on the six o'clock news.'
But we weren't, we were spat on, called 'child killer' and abused
What kind of welcome home is that
No wonder we're bloody confused.

The State Library's published and archival collections include many histories of individual units, such as Purple and blue : the history of the 2/10th Battalion, A.I.F. (The Adelaide Rifles), 1939-1945, as well as personal memoirs compiled by South Australians whose lives have been touched by war in some way, such as Blue orchids and Two years too long : a "Nasho" in Vietnam.

Progress to denial : a poem : [extract]
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Sorrow is knowledge : poetry from the Vietnam War : [ex
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