July 8, 2013

Poet and Vietnam veteran Bill Charlton, from Sydney, has penned a special poem which will be premiered at next month’s Vietnam Veterans’ Day service in Kingaroy.

The poem, “Keith Payne VC OAM”, is a tribute to the guest speaker at the August 18 service, Victoria Cross winner Keith Payne OAM.

Mr Charlton has presented a copy of the poem to Kingaroy RSL member Barry Krosch who plans to have it framed and presented to Mr Payne.

Also in attendance on the day will be Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington and South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann.

Vietnam veterans will assemble on the western side of Memorial Park at 10:00am before marching to the Rotunda.

The lament will be played on didgeridoo by Robert Robinson, who will also play the Last Post and Reveille on  trumpet.

The National Anthem will be sung by Susan Dowideit-Reiger.

Another poem by Bill Charlton, “Long Tan”, will also be read during the service.

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Bill Charlton at Bien Hoa in 1966

A little bit about Bill Charlton …

Bill Charlton joined the Australian Regular Army at age 19 and served with the 1 RAR from May 1965 to June 1966.

The deaths of 21 soldiers from his battalion had a lifelong effect on his character and like many of his counterparts he had a hard time adjusting to civilian life after his departure from the Australian Army in 1968.

It took him until 1998, and a lot of coaxing from his wife Robyn, to produce some of his hidden poetic talent, and when he entered the Roland Robinson Literary Awards For Poetry at his first attempt he gained Third Prize with his poem ‘”Two White Hankies”.

From this point on he continued writing about things he knew. The heroics of men from his Army days inspired him to greater lengths.

He continued writing until he had enough for his first book of 50 poems,  “A Rugged Bunch Of Diggers”.

The enthusiasm shown for this book caused him to write a second in the series.

One of his proudest moments was when his poem, “Unsung Heroes”, was mounted in the ground  beside a memorial for fallen musicians  in Victoria in 2011.

His poem “In The Mud Of The Somme” was read by the Royal British Legion at The Windmill, Pozieres on Anzac Day 2012.

He now has written more than 1000 poems.

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