Old Boy’s book of moving poems

May 7, 2021

Barham Ferguson (SPC 1981-86) (formerly known as Barham Fahy).

Love, Life and ANZAC Biscuits is a book of moving poems written by Old Collegian Lieutenant Colonel Barham Ferguson (SPC 1981-86) (formerly known as Barham Fahy) during full-time service in 2012.

Before entering the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Barham attended St Patrick’s College. He saw operational service in Bougainville, Southern Thailand, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Israel and Jordan. Following his retirement from the Army in 2018, Barham continues to serve in the Army Reserve.

Love, Life and ANZAC Biscuits is published by Vivid Publishing, Fremantle.

We proudly reproduce some of Barham’s poems from his book.




A candle burns amongst its like

For another soldier dead.

The chapel grows at first with pride,

And prayers are sung not said.

Time again a flame is lit

Still another record erased.

And still there’s more white candles lit,

For souls they have replaced.

The chapel walls reverberate

With distant falling shells.

As if they warn of unlit candles,

But it’s only time that tells.

Closer by, the tap and knock

Of caskets newly made.

The fresh pine scent of clean new wood,

Will be buried before it fades.

And with them go the hearts and minds

Of family and of friends.

Who’ll never know the pain they felt,

And why it never ends.

But here today, on ANZAC Day

As memories are revived,

We cannot forget all those who fell, 

Nor the handful who survived.

The march continues year on year

To warn of times ahead.

When a candle burns amongst its like,

For another soldier dead.


Darkened Breath

(Dawn Service at Canberra)

Amongst the silent crowd I

Hear only the slow and darkened

Breath of a man deep in thought

 Candles try in vain to light

The corners of his eyes

Where tears once formed and rolled.

Plumes of mist from mouths

Once kissed, fade quickly like

The words that follow them.

Ears under frost wince at

The onslaught of morning brass

And signal the arrival of

Sinking hearts and brand new tears.

Both silence and dawn are

Subtly broken as gunfire warms

The hearts of those who remember

Why rum was once a ration,

For amongst the silent crowd

I hear the slow and darkened breath,

Of those who breathe no more.


Leader’s Prayer 

My Lord

Thank you for today

That I have seen the 

End of it pass quietly.

Help me face tomorrow

With pride and purpose.

Watch over my soldiers

When I cannot,

And help me lead them

When they need it most.

Help me to be sure

Of shot, and decisive on time.

Let me not be blinded

By the severity of my

Daily actions, and may

I never forget the value of life.

Watch over my family

And help me never to 

Take their love for granted.

May I be cognisant and 

Understanding of the 

Needs of others, and

Appreciative when this

Is reciprocated.

Keep me safe in sleep

Than I may serve my

Country well,

At the rising of the sun.



The Padre

To bear a cross of any kind

Is to stand where others fall.

Robes of shepherds often find

A courage beneath it all.

For the flock of man can lose its way

In such a varied and pungent manner.

It takes a certain father figure,

Perhaps, a delicate hammer.

But braver still is the padre’s lot

To guide and somehow aid,

The flock of seagulls bent on way,

And neither can be afraid.

A firmer hand to wield the staff

And an ear not bent by curse.

The chaplain’s remit’s camoflaged,

But without it, it would be worse.

Not every padre’s a ‘fighting Mac’

And not every soldier bleeds,

But the hand of God can steady them

In a crucial time of need.

As neutral as the padres are

They’ll be tested and then tried.

But every soldier in the fight

Will want God on his side.


It Is I, My Lord

It is I, My Lord

It is I who would lead these men to war, so

They may find more opportune times to

Test their steely eyes.

It is I, My Lord,

Who would gamble quietly with the men

As they, with confidence bet heavily on

Themselves, to see this day through

It is I, My Lord

Who would march to their front

So that I may be the first to drown

In the dust of an oncoming unit.

It is I, My Lord

Who would give the word that would

Unite these men in combat, that

They would become the very fists I fight with.

It is I, My Lord

Who would throw my scabbard to the ground

And spring forth knowing my sword would know

no rest, until saving the last, it would break.

It is I, My Lord

Who would stagger in blind fury through

Broken bayonet and dented helmet,

To find my loyal wounded soldiers.

It is I, My Lord,

Who would stand in waters way to

Witness the silent folding of a flag

And turning of ashes to dust.

It is I, My Lord

Who would do this all again

To save just one more life.

One more chance, at love.