"Ned" King of Bataan

A Poem by General William E Brougher, Commander, 11th Division, Philippine Army

Ned King of Bataan
I’ll sing you a song of a soldier
I’ll tell you a tale of a man
A song I’ll sing of Old Ned King…
Ned King of doomed Bataan!

So prepare for thrills and heartaches
And prepare to shed some tears;
I’ll tell you a tale that cannot fail
To jar your jaded ears.

You plain John Does and GI Joes,
You wailing Sal and Sue,
Ned King turned up the bitter cup
And drained the dregs for you.

You post war boys with all your noise,
You homesick amateurs,
Ned King’s the chap who took the rap
And did his time and yours.

You chronic haters and “brass hat” baiters,
Now listen here to me,
Ned King was tried and crucified
That you may still be free.

Ned King was a gentleman born
With riches of heart and head,
A soldier and scholar, he scorned the dollar
And chose the service instead.

He ranked with the best of his time,
He met the Army’s needs,
In courage and brains and all that pertains
To the best the Service breeds.

Distinction had marked him soon
And merit had gained his star,
In school and camp he bore the stamp
Of one who must go far.

Grim Fate, the crafty old witch,
Was pranking with Ned’s career;
She was shifting the scenes in the Philippines
In the grim and fateful year.

She should have been shot at sunrise
The furtive and fickle old hag,
She was shuffling her cards and fixing the odds
For someone to hold the bag.

MacArthur was marked for Olympus
And Skinny was called to the Rock,
So Ned was the man to go to Bataan
And weather the withering shock.

A lifetime of waiting and work
High purpose that nothing could hinder,
Cards stacked in advance and Ned had his chance
To take command… and surrender!

The fate of Democracy’s General
The lot of the hapless Defender,
The cards were stacked, the jury was packed
And Ned was the first to surrender,

On a bit of a pestilent strip
Of tropical jungle land,
Starvation, disease, and mad Japanese
Were besieging the men of Bataan.

The Jap was poised for the kill,
He’d mopped up Singapore,
He has tasted the blood and found it good
And was licking his chops for more.

The fever got half of the men
In the wake of the winging pest,
While dysentery and beri-beri
Were doing for half the rest.

The men were willing to fight,
And all they had they’d give,
But the hollow shell where the main blow fell
Was weak as a rusty sieve.

The Jap was strong and bold,
His vict’ry was quickly won…
The end of the story and proud “Old Glory”
Must bow to the rising sun.

The horns of dilemma, cruel and sharp,
The heart of the General impale;
Surrender or fight? Well, neither was right
And any solution would fail.

Remember the Alamo friends,
And Christ in the Garden of Sorrow,
Then think of Ned while his tossed his bed
With thoughts of the sad tomorrow.

In the history of American arms
Since the day of the Nations birth,
The Yankee was proud his flag had bowed
To none on the face of the earth.

But when nothings to gain by fighting
And hope no longer survives,
Commanders must face the risk of disgrace
To save their soldiers lives.

Escape was open to Ned, of course
The way that shirkers go,
A steel jacket ball would end it all
And smash his cup of woe.

But Ned was not the kind
To dodge a dreaded task;
“God make me strong to do no wrong,”
Was all that he would ask.

So Ned went down on his knees
And wrestled with his God;
When morning broke he scarcely spoke
But gave his staff a nod.

A nod to his faithful staff,
And one last smile perhaps,
Then rose to his feet and taking a sheet
Went out to meet the Japs.

Click for photos:
General King and the surrender
General King Memorial

 

Poem courtesy of Robert Hudson  http://www.bataanson.blogspot.com/

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