PRIVATE SAMUEL ERNEST CRANE
20TH APRIL 1918 AGE 35
BURIED: ARNEKE BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
Samuel Ernest Crane was a veteran of the South African War who re-enlisted in March 1915 and was given the rank of corporal. He served in Gallipoli, where he was wounded and hospitalised in England. He spent a year in England, training soldiers once he'd recovered, and being promoted to the rank of sergeant. However, he wanted to return to the front and was prepared to be reduced to the rank of private to achieve this. He served with the 6th Battalion Australian Infantry and was wounded in both legs on 16 April 1918. He died in a Casualty Clearing Station four days later.
His inscription comes from a poem called 'My Land and I' (1903), written by Henry Lawson (1867-1922). Lawson was one of the most famous and popular of all Australian writers, revered as someone who "represented the real voice of Australia". It was a voice that would have preferred Australia to be 'white'. Sites that feature his poetry today come with a warning that:
"the phrasings used in his lifetime were correct for his time period in that the usage of terms not regarded as "politically correct" today were quite acceptable at that time and were not regarded as "offensive".
'My Land and I' is a savage attack on the sort of people who insisted that Australia was dead, finished. This is the last verse.
The parasites dine at your tables spread
(As my enemies did at mine),
And they croak and gurgle, 'Australia's dead'
While they guzzle Australian wine.
But we heed them never, my land, my land,
For we know how small they are,
And we see the signs of a future grand
As we gaze on a rising star.