Foreword (from the book)
Mike Subritzky served some 25 years in the New Zealand Armed Forces and is one of only two Kiwis' to have served in the regular force of all three services; that is, the RNZN, NZ Army, and the RNZAF, serving some 20 years in the Royal New Zealand Artillery.
The name 'The Flak Jacket Collection' comes from an old sleeve-less combat jacket that Mike wore while operating his 105mm field gun. He kept his notebook in the pocket of this jacket and wrote much of his poetry during breaks between fire missions. The jacket itself was in a shoddy state of repair and was jokingly referred to as "Subritzky's Flak Jacket". He was later given the handle 'The Kiwi Kipling' by a group of Australian war poets who heard him recite some of his verse at a poets get together.
Mike served as a Peacekeeper during the Rhodesian war and witnessed the horror and hatred that accompanies any conflict at first hand. In later years he has become something of anti-war critic and has dedicated this limited edition to the memory of a fellow Peacekeeper, Private Leonard Manning who was a friend of his son Joshua. Len Manning was Killed in Action in East Timor on the 24th July 2000, when he sprung an Indonesian Special Forces ambush, and thus laid down his own life so that his friends might live.
The strength of Mike Subritzky's poetry is that he was a witness to his time in history and recorded much of the comedy, boredom, fear and sorrow that many of us and our friends experienced, whilst soldiering during the last quarter of the 20th century.
All of the poems that appear in this book are based on real events and actual persons. Mike has used a variety of styles to record what we all experienced during that 25 year period when we all took the Queen's Shilling, and served in various Operational Areas throughout the world.
I trust you will enjoy the verse that appears in this book.
Grant 'Hannibal' Hays
Royal New Zealand Artillery