RAAF School Song
There were two school songs. Some information on the first song can be found at the bottom of this page. But the song most of us may remember and the one which was used for 22 years from 1966 is this one. The lyrics were stirring,
poignant and entirely appropriate for a school such as our RAAF School.
It managed to capture the spirit and essence of our environment as we
sang it. It was and is beautiful and I will never forget the way I felt
the first time I sang it.
I was a youngster, fresh out of primary school, standing tall in the assembly hall of a brand new high school in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers and filled with trepidation as I sang the song for the first time. I was very much aware that I was on the threshold of a new era and when we sang out the words "We still can see the southern cross, at night when skies are clear", I was struck with aching emotion and became perilously close to tears as I realised the loneliness in my heart for Australia and the familiar things of home. However at that same moment, I understood that I was still in the same world as before; I looked up at the same sky and was watched over by the same God - Australia was just beyond the horizon and not really so very far away.
Click to download and play RAAF School Song Midi File
The ocean's at our doorstep, the mountains too are near.
We still can see the Southern Cross at night when skies are clear.
The seasons too are different, the monsoon and the dry
And though our lessons are the same, beyond our classrooms lie,
A world of many languages, so rich in history.
A world of different people, like us both proud and free.
Our RAAF school's like Malaysia, made up of many strands.
Of interwoven loyalties to States instead of lands.
From all points of the compass, we've travelled here to find,
A country to be learning from like that we left behind.
Our school book is the whole wide world, may RAAF School be one page,
We will remember gladly, when we are come of age.
Author of the lyrics
Sergeant Bruce Dawe, RAAF Education Assistant at the school around 1967, was (and is) also a poet who had two volumes of his poems already published. When he was asked to write a poem which would be the words of a new school song, he produced the lyrics to our song in a very short time.
Bruce Dawe has published 12 books of poetry, one book of short stories, one book of essays and has edited two other books. He was born in Fitzroy, Victoria in 1930 and was educated at Northcote High School, Melbourne. After leaving school at 16 he worked in various occupations (labourer, farmhand, clerk, sawmill-hand, gardener, and postman) before joining the RAAF in 1959. He eventually returned to study, graduating with a PhD, and became a teacher in the Queensland town of Towooomba.
Bruce Dawe is widely recognized as Australia's most popular poet and winner of numerous awards including the Patrick White Literary Award (1980), the Christopher Brennan Award (1984) and the National Book Council Best published Book in Australia for Sometime Gladness. Bruce has also been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship of Rotary International, Order of Australia (AO) for his contribution to Australian literature and in 2000 received an Art Council Emeritus Writers Award for his long and outstanding contribution to Australian literature.
The Original School Song
The first School song was introduced in 1963. The words as follows were written by Mr Cyril E. Jenkins, then Headmaster, and were chosen in an attempt to cover the unusual circumstances surrounding the existence of RAAF School.
Here are the lyrics:
"Youth of Aussie in the tropics
Tho' we're parted from our homeland,
We remember scenes of childhood
Australia's coasts around.
Now we're joined to RAAF School,
Which from Asian soil has sprung,
While our fathers man the forefront
Freedom's outstretched hand!
With blazing skies above us
Or thunderstorms around us,
In tropic school, we work and play
Just as our mates down under.
Proudly we present to Asians
Democracy's ideals of freedom.
With twin torches to inflame us;
MR C. E. JENKINS, B.A., Th. L., T.P.T.C.
Jimmy Boyle was a teacher of English in Penang. He was also a very accomplished musician and pianist. With his own small group or as a soloist, Jimmy often appeared at concerts and on television - he and his group had also made many records. Jimmy had some association with RAAF School when he was one of the Team Managers for the Penang team which included RAAF children at the Federation of Malaya Schools' Sports' Council 4th Athletic Championships in 1962. When, in 1966, he made a courtesy call at the school to greet his namesake, the opportunity was taken to ask him to write the music for a new school song. Very graciously he consented - and in a very short time, the new RAAF School Song arrived! Mr Gilligan lost no time in teaching it to the whole school - it proved to be very popular.