© Don Harrod
I was probably typical of a
kid in the 1960's. We all had different
upbringings, but had many similarities. Our
parents married at around the end of World War II, had
their families in the late forties / early fifties, used
their War Service loans to build their first homes, had
limited incomes, but sustained family values.
I had to be home before dark
each day (but having a bit of a swim, letting the tyres
down on the bike before getting home, creating a
"whopper" to avoid being in trouble for being late, etc,
etc,) was a part of our upbringing. I did,
however, know that I had to set the table for dinner,
attend the meal, display manners, and wash up
afterwards. Whilst I was still quite young, my
parents bought a country hotel, and I had to assist with
the running of the business, despite 150km daily on a
All this got a bit boring as
our generation entered the workforce. Then one
day, the idea occurred to join the Army. If the
old man did it, I can too. I went to the
Recruiting Office in
Perth, was "encouraged" to sign
up as soon as possible, and in October 1967, aged 18,
found myself at Kapooka. Didn't even repay the old
man for the car he bought me, despite my promises to him
... Gave it to Mum when I left.
What a shock! The
sergeants and corporals barking at me, questioning of my
heritage, the haircut, regular use of boot polish,
washing, ironing, mess queues, more barking from
sergeants and corporals, PT, another haircut, drill,
weapons training, letters to and from home, and all the
while there were 47 others to keep me company.
That stopped the home sickness.
After ten weeks, on a bus to
Ingleburn, for Infantry Corps training. The first
trip to Sydney
- another shock! A run-down camp, provided solely
for the purpose of pushing out infantry soldiers.
Real sausage-factory stuff.
itself was a real eye-opener to blokes like me, from
country West Australia.
Ten more weeks, then a
posting to 5RAR. I had made it! I can still
remember the jubilation of our platoon when told we were
going to 5 RAR.
We marched in on a Friday,
started a signals course the next Sunday, went to
Canberra for a Guard of Honour the following Saturday,
came back a week later, resumed the course, and then
spent the rest of 1968 training for war.
1969 saw us in
and this website relates the rest of this story.
We served our Battalion, the Regiment, and our Country.
us married, and established our own families after
Vietnam. It is
these people who have given us the support and
understanding, and to whom we owe the greatest debt.
want a better life?
ONCE WE WERE SOLDIERS |