On Active Service

The Changes

I think a lot of us find it difficult to accept the changes that have been made to the Army since the1960's and 1970's. We served in an Army that had very little resources and some very archaic rules that disciplined us, and taught us to adapt to any situation:

We used 2nd world war webbing during our training and the 1st Tour blokes wore it on operations in Vietnam;

The issue of 2nd hand GP (General Purpose) boots in 1968 at Holsworthy - otherwise Boots AB (with TS if you were lucky - both WW2 issue);

Restricted use of ammunition for training purposes;

You were terrified of officers with their sparkling gold pips;

Warrant officers who just were not human;

Sergeants that made you eat sand if you fell over;

Barrack room inspections;

Full locker inspections (where they may have found you secret stash of a bottle of port or a couple of middy glasses;

Where you could have an ash tray next to your bed space;

Your own bedside mat;

You swapped one sheet and one pillowcase each Tuesday morning and also got one razor blade and a cake of ivy soap;

Where you lived in, and had to have a very good reason to live out;

Four diggers to a room - this was REAL mateship;

When in the barracks, your greens were STARCHED and pressed daily;

Your GPs were spit polished;

Your webbed belt was lacquered, and the brass polished daily;

Bush hats were worn in the bush;

You knocked off at 1630 hrs, and headed straight for the Diggers' boozer. You left when they closed or ran out of grog;

Nobody sat by themselves in the Lines;

The washing machines in the barracks always had the plugs missing - therefore, it was often necessary to drink a bottle of plonk, in order to use the cork as a bung so you could do your washing;

On freezing winter nights on guard, you would head into the barrack blocks to have a bit of respite in a nice warm drying room (you NEVER went into your own Company drying room - that's the first place the Duty Officer or Battalion Orderly Sgt would look for you);

The excuses that were offered when you were late, or almost AWOL, with the hope that your story would be accepted;

The genuine mateship, mutual respect, honesty and self-esteem that epitomised the makeup of the Aussie Digger of our era. This cannot be swapped or traded.

I am sure that the current Digger has all of the above qualities, and probably more. We need to support them. What the new breed is enduring is a credit to them, their Battalion, the Regiment, and Australia.


© By Don Harrod
C Coy 2nd Tour

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