Tales From the Tiger

Once a Tiger...

The 5th Battalion was preparing to return to Australia so I put in a request to stay in Vietnam, and it was granted. The OC, Major Ducker MC, told me that he had got me a good job in Saigon on the Ambassador's Guard. I was hoping for a posting to another Battalion and in the Pioneer Platoon, not a Rifle Company. But I thought what the hell, I'll give the Pogo* life a go and see what happens.

What happened was the money I saved in my pay book started dwindling fast; while the bar girls and innkeepers of old Saigon grew richer, so I requested a transfer to a Battalion, any Battalion, any job even a bloody Rifle Company!

My posting was to the Australian Reinforcement Unit, but 8 RAR grabbed me as soon as the Caribou landed and I found myself in front of the Adjutant. He went through my AAB 83** then bored it up me about being from a grave robber Battalion (5RAR), after he finished with me I wandered down to A Company lines to report to my Platoon Sergeant Lofty Wendt. I'd served in the same platoon as Lofty in Malaysia so at least I knew someone in this strange mob.

A few months later, in "The Weeds(jungle), Lofty escorted me to Company HQ giving me stern looks from a great height and wanting to know what I'd done. I racked my brains trying to figure it out also, all we could find out was that BHQ was in a flap and I was to return ASAP, so I was thrown aboard a chopper and had a worried flight back to Nui Dat. The Adjutant bored it up me and informed me that I had been a civilian for the last six months. It appears that the clerk in Ingleburn had neglected to enter my re-engagement details. I explained to the Adjutant that I had re-engaged for six years in order to join 5RAR. He was relieved, then bored it up me again, then told me I was going home in a few weeks so I would stay here with the 'LOBs' (Left Out of Battle).

Thank God that was the only time I was LOB, it was the most boring job I've ever had in the Army. For two weeks I was stuck in the Command Post (CP) bunker doing switch board duty, the only interruption being the occasional smoke grenade dropped into the CP. This always followed a set procedure; first there would be a giggle, then the sound of the smoke grenade clunking as it made its way down the stairs, a 'pop' as the grenade ignited then the hiss of the smoke followed by my shouting above the laughter 'I'm the only one here you bastards!'

One night, utterly bored, I decided to have some fun so I rang up all the Gun Posts informing them that the 5RAR tiger had escaped, it was last seen moving towards A Company lines. The LOBs were cooks, bottle washers, clerks, sick, lame and lazy diggers left behind to protect the lines while the unit was on Ops , I had no idea how they would react, but I was soon to find out.

As I was being relieved the switchboard was jammed with reports of tiger sightings so I left for my tent. Twice on the way to my tent I was stopped by cooks with cocked 9mm pistols babbling about tigers, it was then I realised what I had done. My God! I thought ― cooks with pistols! I slept on the floor of my tent that night with my trusty SLR at my side.

Next morning at breakfast the 'Warries' ran thick about the tiger. Every cook had seen it, the Arty blokes had shot it, the Turretheads had run over it, the best was that it had dragged a Meathead (Military Policeman) from his tent and eaten him and the poor tiger died. 'Tanky' Scheuermann fronted me, pointing at me he said 'You! You bastard! You're from 5RAR!"  I kept silent as he continued. "You're a bloody shit stirrer, I know for a fact that 5RAR took their tiger home with them." That broke me up and 'till I returned to Sydney, I had to dodge angry cooks and LOBs.

I had one last visit to BHQ and this time the Adjutant was all smiles and he handed me a plaque and thanked me for my service with 8RAR. I was smiling too, for I had fronted the posting Officer and requested 5 RAR on RTA, (Return To Australia) ...  granted!

Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.


© Jack Bradd
C Company 2nd tour

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