Tales From the Tiger

Thank God For Officers

Sometime in 1969 a few of us were in Vung Tau on R&C (Rest and Convalescence). I spent most of the days with Bill 'Boong' Errington, 'Dusty' Urquart, Bill 'Wally' Sanday and our mate from across the Tasman, 'Kiwi' Gordon (R.I.P.)

We did the usual things, like drinking and fighting the girls off. I can still remember taking a photo of Kiwi Gordon swigging from a large bottle of Bourbon on the footpath outside one of the bars.

While we were still sober, we decided to hire a horse, cart and driver each, to do a bit of sightseeing. This got a bit boring after a while so we decided to have a race...three abreast, a bit like 'Ben Hur'. Somehow I managed to operate the movie camera I had with me, but slipped behind as Kiwi and Wally had taken over the front running. From memory I think Wally was declared the winner and I had yet another treasured Super 8mm movie. Poor bloody horses all skin and bone and 'buggered' for the rest of the day. Our conscience was eased as we had paid a few dollars to our co-pilots who were trying to see the funny side to our race.

I'm not sure how, but I lost track of the guys as it got dark. I do recall being led through a dark alley-way of tin shacks by a young lady. Not too sure what she had in mind, but when we got to her place all I could think of was 'Vietnam Rose'. I thought better of it and decided to leave. She kept ranting and raving about the 'White Mice' (South Vietnamese police) as it was now well after curfew. But at the time, I felt they were the lesser of two evils and left.

I paid about three times the going rate to a guy on a bike to take me back to the Peter Badcoe Club. All the way without any headlights when he pulled up about 100 yards short of the club. My brilliant plan was to go around the back of the club and get access from the beach side without being caught. Just when I had thought I had beaten the system I got drenched in floodlights and a shouted "Doung Loi!". "Bloody Hell!"... I froze.

Korean guards had me in their sights with a couple of our MPs (Military Police) waiting in their jeep. I climbed into the back of the jeep and joined two other guys and the MPs just turned the headlights off and waited. We weren't going anywhere. "What are these bastards up to?" I'm thinking to myself.

Sure enough, I can hear a bike heading towards the beach, then stop about where I was dropped off. A few more minutes, then the headlights are turned on and a shouted, "Doung Loi!" And another one is caught! These buggers have done this before and I wondered what was in store for us all.

The last guy climbed in the back with us and we drove around towards the main entrance. It was a reasonably well lit area when I recognised the fourth culprit...problem solved. So I said to the MPs "Do you know who this guy is?" They ignored me so I challenged them and suggested we forget the whole thing and would they mind just dropping us off so we can get some sleep.

The look on their faces said, "we'll fix you, you smart bastard!" By now I was as game as Ned Kelly and said "thanks for the lift, no charges tonight fellas and no bloody repercussions tomorrow morning." "Okay boys?" Because this guy next to me was our O.C., Major Ray Harring!

We know you're up there Ray, and just want to say thanks. You were well thought of by the guys in B Company and that's not the only time you got some of us out of strife. Do you remember when 'Robbo' and 'Pezet' had to 'Front'  you the day before they were to go on R&C? Well that's another story and probably best If Pete or Robbo Roberts tell that one.

*Vietnam Rose- -a virulent form of a sexually transmitted disease
*White Mice-- South Vietnamese police, with a reputation for shooting first then asking questions.
*Doung Loi--Vietnamese for "halt!"
*Ned Kelly- -A famous Australian Bushranger of the nineteenth century. Hence the Australian expression "As game as Ned."


© Bill O;Mara
B Company
2nd Tour

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