- What is Trench Foot?
- What is Crotch
- What is the J?
- What is "the
- What is the 1,000
- What is a
- What is a grunt, a
sparkie, a drop short, a tankie, a ginger beer?
- Some medals were
created well after the war. Is Grand-dad eligible?
- Were those blokes
in the 1st AIF really tough or is it just a legend?
- What was the most
valuable thing the AIF blokes had?
- I have heard
about a mutiny in the AIF. Did that happen?
- Were men made to go to Viet Nam against
- Why didn't the men from Viet Nam have
parades when they came home?
- Was the Viet Nam War always unpopular?
- Was WW1 the end for "real" cavalry
- Why do you have such little writing on your web
- My uncle's Discharge Papers read
ARA/NS. What does that mean?
- Can you describe the Kokoda
- Is the proper name Kokoda Track or
- What is "the Pig"?
- What does "Rock & Roll" mean?
- What is Lock & Load?
- Can Officers or NCOs hit Diggers?
- What happens if a Digger thinks he has been
- Can women service personnel give orders to men?
- Do Australian Service personnel have to take orders
from other Armies?
- Do Australian service personnel have to obey
- Do Australian service personnel work set hours?
- What are "Rules of
- What is the story about the Burma Star and the
- Is Australia the only country
with an ANZAC Commemorative Medal?
- Where is all the history of East
Timor and Afghanistan?
- Do Viet Nam Veterans whinge more
than soldiers from other wars?
- I have read King Rat and seen The
Bridge on the River Kwai. Are they true?
- How did soldiers get their
numbers in WW1?
- How did the numbering system work in
- Was the Army numbering system still
the same for Malaya, Korea, Vietnam?
- What was Anzac Leave? Did it have anything to do
- What does "port side" mean ?
- Why isn't there more info about my unit?
- Can Aussies wear medals from other countries?
- What does a white feather mean?
- Why do you use emotive names like
Jap and NAZI?
- Is the VC harder or easier to win
- Have community standards changed
about acceptable military behaviour?
- Is the method of awarding medals
- What is a swagger stick?
- How does the military
discipline system work?
- What does "Confined to Barracks" mean?
- What are the colours?
What is Trench Foot?
Foot (Trench Feet) was a highly debilitating condition bought about by
having the feet in water for long periods. It caused 12% of the non fatal
casualties in the AIF. It was avoided in the early days by rubbing the
feet with whale-oil. Other later treatment was to use talcum powder and
to air dry the feet daily. It was a lesser problem in WW2 and is
reducing almost to the point of non-existence because of Army insistence
on hygiene standards in the field, better footwear and a reducing use of
fixed trenches. In the 1960s I was required to
inspect the feet of my Platoon on a regular basis and if any one got
Trench Foot he got a kick up the ask your mother and so did I.
|The mud and slush
throughout the Ypres Sector kept the feet of the troops in a
continual state of dampness and caused the complaint of 'trench
feet' to become fairly general. Members of the 40th Battalion,
10th Australian Infantry Brigade are seen here taking advantage of
a rest at Dragoon Farm, near Ypres, after the Battle of
Passchendaele Ridge, to bathe and oil their feet in order to
obviate the malady. Details
of WW1 treatment .
What is Crotch Rot?
Soldiers sometimes spend weeks, even
months, in the field without the chance to wash or shower. Even in
peacetime this happens, especially overseas. The longest time I have
personally seen is 3 weeks. In hot climates the old skin particles
around the crotch and armpits and in the crack of your bum mix with the
dirt and sweat to form a foul smelling goo that eventually gets infected
and attacks the flesh and turns it "proud", that is red,
inflamed and very itchy turning to painful. It is to be avoided at all
costs in my opinion. The treatment
is worse but of shorter duration.
The treatment is an ointment called
"Whitfield's Ointment". It contains a fair dose of benzoic
acid and when applied to proud flesh or the very tender parts around the
crotch, burns with a pain that has to be experienced to be believed. I
can assure you that it takes a fair bit of talking to get a Digger to
voluntarily rub acid on his knackers.
Short, true story.
Malaysia 1969. I am a Rifleman/Stretcher Bearer (now called Combat
Medic). I had just returned from 14 days in the J with my Platoon. I am
looking forward to lots of beer and a girl or two and some proper food.
The Boss calls me up to tell me that I have to do an immediate
turnaround and go back into the J for another 14 days with another
Platoon. I am NOT HAPPY. Guess what. That Platoon has a brand new
Duntroon graduate 2Lt on his first trip into the bush in Malaysia. He
ran the Platoon ragged, charging up mountainsides (bloody steep in
Malaysia) just for the sake of showing that he was "the man".
After 4 days I disliked him, after 10 days I hated him and the rest of
the Platoon did likewise.
Towards the end he came to me with
crotch rot. Now normally I would advise a new boy about Whitfield's and
tell him to use it sparingly and be ready for the pain but it was
PAYBACK TIME. I tossed this bloke a full, new tube of Whitfield's and
said "Here, smear this on and don't miss anything". He used
nearly the whole tube and applied it to EVERYTHING he had hanging or in
the area. When the pain hit him it was a pretty sight. He did not know whether
he was punched, bored, drilled or stapled. He was in agony.
When we got back to camp he tried to
have me charged. "Can't do, sorry" was the reply he got from
my boss, the Medical Officer, a doctor. "It was the correct ointment
and the dosage was self administered". He now hates me. We are even.
He is a little wiser. The Doc slipped me a slow wink.
The jungle, the bush, the
scrub. The land out past where the bitumen ends and the tracks run out.
What is "the
In Asia there are many
rubber plantations. These are much easier to travel through than virgin
jungle but are even more dangerous. In the jungle everyone can be
considered enemy unless it is a native village. A rubber plantation has
many workers who are not enemy....or are they?
photo of rubber.
What is the 1,000 yard
It is a term from the Viet Nam war
that was originally used to describe the look in the eyes of front line
soldiers that gave one the impression that they were ever watchful out
to the 1,000 yard line (where possible) as that was considered to be the
extent of the danger zone.
Later for American troops it was
sometimes used, with a different intonation, to describe the vacant expression on the face of
dope-heads just serving out their time .
What is a "grunt
When in the J troops poop into small
trench latrines. One cannot totally undress and squatting over a hole in
the ground, with your trousers around your ankles, without falling
backwards is not easy. You need something to hold onto.
As well, because you are living on dehydrated
ration pack food with a limited amount of water your stools are small,
hard and not easily moved. Constipation is a common problem in these
It became the practice to either dig
the latrine beside a tree or insert a stick at the front of it so the
Digger would have something to hold onto while he went about his
business. Because completing the bowel motion took some effort this stick
got known as the "grunt stick".
What is a grunt, a sparkie,
a drop short, a tankie, a ginger beer?
infantryman, from the noise they make when they lift their pack
infantryman circa 1960 to 1967
soldier from Royal Australian Electrical & Mechanical
Short or (b) 9 mile sniper
artillery man, from their worst possible mistake, dropping
rounds on you because they fell short of the target (b)
from their ability to hit a target from that distance
soldier in the Armoured Corps, whether in tanks or tracks
soldier in the Engineers, from rhyming slang
Some medals were
created well after the war. Is Grand-dad eligible?
- He very well might be.
- The Australian Service Medal
1945/75 was instituted well after the war and many thousands of
people from WW2, Malaya, Korea, New Guinea and other places are
- The 50th Anniversary of National
Service Medal is another recent medal to which hundreds of
thousands of people are now entitled.
- There is also 2 newish medals
from the Viet Nam war era for civilians and others who had
previously been overlooked.
- There is a new medal to
recognise Civilian Service in WW2
- If you believe you or a relative
have a claim direct your enquiries to It's
Were those blokes in
the 1st AIF really tough or is it just a legend?
for example, there came to the medical officer of the 9th a youngster
named Gray (of Murgon, Q'land), whom he remembered having seen before.
This was one of two brothers, Queenslanders of the 9th Bn., who during
the voyage from Australia nearly a year before had both become ill with
influenza. They had been so reduced by illness that they were suspected
of being tubercular, and were consequently brought before a medical
board at Mena Camp and ordered to be returned to Australia. Both were so
heartbroken that they wept, and Col. B.J. Newmarch (of Sydney), who
presided over the board, relented, and allowed each of them to be put
temporarily off duty, in order to build themselves up by food and
exercise. They were eventually declared fit, and afterwards sedulously
avoided the doctor, and both landed with their battalion. At the Landing
one brother (Pte. G.R. Gray) had been a member of one of the parties
which penetrated farthest. It was the other who now came to the
regimental doctor saying that he had received a wound at the Landing
and, though he had been to hospital, it was again giving a little
trouble. He had endeavoured to "carry on," but had at last
been forced to see if the doctor could advise a little treatment. The
medical officer found that he had had a compound fracture of the arm,
two bullets through his thigh, another through diaphragm, liver and
side; and that there were adhesions to the liver and pleura. He was
returned at once to Australia, where he was eventually discharged from
hospital and , re-enlisting, returned to the front in the artillery. His
brother eventually became quartermaster of the 9th, in which capacity he
continued to serve until the last year of the war."
: C.E.W. Bean)
What was the most
valuable thing the AIF blokes had?
Leaving aside obvious things like
weapons and food the things that many Diggers treasured most was their
Shoulder Patches (Colour patches). It was a recognisable mark of their
"family". Remember that these blokes were overseas for 4 years
in some cases and the Battalion was all they had.
I have heard about a
mutiny in the AIF. Did that happen?
Yes but it was not called a mutiny as
too many people were involved. It came about near the end of the war.
There were not enough reinforcements coming through to replace casualties
and men sent home on "Anzac Leave". The decision
was made to disband some Battalions and use those men to bring others up
to strength. It was firmly resisted right up to the point of mutiny. For
a full run down on the affair as handled by one Battalion go to Mutiny.
Were men made to go to Viet Nam against
In most cases No. More than half the
troops who served were regulars, i.e. men who had joined up for 3 or 6
years and who did so knowing that overseas service was a possibility. Of
the National Service men, while it is true to say that they were in the
Army through no choice of their own, many, a great many, took the
attitude "Well we are here now and trained so we might as well go
do the job". As well Diggers were offered the chance, not once but
several times, to indicate that they did not want to go and they would
be transferred out. Very few took the opportunity. No one wanted to
squib on his mates.
keep in mind that Vietnam service entitled a man to a Defence
Force Home Loan. That might mean little now but in those days it
was a "big deal" and something that men treasured. I
know that I was dirty when I was transferred to a battalion
going to Malaysia as the loan was not available for that
- Most conscripts did not go to Viet
Nam. Most served their time in Australia.
During the term of Selective National Service 804,286 men were
eligible. 62,342 were called up. 15,381 were posted to Viet Nam.
Why didn't the men from Viet Nam have
parades when they came home?
The belief that has grown up that the
returning troops did not get a parade is another urban myth. There were
many many parades when whole units (Battalions) returned. However many
men were sent home at the end of their 12 months service, mid way
through a Battalion's tour and of course it is impossible to arrange a
parade for a small number of troops. Most Diggers just wanted to get
home, get a cold beer and some civilian clothes and get on with life. It
was only later that people started complaining that there had been no
fan-fare for them.
When a battalion returned it usually
marched through the streets of the city it returned to. That was not
always a triumphant welcome however. The morons who made up the vocal
rat bag section of the opposition to the war were disgusting pigs. When
my battalion marched through Sydney at the end of 1968 by the time they
had gone 300 metres they had been sprayed with bags of urine, human
excreta, pigs blood and gawd knows what else. They were branded baby
killers and murderers and worse.
The fact that they did not break ranks
and kick some ass in the ass is a tribute to them.
Please don't send me emails saying you don't believe this happened. I
was there. I saw it. I was never prouder of the Pony Soldiers (1RAR)
than I was on that day.
Was the Viet Nam War always unpopular?
No. That is another urban myth. In the
elections of 1966 (our commitment in SVN started in 1962 and became major in 1965) the
Liberal Party won a significant victory on a "khaki" vote.
They increased their margin of seats from 19 to 40.
was only in 1968 that the tide really started to turn and that had a lot to do
with the Tet
Offensive. Although it was a military disaster for the
North and the Viet Cong lost tens of thousands of it's best men the fact
that a small band of VC got onto the grounds of the American Embassy
made a major impact in America (on TV) and was the start of the end
of American political interest in pursuing the war.
Was WW1 the end for "real"
cavalry on horses?
Yes with one major exception.
is often forgotten that the German Wehrmacht of 1939-45 relied heavily
upon horses. Not only was the majority of Army transport and much of the
artillery dependent on draught horse teams; the Germans also kept a
horse-mounted cavalry division in the field until the end of 1941. After
withdrawing it, they discovered a need to revive and greatly expand
their cavalry units in 1943-45. The Army and Waffen-SS cavalry proved
their worth on the Russian Front, supported by other Axis cavalry
contingents - Romanian, Hungarian, Italian, and locally recruited. Also
of course a lot of the Russian troops were mounted although in many
cases they were irregular cavalry, including Cossacks.
Why do you have such
little writing on your web pages?
size on your screen is YOUR choice. Go to the View button on your task bar.
Choose Text size. You will get 5 choices. Largest, Larger,
Medium, Smaller, Smallest. Choose the one that suits your monitor and
your personal preference.
My uncle's Discharge
Papers read ARA/NS. What does that mean?
ARA stands for Australian Regular
Army. NS stands for National Service. Your Uncle was a 2 year conscript
into the Army under the Selective National Service Scheme of the 1960s,
Can you describe the
Imagine an area of approximately 100
miles long, crumple and fold this into a series of ridges, each rising
higher and higher until 7,000 feet is reached, then declining again to
3,000 feet. Cover this thickly with jungle, short trees and tall trees
tangled with great entwining savage vines; then through the oppression
of this density cut a little native track two to three feet wide, up the
ridges, over the spurs, around gorges and down across swiftly flowing
happy mountain streams.
Where the track clambers up the
mountainsides, cut steps – big steps, little steps, steep steps or
clear the soil from the tree roots. Every few miles bring the track
through a small patch of sunlit kunai grass, or an old deserted native
garden, and every seven or ten miles build a group of dilapidated grass
huts as staging shelters, generally set in a foul offensive clearing.
Every now and then leave beside the track dumps of discarded putrefying
food, and occasional dead bodies.
About midday and through the night,
pour water over the forest, so that the steps become broken and a
continual yellow stream flows downwards, and the few level areas become
pools and puddles of putrid mud. In the high ridges about Myola, drip
this water day and night softly over the track through a fetid forest
grotesque with moss and growing phosphorescent fungi. More
Is the proper name
Kokoda Track or Kokoda Trail?
The people that were there used
BOTH. I think that arguments about which is more correct are a waste of
"Kokoda Trail" and "Kokoda Track" have been used
interchangeably since the Second World War and the former was adopted by
the Battles Nomenclature Committee as the official British Commonwealth
battle honour in October 1957.
What is "the Pig"?
This is the (mostly American) nick name for the
General Purpose Machine Gun M60 (GPMG M60) of the Viet Nam era. It
is also the nick name for the RAAF's F111 fighter/bomber
What does "Rock & Roll" mean?
It is an American term for
firing a weapon on full automatic. It also is used in the context of
"Let's rock and roll" meaning "let's go".
What is Lock & Load?
It is an American tem meaning 'lock'
your magazine into your rifle and 'load' a live round into the chamber.
In other words, get ready to fire your weapon.
Can Officers or NCOs hit Diggers?
No. No service person of any
rank is entitled to physically attack any other person, regardless of
rank. (Declared enemy excepted, of course).
What happens if a Digger thinks he/she has been
Any service person can lodge a request
to have a senior officer examine or review any situation where he/she
feels badly done by or mistreated. It used to be called "Redress of
Wrongs". I think it still is.
Can women service personnel give orders to men?
Gender is totally ignored. Only the
rank matters. So any female (or male) service person can issue legal
military orders to any junior rank, whether that person is male or female.
Do Australian Service personnel have to take orders
from other Armies?
Not unless the Australian Government
has come to an arrangement to have a combined force, and even then the
Australian Military Law prevails in any situation involving Australians.
There will be no more Breaker Morant style episodes.
Do Australian service personnel have to obey
Yes........ and they also have to obey
Do Australian service personnel work set hours?
Quite often , YES, but also they
are "on call" 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
What are "Rules
It refers to the rules under which
Australian troops can fire their weapons in a combat zone. As a general
guide it is OK for them to return fire if attacked. Otherwise there are
strict rules and guidelines that have to be met before it is legal to
fire weapons. They vary depending on the circumstances and I make no
attempt to record all the variables here.
the story about the Burma Star and the Pacific Star?
Many men, usually RAN,
were eligible for both but the ruling is that only the first earned
(usually Burma) is worn with a clasp (bar) indicating the other. This is
also true of some other "linked" medals. More
Is Australia the only
country with an ANZAC Commemorative Medal?
No. Britain also has a commemorative
medal for Gallipoli. It's called The Gallipoli Star. I believe that it
is un-official where as the Anzac Medallion from Australia is an
Where is all the
history of East Timor and Afghanistan?
Those two conflicts are still a little
too close to the front page of the daily newspapers for a history site.
I look forward to the day when I can add some non-sensitive information.
If you have some, send it to me.
Do Viet Nam Veterans
whinge more than soldiers from other wars?
They certainly are more vocal. I do
not call it whinging. Remember that all of society is now more likely to
talk about their problems. That is considered a good thing. Vets from
the first war that Aussie troops were sent to where we were not allowed
to win, the longest and most controversial war ever in our history, have
many genuine concerns. Some are adequately addressed. Some are not.
My personal opinion is this. When WW1,
WW2 troops came home they were a very large and vibrant part of the
community that welcomed them as 'men of honour'. When Diggers came home
from Malaya and Korea there were still many people at all levels of
Government and society who had an understanding of the matter. When the
Diggers came home from Viet Nam the country appeared not to care or
notice. Everyone was into "the swinging 60s" or the
"70s" and what did a few blokes from a "stupid" war
Now when those blokes approach
Government Departments they are talking to young women (mostly) who were
born AFTER the war was over. How in Hades name can they be asked to
understand or comprehend? I do not know how long it is since we have had
a Minister for Veterans Affairs that has ever pulled on a pair of combat
boots but it is a long time.
The manager (of the RSL Club)
noticed my Returned from Active Service Badge. He asked why I
was wearing my father's badge ... I laughed and told him that it
was mine. He was astounded, I was too young to have fought in
"Nah mate", I told him
"I got it for Vietnam!"
"Bullshit!" he replied
"that wasn't a war. They wouldn't give them out for
"Whatever" I said ...
and left it at that.
Five minutes later he came back
to inform me that I would get no more service and that I had to
leave the club ...
"We don't let murderers into
a Returned Servicemen's Club".
I threw my RSL badge and my
Returned from Active Service badge into a garbage can.
this is a quote from http://freepages.military.rootsweb.com/~bobw/after03.htm
I have read King Rat
and seen The Bridge on the River Kwai. Are they true?
No. Both are great stories. Both are
almost totally untrue. For details read Tourist
soldiers get their numbers in WW1?
The following extract regarding the numbering system
used during World War 1 may interest you:
The numbering system during World War I was a
fairly complex system. Light Horse Regiments and Infantry Battalions
had their own numbering system which
differed to that used by the other Arms and Services. As there were
fourteen Light Horse Regiments and sixty odd Infantry Battalions it
was quite possible, and in fact happened, for
eighty or ninety soldiers to have the same number,
particularly when one takes into account the Artillery, Engineer,
Medical Services etc.
The numbers were then generally allotted to the
Senior Non-Commissioned Officers and Corporals and then consequently
alphabetically by Companies. For example A Company could have the
numbers 32 to 200 plus. B Company would start where A Company's
numbers ended and so on. The early numbers, 1 - 31 would be allotted
to the Headquarters and Machine Gun section personnel. Once
again this system did not always hold good for every unit. Some
units seemed to have adopted their own individual system, of
numbering; although the system described above seems to have been
common to the Light Horse Regiments. Officers
were not allotted numbers until the commencement of World War II.
During the latter part of 1917 when the general
service reinforcements system came into operation each soldier on
enlistment was allotted a number to which Arms or Service he was
eventually allotted. It was possible for a
soldier to have two numbers. This generally indicated that he
had been transferred from one unit to another. If he went from
Infantry to Artillery, for example, he generally retained his old
number. Having the numbers could also indicate
two periods of service and was not uncommon. If a soldier was
inadvertently given the same number as another man in his unit he
was allotted the letter A as either a prefix or suffix to his number
e.g. 187;187A or A187
Some information supplied by the AWM
How did the numbering
system work in WW2 ?
Navy. Officers had no number. Lower
deck-men were given a prefix by Port of Enlistment followed by a number.
Australian Naval Reserve (RANR)
Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RANVR)
Air Force Officers and Airmen were given numbers without a prefix. So
were WAAF officers and other ranks
The numbering system used
by the Royal Australian Air Force was identical
for Officers and other ranks. Blocks of numbers were allocated to each
State. Air Crews were identified with serial numbers between 400001 and
459999 which were retained in the post war period. As more numbers were
issued than were necessary, a great deal were never used.
The women personnel (WAAAF) Officers
and other ranks were issued
separate numbers, unlike their
7300-7599; 8001-9465; 10001-12000; 12444-14000; 18001-20000;
40001-43000; 49001-60000; 116501-121500; 125001-130000; 142001-150000;
156000-160999; 173000-173999; 185000-186999; 205001-207000;
250000-259999 (also Tasmania); 300000 Reserve all States; 400001-401999
(Air Crew); 408501-410999 (Air Crew); 418000-419999 (Air Crew);
428250-428669 (Air Crew); 430001-432000 (Air Crew)
New South Wales
6000-6999; 7600-7899; 12001-12443; 14001-16000; 20001-22000;
32001-38000; 60001-75000; 130001-140000; 161000-169999; 188000-188999;
207000-210000; 260000-269999; 402000-403999 (Air Crew); 411000-413999
(Air Crew); 420000-424999 (Air Crew); 428670-429299 (Air Crew);
432001-434000 (Air Crew)
9500-9749; 22001-26000; 43001-45000; 75001-80000; 123001-125000;
150001-152000; 170000-172999; 187000-187999; 270000-279999;
404000-405999 (Air Crew); 414000-414999 (Air Crew); 425000-426999 (Air
Crew); 429300-429619 (Air Crew); 434001-436000 (Air Crew)
26001~29000; 39001-40000; 47001-49000; 115001-116500; 121501-123000;
140001-142000; 152001-155999; 280000-289999; 407000-407999 (Air Crew);
416000-417999 (Air Crew); 429801-430000 (Air Crew); 437001-438000 (Air
7000-7271; 9750-10000; 16001-18000; 29001-30000; 38001-39000;
45001-47000; 80001-88000; 21001-249999; 290000-299999; 406000-406999
(Air Crew); 415000-415999 (Air Crew); 427000-427999 (Air Crew);
429620-A29800 (Air Crew); 436001-437000 (Air Crew)
30001-32000; 88001-89999; 408000-408500 (Air Crew); 428000-428249 (Air
Crew); 438001-438250 (Air Crew)
Officers 350000-354099. Other Ranks 90000-184061 All States
Details from Medals to Australia R D
Williams ISBN 0 7316 8175 4
Was the Army numbering
system still the same for Malaya, Korea, Viet Nam?
No. The system changed with the
introduction of the Australian Regular Army (ARA). With that the first
number indicated the State of Enlistment. As Queensland is the First
Military District any soldier who enlists in Qld would have his
Regimental Number start with the number 1. (The second number, if a 7,
indicates a National Serviceman from the Selective National Service
Scheme of the 1960s).
first numeral in the seven figure Army National Service numbers (i.e.
2/771128) indicated the State in which the trainee was called up:
National Service Scheme Army numbers had an oblique, Vietnam-era
Selective National Service numbers did not.
Anzac Leave? Did it have anything to do with Gallipoli?
No direct relationship
with Gallipoli but an indirect one. In 1918 the Anzacs who had joined in
1914 and 1915 had been overseas for over 3 years and in the thick of
the worst of the fighting for most of that time. The Australian
Government insisted that the longest serving of the soldiers be give
'Home Leave" in Australia. It got named Anzac Leave.
What does "port side"
It is the left hand side of the
vessel if you are facing forwards (an easy way to remember that port is
left it that they have the same number of letters. Starboard and right
have different numbers).
Why isn't there more info
about my unit?
Probably because you haven't sent it
Can Aussies wear medals
from other countries?
For this answer we have to leave
Britain out as for many years Australia took part in the Imperial
Honours Scheme for awards. That aside, NO, not without specific approval
of the Australian Government. It is difficult to obtain. Men who were
awarded medals by the Government of South Viet Nam in the 1960s were
only granted approval to wear them 30 years later. The heroes of Long
Tan were going to be awarded medals by the SVN Govt and the Australian
Govt stopped it. They were
given dolls instead.
Men who were recommended
for Australian awards for service at Long Tan were denied them so that senior
officers would not miss out under the strict quota system that was in
It seems that awards from major Allies
like the US are more easily approved than minor Allies like SVN,
particularly if the feeling is that the intending donor country tends to
overdo things a bit.
There is a fair degree of jealousy in
the ranks of professional soldiers when it comes to awards. They can
help a career enormously. It is reported that Howse VC stopped the award
of the VC to Simpson of "Man with the donkey" fame and supposedly said that no
medical person would get the VC in his lifetime. Howse was Australia's first
VC and was a medical man.
Of course the rules only apply to
serving personnel while
in uniform. In civilian clothing, particularly after discharge, nearly anything goes but many military
men choose not to wear awards unless they are approved.
What does a white
During WW1 there was huge community
support for the war. Men who did not volunteer for Active Service were
considered to be cowards. Many of course were not. Some were involved in
important, even vital, work in keeping the troops fed and supplied.
Naturally the whole country could not be run by boys, old men and women
so some able bodied men had to stay at home. Those with a job that was
of importance to the war effort were issued badges indicating that they
were not shirking their responsibilities. So were men considered not
medically acceptable. Even soldiers who came home on leave after 3 plus
years of fighting found it necessary, when in public, to wear a badge
The women who were most vocal and
bitter about men they judged to be "shirkers" got into the
habit of posting a white feather to them. It was to indicate a charge of
cowardice. It was less common in WW2 but there were still some zealots
around. My father, who was decorated for bravery in WW1 and who
re-enlisted in WW2, aged 45, only to be told "No, we need you here to do
important work at the hospital", was sent a white feather in 1943.
of the white feather.
More details about the badges at Civilian
Badges Pages 1, 2 and 3.
Why do you use emotive
names like Jap and NAZI?
There are 2 answers to this.
some cases the word Jap will fit on a heading where Japanese will not.
In the same way sometimes I use OZ instead of Australia.
(2) This is a
historical report. The Japanese military were called Japs. The fact that
I report what happened does not indicate that I am promoting racial
hatred. In 1941/45 they were "Japs". When I report the events
of 1941/45 I refuse to do so with any new found sensitivity that
requires a spade to be called a digging instrument. Political
correctness does not rule here. As for the term NAZI, anytime that
anyone can show that WW2 was not started and prolonged by the NAZI
Party, with the resultant loss of
40 MILLION lives, well, then I
will call them something else.
Is the VC harder or
easier to win now?
Much harder. In the early days it was
the ONLY medal that could be awarded to ALL Ranks. Therefore it tended
to be awarded much more frequently. Now that there is a large range of
awards to choose from to recognise above average gallantry or service
the VC has become an Icon, only to be awarded under the strictest
controls. Example; at Rorke's Drift 11 individual VCs were awarded for 1
days fighting. During the years 1965 to 1972, with 3 Battalions in the
field NOT ONE VC was awarded to an Australian except to the members of
AATTV. If no VC was earned at Long Tan then the late WO2 Jack Kirby wasn't there.
standards changed about acceptable military behaviour?
Yes. And markedly so. These days we
seem to have got the idea that war is some sort of gentlemen's
game where one must put some misguided idea of "fair
play" in front of survival.
One example. Albert Jacka VC MC was one
of the most decorated heroes of the Great War. He was a tough and
gallant fighter. He later told the story of 5 Germans who surrendered to
him. He bayoneted 1 and shot 4. Why? Because he was not able to trust
them not to rearm and kill him if he relaxed his guards for a split
second. He made no secret of the fact.
He was idolised for his overall
efforts and that episode earned him the MC. Today some smart ass
reporter would shove a TV camera down his throat and accuse him of being
a "war criminal". Much of the audience, in the comfort of
their lounge room 12,000 miles from the danger would agree and call for
him to be prosecuted.
Recently the Defence
Department spent $10,000,000 dollars trying to prosecute a SAS
sergeant for kicking a corpse in Timor and the only reason that a
conviction was not gained was that NZ SAS troops refused to give
evidence. 10 minutes ago that bloke was an armed and dangerous
enemy. Now he justifies the expense of 10 million to
"protect" his corpse.
Another matter that does not get
spoken about is the matter of "murder". No one ever condoned
murder. It has always been illegal in the military even of enemy
soldiers. If they surrender and you kill them, that is
"murder". So, what is the meaning of the often given order
"Take no prisoners"? Breaker Morant and several other Officers
were charged with murdering POWs. The order "Take no
prisoners" had been given. You work it out. I can't, and neither
could Morant when he stood in front of a firing squad, convicted of
Is the method of
awarding medals fair?
No. It never has been, never will be
and CANNOT be. Awards can only be given to a relative few. Many acts of
extreme bravery go unreported and sometimes unseen. Different Officers
have differing views on what constitutes "bravery". It is a matter of
record that some senior WW1 officers considered that in their battalion
"uncommon bravery is expected" and refused to process
paperwork recommending awards. Sometimes it is a matter of luck that a
piece of work attracts attention.
On other occasions senior officers
have been accused of trying to "cook the books" to make their
unit look good by recommending many persons for awards. For these and a dozen other reasons most recipients of
awards recognise, both publicly and privately, that they are representatives
of the many.
What is a swagger
It is a cane, timber or leather
covered stick carried by Company Sergeant Majors and some Commissioned
They probably had their genesis in a riding crop with the
mounted units in the British Army. Details.
How does the
military discipline system work?
This is a huge subject but here is a
quick overview. There is the Military Law that every service person is
ruled by. There are Standing Orders and Routine Orders that are in place
for a particular unit and that govern the day to day running of the
unit's activities. Then there are issued orders. All the above must be
obeyed. Failure to obey brings a penalty. The most common is a ticking
off by the NCO and the implied threat that if the situation is not
rectified worse will follow. Worse might be extra duties, cleaning the
latrines when it's not your turn or some other similar matter. These are
handled on a case by case basis and are not recorded in any way. A more
serious breach will see a soldier "charged". In some serious
but minor cases he will be brought in front of the Officer Commanding
his Company who can impose penalties of up to 14 days "Confined to
Barracks" and or a fine. More serious cases will go to the
Commanding Officer of the Battalion who can impose penalties of up to 28
days "Confined to Barracks" and or a bigger fine. Very serious
cases will go to a Court Martial which can jail and or discharge a
What does "Confined to
Barracks" (CB) mean?
It is a military punishment (see
above). It is a lot more than just being
allowed to swan around the barracks doing nothing. On the hour, every
hour from 0600 (6am) until 2200 (10pm) you have to report to the RSM in
full kit. Usually he will use you to help train young NCOs or junior
Officers on parade ground drill. By that I mean the soldier/s on CB will
be the squad given orders by the trainee. It is hot, tiring and boring.
It is to be avoided if at all possible.
In WW1 the varying types of field
punishment were No1 and No 2. 1 was the more serious. No 1 involved
being attached to a fixed object that was in sight of the enemy. No 2 involved
extra duties, loss of pay and sometimes loss of any temporary rank you
What are the
The Colours are a Units sacred
Read all about them on the pages that start at Q&R
Copyright © 2003 Ted Harris. All rights
reserved as per Legal page.
Revised: February 12, 2013