It’s been a long haul for many ANZAC Vietnam veterans. Returning from serving their country in a foreign land, after fighting and dying for reasons not their own. On their return many found themselves anathema to the people they had fought for and served. Little support on the home front and less from the government who’d sent them overseas saw sickness and depression take its toll on otherwise healthy soldiers. It was not until 1987, some 15 years after the last of our troops returned from Vietnam that they were given a parade and the recognition of having fought for Australia at the government’s behest. They struggled to gain the respect of returned service organisations as well.
As we rapidly approach the 50th remembrance of the Battle of Long Tan (August 18), possibly Vietnam ANZAC’s greatest moment in that conflict I was very proud of our daughter and others in her school leadership team for representing their school at this important event. To all Vietnam Veterans, and veterans in general; thank you for your service, it is not forgotten nor taken for granted.
Lest we forget.
Leadership Team in the cold Ballarat weather before the ceremony
The South-East Asian War Memorial in Ballarat
Australian, New Zealand and US flags with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial flag
Ballarat veterans, and distiguished guests marching down Sturt St to the Memorial
I attended my first Remembrance Day Service (the 11th day of the 11th month) in 40 years today. Our Daughter “The Cap’n” along with her Co-Captain represented their High School College at Ballarat’s memorial service at the Ballarat Cenotaph this morning. We are very proud of the Cap’n’s achievements. I’m glad that I could be there to film her first official engagement – the laying of a wreath.
My Dad left few mementos of his military service in World War 2. There are some photos that I’ve found since his passing. One with what I can only assume are the senior officers and NCO’s of his battalion; the other with the NCO’s. A third shows my Dad and several other men, but I know nothing about any of the photos other than my Dad is in them.
My Dad was deeply traumatised by his war experience. This was not uncommon and his life path, whatever it was going to be before his military service, was not the same after the war ended. A series of troubled incidents and lifelong PTSD were the result.
I see these photos presented below and I see a young man realising that war is not the grand personal adventure he thought it would be. Yet there is camaraderie there to, with that hint brief of a smile. I know that my Dad lied, like many before him to ‘join up’. He felt that it was his duty to save his country. Image 1 below shows my Dad as a well-bred, fresh-faced young man, markedly younger that the rest along with the other leaders of A Company (hence the sign). My Dad is the second from left in the back row.
In this second photo, Dad is with the NCO cohort (I believe that this is still A Company) my Dad being the man on the far right.
My Dad never talked about, or shared any of his experiences from World War 2. Except for brief and often horrifying glimpses, he never shared ‘his war’. It coloured everything he did in later life and I lived with the grumpiness, mood swings and anger for all of my life. I loved him and am proud of the service he gave for his country. He did all of this straight out of High School without hesitation. I do not know if I would have done the same were I in his place. He came from a privileged background he’d say.
I often wondered as a child while we watched the Sydney ANZAC Day marches on the television why he never wanted to take part? I He gave little away about his feelings but said that he did not want to go, yet every year he watched the march.
I always wondered why a winner of a Military Medal (MM) would not be proud of his achievements and want to share in the company of old comrades. Older now I understand that the memories were probably too much for him and brought back the horrors of the war for him and were too much for him to relive.
For my father, your father, grandfather, uncle, cousins, brothers, sons, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts grandmothers and friends: today of all days, Lest We Forget. Let us hope that the folly we call the clash of arms will never be our normal state of being. That a life lived in peace, prosperity, tolerance and love can come to us all.
For those in uniform, on the land, in the air, on and under the sea – thank you for your service.
A request for information
While I have some photos of my Dad during his time in the military as a young soldier I really know nothing of him, his life and that of the other servicemen in these photos during this time. If you have any information on these men, and their service would you please drop a note to: firstname.lastname@example.org?
Any information that you can give would be greatly appreciated.
There some really good resources coming online and available for you to look at about the grand experiment that was the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion: