NOV 1965 TO APR 1967
leave the married members of the battalion stayed with 3RAR and
were posted to Woodside just outside Adelaide South Australia,
while the single members were sent to Puckapunyal in Victoria
to form a new battalion 7RAR.
arrived there on the 11th of November 1965. At
first there was only regular soldiers, We used to keep the boozer
open all weekend having the cooks bring our meals there anyway
on my second week there the new CO (Colonel Eric Smith) decided
to inspect his new battalion area on a Sunday, he immediately
closed the boozer, the next day he called a muster parade of the
whole battalion and commenced to tell us what he thought of us,
half way through his speech he said and I quote "you
are nothing but a mob of pigs" then from the back rank
someone called out "oink oink" from that time onwards
we became the Pig Battalion. He also confined
us all to barracks for two weeks, which no one paid attention
receiving our first intake of National Servicemen we started training
for service in Vietnam. In August 1966 I did an Aircraft Loaders
course at Richmond RAAF base, it was during this course that a
Hercules just in from Vietnam landed, on board were the 18 leadlined
coffins (the dead from the battle of Long Tan) the smell was terrible
it was a smell I was to encounter many times after that, a smell
I never got used to.
remainder of the year was taken up with exercises in places like
Mt Black and Gospers both of these places were miserable, here
we were training for war in the jungles of Vietnam and it was
1966 I read a book called "Street without joy" by Bernard
Fall, it had a large effect on me as it was about the Indo-China
war in Vietnam against the French, the French lost whole battalions
time after time to the man culminating in the big defeat at Dien
February 1967 my six year enlistment was up so in mid January
of that year, after deciding to get out, I was sent to Eastern
Command Personnel Depot for discharge, it was a troubling time
for me as part of me was saying get out, while the other part
was saying if you don't go to Vietnam you'll regret it later.
I also thought I was letting a lot of people down, anyway three
days before my discharge date, after a heavy night in Kings Cross
I told the Chief Clerk I wanted to re-enlist.
you would have sworn I had just kicked his pet dog, he ranted
and raved, called me all the names under the sun, showed me my
discharge certificate then threw it across the room, he then marched
me in to the OC's office who did the same thing and finished by
saying "well I don't know whether we want you back"
he then rang the CO of 7RAR.
could only hear one side of the conversation, which went something
like this. "Sir I have a Cpl Savage here who is due for discharge
on the 9th of this month all his paperwork is done and he has
been Q cleared, he is causing us trouble as he has just asked
to re-enlist and he wants to return to 7RAR. Sir are you willing
to take this soldier back? - pause- yes sir - pause - yes sir
- pause right sir" he then hung up, turned to the chief clerk
and said "get this man on a train back to Puckapunyal this
afternoon and get him out of my sight" I thought to myself
arriving back in the battalion area I found out my mates had been
betting I'd be back. We did two exercises in Shoalwater Bay training
area near Rockhampton these were 'Barrawinga' and 'Nilla-Qua'
the battalion went through the jungle training centre at Canungra,
after that we went on pre-embarkation leave, by late March we
were ready to go to Vietnam.