What a change in life for a young bloke being taken from his everyday enviourement and thrown into Dads Army.
Why do I refer to the conscription period in 1965 of the Australian Army as Dads Army, well you may ask?
The first intake of National Servicemen arrived with a fanfare of public scrutiny into an Army system that was unprepared for such a large influx of new recruits, so the games began.
We had drill taught to us out of a handbook whilst we stood around awaiting the next instruction, a kit of clothing that appeared to have been in storage from the second world war [mildew included] and in many instances no kit at all.
I myself was not supplied boots as there was a shortage, so for the first two weeks of my training I wore my Hush Puppies [they will bring back memories to some]. You can imagine their condition after two weeks of training they were beyond repair.
What does a young bloke do who has been raised in a family that has always valued open transparency on all matters large and small. I had a discussion with my platoon sergeant requesting that I receive compensation for the beyond repair Hush Puppies.
As I had my new boots I didn’t give any further thought to the matter until around a week later the platoon sergeant advised me that I was required at Battalion Headquarters.
Upon arrival I was asked to remove my hat and belt [why I was unsure at the time] and proceeded to face this ageing Colonel where my request for compensation was read out, that’s when all hell broke out, what do you mean compensation he spluttered, his face turning a bright purple and with each word spit would appear from his mouth. My immediate reaction was this bloke going to have a heart attack and I will be held responsible with severe consequences. To add further salt to the wound I made the statement SIR you called me up into your Army and as you didn’t have sufficient gear I had to use my own which was now ruined so I was seeking restitution for my Hush Puppies. The Colonels final word was put the money in his pay book and get him out of here.
On the way out my platoon sergeant said to me after that son you haven’t got much time in this Army, to which I replied Two years sarge.