Here is my story.
I had finished Infantry Corp Training at Singleton and had been posted to 8RAR who were at Terendak Garrison about 14 clicks south of Malacca. We were sent on pre-embarkation leave, and had to return to Holsworthy, NSW.
My parents saw me off from my hometown, Camperdown in Western Victoria, on the 8.30 am train to Melbourne and then back to Holsworthy. When I got into Holsworthy, I was advised that the Adjutant wanted to see me. I went down to his office and was shown into his office.
He said to me, there is no easy way to tell you this, but when did you see your parents last. I said, at the train station in Camperdown at about 8.30am yesterday morning. He then told me that my father had died at 11.00 am the morning that I left. He had booked a phone call through to my brother, who confirmed the Adjutant’s details.
My brother asked if I could get home. I assumed that I had used all of my leave, however the Adjutant advised that he had granted me 7 days compassionate leave, and I was booked on a flight back to Melbourne that night. My father had a hairdresser and tobacconist business in Camperdown, and my brother and I needed time to sought it out. On about the 4th or 5th day, I contacted the Adjutant at Holsworthy seeking more time off. He advised me to contact a Senior Officer in Southern Command Melbourne, to see if they could help me. He granted extra leave for me on the following basis.
- I would not be paid
- The extra time will have to be served
- As I was a reinforcement to 8RAR, if the Reo’s left for Malaysia, I would be reposted as a Reo to a Battalion going to Vietnam
- My brother had to guarantee that I would go back in the expected time.
Well, I agreed to all the conditions. What else could I do? Anyway, just before my leave was up, I went back to the Reo’s who at this time were at Ingleburn NSW. Within 2-3 days off arriving back, we left for 8RAR in Malaysia. It states on my Certificate of Discharge that I served outside of Australia, for 1 year and 96 days out of my 2-year commitment. I was one of the lucky ones as my fiancée, now my wife, waited for me. We have been married now 52 years.
The irony of the above story is that my father was a WW2 retuned soldier, and he used to write to me regularly while I was in Australia. After he died, I never heard from my family for the whole time I was in Malaysia. My fiancée told me in a letter, that my best mate who went into National Service the same day I went in, was killed at FSB Bamoral/Coral in May 1968.
During the last months in Malaysia, before the Battalion was coming home to prepare for Vietnam, we were constantly “pressured” by Company commanders, nearly every day, to sign on for 12 months and go to Vietnam with the Battalion. About 60 of us refused to sign on, so when the Battalion came back to Australia, we changed over to 1 RAR, where we spent the rest of our service. My new Platoon Commander was 2LT Jeff Kennett. That is right the ex-premier of Victoria.
When I got back to Australia, in 1969, I was stationed at Watsonia barracks in Melbourne to serve out the extra time that they had given me off after the death of my father.
After I went back to the State Bank Victoria, and eventually the CBA, I was overlooked for promotions due to the 2 years’ service I had given to the Army. This made a massive difference to my eventual retrenchment payout and Superannuation when I retired from the Finance Industry.
The Banks will argue that this wasn’t so, but I know that this is the case, as they promoted on continuance seniority.
I am also under a “head “doctor, for the same as yourself. I have no tolerance for people who are whinging about their lives and have a short temper. I am on medication for the rest of my life.
Do what you like with this. It is all true and therefore there is nothing to hide. That is how we were treated.
All that for a paltry $6.40 a fortnight. Not even a cup of coffee now.
Private Ross Murrihy
- 9th Intake 1967. Puckapunyal.