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 This is #3 of 7 pages of FAQ

Should Anzac be spelt with capital letters (ANZAC) and 50 other questions.

  • No it should not. In it's original form it was A.N.Z.A.C. and sometimes A & NZAC. Later it became common to write it as ANZAC but keep in mind these things:
    • At that time it was still being used to indicate the Army unit so it required capital letters to stay with the common Army practice of using CAPS for all acronyms. To this day the Army lives by that rule. The shortened version of Major is MAJ. Lieutenant is shortened to LT. Captain becomes CAPT. Major General becomes MAJGEN.
    • When the word indicates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps it is using the initials of that unit's true name. If your name is John William Smith you write your initials as JWS not Jws.
  • However, in all cases where it does not SPECIFICALLY relate to that Unit the spelling should be Anzac. Proof of this is available in these ways;
    • In The Anzac Book, which was written and illustrated in 1915 by the blokes at Gallipoli themselves the word never appears in all capital letters.
    • All geographical locations, including Anzac Cove, have ALWAYS been written in lower case with capitals for the 1st letter.
    • Anzac Day has always been correctly kept out of capital letters, except by the odd misguided person who believes that he/she is paying some sort of extra homage by using capitals.
  • Anzac as a word has moved on from representing only the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). We now have things like:-
    • Anzac biscuits
    • The Anzac Day Test
    • Anzac week-end
    • Anzac Avenue Fruit Mart
    • Anzac Square
    • Anzac House
    • The Anzac Bar (in RSL Clubs)
    • The Anzac Spirit and many other uses. 
      • The claim that they should all be in capitals is just without merit.
  • It should be noted that in 2004 the National Conference of the Royal New Zealand Returned & Services Association  (RNZRSA) a proposal was carried to ALWAYS spell ANZAC in capitals.

Frequently asked questions 101 to 150

  1. What is the difference between CO, OC, and OIC?
  2. What is the RSM?
  3. Did Australia get paid by or subsidised by the USA for Korea or Viet Nam?
  4. What was the Tet Offensive?
  5. What is a square gait or square gaiter?
  6. What is Atebrin?
  7. What is the orderly room?
  8. Does the Army, Navy, Air Force, wash your clothes?
  9. Do you have to pay for your uniforms?
  10. Can you choose what uniform you are going to wear today?
  11. What is the Adjutant?
  12. What is an Ops Officer?
  13. What is "open sights"?
  14. Is there anywhere I can see any of the equipment except at the War Memorial?
  15. Is the Guard Room and the Guard House the same thing?
  16. Do soldiers ever have trouble with the civilian population?
  17. I saw "A Few Good Men". Does a Code Red exist in the Australian Army?
  18. Do soldiers have to live in barracks?
  19. If you are in Townsville and get posted to Melbourne who pays the moving costs?
  20. What is "Dead ground"?
  21. What is "Foul ground"?
  22. What does sergeant and corporal mean. How did it start?
  23. What is a squadron? Why is it called that?
  24. What is a troop and what are troops?
  25. What is a "shell scrape"?
  26. What does "take the gap mean"?
  27. What is "irregular cavalry"?
  28. What is that bit of rope soldiers wear round their arm on the shoulder?
  29. What was the "Scrap Iron Flotilla"?
  30. What does Battalion mean?
  31. What is a Colour Sergeant?
  32. What is the Rank and File?
  33. What is the meaning of Regiment?
  34. What is that red sash over the shoulder all about?
  35. Why do the RAAF have rank names like Flight Lieutenant and Pilot Officer?
  36. Do Aussies and Yanks fight the same way?
  37. Is the RSM Army a rank or not?
  38. What is meant by "going over the top"?
  39. What is a "Group 9 decision"?
  40. What is a "whole bunch full"?
  41. My Grandad says he scaled a 12 foot wall. That's about  3.5 metres. How could he?
  42. Do you think that the Allies should have used the Atom Bomb in WW2?
  43. What is meant by "Old 'n Bold"?
  44. What is khaki?
  45. Why are Generals called General?
  46. What is R and R?
  47. What is R n C and what is R and I?
  48. Was Australia's contribution in Viet Nam anything worthwhile or a token?
  49. What does "supernumerary" mean?
  50. What is a soldier's brassware?

What is the difference between CO, OC and OIC?

A CO is the Commanding Officer of a whole unit, for example First Battalion. An OC is an Officer Commanding a sub unit for example "A" Company of First Battalion. So a battalion will have 1 CO and 5 or 6 OCs. All of those positions are fixed positions. An officer, of what ever rank, who is in temporary charge of a group is referred to as the Officer in Command or OIC. Similarly an NCO can be NCOIC or NCO in command.


What is the RSM?

The Regimental Sergeant-major (RSM) is the senior soldier within an organisation (i.e. a regiment, battalion, brigade, division or command) and he works to and advises the commanding officer, or commander. He is responsible for discipline, dress and all ceremonial aspects of life within that organisation. In the field he is also responsible for the re-supply of ammunition. The RSM is the custodian of the unit's customs and traditions.

The title sergeant-major was originally the rank of today's major and denoted the staff officer of a regiment. The title fell into disuse towards the end of the 17th century when the word 'sergeant' was deleted but in 1797 it was decided to post the senior soldier of units to the headquarters and thus the appointment of sergeant-major was officially incorporated into the establishment of the British Army. Over the years the title was further defined by the addition of the word 'regimental'. In the early 1800s the sergeant-major wore four chevrons and by the 1840s the crown was added to the top of the chevrons. In 1881 sergeant-majors were given warrant rank and the badge of rank was a crown which was worn on the cuff. In 1917 the rank of warrant officer class one was established with the Royal Coat of Arms designated as the badge of rank. The crown was reallocated to warrant officers class two. In the Australian Army the badge for warrant officers class one was replaced by the Australian Coat of Arms in 1976.

The position of
RSM is an appointment, not a rank; however, RSMs are Warrant Officers Class 1 (although in rare circumstances an RSM of WO2 rank has been appointed; note WO2 Curry MBE, RSM of 1RAR 1965/66 and a few others).

The position for wearing the badges of rank of warrant officers changed from the lower forearm to the mid-upper arm at the end of 1996. It should also be noted that the correct terminology is 'Warrant Officer Class 1' or '2', not 1st or 2nd Class, and Warrant Officers are not NCOs, they are Officers who hold a Warrant.


Did Australia get paid by or subsidised by the USA for Korea or Viet Nam?

No. The reverse was true. Every piece of equipment, every pack of C-rations, every artillery shell fired in our support was billed to and paid for by the Australian Government. Australia has never asked for financial support to send it's troops to a conflict if the Government of the day decides that it is in the national interest to do so.


What was the Tet Offensive?. 

The North Vietnamese also planned to bring the war to an end early in 1968. Late in January, 80,000 communist troops attacked cities and towns throughout South Vietnam.  The Communists believed that they could humiliate the South Vietnamese and American troops and break the will of the American people to continue the war.

Early in the offensive, the communists captured the city of Hue. The South Vietnamese reported that as many as 4,700 civilians had been massacred by the communists. This figure has been much disputed and it has even been claimed that most of the causalities were caused by American air bombardment. However, the effect of the reported "massacre" and other civilian casualties was to galvanise the South Vietnamese Army which fought with new ferocity and courage to inflict severe causalities on the communists.

The Americans, on the other hand, had little involvement in the fighting - so much so as to start rumours in South Vietnam that they supported the communist action against the South Vietnamese people.. 

The same was not true of the Australian troops who were involved in heavy fighting in Bien Hoa Province where they killed more than 220 enemy and, in re-taking the town of Baria from the Viet Cong, did much to cement the good relations between the Australians and the South Vietnamese people.

The Tet Offensive lasted about a month. After a period of re-grouping, the communists resumed the offensive in May. This time, Americans, as well as the  Australians, were heavily involved in the fighting. 26 Australians were killed and 110 wounded during May and June. from http://www.menziesera.com/vietnam/vietnam_diary.htm

Tet Offensive, Day 1 in Saigon. A dead VC lies ignored on the street as life goes on.

The Tet Offensive and Khe Sahn may well have reminded Johnson and Westmoreland of the Duke of Wellington's dictum: "If there's anything more melancholy than a battle lost, it's a battle won" Giap had been frustrated at Khe Sahn and defeated in South Vietnam's cities.  

NVA/VC dead totalled some 45,000 and the number of prisoners nearly 700 but the shockwave of the battle finished Johnson's willingness to carry on.

If Tet wasn't a full-scale shock to the American public, it was at the very least, an awakening. The enemy that Johnson and the generals had described as moribund had shown itself to be very alive and, as yet, unbeaten. America and its ARVN ally had suffered over 4,300 killed in action, some 16,000 wounded and over 1,000 missing in action.  

The fact that the enemy suffered far more and had lost a major gamble mattered little because the war looked like a never ending conflict without any definite, realistic objective. The scenes of desolation in Saigon, Hue, and other cities looked to be war without purpose or end. Perhaps the most quoted US officer of the time was the one who explained the destruction of about one-third of the provincial capital of Ben Tre with unintended black humour: "It became necessary to destroy it," he said, "in order to save it". For many, this oft-quoted statement was not just a classic example of Pentagon double-think but also a symbol of the war's futility. Westmoreland became the parody "General Waste-mor-land" of the anti-war movement. from

  http://www.vwam.com/vets/tet/tet.html


What is a square gait or square gaiter?

When most people walk they tend to swing their arms a little to aid balance. When they are taught to march this is highlighted and the natural tendency to swing the left arm forward as the right leg goes forward is emphasised. Some people naturally swing their left arm forward as their LEFT leg goes forward. It appears strange, looks unbalanced but is instinctively correct for some people. It is called "square gaiting" and is difficult to correct in some cases. It is also difficult to do unless you do it instinctively. Try it.


What is Atebrin?

An anti-malarial drug that was administered daily by tablet to enlisted personnel under the watchful eye of a NCO in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) during WW2. If taken daily is almost guaranteed to prevent malaria. It tended to give the skin a yellowish ting.

Directions.

Unless otherwise ordered take 1 table every day after food in a malarious area. If you miss a day take two tablets next day. If two days are missed take 3 tablets next day. Bu so doing malaria fever will be avoided.

Each pin contained 12 tablets.


What is the orderly room?

It is the Office for the Unit or sub-unit. It is where the clerks work to keep the paperwork flowing. It is the nerve centre of any unit.


Does the Army, Navy, Air Force, wash your clothes?

No. Each service person is required to clean and maintain his/her own uniform. Washing machines and drying and ironing facilities are provided at all but the smallest bases.


Do you have to pay for your uniforms?

Uniforms are issued free. You are responsible to keep them in good order. After the designated time they will be replaced free of charge. Should you lose or damage your uniform it will be a charge against your pay. If it is damaged in the course of your work, without fault to you, it will be replaced free of charge.


Can you choose what uniform you are going to wear today?

No. The uniform of the day is laid down in Standing or Routine Orders. (SOs or ROs)


What is the Adjutant?

The Adjutant has a demanding role. He is not the 2ic but is almost equal to him on a different place in the work flow chart. He is responsible for direction of all the organisational matters for the Unit. The Chief Clerk answers to him for the paperwork and matters involving the Q Store come under his indirect administration.


What is an Ops Officer?

The Ops or more correctly the Operations Officer is responsible for planning of operations for the Battalion under the orders of the CO and with input from the 2ic. 


What is "open sights"?

This is an artillery term meaning that the enemy is so close that you just lower the guns and blast away to your direct front. Australian artillery had never fired over open sights before the NVA/VC attack on Fire Support Base Coral, where for a short time the perimeter was breached and the enemy were only meters from the guns. I believe it to be the first time since the Boer War that any Commonwealth artillery fired over open sights.


Is there anywhere I can see any of the equipment except at the War Memorial?

Yes. There are many Military Museums, one is probably near you. For a list of official and semi official Army ones go to the page called Museums.  The RAN and RAAF also have some displays. There are also other privately organised military museums.


Is the Guard Room and the Guard House the same thing?

Not really although in many cases they are in the same building. The Guard Room is where the Unit guard is mounted to keep unauthorised persons out of barracks. These days of course that job is mostly done by civilian security services. Guards now mounted by service personnel are usually ceremonial. That was not so in days gone by. Being on guard duty was for a period of 1 to 3 days (sometimes up to 14 days), and required that you work 4 hours on, 4 hours off for that period. During ALL of that time, if the Guard Commander "Called out the Guard" to honour a senior Officer approaching you were required to be out in front of the Guard Room within seconds, fully dressed and in immaculate order. Diggers HATED Guard Duty.

In a big base where security is attended to at the perimeter gates each major Unit will have a Guard Room, usually near the Adjutant's Office and the Guard is sometimes used as runners.

Of course getting locked up in the Guard House as punishment is a totally different thing. Diggers HATE that too but still manage to foul up enough for the system to put them there.

Short true story 1. A 1RAR Digger returned to barracks much the worse for wear. He was looking at the world from inside a rum bottle so was locked up, for his own good, overnight in the Guard House. Members of The Guard, who were known to him, were approached for a cigarette. No was the reply. Against regulations. He wheedled, he cajoled, he begged, he pleaded. Eventually one of the Guard got sick of him and gave him a cigarette.......but nothing to light it with. 


Do soldiers ever have trouble with the civilian population?

Yes. Sometimes.  

Short true story 2. At Holsworthy Barracks in 1968 the local lads took to jumping the fence at night time and giving the (unarmed) sentry a bashing. It was a sport they called Nasho Bashing. The CO merely doubled the number of men on patrol, made them work in pairs and issued each man with a pick handle. They are timber, about 1 metre long and have a metal band around the heavy end where it goes into the head of the pick. Nasho Bashing came to an abrupt end.

Short true story 3. One of our Diggers was attacked by a group of hoons at a rough pub in Sydney. He was bashed and thrown over the bridge onto the sand below. He was badly injured. Police could not identify who was responsible so no charges could be laid. The CO and the RSM called a Battalion parade. We were told the circumstances and which pub it had happened at. We were given unexpected leave. We were ordered to wear boots and web belts if we were going near that hotel and we were told that the Military Police had informed the CO that they would be busy elsewhere that night. Suffice it to say that that hotel was a place you could take your grand mother, after that night. The local hoons were VERY VERY quiet, for years after.

Short true story 4. Some blokes from an intake of National Servicemen in the 1950s were bashed by a group of bikies at the City View Hotel in Brisbane. In a similar move to the one above many members of the unit arrived the following night, 1 bloke walked in, picked up a bar stool and threw it through the plate glass window. Everything that looked like a bikie got the beating of a lifetime. "Some for him and some to take home for Grandma" as the saying goes. The City View became a good quiet pub, a nice place for a drink with NO trouble. There were very few motor bikes parked outside from that day forward.

Short true story 5. Members of one Platoon in a particular Battalion in Malaysia had one of their blokes robbed at a brothel. When he complained about the theft to the "manager" he was cut with a knife. Not quite a stabbing but serious enough. A day or so later the blokes put a cordon around the building, (timber and straw as per local custom) and set fire to it. When it was well alight they walked away.  No more near stabbings.


I saw "A Few Good Men". Does a Code Red exist in the Australian Army?

I do not think so. I have never heard an order issued to take matters into your own hands. I have never heard of such an order being given. BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE. I shared a recruit training barracks hut with 15 other blokes. 1 of them was a failed reject from the previous recruit training course. The rule is, if one person in a hut fouls up, all pay the penalty. This particular bloke was dirty and a bit of a loner. No team spirit, at all. He would not bathe regularly and would not wash his uniforms. He would not tidy his living space. After all, what could the silly bloody army do to him?

After he had got us all extra duties a few times, we carried him up to the ablutions block and gave him a scrubbing, in his uniform, in cold water in mid winter using a scrubbing brush and some washing powder. He had what is now referred to as an "attitude adjustment" and passed the course. He was still dumb but he was clean and a "team player"


Do soldiers have to live in barracks?

No. In times past they had to unless married. If they applied for and were granted permission to live outside barracks, or if no barracks were available, they got paid a "living out allowance". Now everyone gets paid a living allowance and if the Digger chooses to live in barracks he pays a "living in" charge to cover the cost of his meals etc. It makes for more flexibility and helps keep Diggers in the service in peacetime when there is nothing much to do except bloody hard training.


If you are in Townsville and get posted to Melbourne who pays the moving costs?

The Navy Army or Air Force as the case may be, pay all costs of re-location.


What is "Dead ground"?

When you look over the top of a ridge line, or a building, or a fence, there is an area of ground that you cannot see. That is referred to as "Dead ground"? and soldiers who ignore it wind up dead.  The ability to pick which will be the dead ground that your enemy cannot see is a skill to be learned.


What is "Foul ground"?

In training areas when a trench latrine was filled in it was marked "Foul ground" so that the next group of trainees using the area would not dig in the same place. It is not done in a combat zone.


What does sergeant and corporal mean. How did it start?

The term sergeant dates back centuries to the English feudal system when landowners used serfs from the fields to fight battles. The sons and personal servants of the landowners were also employed but as a mark of respect they were put in charge of the serfs and others with a lesser station in life. These sons and servants became known as 'servientes', from the Latin 'to serve'. In time the term became sergeant (previously spelt serjeant).

Corporal is derived from the French 'caporal', which was originally Italian (capodi) meaning head of a section. The current style of wearing the chevrons (stripes) by NCOs dates back to 1802 when an instruction was issued in the British Army laying down the style in which 'stripes' were to be worn.


What is a squadron? Why is it called that?

A squadron is the smallest fully self contained Unit in the  Air Force. In many cases it is made of 4 Flights of 3 aircraft. It is said that the term squadron is derived from the Italian squadrone or squadro, which in itself is derived from the Latin word quadra, a square.


What is a troop and what are troops?

The origin of the term troop has been lost in time but it is thought to have come originally from the French word troupe or trope, based on the Latin word troppus, a flock. Today troops are subordinate formations within artillery batteries and both engineer and armoured unit squadrons. The term troops is also used to describe the 'other ranks' (junior NCOs and private soldiers).


What is a "shell scrape"?

The need for and use of trenches has passed as war has become more fluid and fast moving. However soldiers still need to protect themselves against shot and shell, particularly the guerrilla's favourite, the mortar shell. So, at the end of every days patrolling each soldier digs himself a shell scrape. It is roughly 1.8 meters long, approx 1 metre wide and about as deep as he thinks is prudent, usually between 20 and 40 centimetres. The Diggers reckon that by the time you have dug 6 you have dug a grave.


What does "take the gap mean"?

This is a term used by the Kiwis to refer to the time that you can reduce your service days by, by using accrued leave entitlements. Instead of finishing a term of enlistment and getting say 40 days paid leave afterwards, you can reduce your term by 40 days by giving up your claim to that leave.


What is "irregular cavalry"?

Regiments of Cavalry in the British army were old and well established and very good for ceremonial occasions in peace time. They were "regular" Regiments. In times of war the War Office and occasionally even a local authority would raise a Regiment of cavalry to fight a particular campaign. They were called "irregular" and men who served in them knew that the posting was not long term. The Bush-veldt Carbineers of Breaker Morant fame were irregular. In other words the unit was officially recognised and legal but not part of the permanent army. Many (most) of the Colonial units from Australian Colonies were irregular.


What is that bit of rope soldiers wear round their arm on the shoulder?
That is a lanyard. These days it is only ceremonial and is used to distinguish different Corps or Battalions, depending on the colour and whether it is worn on the left or right hand side. In earlier times it was a useful piece of equipment. Artillery men (the Gunners) used it to attach a knife so as to be able to quickly cut the traces of any horse that was killed or wounded in a team pulling the guns. Infantry men used it to secure their whistle. Many orders or demands for attention were given by whistle blast. Going "over the top" was ordered by whistle blast. Naturally this gave the enemy warning that targets were about to appear. It was one of the British customs that Monash changed. 

What was the "Scrap Iron Flotilla"?

Few ships have brought the RAN as much honour as the five destroyers of this class. The V class and W class were the culmination of the design principles learned during the 1914-18 war. In 1918 they were as big and as heavily armed as the newest of their German opponents, and much stronger, more weatherly and mechanically reliable. It was precisely these qualities which kept them in service throughout the second World War, when other ships their age were rusting in breakerís yards. Elderly but by no means obsolete at the outbreak of World War II, these elderly destroyers held the fort while newer ships were being acquired. The five Australian V&W classes were incorporated into the Mediterranean Fleet as Destroyer Flotilla 10 under Captain (D) Hector Waller. Because of the shortage of all kinds of ships, they were kept on as fleet destroyers long after they should have been shifted to less demanding tasks. 

The five V Class & W Class destroyers were affectionately dubbed "the Scrap-iron flotilla" by those who wondered how such elderly ships could still fight. 

HMAS Stuart in particular distinguished herself, sinking an Italian submarine and seeing action against the Italian Fleet in the battles of Calabria (9 July 1940) and Cape Matapan (28th March 1941). HMAS Waterhen, "the Chook", became famous for her audacious runs in and out of the besieged fortress of Tobruk; she was lost to a dive-bombing attack off Sollum on 29th June 1941. One by one the V&Ws returned to Australian waters where they were moved to escort duties. Vampire was escorting the British aircraft-carrier Hermes when both were sunk by Japanese bombers off Trincomalee on 9th April 1942. Voyager was next to go, running aground in Bentano Bay, Timor, and savaged to death by Japanese bombers on 23rd September 1942. In 1944 the two survivors, Stuart and Vendetta, were relegated to second-line duties. Stuart was given a humdrum but vital job as fast transport of perishable goods. After the war Vendetta was scuttled off Sydney Heads, going to a heroís grave among other illustrious Australian warships. The names of three of the scrap-iron flotilla (Vampire, Voyager and Vendetta) were retained in their honour in the post-war Australian Navy.


What does Battalion mean?

The term battalion dates back to the 16th century. It is derived from the French battaillon, which is thought to have been a common term used associated with the word 'battle'. Traditionally the battalion is a unit of infantry made up of several companies and forms a part of a brigade and/or a regiment.


What is a Colour Sergeant?

The rank of colour sergeant was introduced into the British Army in 1813 as the protector of the ensign and the Colour. There is no such rank in the Australian Army except at the Royal Military College Duntroon, where it is a rank within the Corps of Staff Cadets. The escorts in a Colour Party are often staff sergeants and for ceremonial occasions, when Colours are on parade, they are referred to as the colour sergeants.


What is the Rank and File?

Rank and File. This refers to all the soldiers who are formed-up on parade in the ranks (usually the private soldiers and the junior non-commissioned officers) and the warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers who form-up in files to the flanks of the ranks, or in a separate supernumerary rank (serrefile) behind the main ranks of soldiers. Officers form-up in front of the rank and file.


What is the meaning of Regiment?

The term regiment, from the Latin word regimentum (to rule or regulate) has many meanings. In the case of the artillery, the engineers and in armoured units it means a unit made up of sub-units (i.e. batteries or squadrons). However, in the case of the gunners, the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery itself is comprised of a number of regiments (regiments within a Regiment); yet within the infantry a regiment is an organisation consisting of a number of battalions (Royal Australian Regiment with up to 9 Battalions). Before the 17th century the main military unit was the Company. In time they were brought together under the rule (or regime) of a single commander; hence the term regiment.


What is that red sash over the shoulder all about?

It is a ceremonial accoutrement with a long history. 

Get all the details on the page about uniforms called Australian 11.


Why do the RAAF have rank names like Flight Lieutenant and Pilot Officer?

RAAF take their lead from the RAF with whom they have had to integrate for most of the time they have existed. Those rank names started because, and here I quote the official RAF site, 

  • 4 Aug 1919- Inter-service squabbling in the wake of massive post-war defence cuts reaches a new low when the Army and Navy refuse to allow the RAF to use their officer ranks, forcing Trenchard to create new ones. The new rank titles (Pilot Officer, Flight Lieutenant etc.) came into being on this date.

Do Aussies and Yanks fight the same way?

No. In France, New Guinea and in Korea and particularly in SVN there were obvious differences. 

  • Here are some of them.
    • Australians aggressively patrol, especially in front of their perimeter.
      • Americans clear their perimeter by using artillery and machine gun fire, at set times.
    • Australians take and hold ground, but make sure that all the enemy are either dead or prisoners, as they go.
      • Americans tend to rush ahead in an attempt to "get the job done", often leaving dangerous pockets of resistance to their rear.
    • When attacked Aussies tend to dig in and hold, stubbornly, and counter attack when the enemy is tiring after his attack has been blunted or stopped and he is demoralised and vulnerable.
      • When attacked Americans tend to either counter attack immediately or withdraw immediately to a defensive line behind them. They call it "bug out". The American Army can "go like hell...in both directions"
    • The Yanks are Gung-ho. We are not. Ambush is an Australian military art form; 
      • the Yanks say, "hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle". 
    • Australians would never be allowed to carry transistor radios on patrol, 
      • the Yanks often did.
    • Australians tend to go find the enemy and engage him
      • An American tactic is to act as a target hoping the enemy will engage so that massive firepower can be bought to bear.
  • None of this is to pour scorn on the Yanks or to indicate that they lack guts. They have plenty of those. They just operate differently. 

This is an extract from  another site;

The Australians also had difficulty working with the South Vietnamese Army whose extremely rigid hierarchical structure conflicted with egalitarian nature of the Australians. Largely as a result of these conflicts, when Australian combat troops arrived in Vietnam, they were assigned an area of Phuoc Tuy Province in which they effectively operated  autonomously.


Is the RSM Army a rank or not?

It is an appointment. The rank is Warrant Officer. The appointment is Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army.


What is meant by "going over the top"?

Going over the top or "hopping the bags" or "hopping over" all referred to leaving your defensive position in a trench and attacking the enemy by climbing over the sand bags that were used on the trench tops.


What is a "Group 9 decision"?

As the work of soldiers got more complex and technical the Army found it difficult to control the number of NCOs in some units because men had to be promoted to get the pay level they deserved for their technical skills. This led to situations where some technical Units had many many Warrant Officers and no or very few other ranks. This was a problem that was overcome by the "grouping" system. There were 9 groups.1 was lowest. So a recruit in the infantry might be Group 1. When he went to Corps training perhaps he was Group 2. When he finished Corps training and went to a Battalion he might be Group 5. If he gained other useful skills as an interpreter or Driver or something else he might end up at Group 9. Each level bought a small increase in pay.

The effect of this was to allow the Army to pay a well qualified private soldier who was not NCO material more than a new and not yet fully qualified corporal or a highly qualified technical corporal more than a sergeant in another Corps. It had the advantage of paying people what they were worth without upsetting the rank structure.

When someone was impatient for an answer to a question from someone who was wavering a bit he might say "C'mon, make a Group 9 decision" meaning 'you are qualified to answer the question, so please do so'.


What is a "whole bunch full"?

Many. Plenty. A lot. Heaps. Too many to count. If it is said of someone he has a whole bunch full of medals you know that he is a old and experienced soldier. If the Boss asks a patrol leader how many enemy are present and he replies "a whole bunch full" the Boss knows reinforcements are needed. A Korean War veteran was asked about the "Chinese hordes". He said that he did not know how many hordes the Chinese had but it was "a whole bunch full"


My Grandad says he scaled a 12 foot wall. That's about 3.5 metres. How could he?

The 12 foot wall is part of the standard Infantry Corps obstacle course. It's primary task is to show how teamwork can get done things that individual action cannot. No one person, without equipment, can scale a 12 foot high smooth vertical wall. However 3 persons working as a team can ALL get over the wall. It works like this. No 1 runs to the wall and makes a stirrup of his hands and bends down. The No 2 runs to the wall, places his foot into the stirrup and the No 1 lifts and propels the No 2 up to the top. No 3 does the same thing. No 1 then goes away from the wall. No 2 and No 3 reach down to the full extent possible. No 1 runs to the wall and jumps up, clasping the outstretched arms of No 2 and No 3. They drag him up as he "walks the wall'. All 3 over. Success. Teamwork. 


Do you think that the Allies should have used the Atom Bomb in WW2?

Yes. Without doubt in my opinion. The cost in Allied lives of invading Japan would have been horrendous. Remember the Allies did not start WW2. America did not attack Japan. It was the other way around. Although I did not write it I totally agree with the following;

  • Hey, you, with the bumper sticker that says "No more Hiroshimas",
    • Why not one that says "No more Pearl Harbours" ?

What is meant by "Old 'n Bold"?

It is sometimes said that "There are old soldiers and bold soldiers but there are NO old, bold soldiers". The term Old 'n Bold is a play on that and is used to refer to soldiers who have retired and are back at their old Unit for a Reunion, Battalion Birthday or something similar.


What is khaki?

It is a colour,  named for the Indian word for dust, that is somewhere between light sand and dull olive drab. In a perfect world it is a light sand or very light tan. Australian soldiers have been wearing khaki , on and off, since the first contingent was sent to the Soudan (Sudan). Note of interest. The British War Office wanted to introduce khaki uniforms for the troops as it was deemed to be cooler and safer than the heavy serge," Redcoats" that they wore. Queen Victoria was disdainful, called it 'Coffee au lait" and refused permission for over 2 years. 

It was a time in history when the upper classes were not interested in casualty lists, just how soldiers looked on parade. The losses in the Boer War started a change. The carnage of WW1 changed the world forever, partly because leading the senseless attacks on machine gun posts behind barbed wire, and therefore the first to die, were the sons of the upper classes.


Why are Generals called General?

When officers are first commissioned they follow a speciality. They might be an Infantry Officer or an Officer of Artillery or perhaps a Cavalry Officer. As they climb the ladder of promotion they learn more and more, not only of their own field but also of other supporting arms and services. When they are fully matured and trained they might be ready for promotion to General Officer status, that is , someone who understands the whole Army not just his chosen Corps. Someone with a broad "general" knowledge.


What is R and R?

Rest and Recreation (or Recuperation) leave. It was originally an American idea. It is a break, usually 7 days in each 12 months, out of the country in which the fighting is being done. It sometimes but very rarely involved being allowed to return to Australia. It was mostly an exotic destination, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Taiwan etc.


What is R n C and what is R and I?  

Two terms, same meaning. R n C is short for Rest in Country, a short break away from the fighting and patrolling, usually taken at Vung Tau, usually for short periods from 36 hours upwards. Never for long. The starting point was the Badcoe Club (named after Peter Badcoe VC).

Short true story. The Kiwis had a tradition of not leaving the Badcoe Club until they had drunk more cans of beer than the last Kiwi Company had done. By the time they had they were "a bit of a handful". They would then go to town and "go to town", often resulting in the Mayor closing the town to Allied troops. Off limits. This was much to the disgust of Delta Company 4RAR who always followed the Kiwis on the table of rotation. D/4RAR would arrive ready to party and the town was locked down tight, off limits.


Was Australia's contribution in Viet Nam anything worthwhile or a token?

It was definitely not a token. Although small by comparison to the American involvement we had a much higher proportion of fighting soldiers than did they. We kept 3 Battalions and supporting arms and services in country. We were totally responsible for the vital Phuoc Tuy Province and we dominated it. At Long Tan, Ba Ria, FSB Coral/Balmoral, Dat Do and dozens of other places the NVA/VC found that it does not pay to mess with Uc Dai Loi (southern people or Australians).


What does "supernumerary" mean?

It has 1 meaning but several different uses. It means over the numbers. In terms of the staffing of a Unit it may be that the regulations call for say 10 sergeants. The unit has it's 10 but the need for another to do a special job. He will be posted in as a supernumerary, that is an authorised position "over the numbers".

In the context of a parade it is the warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers who form-up in files to the flanks of the ranks, or in a separate supernumerary rank (serre-file) behind the main ranks of soldiers.

In the CMF I have also seen a supernumerary rank used for civilian clothed recruits waiting for uniform issue when on parade with uniformed soldiers.


What is a soldier's brassware?

These days it is only the brass buckles and slides on the ceremonial belt that have to be polished to a high shine. Previously it also included buttons, badges and the buckles on gaiters. To get the high shine soldiers use a product called Brasso. If Brasso is allowed to dry it forms a white powder. It was common for an inspecting NCO to look for white powder reside on the brassware, or smears on the surrounding material. If either was found, extra duties or loss of leave would follow. Sometimes soldiers were even made to 'break your belt" that is, undo the buckle, so that the inspecting NCO could ensure that you had polished ALL the brass, not just the front. (The Army has an obsession with cleanliness that makes your Grand-mum look like Dirty Dick) 

  • An old Army saying;
    • If it moves, salute it
      • If it doesn't move, pick it up
        • If you can't pick it up, paint it white.

Copyright © 2003  Ted Harris. All rights reserved as per Legal page.
Revised: February 12, 2013 .

 

 

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces