- What is the
difference between CO, OC, and OIC?
- What is the RSM?
- Did Australia get
paid by or subsidised by the USA for Korea or Viet Nam?
- What was the Tet
- What is a square
gait or square gaiter?
- What is Atebrin?
- What is the orderly room?
- Does the Army, Navy, Air Force,
wash your clothes?
- Do you have to pay for your
- Can you choose what uniform you are
going to wear today?
- What is the Adjutant?
- What is an Ops Officer?
- What is "open sights"?
- Is there anywhere I can see any
of the equipment except at the War Memorial?
- Is the Guard Room and the Guard
House the same thing?
- Do soldiers ever have trouble
with the civilian population?
- I saw "A Few Good
Men". Does a Code Red exist in the Australian Army?
- Do soldiers have to live in
- If you are in Townsville and get
posted to Melbourne who pays the moving costs?
- What is "Dead ground"?
- What is "Foul ground"?
- What does sergeant and corporal mean. How did it
- What is a squadron? Why is it called
- What is a troop and what are
- What is a "shell scrape"?
- What does "take the gap mean"?
- What is "irregular cavalry"?
- What is that bit of rope soldiers wear round their arm on the
- What was the "Scrap Iron Flotilla"?
- What does Battalion mean?
- What is a Colour Sergeant?
- What is the Rank and File?
- What is the meaning of
- What is that red sash over the
shoulder all about?
- Why do the RAAF have rank names
like Flight Lieutenant and Pilot Officer?
- Do Aussies and Yanks fight the
- Is the RSM Army a rank or not?
- What is meant by "going
over the top"?
- What is a "Group 9
- What is a "whole bunch
- My Grandad says he scaled a 12 foot
wall. That's about 3.5 metres. How could he?
- Do you think that the Allies should
have used the Atom Bomb in WW2?
- What is meant by "Old 'n
- What is khaki?
- Why are Generals called General?
- What is R and R?
- What is R n C and what is R and I?
- Was Australia's contribution in
Viet Nam anything worthwhile or a token?
- What does
- 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
(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.
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
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
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
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
five V Class & W Class destroyers were affectionately dubbed
"the Scrap-iron flotilla" by
those who wondered how such elderly ships could still fight.
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.
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
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
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
What is the meaning
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
Get all the details on the page about uniforms called Australian
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,
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,
- 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
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
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
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
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
- 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
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"
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
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,
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).
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
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
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
- 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