OC Admin Coy
and B Coy
In January 1962, I returned from the Pacific
Islands Regiment to a posting as Regimental
Signals Officer of 1RAR, newly returned from
Malaysia. The Battalion reformed into the
new organization of 1RAR Battle Group (1RAR
BG) We were short of ANPRC 9 and 10 set
batteries. Thus on an almost daily basis I
began to visit the Battle Group Assistant
Quartermaster General (AQMG), one Major J.
A. Warr, known as 'Wingy' resulting from a
wound he received in Korea. My pleas for
batteries were often met with the words of
this officer which I shall never forget "Do
you want them today, or will tomorrow do?"
Miraculously, day after day he managed to
scrounge just enough batteries to keep us on
After three years of constant begging and
scrounging the AQMG and I were on pretty
good terms when in February 1965 I received
a posting to the Infantry Centre, then at
Ingleburn. The BG XO, Lt. Col I. R.
Brumfield and Wingy urged me not to go but I
argued that it was a must if I ever wanted
to be promoted. So I went.
Three weeks after taking up my new posting I
received a call from the XO. He said, inter
alia, "I told you not to go; if you had
stayed over here you could have had a
company". On the 1st March 1965 the BG split
into 1RAR and 5RAR and I watched 1RAR saddle
up and head for South Vietnam. Missed the
boat again! Time passed. 5RAR trained. I
lectured at the Infantry Centre. 1RAR came
home to cheers and 5RAR left for South
Vietnam under command of Lt. Col J. A. Warr—I'd
made a bad decision!
In June 1966 I received another call at the
Infantry Centre direct from Director of
Infantry (DINF). I was asked "Are you FE
(Field Force Everywhere)?" No, I replied and
the voice said how long would it take you to
be FE? I said three months. The voice said
we need a Coy Commander for 5RAR in a hurry.
I corrected my reply to three days. Ten days
later after a mandatory trip to Jungle
Training Centre (JTC) to meet the political
requirement I was on a plane to South
Vietnam, the only infantryman on board. The
rest of the plane was full of 161 Recce
I landed at Tan Son Nhut and was left
stranded on the strip as the Recce Flight
disappeared in a bus. By devious means I
found my way to Nui Dat via Vung Tau and
that trip is another story in itself.
And there he was, 'Wingy' Warr with his arch
conspirator Maj S. J. (Stan the Man) Maizey.
With the friendliest but quickest briefing
imaginable I became OC Administration
Company (Admin Coy).
The story leaps forward to 21 February 1967;
a tragic day! Wingy radioed "get yourself up
to B Company and start sorting things out.
The Company has suffered casualties
including Bruce (Maj M. B. McQualter) and I
want you to take over the Company as soon as
it comes in". Again I went.
There is no need to elaborate. Every Tiger
knows the story. The problem was to hold the
Company together, reorganize it, hold its
morale and get it ready for further
operations. Wingy Warr was wonderful. I went
to him for advice in writing to next of Kin
(NOK) and relatives. He said, "Leave it to
me, that's my job.", and he wrote to them
all personally. He gave me more support than
I had a right to expect, and he tried to
give B Company the same. We took three more
casualties but we muddled through with his
And then came 7RAR! Lou O'Dea brought home
the last patrol, marching his platoon past
Battalion Headquarters (BHQ) with a flare in
his hand to the roars of the rest of BHQ and
Support Company and best of all with no
casualties; and 5 RAR was off operations.
Things got a bit hectic. Practical jokes
were all the go. Blokes strove to come up
with original ideas. It became important to
show these 7RAR new guys that you can't keep
a good tiger down. CO 7RAR was presented
with a pig (which he didn't seem to enjoy
too much) and a sort of matey but
patronizing air seemed to permeate the
battalion. Nevertheless, the celebrations
seemed to be under control, when BANG!
Someone had dropped a purple smoke flare
down the ventilation shaft of B Company's
Command Post. The CP was rendered useless.
Every wall map had adopted the colour of the
flare, everything but everything was
The custard hit the fan. OC B Company 7RAR
was in my face complaining. CO 7RAR was
having words with Wingy. Tension in the
Messes' was high. B Company was in the
proverbial S**T and a sacrificial lamb was
required. Lt Col J A Warr wanted to see me.
Ah! Ah! this was not good news. As I had
become accustomed to, I went, I guessed it
might not be for tea and scones. However in
all our encounters I had never known John
Warr to raise his voice, much less lose his
temper, therefore no real need to worry. How
wrong can you be?
No, he didn't lose his temper, nor did he
raise his voice but without so much as
expletive he gave me a dressing down worth
publishing for posterity which included
among other things a court-martial of forty
B Company men including myself. Finally,
with a degree of menace he
for Reading the Riot Act and ordered me to
place the miscreant under close arrest (he
didn't say how or for how long). I attempted
to explain that there was no facility for
close arrest and that I had intended as a
punishment to order the so-called miscreant
to refurbish the CP by himself. The latter
idea was the only concrete contribution that
I managed to insert into the interview.
And that is how a B Company veteran, who
shall remain nameless but whom I am sure
will recognize himself, came to be locked
behind a barbed wire enclosure and chained
to a tree until the day we boarded HMAS
Sydney and sailed for home. I may be wrong
but I can't recall that the charge against
the miscreant was ever heard.
Every night for the next few years I used to
thank the Lord for giving 5RAR John Arnold
Warr as Commanding Officer, the most
compassionate and caring man I ever met.
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