© Bill O;Mara
Sometime in 1969 a few of us were in
Tau on R&C (Rest and Convalescence).
I spent most of the days with Bill
'Boong' Errington, 'Dusty' Urquart, Bill
'Wally' Sanday and our mate from across
the Tasman, 'Kiwi' Gordon (R.I.P.).
We did the usual things, like drinking and fighting
the girls off. I can still remember
taking a photo of Kiwi Gordon swigging
from a large bottle of Bourbon on the
footpath outside one of the bars.
While we were still sober, we decided to hire a
horse, cart and driver each, to do a bit
of sightseeing. This got a bit boring
after a while so we decided to have a
race...three abreast, a bit like 'Ben
Hur'. Somehow I managed to operate the
movie camera I had with me, but slipped
behind as Kiwi and Wally had taken over
the front running. From memory I think
Wally was declared the winner and I had
yet another treasured Super 8mm movie.
Poor bloody horses all skin and bone and
'buggered' for the rest of the day. Our
conscience was eased as we had paid a
few dollars to our co-pilots who were
trying to see the funny side to our
I'm not sure how, but I lost track of the guys as
it got dark. I do recall being led
through a dark alley-way of tin shacks
by a young lady. Not too sure what she
had in mind, but when we got to her
place all I could think of was 'Vietnam
Rose'. I thought better of it and
decided to leave. She kept ranting and
raving about the 'White Mice' (South
Vietnamese police) as it was now well
after curfew. But at the time, I felt
they were the lesser of two evils and
I paid about three times the going rate to a guy on
a bike to take me back to the
Peter Badcoe Club. All the way
without any headlights when he pulled up
about 100 yards short of the club. My
brilliant plan was to go around the back
of the club and get access from the
beach side without being caught. Just
when I had thought I had beaten the
system I got drenched in floodlights and
a shouted "Doung Loi!". "Bloody
Hell!"... I froze.
Korean guards had me in their sights with a couple
of our MPs (Military Police) waiting in
their jeep. I climbed into the back of
the jeep and joined two other guys and
the MPs just turned the headlights off
and waited. We weren't going anywhere.
"What are these bastards up to?" I'm
thinking to myself.
Sure enough, I can hear a bike heading towards the
beach, then stop about where I was
dropped off. A few more minutes, then
the headlights are turned on and a
shouted, "Doung Loi!" And another one is
caught! These buggers have done this
before and I wondered what was in store
for us all.
The last guy climbed in the back with us and we
drove around towards the main entrance.
It was a reasonably well lit area when I
recognised the fourth culprit ...
problem solved. So I said to the MPs "Do
you know who this guy is?" They ignored
me so I challenged them and suggested we
forget the whole thing and would they
mind just dropping us off so we can get
The look on their faces said, "we'll fix you, you
smart bastard!" By now I was as game as
Ned Kelly and said "thanks for the lift,
no charges tonight fellas and no bloody
repercussions tomorrow morning." "Okay
boys?" Because this guy next to me was
Major Ray Harring!
know you're up there Ray, and just want to say thanks. You were well thought
of by the guys in B Company and that's not the only time you got some of us
out of strife. Do you remember when 'Robbo' and 'Pezet' had to 'Front'
you the day before they were to go on R&C? Well that's another story and
probably best If Pete or Robbo Roberts tell that one.
*Vietnam Rose- -a
virulent form of a sexually transmitted disease
*White Mice-- South Vietnamese
police, with a reputation for shooting first then asking questions.
*Doung Loi--Vietnamese for
*Ned Kelly- -A famous
Australian Bushranger of the nineteenth century. Hence the Australian
expression "As game as Ned."
TALES FROM THE TIGER