5RAR Association Website
In memorium


Pte Leslie Thomas Farren
Private Leslie Thomas Farren Killed in Action 10 June 1966

A First Angry Shot Remembered
(The Melbourne Herald Sun, page 20)
by Sasha Uzunov
August 24, 2006 12:00am

Bank teller Les Farren did not live to hear Prime Minister John Howard's apology for the reception his mates received from a disillusioned public when they returned home from Vietnam.

This little-known soldier from the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir was the first Victorian National Serviceman to die in that controversial war.
But he will be remembered when his 86-year-old mother, Lillian Farren, unveils a plaque on Monday at the Reservoir Cenotaph.

Forty years after his death, Mrs Farren still grieves for her son. "It was awful to see Les go and never see him again", said Mrs Farren. This way he will be remembered."

Les was always in the shadow of another Melbourne suburbs boy when he went to Vietnam. The 1960s Australian pop legend, Normie Rowe, was one of his schoolmates at the Northcote High School before they were called up for Vietnam.

Les, two years older than Normie, was quietly spoken and looking forward to being an accountant in the suburbs. Normie, in the era of Beatlemania, was being mobbed by screaming hysterical teenage girls and had the music world at his feet.

But Vietnam changed their lives. Pte Leslie Thomas Farren was conscripted in 1965 and posted to 10 Platoon, Delta Company, 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Infantry Corps.

He was also a keen amateur photographer and the only son of Thomas and Lillian Farren.

On June 10, 1966, while on patrol in South Vietnam, Pte Farren was severely wounded by Viet Cong mortar fire. He was 19 days short of his 21st birthday. Cpl Frank Donovan was the army medic who tried to help Les.

"Les Farren actually died in my arms from massive lower body wounds," said Cpl Donovan. The extent of his wounds and loss of blood made survival impossible.

Trooper Norman J. Rowe got the call up in 1968 and went to Vietnam in 1969 with A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Armoured Corps. He survived but it almost ended his musical career.

I took an interest in Les Farren after reading about him in a newspaper more than 15 years ago. I was surprised no one had acknowledged his service. Les was one of the unsung people who do their duty without fuss or fanfare.

Len Barlow, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia helped me to lobby Darebin Council for the commemorative plaque that will be unveiled by his mother. To its credit, the council quickly approved the proposal.

Les Farren has not been forgotten but it has taken too long to acknowledge his service.

Following the Prime Minister's words on Vietnam Veterans Day last Friday, the sacrifice of these veterans' might now be better remembered.

Memorial Plaque Ceremony for Private Leslie Farren (10 Platoon, D Company, 5 RAR)  First Victorian National Serviceman to be killed in Vietnam War on 10 June 1966.
MONDAY 28 August 2006, Reservoir Cenotaph, Reservoir, City of Darebin, Victoria.

Mr Bob Elworthy, President of the Victorian Branch, Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, speaking at the commemorative plaque ceremony for the first Victorian National Serviceman to be killed in Vietnam, Private Leslie T. Farren, D Company, 5 RAR. Date: 28 August 2006, marking the 40th anniversary of his death on 10 June 1966. Reservoir (City of Darebin), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Part of Mr Elworthy's moving speech:

Leslie Farren ... for he was young once and he was a soldier. Vietnam was his time and he did his duty ...
Lest We Forget.
(View the video clip Here- 1.2Mb).

Mr Frank Donovan, 10 Platoon, D Coy Corporal Medic, the man who held Pte Les Farren as he died and uttered his last words...
"Don't let me die doc, don't let me die," 
he (Les) whispered.
(View the video clip Here- 920Kb).


Photographs of the Occasion

Bob Elworth President of the VVAA-Vic talking to 5RAR veterans' Mr Frank Donovan who was the medic assisting Pte Farren
Councillor Stanly Chiang Lays a wreath at the ceremony Pte Leslie Farren's mother at the dedication ceremony
The commemoration plaque to Private Leslie Farren Sasha Usinov with the Plaque

Camera work by Edwin Sain.
Editing by Sasha Uzunov.
Copyright Sasha Uzunov 2006.

Lest We Forget