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Robert Lyle Newberry
Robert Lyle Newberry

© Ian Leis
7 Pl C Coy
2nd Tour
Ian Leis

Blue was another member of 5RAR who did Rookie-Corps-Battalion training together with a very special group of mates. Blue wasn't really military material. His physical build and skin complexion were against him. However Blue was determined as the rest of us. He did his jobs to the best of his ability, keeping to himself and not being one to voice his opinions- maybe grumbling to himself on the odd occasion. Blue in general was not a happy person – smiles were very rare. Alcohol changed his disposition, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Five Section 8 Platoon – Rifleman, was his first job in 5RAR. The section 2IC, L/CPL Barry Morgan (didn’t he make a career of the military) saw very early that Blue wasn't really suitable as a bush soldier. He nominated Blue to do a Q (Quarter Master's) course and this eventually put Blue into the Q Store with SSGT "Mouse" McLeod. Blue was good at his job however if you were his mate, didn't give him a hard time, you got what you asked for. If not, well, it took longer sometimes much longer to get what you were after. After resupply many sand bags went back to Nui-Dat some tied with bows. Blue knew these bags contained 'goodies' i.e. cakes of soap etc good merchandise to barter for favours with when on R&C (Rest & Convalescence) in Vung Tau. These items Blue kept aside for his mates.

John 'Blue' Newberry with  John Roberts Blue liked his job in the Q Store. I believe he worked quite hard preparing, organising, loading and unloading the supplies that made our existence in the scrub a little better. As Blue was continually around trucks and choppers he was always in strife for having a dirty weapon. He once made a request for a pistol, but this request was knocked back as only the officers had access to pistols.

After this, Blue on many occasions mostly when the company was out on operations, started a habit of wearing a holster with the trigger mechanism of an M60 in it. It looked the part but he ceased this habit after one of the battalion vehicles going to Baria with laundry, was fired upon. Blue was regularly involved with this task.

Eventually Blue left the Q Store job and went back to 8 Platoon as a rifleman for the rest of his tour. He was severely troubled by skin problems during his military service and for the rest of his life. He was unable to gain medical assistance for this problem/condition. He became very bitter with the military. He spoke very little of his service.

He married Shirley and they had a daughter, Donna. Both loved and supported and did their best to understand "Blue". He made a successful career with the railways, V-lines at Albury, becoming a senior head conductor. Blue and I were good mates from day one of rookie training. Our friendship continued post military service.

Sadly Blue took his own life in 1992.  


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