Don Harrod of 5RAR remembers Vietnam
special mention


Author: Don Harrod C Company 5RAR Don Harrod remembers Vietnam

5RAR tent lines Nui Dat 1966-67REMEMBER our lines?—rows of tents— sometimes leaky. Duckboards or timber boards for flooring. One single light bulb 2nd tour (no light bulb part of first tour). Pathways were outlined with stones. These identified where you were on extremely dark nights, when it was necessary to move to/from piquet posts or the individual Company Command Posts. The photo from the first tour was taken before all tents were fortified with sandbags, to allow some protection from mortar attacks.

5RAR soldiers having a well deserved bath in an army trailerREMEMBER our water heaters? A 44 gallon drum on a stand sometimes over a bed of sand. Fuel was poured into the sand bed, ignited, and the heat warmed up the water in the drum. A warm shower -- something all the diggers dreamed of. Sometimes, if a bath was available at a Fire Support Base, it was in a trailer, shared with some mates, and if things went real well, a cold beer at the same time.

Primitave laundry setup in the early days at Nui DatREMEMBER your laundry number? All our laundry was sent to Baria for washing and return to Nui Dat. We each had a number painted on the tails of our shirts and waistbands of our trousers. I remember mine was PC15. I am told that the laundry number system was initiated by 7RAR (hence the P for Pig), and indicated the battalion. 1RAR and 5RAR followed and used the "P" prefix. The "C" was for C Company, and an individual number was allocated to each soldier. This picture shows the primitive laundry facilities, constructed by the first tour diggers, prior to laundry being sent to Baria. 

5RAR soldier being served a hot meal at Nui DatREMEMBER Choofa's? These were these great box-like things that were located in most company messes, and occasionally at fire support bases. They were fuel-fired - what was it? -- probably kerosene. When hot, they could turn out a reasonable meal, but this was always dependent on the ingredients that were placed inside. They were known to blow up from time to time -- hence the requirement for the Q Store to keep extra ration packs on hand. The ability to blow up probably gave us an extra tactical advantage -- depending where you were standing. Right is a typical photo of a mess serving point -- not quite the same as home!

Thunderboxes (A toliet over an open pit) Remember Pissaphones? These were ingenious constructions, located throughout company lines. A pit was dug (don't know how deep -- nobody dared to find out). Part of a 44 gallon drum was dug into the ground, and covered with fly-wire. This was secured around the top of the drum. Another section of a drum was dug in above the ground, in a half-circle. The soldier would stand in front of the half-circular drum, and urinate into the fly-screen covered circle. No matter how much lime and disinfectant was scattered in the vicinity of the "pissaphone", the stench was stronger than all of us. Anyway, it probably prevented the over-watering of rubber trees. The picture right shows how primitive toilet facilities were—a bit of a screened enclosure—seating for about four (with no privacy divisions), and minimal protection from mosquitoes.

Gary Townsend 5RAR resting on his 'Lilo' Remember your tent furniture? They say the Aussie Digger was a pretty ingenious bloke. If anyone had seen how old ammunition boxes could be fashioned into tables, wardrobes, cupboards, chairs and entertainment units, they would be impressed. Even the sandbag walls made great shaving stands -- a mirror, water dish, and it was almost as good as the bathroom at Mum's. A digger is shown enjoying all the comforts of home, lounging about on his " IiLo" Bliss!

Gardening at Nui Dat with a flame thrower

Remember a bit of gardening? This photo from the first tour depicts the quickest and easiest way to "rake up leaves" in our rubber plantation base at Nui Dat.