© Graham Sherrington
We were at
Nui Dat on a roughly contrived 25 metre range and one of the old hands from
the previous battalion, First Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment, (1RAR)
who'd stayed behind for the familiarisation was showing us the
M16 was quite new to
most of the men, forward scouts carried the
9mm Owen Machine
Carbines (OMC) at that time, and they were all looking at this weapon
which had supposedly magical powers. It never needed cleaning, (it most
certainly did, at least three times a day). It would remove an arm or a head
with one hit, (nope) and a hit anywhere on the enemy was instant death from
the magical tumbling bullet. (Rarely, and it didn't tumble unless you had
one with a shot out barrel).
To me it was just a poodle
-shooter. I didn't consider the 5.56mm a good military calibre then, and I
still don't. Anyhow the 1RAR NCO demonstrating the
M16 asked the usual question of all good instructors; "Has anyone used
one of these before?" I put up my hand. "Okay mouth, let's see how good you
are with it then." He said this with a very nasty smile as he obviously
thought I was crapping on, and some useful mileage could be gained by making
me look an idiot. I loaded and cocked it, aimed, fired, and got 20 hits out
of 20 on various tins and bottles on the range. Then flawlessly and smoothly
unloaded it, cleared it, and presented it for safety inspection.
He was quite nonplussed, as
were the rest of my company who really didn't know me very well. I'd arrived
under a very dark cloud from *Kapooka, been promptly arrested by the
Military Police and I only arrived back at the battalion in time to leave
for Vietnam; missing our *Canungra training completely. I was also regarded
as more than a little odd because I'd brought my own scoped .308 Parker Hale
sporter rifle with me.
did you learn to use the
M16? You're not from 1RAR, what were you doing before you came to 5RAR?"
Now I had him (I thought). So
very nonchalantly and off-handedly I said: "Oh, I had a little bit to do
with the user trials of the Stoner and the
M16 at *Ingleburn, and I was a Small Arms Instructor at Kapooka in the
Rifle Team before I came to 5RAR -- oh, and I also shot in the inter-service
in Brisbane once and came second. ("There that sat him on his arse." I
thought, smiling insolently at him).
As I turned to leave I went
to hand the
back to him. "No that's yours." He said -- grinning more evilly. "No it's
not mine, I've got an SLR,
that's it over there." "Nope, you've just become a forward scout!" He
said... Uh oh!!!
re-learned lessons for me there:
1. Don't volunteer.
2. Don't be a smart-arse
3. Don't try to outwit a
Luckily one of my company
NCO's confiscated the rotten thing almost immediately afterwards for his own
use and only passed it on to me when it kept jamming on him - it was one of
the U.S. Army's original trials rifles and it was totally worn out, but
that's another story.
-Basic Training centre for enlisted
army recruits. Situated just outside
the city of Wagga-Wagga
approximately 150 kilometres west of
Canberra in New South Wales.
- The Australian Army's Jungle
Training Centre. Situated 60
kilometres south of Brisbane,
- The army's Infantry Corps Training
Centre. Situated about 70 kilometres
west of Sydney New South Wales. (Now
moved to Singleton NSW).