The Heart of Australia, Then and Now

I have been reading and reflecting on a recent survey of the willingness of  Australians to fight for our country. According to the findings, less than a third of young Australians would stay and defend the country if we were invaded in the way Russia has invaded Ukraine, and something like 40 per cent of all respondents indicated that they would leave rather than fight to resist an invader. Where they would run to — New Zealand? — was not mentioned, but that is beside the point.

Thinking about this reminded me of a story told to me by my father many years ago. My father was an agricultural scientist, and during the Second World War he headed up a small team of agricultural and farming specialists whose job it was to help and encourage Western Australian farmers to boost food production. In this role he spent a lot of time travelling the farming districts, talking to farmers, agricultural societies and the rural press, giving radio talks, listening to farmer’s needs and problems, and doing his best to help overcome them. On his travels he frequently stayed the night at remote farm houses at the end of long days, always being made welcome by the farmer and his family. Despite the anxieties and stress of the war, my father remembered these times as professionally and personally rewarding, because of the friendship, hospitality and generosity of the men and women on the land. My father came from a farm at Waddy Forest, and he understood the culture and the language.

So it was that in March 1942 he was with an old farmer and his wife in the sitting room of their farmhouse somewhere in the northern wheat belt.  These were desperate times, war having reached the Australian doorstep.  The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbour a few weeks earlier in December 1941, Singapore had fallen in February 1942, and in the same month the first Japanese  bombs had fallen on Darwin. On March 3, 1942, Japanese fighter aircraft attacked Broome and 88 people were killed.

After dinner that evening, my father and his farmer friends gathered around the radio, as was the custom in those days, to listen to the news. By chance this was the March 14, 1942, the night of Prime Minister John Curtin’s famous Speech to America was broadcast. This was the occasion on which Curtin called for a new alliance between Australia and the US, signalling (if not in so many words) the end of the old reliance on Britain. His speech began:

“Men and women of the United States:

I speak to you from Australia. I speak from a united people to a united people, and my speech is aimed to serve all the people of the nations united in the struggle to save mankind.

On the great waters of the Pacific Ocean war now breathes its bloody steam. From the skies of the Pacific pours down a deathly hail. In the countless islands of the Pacific the tide of war flows madly …”.

At the same time, he was sending a powerful message to Australia. All over the country that night, Australians were crouched over their wireless sets, listening fearfully. Curtin went on:

” …this war may see the end of much that we have painfully and slowly built in our 150 years of existence. But even though all of it go, there will still be Australians fighting on Australian soil until the turning point be reached, and we will advance over blackened ruins, through blasted and fire-swept cities, across scorched plains, until we drive the enemy into the sea. I give you the pledge of my country. There will always be an Australian Government and there will always be an Australian people. We are too strong in our hearts; our spirit is too high; the justice of our cause throbs too deeply in our being for that high purpose to be overcome …”

When the PM’s speech concluded (the full text can be read here), the old farmer, who had been a soldier in the First AIF and wounded at Messine Ridge, switched off the radio, and they all sat there for minute in silence.

Then the farmer stood up and went over to the wall where a World War I vintage Lee Enfield .303 rifle was hanging. He took it down and commenced cleaning and oiling it.

Nothing was said, but my father was left in no doubt that any Japanese infantryman invading this farm would meet an indomitable will and fierce resistance. In the Australia of back then the notion of running away did not arise.

38 thoughts on “The Heart of Australia, Then and Now

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    Since WW11 – the farmers wife has run off with their neighbours son – his son has transitioned, and his daughter has dismissed the father of her children from the marriage for leaving the toilet seat up. The farm has been sold to a Chinese conglomerate which now grows rice and is starving all the neighbours of water rights. The small nearby town has died since the nearby mine was closed down and all the divorced fathers have gone fishing – living nomadic lives in caravan parks on various pensions. The family has died and the ‘community’ no longer exists – we are a nation of outsiders gathered together in solitary confinement.. The new generations hate Australia as a low down no good dog faced racist pony soldier – and are holed up in safe spaces somewhere in cyber space. Australia has gone Waltzing Matilda … and we don’t know where they are …

  • 1735099 says:

    Why are you surprised by the poll? Back then Australians voted for people like John Curtin, who had an actual backbone and beliefs and values to go with it. Today we are led by a spin merchant.

  • rabel111 says:

    After decades of anti-Australian propaganda and continuous framing of Australia as the home of racist, sexist illiterate bogans, I’m surprised it was only 40% who would run away. I notice no breakdown of the numbers by gender, location etc.. Is there more to this story?

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    30% of our population were born overseas, .303’s don’t hang behind the door to the pantry or cow bails anymore, our service men are derided, the RSL wouldn’t allow we unjabbed in for a beer, so to hell with the country for our politicians have let us down badly, the politicians we voted into power.

  • Daffy says:

    A nation whose governments can fly a fake Aboriginal flag alongside our national flag; who’s public servants can end each e-mail, not with ‘just a reminder, we serve Her Majesty, not you lot’ but a paean to a bunch of nomads who in 60,000 years developed a brutal culture of misogynistic and pedophilic violence, represents no discernible nation. So we have become a tribal nation. Not that most people would lift a real life finger to defend the pretend ‘nation’ that once sort of lived on the land of their office.

  • Ceres says:

    Immigration from countries and religious creeds that don’t share basic Western democracy and values that were predominant up until about the 1970’s, is the reason. When people have relatives and loyalties back “home” there is no way they are going to fight against their own. No common glue holding the society together when push comes to shove. Geoffrey Blainey was right, we are a nation of tribes unlike countries like Japan and China.

  • geoff_brown1 says:

    John Curtin had an actual backbone? Why did he tolerate such an appalling record of strikes from the union movement?

  • 1735099 says:

    You’ve been reading Hal Colebatch’s work of fiction. Here are some pertinent facts – The first Australian civilians killed on the mainland of Australia in world war two were twenty three waterside workers (all union members) and 48 seafarers (most members of the Seaman’s Union) on 19th February 1942 when Darwin was bombed. There’s a monument to them on Stokes Hill Road, Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin. In addition, figures from the Seamen’s Union of Australia show that 386 members of the union lost their lives during World War II mostly in Japanese raids on merchant shipping. Colebatch was a failed Liberal candidate in the 1977 and 1993 state elections for the seat of Perth. His hatred of the union movement was well documented. Here’s an accurate review of his polemic by an actual historian, something Colebatch never was. He should have stuck to poetry – http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/who-are-the-liars-response-to-colebatch/

  • geoff_brown1 says:

    “You’ve been reading Hal Colebatch’s work of fiction.” Way to go, in jumping to conclusions. I’m actually following up on some of the references cited in “John Curtin’s War” by John Edwards.

  • 1735099 says:

    Here’s great read about Curtin -https://scholarly.info/book/john-curtin-how-he-won-over-the-media/

  • John Michelmore says:

    I suspect using Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a starting point may be jumping the gun. Amazing how many experts we have about this event when in reality nobody has information that is not tainted with outright lies,propaganda and false flags.
    Why would “Australians” lay down their lives when many of our politicians do not believe in the nation Australia and/or don’t make decisions in the nations interest. In addition the single shot rifles in the gun safe now aren’t likely to be much use in any conflict; that’s right the nation has been basically disarmed.

  • Adam J says:

    I agree with everyone else but I will add that such hypotheticals do not give an accurate response.
    If people actually saw images of the Opera House burning, or were psychologically prepared for a war scenario alongside a build-up of tensions, the response would be different.
    That aside, I support small levels of military training for everyone just like in Vietnam.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    1735099, I have my father’s World War II pilot’s log book in my possession. Among many other things, it documents one of many trips by members of No 12 Squadron RAAF from Merauke in the then Netherlands East Indies to Townsville, Cairns and other northern Australian ports. The purpose of those inherently hazardous trips was to provide guards on ships being loaded with essential supplies for their unit. This was a regular rostered duty for squadron personnel. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that such trips would never have been authorised without compelling reason. We are talking about three RAAF aircrew travelling alone in a single-engined dive bomber long distances over sea and other inhospitable territory, a trip that took them away from their squadron for three weeks.
    Decades before Hal Colebatch’s book, my father explained why he, an archetypal working class man, had come to hate the ALP and the left-wing Union movement, and the main reason was precisely the actions of the waterside workers that caused those squadron members to be sent to guard the ships being loaded. He explained why they were forced to live for weeks if not months on canned rations, food like tinned sausages that he could still not bear to eat for the rest of his life. He told me of some of the wharfies’ favourite tricks. One such was to load perishable food in with drums of aviation gasoline and then to crack the bungs on at least some of the drums allowing fumes to escape. Apart from turning the ship into an effective bomb, the perishable food was destroyed. Pilfering was rife. Your “real historian” is a typical left wing revisionist.

  • 1735099 says:

    My father served in the RAAF in New Guinea in WW2. He was a strong unionist prior to the war and remained so for all his working life. Your father perhaps should have tried patrolling for 9 weeks on end, dodging anti-personnel mines as I did as a conscript in a war (in peacetime) which was no business of ours, and eating canned C rations for the duration (which were incidentally loaded by Australian unionists). I lost over a quarter of my body weight by the end of Operation Finschhafen in April 1970. We had regular and reliable mail deliveries also managed by members of the Postal Workers Union who were at one time sent to Coventry on the basis of a lie concocted in the media. Eventually the Australian voters had enough of it, and conscription was abolished when Labor came to power in 1972. The reason we see wage theft, stagnant wage growth, the rise of the gig economy and young Australians being unable to buy a home is largely because of the power shift caused by the slow demise of the unions engineered by Coalition governments. The Australian middle class was built on the back of unionism, and its shrinkage is a consequence of deliberate Coalition policies to destroy the union movement.

  • 27hugo27 says:

    173….. You’re no doubt a unionista with rose {red) coloured glasses. “No business of ours” confurms it. I’ve been blue collar my whole life in various jobs, never once joining a union. Corrupt thuggery with too many examples to cite, and sabotaging the country from WW2 through the 50’s. Gillard herself a communist/unionist in recent times. Nothing changes.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Good piece Roger, thank you. There are still plenty of men who would fight, and definitely not flee. Our armies in both the 1st and 2nd A,I.F.’s were all volunteers, not conscripts, and we had trouble getting the numbers up to be more in a fighting proportion to our population even then, in both of them, which we could have got to at least 15-30 divisions of 10,000 fighting men in each easily, with conscription ; but because they were volunteers they were very good soldiers. With conscripts you still get good soldiers but you also get some resentful malcontents, who can act a bit like rotten apples in a barrel, eroding discipline, as we got in Vietnam I’m afraid. These would be the ones who would flee today.
    I should add that there were also good unionists……but that good eroded rapidly wherever you had communist and left influence, which was considerable then, and mainly affected our country post the Bolshevik revolution, i.e. our 2nd A.I.F.
    All in my opinion of course !

  • 1735099 says:

    “Your “real historian” is a typical left wing revisionist.”
    The is a very strange comment. Peter Stanley is one of Australia’s foremost military historians. He has written eight books about Australia and the Great War since 2005, and was a joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History in 2011.

    And – “With conscripts you still get good soldiers but you also get some resentful malcontents, who can act a bit like rotten apples in a barrel, eroding discipline, as we got in Vietnam I’m afraid.”
    The only example of erosion of discipline I saw in my time in a rifle section was during Operation Concrete when a regular soldier threw his SLR on the ground and refused a command to assault a bunker system after tanks had cleared it. He was whisked off to a different unit and we never saw him again.
    You obviously have very little idea of how conscription operated in Vietnam (the only time in our history when a group of men – your “resentful malcontents”) were hauled out of their lives on the basis of their birthdates and sent overseas to fight in peacetime in a civil war. The bitterness still lingers, but much of it is shown by regular soldiers who swallowed the myth about the threat of Communist domination and were bewildered when they saw what was going on in a very corrupt South Vietnam – https://independentaustralia.net/australia/australia-display/reflections-on-the-fall,4404

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    1735099, I was not a conscript (too old), and I never actually served in Vietnam, but I was in the RAAF during that war and long after. I have studied the war and know many people, including conscripts, who served there. But arguing the point about whether we should have been there or not is futile.
    However, futile or not, I’ll comment on your ridiculous claim about the reasons for the slow demise of trade unionism in Australia. The real reason is that a majority of the Australian people will no longer tolerate the thuggery of union leadership with little or no interest in anything but their own careers in the ALP hierarchy which they hope will lead to a cushy seat effectively for the rest of their lives as a member of a State of Federal Parliament. It is an unfortunate reality that almost every organisation with any influence, be it a trade union or a professional association like the Australian Medical Association, law societies or simply a sporting club, attracts activists to compete for its leadership positions. It is also a reality that the most dedicated of activists are leftists. To them, the organisations that they seek to dominate are means to an end which, in the case of many if not most unions, have nothing to do with the welfare or aims of their membership, let alone that of the population in general.
    27hugo27 summed my father’s attitude up nicely.

  • Alistair says:

    A “nation” is a contract between the governed and those who govern. The governed agree to obey laws as long as the governors maintain rule of law, defend property rights, protect borders from the incursion of non citizens, and maintain the integrity of the currency. Our governments have betrayed the contract on each of those fronts and therefore has lost their right to govern in the eyes of a large portion of the governed. It seems utterly reasonable to me now that the governed then should no longer feel any obligation to the concept of “nation,” as indeed they demonstrably have not, and they therefore should just seek self interest where ever that may lie. That’s where we have arrived at. While the leaders answer to, not an electorate, but an unelected group in the world economic forum – for the rest of us it becomes essentially every man for himself.
    Personally I wonder if there would be a significant difference between rule by the Davos oligarchs as they outline it in the “Great Rest” or rule by Russian or Chinese tyrants. I certainly wouldn’t die for either.

  • Brian Boru says:

    Correct .”The Australian middle class was built on the back of unionism, and its shrinkage is a consequence of deliberate Coalition policies to destroy the union movement.”
    The prejudices are really on display today. I have known men who literally gave their lives in the union movement in the fight against the Communist influence. At the same time they succeeded in improving the lives of their members.
    Slavery is a feature of both Communism and unbridled Capitalism.
    Correct again “we see wage theft, stagnant wage growth, the rise of the gig economy and young Australians being unable to buy a home”.
    As to the Vietnam war I too was older and did not have to go in the ballot. I knew others that did and it is my understanding that only volunteers went. One of my mates went to Malaya, one to New Guinea, another spent his time in Singleton. For the record, I did my time as a volunteer in the Reserves.
    The worst aspect of that National Service scheme was that it was by ballot. It should have been “one in all in”.

  • Claude James says:

    And, because the power-holders and their gatekeepers and their clients found Actual Reality too hard and too expensive to deal with, the whole place became the Trash Heap of the Asia-Pacific, as predicted by Lee Kuan Yew.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Brian Boru, one in, all in would have been impracticable both economically and organisationally. There is no perfectly fair practicable system of selective service. But the birthday ballot system was about as fair a system as possible. Even with an all-in system, there would always be a significant percentage of people unfit physically or psychologically for military service. So that cohort could be said to benefit unfairly at others’ expense, just as those in reserved occupations during World War II were often vilified for not being in uniform (and many received white feathers as a result).
    There is no doubt that trade unions have filled a vital role in Australian industrial and social history, and would continue to do so if all union members were sophisticated and sensible enough to select leaders with their best interests in mind. But few unions are that fortunate. The infamous CFMEU and other blue collar unions are not noted for the intellectual sophistication of their membership, so thugs thrive. Even the Teacher Unions’ membership seem to have no problem electing executives with more interest in pursuing “woke” political causes than anything else.
    It’s that situation that is destroying the union movement and horror tales about rampant capitalism impoverishing the working class are just plain ignorant.

  • Brian Boru says:

    Thomas. When it comes to a country at war “one in all in”, in my opinion, is the only way to go and that’s what I meant.
    I may be ignorant as you spray but you are just plain wrong about rampant capitalism.
    Have a nice day.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    BB, context is everything. Arguably, the country was last “at war” in World War II. Even then, the “one in all in” system you advocate didn’t exist. It’s totally impracticable. A limited number of conscripts were all that were required for the Vietnam conflict. So only a very small percentage of the potential numbers of candidates could be accepted into the Army. The cost of housing, clothing, feeding, training and arming an “all in” system would be prohibitive. Even in a pared back to a bare minimum force, make work projects like painting kerbs have often been necessary.

    As for capitalism, compare the general standards of living of working class people in capitalist countries with those of socialist countries. It was capitalism, controlled but not limited by responsible unions, that raised Australia to its current high standards. The horror stories are about mostly historical exceptions not the current norm. It wasn’t capitalism that killed the car industry.

  • Adam J says:

    DT, I don’t want to get involved in an off-topic discussion, but it certainly was capitalism that killed the car industry. It was cheaper and more profitable to make cars overseas, especially with government support in foreign countries.

  • lbloveday says:

    ” the single shot rifles in the gun safe now …”.
    I’m not suggesting it’s an ideal military weapon, but the legal 9-shot lever-action .44 Magnum I have is far from a “single shot”.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Adam J, it was simply uneconomical to build them here, yet it was the rapacious behaviour of the unions that was the last straw.

  • 27hugo27 says:

    DT, once again we concur. AJ, it was not capitalism that killed the car industry, but rampant unionism. Blind Freddy could see it on display here in SA. Line workers on $80-12O,OOO py. And all the rorts and time off they could steal, not to mention drug use, and look-the – other way reps as car parts, wheels went missing. GMH were too weak dealing with the unions and in the end they formed a symbiotic relationship leading to their demise. The unions killed the goose that laid the golden egg. On top of that, the media portrayed the workers as “battlers” and deserving of huge payouts and new job assistance, with pictures of sad faced men in hi-viz with their equally sad faced families in the news. I’ve never even come close to those wages and conditions yet have managed to own multiple rental properties and a rural holding through thrift and diligence. Should i lose my job now, there is no safety net for me. I’ll find the world’s smallest violin to play for the GMH workers, and even write a song that Jimmy Barnes may sing for the poor fellows.

  • Brian Boru says:

    One of the reasons for the demise of the Australian car industry was our wage rates. But also were the low wage rates in Asian countries, lack of economies of scale, protection of the industry in other countries and the international manufacturers policies.
    I can still remember Andrew Robb introducing a new free trade agreement (was it with China) and all he could say was something like how cheap it would make TVs to buy. I don’t remember him saying anything about the effects on Australian jobs. He was the Liberal Trade Minister who then took a job with the Chinese.
    As to National Service, the system prior to Vietnam was an all in three months basic training followed by CMF time.
    Finally, these days it is illegal to get a firearm for self or family protection. You can risk your life in the Army or Police in the protection of the community but when you are in your vulnerable old age it is illegal for you to protect yourself. I would expect that our Government would, in the interest of peace, hand over the firearm register to the invading authority.
    In the final analysis, it is all a question of balance. Zealots on either side do not help.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    BB, the three-month National Service scheme you refer to was coming to an end just as I became eligible. The first stage of closing it down was to exempt people outside the major cities. (Can’t remember the boundary lines, but I fell outside them, so I missed out.)
    I was too old for the Vietnam War conscription and in any case was ineligible because I was living and working in PNG. However, I joined the RAAF in 1967, and a couple of my initial course mates had joined the RAAF to escape the draft lottery. One of them was quite pleased that he was exempt when his birthdate subsequently came out of the barrel.
    In my entire time in the RAAF, I never came across any officer or experienced senior NCO who agreed with the popular conservative view that compulsory national service was in any way, or for any reason, a good thing. Fortunately, neither the RAN nor the RAAF had any part of the Vietnam scheme. They had very little capacity to train or employ unskilled people. This is not to say that universal conscription will not become essential sometime in the future. But only then should it be as near as possible to one in all in as you say. However, the sick, the lame and the halt will always be exempt, and depending on their political influence, a significant number of fully fit individuals will find ways to avoid the obligations that others will be forced to endure.

  • Brian Boru says:

    Thomas. We may be closer to each other on this than you think. My earlier comments were more informed by my thinking on conscription in time of war. I don’t think I would include the Vietnam conflict in that although I supported our involvement. My thinking at that time was that if we were to have conscription it should be for all although l did not then like the idea of conscription. Of course there will always be those who for one reason or another would seek to avoid it
    I am a supporter of the general idea of National Service as character and confidence building for youth but not exclusively military service and with other nation building options for those who might have a conscientious objection to that. Not painting rocks white! I make a distinction between the idea of conscription for war and National Service. I agree with you about the cost and difficult logistics of implementing National Service.
    Of course we cannot predict future necessities but in general I am a believer in volunteers rather than conscription. As a Scot Sargent Major used to compliment me and my fellows in the CMF; “one volunteer is worth ten pressed men”. In my time with the CMF we could only be called on for a national emergency and that was the condition I signed up for.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    BB, if I remember my military law, I think the relevant Acts used the phrase “…in time of war or defence emergency…” as the occasions when the “inactive” reserves could be called up.
    My reservations about these things are based on my unusual experience as a staff officer. I became medically unfit for my original speciality which precluded me from the usual routine of postings to and between base appointments. So I spent the latter 10 years or so in Air Force Office in Canberra in staff jobs. In a fairly short time, with exposure to high level policy documents, I came to realise that many if not most of the important decisions about defence policy issues were being made by politicians with little or no knowledge of, or interest in, defence matters, advised by civilian staff with their own axes to grind. Normal military personnel stayed no longer than three years (often less) in any appointment. They were often just getting to be on top of their responsibilities when they were posted back to the field. Civilians, on the other hand, often spent decades in one area. Ministerial staffers were often as profoundly ignorant as they were dictatorial.
    One example of this that is relevant to the Vietnam National Service situation demonstrates the profound ignorance of politicians and their staffs. Gough Whitlam was elected in 1972 largely on a promise to end National Service. By that time, our combat forces in Vietnam had pretty much been withdrawn. So, almost immediately, he ordered that any National Serviceman who applied to get out of the Army was to be immediately discharged if not sooner.
    STOP, STOP, STOP, howled the Army Chiefs. They carefully explained to Whitlam and his merry band of zealots that by then Nashos had been fully integrated across the entire Army structure which would collapse into an unworkable mess if the thousands of Nashos then serving chose to be discharged immediately.
    No problem, said Whitlam, here’s my cunning plan: the minimum engagement for a Regular Army soldier is three years. Any Nasho who signs up for a three-year engagement in the Regular Army will be eligible for full repatriation benefits under the Repatriation Act as if he had eligible active war service. Among many other things, the most immediately attractive benefit was eligibility for a Defence Service Homes Loan at ridiculously low single digit rates of interest when commercial rates were then rising rapidly.
    As can be imagined, this went over like a lead balloon among the regular volunteer Army, Navy and Air Force personnel most of whom without active war service, the majority, would never qualify for such benefits.
    Ooops, no problem, say the Merry Men, any currently serving member of the ADF who signs on for a further three year engagement or, if an officer, serves three further years from this date, will qualify for the Repatriation benefits.
    So, with even less apparent thought or effort than Joe Biden signing one of his notorious Executive Orders to open the US borders to all comers, Whitlam committed the Australian taxpayer to hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars unnecessary expenditure for the foreseeable future. 50 years later, I and my contemporaries are still receiving these windfall benefits.
    All this could have been avoided by Whitlam simply closing down the intake of new National Servicemen, requiring those serving to complete their two years, and giving them, and only them and former Vietnam War Nashos, some compensatory benefit for their inconvenience, eg something like the US GI Bill scholarships.
    Stupid is as stupid does, and they still haven’t learnt anything.

  • Brian Boru says:

    Thanks for that piece of history Thomas. Most informative but depressing also.

  • geoff_brown1 says:

    “By that time, our combat forces in Vietnam had pretty much been withdrawn”

    I’m still gravely assured by the “true believers” that “Gough got us out of Vietnam, you know…”

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    geoff_brown1, like the Bourbons, they have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.

  • PeterS says:

    I take issue with Brian Boru’s statement attributed to a Scottish Warrant Officer that one volunteer is worth ten pressed men. That is absolute codswallop. I’m not a fan of conscription because it is contrary to my belief in freedom. However we have had conscription on a few occasions in the past and aside from some of the early experiences of militiamen in New Guinea conscription in Australia has on the whole bee extremely successful. I know of NS men in their late 80s who experienced the three month NS of the fifties who still remember their friends and experiences fondly. As for our two year NS men during Vietnam they were every bit as good as the regular volunteers. Many served on. The NS Officer Training Unit at Scheyville was one of the great success stories of Australian Arms and the product was superb.

  • Brian Boru says:

    PeterS. ” I’m not a fan of conscription because it is contrary to my belief in freedom.” I must agree with you there.
    That’s what coloured my comment about volunteers but of course you are right in that Australian conscripts performed magnificently in New Guinea thus proving my Scottish W.O. (and me) wrong in that instance.
    I personally don’t know of anyone of the two year NS men who were actually forced to fight in Vietnam. I understood they were encouraged but not forced. I may be wrong in that also, maybe you know differently?

  • pbridge says:

    I have long commented, that in the next big one, before we shoot the invaders in front, we will have to shoot the ones behind us.

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