Diggers viewpoint of being at the sharp end. Gained while serving with 3 Platoon - 'A' Company -7 Battlion (Infantry) Royal Australian Regiment, as a Rifleman in Australia's longest ever war - fought in South Vietnam.  

Chapter 2 - Page 10 - Updated JANUARY 2008 - Next Page:- 7 Battalion The Pigs 11/35

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[Chapter One]  [Chapter Two] [oink a digger 10] [7 battalion 11] [platoon set up 12[Chapter Three]


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announcements 4

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memorial 8



intro to oink 9

 oink a digger 10

  7 battalion PIGS 11

 platoon set up 12



 arrival in viet 13

contact wait out 14

 enemy 15

 odd angry shot 16

 advance contact 17



  • new21.gifMaterial 
  • Kapooka.
  • Night Vision
  • Square Bashing
  • Shooting and Aiming
  • Camouflage
  • Leave From Kapooka
  • National Service
  • Drill and March Out
  • Corps Allocation
  • To 7 Battalion the PIGS
  • Royal Australian Regiment
  • Images  
  • ANZAC Digger for this page  

A shot taken in front of the Sgts Mess. Looking very fit. Taken with my new army track suit at Kapooka in 1969




The buildings at Kapooka in the 1960 where surprisingly modern brick buildings with 4 rookies to a room. (Images on Introduction Page 8). The training at Kapooka was a mixture of fitness, teamwork, and a lot of bloody hard work. Personal drill is a good way to instill personal discipline.

All group movements around the area were done as a Platoon, in my case it was number 22 Platoon of 'D' Company. The Platoon photo is on this page. I am lucky enough to be able to see one or two of those rookies now & again, as they also went to 7RAR. Most of the places that the platoon moved to during the day were done at a steady "jogging" pace and if anyone dropped out, the platoon was 'about turned' and picking up the recruit went on its way again.

This was to teach a lesson that:- Australian Soldiers do not leave anyone behind. That at all times the Platoon moved at the pace of the slowest recruit. This was an important lesson as the recruits coming into the Army in the 60's came from many walks of life and many backgrounds and had to think and work as a team, as Soldiers.

By the end of rookie training this "team" attitude was there for all to see both on and off the parade ground. Also in the background was the "LEGEND OF THE ANZACS". During my time at Kapooka I was educated about the ANZACS and how all Army experience was measured against their example. They were very big boots to fill and a big responsibility. To be called a DIGGER was a big step for me and 30 years later it still means a lot to me.

Having read many stories about Diggers being trained for Vietnam over the last few years, it was clear that many of them had instructors that used the "bastardization" type of training. Yet the platoon I was a part of, had both a Sgt who was a Korean Veteran of 3RAR and the Battle of Kappyong and a Cpl who was a Vietnam Veteran of 1RAR. They were there to see we learnt and treated us like men and expected us to behave the same. It worked!~!

At Kapooka you had to learn the Army way and pick up new words and phrases. You had to be a "switched on Digger" and 'listen up'. Because if you did not switch on you might die, or even WORSE you might get some one ELSE killed. All our training was in the context that your life, or more importantly a mates life was at stake. There was no room for error.


During my time at Kapooka there were a number of important skills taught, one very important for working in the jungle or any soldiering at night, for that matter. Dark Adaption or night vision. This is a skill that can be taught and learnt. A skill that we learnt very well. While not remembering all the details of the eye, it has something to do with the 'cones' at the back of the eye which receive the light so that you can make sense of what you are looking at. Night Vision is dependant on these Cones. For night vision these cones are off-set, so you do not look at anything directly after dark, but use the vision at the corner of your eye, to 'see' what you are looking at.

When the eye has adjusted to the light, or lack of it, after the sun goes down, it is surprisingly easy to 'see in the dark'. This skill taught when you are at the start of your training and learnt so well, still remains a skill of mine after 30 years. I know that after talking to many Diggers, they also have this basic skill to getting around in the jungle at night.

These days, in the new century the battlefield is dominated by personal night vision units available to individual soldiers. However the 1970 version was a platoon unit, weighing many lbs (kilos). It was big and bulky and when switched on it made a high pitched noise. The noise was not only irritating, but you felt the Viet Cong for miles around could hear the dam noise. It could be fitted to a rifle but only with difficulty.

Another was a simple method of scanning the ground around you; which was to be carried out from the RIGHT side across to the LEFT. This is because we from the West are used to doing every day things from the left to the right. So scanning the other direction against your natural habits, it should perhaps enable you to "see" anything of interest. Also you were taught to divide the area into ZONES to ensure you checked each area in turn. So any routine scanning of a position while on picket could keep you busy for some time.


One of the old terms for soldiers to drill on the Parade Grounds come from an old pommy term "Square Bashing" and refers to the amount of work carried out drilling. When it was not for formal parade purposes it is for soldiers to learn personal discipline, very important on the battlefield. While Aussie Diggers are not  renowned for being 'parade ground' soldiers they can turn it on when needed. At Kapooka one of the movements of rifle drill used is called 'ground arms'. This is a method by which a platoon can place their weapons on to the ground in a precision military like manner.

When you learn anything the Army breaks it down in to easy stages. So the Drill Instructor would first give a demonstration by saying "to my self only, ground arms". He would then carry out the maneuver. Followed by a one broken up in to the stages. "To my self only, ground arms by numbers, by numbers WWAAAA". (one) "By numbers TOOO" (two). Then it was our turn. The first movement to place the weapon on the ground was to fall forward and put out your right leg, a pace, bending at the knee, with you right arm straight out holding the SLR. As you moved towards the ground in a flowing movement, you would place the weapon down and then return to the position of attention.

I always reckoned that our lesson went on a little longer than it should have. As it went on and on until the point you could barely feel your leg. The next day we all looked like geriatrics as we limped around the base. So much so they amended our training; cutting out rifle drill that day. All in all I don't remember 'grounding arms' very much in my career as an Infantry Soldier?


Another basic skill of an infantry soldier is to shoot, preferably to kill the enemy before he does the same to you. So at Kapooka we were introduced in to the 'ART' of aiming correctly and pulling the trigger. It is not how you see it in the movies with people blasting away. One one thing there is a need when using a Rifle such as an SLR to be able to control your breathing before pulling the trigger. That is archived by breathing in, breathing out, without expending all the air, holding a moment while lining up the sights of the weapon with the target and then pulling the trigger. Also 'pulling the trigger' is a misnomer. As the aim is not to 'pull' the trigger as that will throw you aim off, but to 'squeeze' with your trigger finger. The SLR had two trigger pressures so that you took up the first pressure; breathe out, hold and complete squeezing and fire. I was on the range one day shooting and I knew that my rounds were striking the target in a good group, without doing the breathing drill?

The Instructor kicked my foot, "what are you doing", he asked? "Hitting the target" I answered. "You'd better be", came the stern reply. When the targets were brought to us I had indeed had a great shoot and produced a very close grouping, (all the rounds in a small area). The Instructor had a look but said nothing. Unlike other Armies we don't get issued a personal weapon to carry at all times. I always thought that was unfortunate, as I was as they say now-adays, 'in the zone' with that weapon. I would have loved to have taken that particular weapon to Viet Nam with me.


Another important lesson taught was camouflage. In the Viet Nam era there was little or few of the camouflage uniforms seen on todays soldiers. The bush gear ws very basic and green drill. Again like many soldiering lessions there are basic rules to learn such as, shape, shine, shadow and movement. Noise is also a camouflage aspect and one example brought it home. The cups canteen steel had a handle which folded under the cup part. This when opened without control, makes a LOUD CLANG and in the quiet jungle it certainly would be noticed. It was demonstrated that by folding it under control there was no clang, loud or otherwise.

One day 12 months later we had some newbies in the Platoon and they joined us the very afternoon we were to leave Nui Dat. Unfortunatly this did not leave time to check if they had certain skills. Over the next few weeks we cringed as we realised that their skill level was not up to our own. One day a loud 'CLANG' rang out and there were very many hearts racing, while we demonstrated our silent rage at the perpetrator. In fact he never was guilty of the same offence again. I think we were more annoyed at those who had never taught him this very basic skill.

This camouflage lesson was very different. The main area was it was outdoors? We faced the Instructor who had his back to a large grass area, which had perhaps knee high grass? While he taught verious skills like how to keep still, move in to the shadow of a bush, deal with the shine that comes from an unprotected face.

It was an interesting lesson and gave us another skill to add to our growing knowledge in how to soldier effectively in the bush. At the end of the lesson the instructor gave a signal and five fully armed diggers stood up in the grass facing us some from as little as 10 yards away. It demonstrated that you did not need to have the u-beaut-camouflage uniform but by applying the principles could remain undetected only a few yards from the enemy. This lesson stood me in good stead on one of my first 7RAR lessons also about camouflage.

On that day we were staged in a light scrubby area and the instructor wanted to re-stage the hide-and-seek demo. So the instruction was just to go a few yards and hide. As the instructors went around to find you, you would re-join the class. I could hear as Digger after Digger was found and the instructor calling for any more to come out. I stayed still. He re-started the lesson, renforcing a number of facts. I slowly and quietly climbed out of the bush I had snuggled into. I found I was right behind the instructor and only a few yards away. I stayed still and did not say anything until he responded, turning to see what everyone was looking at? Me. He gave me a pleased "well done" and I rejoined the class to hear the rest of the lesson.



Three main events mark the second part of training at Kapooka. They are the first Leave, the Passing Out Parade and the allocation of your Corps. For our first leave those who enlisted from Wollongong made our way back there, I spent as much time with my girl friend Helen as I could. All too soon the leave came to an end and I was driven back to Kapooka by a mate of mine Norm Mintorn, in his Holden Ute, bright purple in colour.

As a bit of trivia; one part of the old Hume highway that we stopped to check his car, and have a wee break, I walked back up the road and using my newly learnt skill of 'Dark Adaption'. I pin pointed the area, the features and how the road cut through the hill and took notice of the next little village we drove through. Many years later I stopped on that very same section and it turned out to be only a few kilometers from were I now live.

A part of road that one day I would drive over every day to go to and from work. However that would be some nearly 20 years in the future. It turned out we had a broken fan belt. Norm used his emergency supply, a pair of panty hose and rigged up the car so we could get back to Kapooka. We did so arriving with little time to spare before first parade and the start of the days activities. Returning to Kapooka after the leave we felt a little more like Soldiers and very proud of our progress.


The way a Platoon worked together was very important. You would think that a group of Australian young men together would be working towards the one aim. With the specter of Vietnam hanging over our heads it could be assume that all would be working to gather as many skills as possible not only to march out of Kapooka on time but to have skills that would keep you alive in Vietnam? This was not the case in the early weeks.

Much of the Platoon was made of NASHOS, the term for those called up, or Conscripted to carry out their two years of National Service. Among those fellows there were a few that were very bitter, resentful and in short very pissed off to be at Kapooka. In the micro world of Kapooka this upheaval was strongly felt and effected the performance of the Platoon. At first I could not understand this attitude, but when I spoke to a few and understood the massive upheaval their 'call up' had done to them and their future careers, not only taking them away from family and friends but interrupting their life for two years I was more sympathetic of their plight. However this did not do anything to improve the dynamics of the Platoon and its willingness to work together and help each other.

Yet after the first leave working towards the Passing Out Parade in a few weeks and it was clear that the Platoon had a new attitude and now worked together very well. The new attitude could be seen in every way and when you see it in movies, with the 'star' solving the problem, it looks like a lot of bull. Yet I saw it happen in 1969 and could not believe it then? I have no explanation of why a few days leave solved the problems, as I never spoke to anyone about it then. Perhaps it could have had something to do with the positive feedback the Recuits got from their family and friends during their leave?


For us now most days included a rehearsal on 1RTB's main Parade Ground. I remember one drill session on the parade ground when I heard the order 'right turn' and I did a screamer, of a Right Turn. When I looked out of the corner of my eye I could see that the rest of the platoon had made an 'about-turn' and were heading away at 90 degrees from me? So not to embarrass them I quickly caught up to them and said nothing about their mistake.

The parade was going to be a big day but i did not expect any visitors. However i was surprised and pleased to find out that my Dad & Mum with my brother Andrew and sisters, Julie and Andrea had driven down from Wollongong and had arrived to watch the Parade. To further make it a memorable my day they had brought Helen with them. The parade went well and made all the more enjoyable by having my family and future wife on hand to witness it.


Getting our Corps allocation was another big day. The Army way is for all recruits to fill out their selection of three choices where they wished to serve in the Army. Someone with a sense of humour would then place the soldiers based on this list or their background in the part of the Army that did not relate in any way to what the soldier had requested. Cooks went to Artillery, drivers went to be cooks, clerks went to be mechanics and so on. All those left went to Infantry.

To ensure I followed my Dad footsteps I listed in all three spaces “INFANTRY,  INFANTRY & INFANTRY". It worked. On the day the allocations were posted many soldiers had big smiles on their faces, many who wanted Infantry. Also we were promoted to the rank of 'PRIVATE'.  It was not a surprise to see so many new soldiers being sent to INFANTRY, with Vietnam still going strong.

Included those sent to:- 7 BATTALION Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR) were Norm and another mate Mick Towler. Mick was a pom who had come over to Australia for a bit of adventure and had joined the Army to go to Vietnam. During our stay at Kapooka we had struck up a friendship. However Mick did not survive the War and was killed in 1971. This site is Dedicated to Mick and there is a photo of him on the Memorial Page. Also details of "his" tree planted at the Cherry Tree Walk at Bowral NSW.

With our training at Kapooka completed those allocated to Infantry were sent straight to 7RAR at Holsworthy with out going to an Infantry Corps training unit. I had a big smile on my face when i learned that 7RAR was to be our home till 1970 at least, as it was only 1 hour by road from Wollongong, as Helen and my family lived there. The day we arrived at 7RAR by bus from Kapooka. The Battalion had returned from Vietnam the year before and was training to return. After being issued some new gear, webbing and packs and being show our rooms we were free for the afternoon. I ran down to the main gate and got straight on the road to hitch hike to Wollongong and spend some time with Helen.

The next day jumping on the road again hitch hiking to return to Holsworthy and started my Infantry Corps training with the 7th Battalion, (PIGS) The Royal Australian Regiment. Now I thought that our Battalion which had forged a mighty reputation during its first Tour of Vietnam would have a decent Mascot. So I was a little taken aback to learn it was a PIG? Full story on page 11. [7 battalion the PIGS]

There was an other important change to my status as a soldier is that others started calling us "DIGGER". This is the unique name for Australian Soldiers that started on the Battlefields of France in World War One.

I was very proud to be called a Digger but I would not think my self as a Digger until some time during the Tour of Vietnam. Today I am still proud of that status, its something that cannot be bought or claimed. It must be earned and I feel with my service in Vietnam, it was earned the hard way.

Included those sent to:- 7 BATTALION Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR) At Holsworthy near Liverpool NSW; Norm and another mate Mick Towler. Mick was a pom who had come over to Australia for a bit of adventure and had joined the Army to go to Vietnam. During our stay at Kapooka we had struck up a friendship. However Mick did not survive the War and was killed in 1971. This site is Dedicated to Mick and there is a photo of him on the Memorial Page. Also details of "his" tree planted at the Cherry Tree Walk at Bowral NSW. (www.hinet.net.au/~ozgrunt)

The next page is number 11 and it deals with arriving at 7 Battalion (PIGS) Royal Australian Regiment at Holsworthy near Liverpool NSW. There are a few images on this page taken at the time of my stay at Kapooka. The first is a great shot of Platoon at Kapooka. The others are a selection of those taken by the camp photographer during our training.


22 Platoon & Staff  - 'D' Company  - 1 RTB Kapooka June 1969


FRONT ROW:- (Left to Right) Pte KK  Shirlaw, Pte BJ Cobb, Pte PJ Clark, Pte AJ Grogan, Pte IG Birch, Sgt JH Pyers (KOREA - Kappyong Veteran) Pte KJ Rope, Pte GS Adams, Pte M Kelly, Pte MA Ingram: SECOND ROW:- (left to Right) Pte BJ McGlasham (7RAR), Pte DE Coleman, Pte GW Bellette (7RAR), Pte BM Paloff, Pte AG Duncan, Pte DW Sebbens, Pte TL Howard (7RAR), Pte AL Lingard (7RAR), Pte GJ Sturzaker, Pte DR Nelson, THIRD ROW (left to right) Pte A Blake (7RAR), Pte IS Crisp, Pte AR Hines, Pte JP Kelly, Pte M Towler (7RAR KIA), Pte RC Smith, Pte WD Lennon (7RAR), Pte G Kay, Pte M Bourke, Pte EJ Scott, BACK ROW (left to right) Pte DJ Cargo, Pte NF Mintorn (7RAR), Pte JR Hodge, Pte IB Pollock, Pte KRScott, Pte R Critchlow, Pte PF Scott, Pte NE Keevers, Pte B Sampson (7RAR), Pte H Pawluchenko.

'Me up Front' of 22 Platoon, trying to pretend I know what I am doing. Norm can be seen just to the right of the photo.  © "Kapooka Unit Photographer"

Another shot of 22 Platoon doing some yards around the area with a 10 mile walk. The DS up front was a 1RAR Vietnam Veteran and a very tough but fair Platoon Instructor. © "Kapooka Unit Photographer"

© "Kapooka Unit Photographer"

A SHOT TAKEN RIGHT AFTER PT. Members of 22 Platoon with me being different, for the photographer. At this stage of training we were carrying the SLR everywhere during the day. © "Kapooka Unit Photographer"


© "Kapooka Unit Photographer"





  © DJL

This page is now up to date and complete with the extra information I wanted to add to it. Except for adding the ANZAC to the area above and more images this page is FINISHED!

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