From the Publisher

Author: Rick (Barney) Bigwood.

Barney was a twenty two year old living on his own in Sydney in 1968. He had just been involved with the end of a relationship and was influenced by the TV coverage of the war in Vietnam. He had missed out on being “Called Up” for National Service, although some of his friends had been. and decided to volunteer for it and submitted the documentation. However with the wheels of government moving slowly he went to the enlistment office and signed up for three years.
This tome follows Barney’s journey as the perpetual “REO” (reinforcement). After recruit training where he meets men who would share his disjointed service, one “Jock” Rennie never to come home alive, he is posted to the Infantry Corps.
Here he learns the trade of “Death” the lot of an infanteer getting exposed to all the weapons currently being used in South Vietnam. He and his group of Infanteers travel to the Jungle Training centre at Cunungra in South West Queensland run by Major Felix Fazekas MC (Military Cross). Major Fazekas MC Earnt his Military Cross endeavouring to rescue “dasher” Wheatley VC and warrant Officer Swanton while in the ATTV. Felix was a real character of the Australian Army who earlier had been an officer in the Hungarian Army supporting the Germans in World war Two.
After completing the jungle training Barney and approximately 60 Infantry were sent as “REOs” to Vietnam) Barney and his peers arrived in “Country” on the 28th of November and after acclimatization at the re enforcement unit (1 ARU) the group started to get broken up. The three battalions stationed in Vietnam in December 1968 had suffered a lot of battle casualties, malaria casualties and the issue of National Servicemen being returned to Australia as the completion of their term of enlistment approached. This loss of manpower needed to be replaced and it was here the “REOs” came into the picture.
Barney and a group were posted to the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (RAR); all went to platoons in rifle companies. Here Barney recounts how he was received by the old timers and original troops. Here he experienced the frustrations of a soldiers lot like being in mangrove swamps for a week and coming out to find portable showers set up and “hot box” meals ready, then after washing putting on new fresh uniforms being formed up and marched straight back into the swamp. His baptism of battle, was to answer the question that all soldiers ponder “How will I perform under fire?”,he found himself no different to the majority of all diggers . Scared, tense but switched on and committed to not letting your mates down.
As this Battalion was due to return to Australia in February Barney’s time there was reasonably short and on the 10th of February he was on his way to another battalion with his fellow “REOs”.
Barney marched into 4RAR/NZ, this battalion was a true ANZAC battalion with 2 rifle companies of New Zealand Infantry and 3 rifle Companies of Aussies. In the other companies Kiwis made up the platoons.
Barney and his close mates Des Blazely , Bob Secrett and Cec Ebsworth joined the “Tracker” platoon with its three 4 four legged soldiers. Here the experience of battle was intense both when under Australian and American control. When the trackers were loaned to the Yanks to chase down NVA who had fired rockets a huge US base (Long Binh). Barney recounts the differences between the operating styles of the two countries. One African American who was following Barney through the jungle and seeing how he carried his machine gun at the ready compared to the US soldier with his over his shoulder hanging onto one of the bipod legs commented to his buddy “Dat Aussie carries his 60 like a rifle”, to which the soldier replies “don’t put no shit on dat Aussie or he will shoot your arse off”
The tales of off duty times when the company is allowed 2 days leave in the “OPEN” town of Vung Tau is hair raisi
Published: Xlibris on
ISBN: 9781456893835
List price: $7.99
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