R.A.R BUDDIES 2 - STILL BLOODY LAUGHING!
For the past four decades the author has been involved
in the many facets of the Royal Australian Regiment’s activities. Over the
many years of contact with these serving and ex-service soldiers, he has
heard many funny and unusual stories.
With the magnificent support of the members of RAR
Buddies he has compiled a second extensive collection of these and now
presents many of them for your reading pleasure in this book.
In Store Price:
Ebook version -
Number of pages: 390
Cover: Clive Dalkins
Robert Meehan OAM
My name is Robert (Bob) J Meehan and in 1969 I was required
to register for National Service and then served most of my two years’
compulsory military service as an Infantryman within 12 Platoon, Delta Company
of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR). During
my time in the Army I was posted to 1st
Recruit Training Battalion (1 RTB) Kapooka, NSW, 3rd Training
Battalion (3 TB) Singleton, NSW, Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) Swanbourne,
WA, 4th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR)
Townsville, QLD and 1 ATF Nui Dat, South Vietnam and 10 Task Force HQ
Holsworthy, NSW. I was discharged in late 1971.
For the past four decades I have been involved in the many
facets of the Royal Australian Regiment activities. Over the many years during
contacts with these serving and ex-service soldiers, I have heard many funny and
unusual stories. With the magnificent support of the members of RAR Buddies, I
have compiled an extensive collection of these and now present many of them for
your reading pleasure in this book.
I have written three other books about my involvement with
fellow Vietnam Veterans and other members of the Australian Military Forces.
Many a Long Road Travelled
– The Meaning Of Duty First
Together Then, Together Again
– Veterans Sharing Their Knowledge
In Support of Fellow Veterans
– Veterans Supporting Veterans
This book is my fifth book and second in the RAR Buddies
series. I hope you enjoy reading it and have a “bloody good laugh”.
The formation of RAR Buddies
A few years back Dave
Ashworth had an idea, which was to use social networking to keep in contact with
people he had served with during his time in the military. He found Facebook
ideal for this purpose.
In setting up “RAR Buddies”
to keep in contact with old mates, he initially added about a dozen, mostly 2/4
RAR mates, with the one rule – that only past and present soldiers from the
Royal Australian Regiment could gain membership. Some bright spark then added a
member from 1 RAR, and then like moths to the flame, word of mouth went out and
numbers began to swell membership to this exclusive site. Eventually RAR Buddies
had a very large membership from every battalion, past and present of the
Initially posts were about what each other had been doing. With the
addition of serving soldiers came the slanging of inter-battalion rivalry. With
this taking hold, the site served as a place that allowed former members to stay
in the know with current military affairs. The posts were like what blokes
discuss at the mess or in a pub; some became a little more risqué, slightly
politically incorrect, borderline racist and began pushing limits. As a result,
some guidelines and rules had to be set in place. After a few teething problems,
most understood and accepted the parameters set down. Others, who did not agree,
left the site. Profane language is permitted; in
fact the greeting of new members is usually ‘Get Fucked’ – a term of endearment.
Membership numbers have swelled, but there is an ebb and flow at times. RAR
Buddies is administrated by a small number of its members.
RAR Buddies has become a
place for members to engage in robust debates, storytelling, sharing jokes,
exchanging ideas, swapping photographs, but most of all it has given members the
support network that we all need. Members’ welfare is paramount.
Jim Poland updated the description of the RAR
This group was formed on 1st January 2011 for all soldiers
who wear or have worn the 'Skippy Badge' and who have served as Infantrymen in
the Royal Australian Regiment.Members must be partial to tall stories and
bending the odd ear, not to mention the odd ice-cold beer, (preferably in
unison).Because they come from all walks of life, some
have joined just to stay out of strife. You will witness the odd profanity, not
to mention the occasional bout of insanity.If you're planning a barbie/piss-up,
regardless of the weather, give us a call – and some warning – so we can all get
If you can't take a bit of jest, then this group
is not for you, I would suggest.
Also NO WOMEN OR JOINT ACCOUNTS are permitted. No personal attacks and no
racist/sexist posts (unless they are genuinely funny).
can leave the Army, but it never leaves you”.
Years since our military service many of us may have at some time ventured back
to an Army base or a military unit’s base whether it is for a re-union, a tour
or to watch a family member or friend “pass-out” on parade. On arrival you may
be greeted by an imposing security guard who looks carefully at your ID or
invitation and hands it back saying, “Have a good day.”
Every time I’ve visited a base, I feel like I should be addressed by my previous
rank, and it’s odd to be in civilian clothes, walking among the servicemen and
servicewomen going about their duties, as I once did years ago. I was proud and
even felt like saluting the officers as they passed by.
The military, for all its flaws, is a comfort zone for anyone who has ever worn
the uniform. It’s a place where you know the rules and know they are enforced.
It’s a place where everybody has a duty and is fairly busy, but not too busy to
take care of business. There exists behind the gates of every military facility
an institutional understanding of respect, order, uniformity, accountability and
dedication that becomes part of your marrow and never, ever leaves you.
Personally, I miss the fact that you always knew where you stood in the military
and who you were dealing with. That's because you could read somebody's uniform
from about six metres away and know the score. Service personnel wear their
careers on their sleeves/chests, so to speak. When you approach each other, you
can read their name tag, examine their rank and, if they are in dress uniform,
read their ribbons and know where they’ve served.
I miss all those little things you take for granted when you’re in the ranks,
like breaking starch on a set of greens fresh from the laundry and standing in a
perfectly straight line that looks like a mirror as it stretches to the endless
horizon. I miss the sight of troops marching in the early morning air, the sound
of boot heels thumping in unison on the road or parade ground, the bark of
sergeants and the reactions from the troops as they pass by in review. I miss
the humour, the mateship and camaraderie.
To romanticise military service is far from its reality because it's a
very serious business, especially in times of war. But I miss the salutes I’d
throw at officers and the crisp returns as we crisscrossed the base. I miss the
smells, the noises and the sound of machinery roaring around. I even miss the
hurry-up-and-wait mentality that military men gripe about constantly, a
masterful invention that bonded people more than they’ll ever know or admit. I
miss people taking off their hats when they enter a building, speaking directly
and clearly to others and never showing disrespect for rank, race, religion or
I miss being a small cog in a machine so complex that it constantly extends all
over the world and yet is so simple that it feeds everyone on time, three times
a day, on the ground, in the air or at sea. Mostly, I don’t know anyone who has
served who regrets it, and who doesn’t feel a sense of pride when they pass
through those gates and re-enters the world they left behind with their youth.
Face it – you probably miss some of it, whether you only served for a short
time, did one tour or it was your career. The Military Shaped Your Life.
Why did I want to be an Infantry soldier? I’ll
try to explain. There exists a common spirit within members of the group of
Infantrymen, which inspires enthusiasm, devotion and a strong regard for the
honour of the group. We call it “esprit
de corps”. We also call ourselves Grunts, and we Grunts are very proud of what
we do. Infantry soldiers face the greatest dangers, endure the greatest
hardships and suffer the heaviest casualties. They require a higher standard of
courage, hardness, intelligence and individual fighting skills than any other
soldier. Infantry is the branch of an army that fights on foot.
Infantrymen are land-based soldiers who are specifically trained
for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face-to-face and have
historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest
branch of combat arms,
they are still the backbone of modern armies. Infantry units have more
physically demanding training than other branches of armies and place a greater
emphasis on discipline, physical strength, fitness and spontaneous sustained
aggression. The Infantryman himself, with or without his personal weapon, is
considered a weapon system.
We are the soldiers or
military units that fight on foot, in modern times, typically with rifles,
machine guns, grenades, mortars, etc as weapons. We are the boots on the ground.
We are where the metal meets the meat. When a soldier says, “I’m in the Army” to
a person who knows nothing about the military, their first thought is of this
job and this job description. However, only a small few, a small percentage of
service members actually perform this job. I wanted to be one of them. I do not
say this to brag, I do not say this to belittle those soldiers that are not
Grunts. Let’s face it, if we were all Infantrymen, we would never have clean
water, food, ammo, weapons, air support, intelligence or a whole host of other
necessary things. But as we say in the Infantry, there are POGs and there are
Grunts. A “POG” is a “Person Other than a Grunt”, an American expression.
Another one, like the first one, only longer, “POGO” stands for “Personnel On
Garrison Orders”. It was an old English expression. The military uses enormous
amount of acronyms; you may serve for 20 years in the military and still hear
ones you haven’t heard before.
Just to be clear, let me say
this, Infantry is one of the hardest, most thankless, difficult, miserable jobs
in the Army. It is not all glory; in fact, if you get any of that it is rare.
You will be hotter than you have ever been, you will be colder than you have
ever been, you will live in places where only snakes and rodents should only
live, and you will carry more on your back than you thought humanly possible.
You will walk further than a man should ever have to, you will have patrols that
only a moron will have come up with and many more things just like this... and
if you have what it takes to keep your mouth shut and your balls in check...
then you will get the opportunity to call yourself an INFANTRYMAN! That may be
the only glory you get, but it is more than enough. I got out of the Army in
1971 after service in the Vietnam War and I still feel the pride I felt when I
Life as an Infantryman
Shared stressful experiences
and the randomness of life are known, to some degree, by many people at many
times. But it reaches its zenith for Infantrymen and those fighting as
Infantrymen, who have been in combat where life might end at any moment. At
those moments, things must be done and only a person’s inner compass can
determine what is right and necessary. At such times the Infantryman learns that
luck, fate, proximity and position all have their part in shaping reality; this
creates “esprit de corps of the Infantrymen”. The basis of combat esprit de
corps is the realisation of the randomness of life. In the past it was called
fate. Some might see it as the hand of the Divine. Or perhaps just luck. Why
were some killed or wounded? What is the difference between life and death? Why
did some die in such faraway places as Korea, Borneo, Vietnam and Afghanistan?
What did others do? Why were some able to do heroic deeds but think they were
only doing what was right and necessary? Why do some get rewards they do not
deserve? Why did some collapse when faced with uncertainty, chaos, death and
horror, yet others will never be able to be free of the trauma of that
experience? Are those things that were done, but never known, as important as
those that are known, praised and rewarded? And finally, each person asks ‘Why
did I live?’
In the many wars that
Australian Infantrymen have fought, many no doubt did many worthy, brave and
heroic things that will never be known or noted. Others surely did things that
they would like to forget and hope no one knows about. All of those who have
experienced combat understand this. It is the fact they share this understanding
that provides the bond of esprit de corps. No one need defer to anyone else for
having “had it worse or done more”. It was all the hand of fate.
No one knows what actually
happens in combat. Each person in those faraway places will remember things
differently; each remembers only part of the whole. And what is remembered will
change over time. Those that say the least will probably know the most about
what actually happened – they do not want to relive that experience. Those that
say the most might have shaped it by their egos. Some of what is “remembered” is
only partially true, and much of what was done will never be known. Most of
those who have never experienced real combat cannot understand this. Infantrymen
who have experienced real combat do. This creates lifelong bonds. It is
important that the experience of combat be understood and given value. To ignore
this turns some of the most important decisions over to intellectuals,
idealists, politicians, pacifists, engineers, managers, lawyers, political
activists, scientists, analysts and technicians. Each of these has a role, but
none as important as the role of the Infantryman. No group can survive and grow
if its Infantrymen are ignored. And in an “advanced” society the Infantrymen are
rarely called upon when important decisions are to be made.
Others often look down on
Infantrymen, finding them lacking in civility, intellect or morality. Many see
them as simple-minded killers. However, throughout history it has been
Infantrymen at the critical place and time who have made the difference between
success and failure, between victory and defeat, between freedom and servility.
After analysis and discussions, and with support, someone must take the final
action. It is Infantrymen who go the final yards. Infantrymen play a critical
role in the rising stages of any group. The qualities of an Australian
Infantryman are always the same, be it the Diggers at Gallipoli in WWI, those
confronting the Japanese on the Kokoda Track in WWII or those holding the line
at Kapyong during the Korean War, those withstanding the enemy advance at the
battle of Long Tan in South Vietnam or those brave men who fought the Taliban in
the Battle of Khas Oruzgan in
Afghanistan. Going the final yards is never easy, but it is essential.
Infantrymen have all shared stressful experiences and they feel the randomness
of life; they share the bond of esprit de corps.
All with whom I’d served
during my two years in the Army were Infantrymen. They came in all shapes,
shades, weights, sizes, states of sobriety, misery, and confusion. They were as
sly as a fox, had the nerve of a dope addict, the sincerity of a politician, and
the subtlety of Mt Stuart. They were extremely irresistible, totally irrational
and completely indestructible. An Infantryman is a soldier all his life, even if
only for a few years of that life. He is a magical creature. You can kick him
out of your house but not out of your heart. You can take him off your mailing
list but not off your mind. Soldiers are found everywhere… in love… in battle…
in lust… in trouble… in debt… in bars and even … behind them. No one can write
so seldom yet think of you so much. No one else can get so much enjoyment out of
a letter or clean clothes or a six pack. An Infantryman is a genius with a deck
of cards or a set of dice, a millionaire without a cent, and brave without a
grain of sense. HE IS THE PROTECTOR OF AUSTRALIA! When he wants something, it’s
usually 30 days’ leave, music that hurts the ears, a $50 bill… Or a woman he can
Girls love them, mothers
tolerate them, fathers brag about them, the government pays them, the police
watch out for them and somehow they all work together. You can beat their bodies
but not their minds. You can tame their hearts but not their souls. They like
girls, food, girls, dip, women, alcohol and ladies. Did I say alcohol? And the
opposite sex? Infantrymen dislike small cheques, working weekends, answering
letters, waking up, maintaining a uniform and the day before payday. You may as
well give in. An Infantryman is your long-distance lover… He is your
steely-eyed, warm-smiling, blank-minded, hyperactive, over-reacting, curious,
passionate, talented, spontaneous, physically fit, good-for-nothing bundle of
worry… And he will always be there for you, regardless of how long it’s been
since you last talked.