Bill Black - Acclimatizing and officers

Running time
1 min 59 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Look, we probably all shaped each other once you got over there, once you knew it was for real. As I said, they... I forgot how many days we spent in the wire, as we call it, when we arrived. Might've been three or four when you got shown the latest booby traps. Acclimatizing they'd call it, you'd acclimatize.

And we got put outside the wire as a battalion, and there was no enemy activity for, I think 15 miles was the bloody distance they had. So we slept up, and I remember waking up, it was just like a thousand Guy Fawkes nights, it was bloody on. And I probably got a couple of little bits of luck at the expense of others because I was the medic with John Wheeler's platoon in D company, and not long before we went I got swapped into B company, and Bray Finlay took my place in D company. And they got hit, they had the claymores turned around on them.

Johnny Wheeler, who was a reg louie, he got blown to pieces. I think one of the other guys got killed, John Salisman, Salisman I think his name was. So they copped the brunt of that, which I was to the offside of that. John Wheeler was, to me, one of the, how can I put it, the more civil reg officers. Just probably because of his personality. He was a very bloody open and friendly guy. I suppose he had an impact on me as the first person that was not fully regimented.

But you do learn, a lot of the other guys were like that. And what you don't realise at the time was that these louies that are with us, they're the same age as us. While we were doing our professional training, they were learning to be soldiers, but they'd never been in a war, so they were as green as us and yet they've got that massive responsibility. Years down the track you reflect on that.

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