Daryl Bristowe - Carrying ammunition

Running time
3 min 25 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


...when I first arrived there, I did three to four weeks with the first reinforcement unit to acclimatize. And you know, when you're acclimatized, when the humidity is in the nineties and you get up and say, "Gee, it's a cool day today". And during that time with the unit they take you out to do exercises in the jungle. Three and four and five days initially but then it got a little bit longer.

This volunteering bit, it's not good. One day they called me up. With certain weapons, some people have a knack and some people don't and there's a thing called an M79 grenade launcher. You don't think of the Russian bazooka one, they call a grenade launcher. It's a 14 millimetre, looks like a big shotgun. And I had a knack with that and they asked for someone to carry it. And they said, "You will also be carrying a nine-millimetre Browning pistol". And I thought, "Oh, less to clean, you can't lose it".

When I got to the end of the line, he said, "I'm terribly sorry, Bristowe, but we've run out of pistols. So you'll have to carry an M16 as well as the M79." And I said, "Alright then, I'll try it." And because of all the explosives that I was carrying on my chest, they said, "Right, you don't have to carry link for the machine gun..." You know what link is, don't you? It's the belt. They call it link. And most soldiers carried 100 rounds linked together, 'cause you can't expect the machine gunner or the two people with the machine gun to carry extra rounds. So every soldier carried at least 200 rounds.

Anyway, because I had this thing, like a fisherman's thing. And you had grenade ones... I think I carried 12 here and I had two... I hadn't seen a Bren gun in my life, but I had two Bren gun pouches, which carried, I think 24 illumination rounds. And at the very top, which I'd never seen in Australia, buckshot, which I'm told everybody pointed out, you do not point a grenade launcher at anybody less than 40 metres from you because it will not detonate.

It takes that time to arm itself and people had threatened... Well, if you do that, if you hit a person and it doesn't go off, they're not going to put him in the helicopter to bring him back. I didn't ask any more questions. So would imagine someone would have been at the end and helped him. I didn't ask. I have no idea what they would have done, but I'm sure if it had got to that, I would have thrown a weapon at him and ran that way.

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