Daryl Bristowe - National service
When I was called up, I went in on the 8th of July 1970 and I couldn't work out why no one had the same birthday as me. You would expect it. And it wasn't til I joined this club in 2014 that I found out someone was in, not the same platoon, the same birthday, but the intake before me, I was in the third intake of 1970. He was in the second intake. And then after talking to mother and her activities, including a certain letter that she sent off to a certain person that had power in Canberra, threatening if anything happened to me it would happen to him. You can see why the army kept... I didn't know this.
And I kept getting these funny questions, asked all the time when I'm at Pucka. And I think because of that, it was still difficult because I'd never been away from home and Puckapunyal was really cold in July. But you know, they sort of ask questions and things were a little bit easier for me because I think they were worrying about a certain mother.
But anyway, everybody has an option. No, not the regular army, a volunteer to go to Vietnam. Everybody says you're called up when you're sent to Vietnam, you're not, you know, like I think it was 40. I'm doing a talk next week, the historical society in Sherbrooke. So I've had to research it, 40,000 national servicemen were called up. And I think 13,000 or something like that, went to Vietnam and all through my time, I was asked as you move through the system, do you wish to go to Vietnam? And if you said at any time, no, this is infantry, I can't talk for the others because we had nine battalions.
And in 1970 there was talk about raising the 10th battalion because as we all know, the first three battalions, one, two and three were basically raised after the Second World War with what people wanted to stay in the army, you know, they made, and those three battalions were involved in Korea. But of course, when Mr Menzies committed us, we had the Australian Vietnam Training Team and they'd been there since '62, but the Australian army, the infantry, I think the fifth and the sixth battalions in '66, '65, '66 were the first two, then they started to build up because of national service coming in every three months more troops were coming into the system.
Because I remember at the time when I had said, "I will go to Vietnam", they indicated, if I didn't want to go to Vietnam, it's all right, because the fifth and the sixth battalion were in Malaya, the third and the fourth were in Vietnam in 1970 or '70, '71. So if I didn't want to go to Vietnam and I wanted an overseas posting, I could have gone to Penang, or I don't think it's Butterworth. I think Butterworth is where the planes are, but I had the choice of going to those. And I said, "No, no, I'll, I'll go to Vietnam".
And you know, I did, but as soon as I left Puckapunyal after 10 weeks, because my first choice was armour and little did I know at the time, you needed seven out of 10 recruits to go into infantry. And I happened to say, "Look, I don't mind carrying the M60 machine gun". Silly me. So I said, "Look, gunner, second choice, rifleman, third choice". So automatically I got infantry. I did 10 weeks at Singleton, which is at Muswellbrook, up that way to do infantry training.
There, I met up with people next to Singleton where you do the infantry training. There was another recruit area and people from Queensland and Northern Territory, it was a much smaller one, not like Puckapunyal. Cause Kapooka, I think was where the regs went through as we called them. And I met people there that had come from the northern states and your sort of infantry blokes, your sort of... There's something about infantry, we're totally different, I don't know what it is, whether it's in our training, but we're like a band of brothers having spent time in engineers with the reserves after the war. They're terrific, but it's just different, you know ?