Daryl Bristowe - Resupply and mail

Running time
4 min 22 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Every time we had to be resupplied with water, sometimes they brought it in jerry cans. It didn't happen when I was with the first reinforcement unit, we took it from the river. We had four water bottles and 'cause I'm right-handed I always drank from here, this side. So this one was ready to drink. That's almost ready to drink. The two that are attached to the backpack. First stage of purification. Second stage of purification. The first one kills the bacteria. The second one makes it respectable to drink. The only thing I remember about the water, if it's raining, the water is red. If it's not raining, the water is black.

So when I got to, when I got to the Third Battalion working out of APCs, we had fresh water coming out. The helicopter landed every day at three o'clock. Now this is why I'm supportive of my 100, 101-year-old mum. She wants to come home and I said, "Look, come on. It's going to happen". But every Thursday, a cake arrived from Australia in a tin. As many people crowded around the tin as they could, Dad and Mum baked the cake on the Saturday, cooled it on the Sunday. Dad packed it late Sunday night, plastic hessian was the top one. In those days, you know, you have blue trailer covers now, Dad got that sort of material, but it was white and they sewed it all up. And when it arrived four days after it was made, it always had green fungus on it. Don't ask me how, but we didn't care.

So I just use my hat because you know, we haven't washed for two weeks. You'd wipe the fungus off the top. You would use your bayonet, trying to cut equal shares because you had everybody looking over your shoulder. "That piece is a bit bigger. Cut it." Mum and Dad and grandparents, not the brother, he only sent one letter, my sister sent two, my grandparents, maternal and paternal sent mail to me. Mum sent a letter every day. Dad sent, because you know, they were married, he sent every two days and I was the only person in the platoon to get on average, a letter and a half every day. Or was it, it was one letter every day and a half plus a cake.

But also because it was the football season I received Friday's Sun, Saturday's Sporting Globe, and that's... you don't need that now, with the pink pages, and Monday's Sun with the football results. But, you still listened to the football, even though there's a time difference, we always stopped to listen to the football if we weren't moving, and on the APCs changing positions. Now, this is a bit funny here. We required the army toilet paper to write home on, unused of course, 'cause mum would have yelled. After the paper was read it was recycled back into the bush.

But it's so funny because it was from home, everybody took a double page and you'd hear whispers, "Who's got page seven, who's got page eight?" Because you're reading an article and the damn thing goes on to the next page. So by the time everybody in a whole week read all the newspaper, doesn't matter whether it's a lieutenant or the corporal or the people that were driving the APCs, everybody read the paper to get any bit of information. The funniest thing I've ever saw was a bloke got a letter from Vic Roads. I don't know how he paid his registration from the jungle in Vietnam, but we all saw the funny side of it, but that's that. But no, Mum and Dad were behind me, well apart from Mum's activities, but I never was short of mail, never short of newspaper.

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