Graham Edwards (Australian Army), Land Mines - Part 1
Graham Edwards served with the Australian Army in Vietnam. He was warned that the biggest danger would be landlines. In May 1970, Graham's life was forever changed when he stepped on a 'jumping jack' mine while out on patrol.
Graham Edwards served in Vietnam as the result of some firmly held beliefs.
"I'd been to a Catholic school. We had the fear of Communism flogged into us, and it just seemed to me to be a worthwhile war at that time, one that Australia should be involved in. I fell for the domino theory, but I guess like lots of other young blokes, it was also a sense of adventure and following in the footsteps of previous Australian generations."
By 1970, the dangers from enemy land mines were a constant threat to Australian servicemen.
"And I remember some 5RAR blokes saying to me that, 'your biggest problem won't be contact with the enemy, it's going to be running into land mines.' So there was a psychological issue there, it didn't stop us doing our job, but always at the back of your mind was the danger of minefields."
Graham was a machine gunner with an assault pioneer platoon. While on patrol in May 1970, he stepped on an M16 'jumping jack' mine.
"It just exploded. I had no idea, no knowledge that I'd trodden on the mine. This fallacy that you can hear a click, you can keep your foot on it and it won't explode, is nonsense. For I don't know how long I just had this incredible feeling of peace and drifting away, and the next thing these waves of pain just broke over me and I wondered what the hell had hit me. And I looked down and knew straightaway that I was in significant trouble, my legs were just a bloody mess. I wasn't game to put my machine gun down in case I put it onto another mine so I just had to sit there; in absolute agony, being driven mad by the pain, being driven mad by the sun, so dry, I was parched. And I just had to wait while my mates were able to get a path up to me."
Back home, Graham's young wife Noelene received the news.
"She didn't know what the hell was going on. And eventually two army blokes came up and gave her a telegram to read to say: 'Private Graham John Edwards, land mine incident, has suffered the amputation of his limbs.' They didn't say anything to her; they just gave her the telegram to read."