William Campbell - Enlistment

Running time
2 min 46 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


After my brother, my brother joined the air force, he was two, nearly three years older than me. And the older one again was about 11 years older than me. He was in the army. So, I was making up my mind whether to join the army or the air force. Well the Japs decided for me.

They invaded… they bombed Pearl Harbour and then the government called everybody in, 18-year-olds up to all eligible single men. You had to register, get a registry form I think from the Post Office and fill it in. December 7th. I was in the army before Christmas. So that's how quick they were calling people in.

I had to report to the showground, Perth Showground, which was at Claremont. We were told to bring a knife, a fork and just your toothbrush. That's about it. Once you're there, you stayed. Oh yeah, they said "We'll issue you with a uniform". They had plenty of uniforms, we lined up, issued with a uniform whether it fitted or not, it was a uniform.

Oh yes, they had us all doing ordinary drill and physical exercises, bayonet drill and pack drills. Oh well, for about three months. There was a young Lance Corporal was in charge of us and he was big time because he had a stripe and he called us "You city slickers" because we enlisted from Perth. So, I asked him… I arrived one day, and I hadn't… I'd never shaved, I was only just turned 18 and I didn't have any whiskers much then. So, he says, "You better have a shave". I said, "Why? It's only bum fluff". And sure enough, that's what it was. "Oh" he said, "You've got to get it off". Anyhow, he was a good fella but he was very strict. But his stripe, he was allowed to boss us around and he did. Made us real proper and we were doing rifle and a bayonet drill, "Now come on put some work into it". He'd say, "I want to see the blood coming out of your fingers", you know, "If the knife will hit you, too bad".

We'd be charging at a dummy on a, full of straw and you'd have to put your rifle in him and fix your bayonet and charge him and sticking it into him. When we go on a march we'd all… there might be a hundred of us, take us through the streets of town and you'd turn up with a band as well. You feel pretty good, then the band playing, you think "Oh well", in full uniform and we felt like we were part of the army now."

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