Stu's Stories as at 2022

27 | P a g e Back to Teenage Years! In my time all 18-year-olds were called up for National Service training. This entailed 3 months basic training and then 5 years in Reserves with evening, weekend and fortnight away camps during that time. Unlike many, I looked forward to this and intended to have a good time. Example of the opposite approach: Another apprentice with me was talked into being a “conscientious objector” by his father who seemed proud of the fact that he had got out of doing his bit during the last war on religious grounds (they were Christadelphians). He had to go before a Magistrate to plead his case. The Magistrate questioned him and learned that he and his dad used to go shooting almost every Sunday and told him bluntly that if he could shoot animals on Sunday he could do his National Service. He refused and spent the next three months in an Army gaol. Stupid! I was probably lucky to get in as, having only one ear, I managed to bluff my way through the medical. In typical army fashion, because I worked in a part of the printing game, I was put in to a map-making unit. This proved great after the basic training as, because all our equipment was in trailers, we went everywhere in trucks or jeeps. None of this foot-slogging caper! I still consider those 3 months one of the best holidays I ever had. It started out a little difficult when we were being sworn in. As a died-in-the-wool anti-royalist I refused to swear allegiance to the queen whom I still consider the head of a foreign country. I did not, and still do not, accept her as being head of Australia (maybe it’s the Irish in me!). This set the “brass” back on their heels. What to do? They first threatened to court martial me but after consultation with someone realised they could no court martial me until I was inducted into the army, so they then threatened me with army gaol. Then I think they realised they could not put me in gaol unless a Magistrate ordered it and the Magistrate would find that I wanted to do National Service, so could not rule me as refusing. They found a number of things to threaten me with but I still refused saying I wanted to do the training but would not swear allegiance to the queen, only to “my country”, Australia. They went away and came back with higher brass and, in the end, decided that I could swear allegiance to Australia only. A hollow victory, perhaps, but I am still proud of the fact that I was probably the first person inducted into the Australian army to swear allegiance only to Australia, not the queen. After that life was fun. Our platoon had two of the best sergeants you could ask for. Both had been prisoners of the Japanese and, at least one, had been given a very bad time. On about the second day all platoons were formed up and marched down to a vacant block of land to do an hour’s army drill practice. We were marched up and down for about 10 minutes and then taken off into the bush for a “smoko”. That’s me on the left at Ingleburn Barracks.