Booby traps all part of training
CONSCRIPTION, the compulsory enlistment of young people to boost numbers and skills in the armed forces, has caused widespread division among Australians.
In 1951, during the Korean War, national service was introduced whereby Australian men aged 18 had to register for 176 days' training and two years in the Citizens Military Force.
While many teenagers baulked at the opportunity to serve king and country, four members of the Nashos (Ipswich and West Moreton District Branch of the National Servicemen's Association of Australia) recall that experience fondly.
None of the four was posted overseas to fight, but the training certainly equipped them to answer the call if they were needed in an "emergency".
Branch president Brian Hall recalls anxiously opening an official-looking brown envelope from the Defence Department which he imagined might contain his call-up papers.
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Instead, much to his relief, it was a statement of his back pay.
Brian and fellow Nasho, the Reverend Doctor Donald Stewart, were tradesmen recruited to the "ginger beers". Engineers, in layman's terms.
They learned very useful skills like building roads and airfields, blowing up bridges, and making booby traps.
Those years in the CMF also gave an opportunity to learn about discipline, job skills and respect.
The Nashos weren't handed high-tech equipment.
Mr Hall said he was issued with a rifle circa 1918.
He complained that the rifle "kicked a bit" and later found out that the barrel was bent.
"We had some antiquated equipment," he says. "We were issued with World War II boots.
"In all about 290,000 Australian males were conscripted into the navy, army and air force in two schemes between 1951 and 1972.
"Two servicemen in Borneo and 210 servicemen in Vietnam during active service paid the supreme sacrifice."
Conference visits Ipswich
THE Ipswich and West Moreton District Branch of the National Servicemen's Association of Australia (Qld) Inc will host the NSAA annual state conference from September 19 to 21.
While in Ipswich, the 300 or so guests will visit RAAF Amberley Air Museum, heritage sites and the Fassifern Valley.
Ipswich RSL will host a "meet and greet" and delegates' meeting.
A conference dinner will be held at Swifts Booval Sports Club on the Saturday.
Nashos from around Queensland will march through the Ipswich CBD on the Sunday morning, then attend a memorial service.
The late Barry Vicary founded the National Servicemen's Association of Australia in Toowoomba in 1987 to seek a better deal for Vietnam-era Nashos.
Nashos are generally recognised as the second largest ex-service organisation in Australia.
The sale of NSAA memorabilia is expected to recoup some of the costs of staging the annual conference.
Ipswich City Council is a major sponsor.