It brought back memories and a chuckle

This morning I was reading a post from Garrulous Gwen. aka The Reluctant Retiree; who’s off, traipsing around the country again.

This time to sunny, cloudy, windy, calm, hot, cold wet & dry Victoria.  And thats just today; don’t think I left anything out, still you never know ! 😈

Gwen was staying overnight in Wangaratta, normally referred to as ‘Wang’ by the residents and those lucky enough to be familiar with the town. It’s been many, many, years since I’ve been to ‘Wang’ , the last was when I passed through very quickly and very late, one night in ’87.

Getting back to  the gist of this ramble; I’m going back to February 1954, and the first visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; we were all very patriotic, and loyal to the crown back then.

Well plenty were, and I was still very much a new chum Pom!

Indeed when you went to the movies, you all stood,  very quietly, and very still, at the end, when the National Anthem ‘ God Save The Queen’ was played. This is pre-TV days in Australia.

Those were the days, before we took that ridiculous “Advance Australia Fair” as the National Anthem. I say ridiculous because I could not, and cannot, see why we had to adopt the tune “God Bless The Prince of Wales”, with some silly words; “girt by sea” comes to mind; we dumped the queen for her son?

Me? I’d have preferred the ‘Road to Gundagi” great tune to march to!

In ’54, I was still a ‘Nasho’, 3/718724 Trooper Smith B.E. of the 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse.(you never forget your number) and it was decided that we would line the streets of Benalla & Wangaratta during the queens visit.

Being based in Melbourne, we’d already had one go at this; lining the streets into the city of Melbourne that is! Very pro British/Royalist in those days in Melbourne. Might still be for all I know, 😦

We were not billeted, in any of the pubs in Wang or Benalla, we were dumped in a couple of paddocks, well out of town in Benalla, with no facilities whatsoever, unless you call field latrines, and cold showers, facilities. It was as hot as Hades  so the cold shower, if you could call it that, was welcome.

Don’t ask me how we got spick and span as well as we did. We were to wear our ‘battle dress’; that is the uniform, that you don’t wear into battle , but the one you wear, when you go out on the town, designed for British soldiers, it was not the uniform for a summers day in Victoria, hot and heavy. Looked good though.

Now the 4th/19th being part of the Fourth Brigade, is an Armoured Regiment, and as such we were not issued with rifles, we did have one, when going through our initial training, but to line the streets, we needed to be armed.

Tankers were issued with pistols.Somewhat easier to handle, when clambering in, and out, of tanks obviously! 

Trouble was a.) they didn’t have any pistols. or  b.) they didn’t trust us. We were all supplied with the holsters. but not a pistol amongst us 🙂 Presumably, the officers did but not we troopers!

Our orders? “Fill the holsters with newspaper, not too much, try to make it appear as if you have a pistol in there”.

True! 🙄

There we were, soldiers of the Queen, lining the streets of Wang and Benalla armed to the teeth with screwed up newspaper, guarding our sovereign, and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh; who happened at the time to be the Colonel in Chief, 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse.

Our Bosses. 😀

🐻

 

 

25 thoughts on “It brought back memories and a chuckle

  1. It appears that, to this day, the British government still does not trust its citizens with weapons.

    Interesting story. Looked up some of the photos from her visit. She smiled, back then. Perhaps she was thinking about empty holsters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wasn’t a citizen, I was a soldier serving in Her Majesty’s Australian Army! There to protect and serve her XD,
    The Dukes holster wasn’t too empty I believe he had a bit on the side, he certainly did play up whn he was in Australia during WWII, stationed here for a while!

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  3. If one wears Battle Dress to swan down Main Street, does one then wear Evening Dress to march into battle.
    Most confusing.
    Ira

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    1. Thanks Derrick, I actually got a lot closer to HRH in the grounds of Government House in Melbourne. He being C-in-C of the 4th/19th we paraded on the grounds and the Duke inspected his men. He spoke to the man to my left, so I just missed out.

      The Queen watched on from a short distance. Actually it was quite a thrill for a 19/20 year old Cockney, in the Australian Army being inspected by the Duke in front of the Queen.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed it was a happy memory Gwen and I thank you,
      I mentioned to Derrick, in the comment above, something which I ommitted from the original post that might interest you.
      And below, John is going crook, at my reference to his weather. 👿

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  4. Apart from the usual attempt to get a comment in about Vic weather – easy cheap shot – I think a few more of us could have done with wearing a uniform. And great names for Aussie towns, Wang, Shep, Wagga and Woy Woy.

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    1. Wasn’t an easy cheap shot, it took quite a lot of deep thought, heart rending, soul searching, before I could bring myself to write that; believe me 🙄
      “Wanna go to Woy Woy”, long time since I heard that, not that I want to, mind you. Can think of better places; Deer Park, Sunshine, Braybrook spring to mind. Pity you left out Freo; now that’s a great town.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ridiculous but true PT, mind you they did teach us to shoot with the real things, I wasn’t a very good shot, except with the machine guns. Big Al could have used me in Chicago XD

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    3. Forgot to mention Pucka, what sort of soldier was/am I; who could forget the glories of Pucka, there was a saying amongst the troops at the tie ” Up Pucka F… Pucka”! I’ll leave it to you as to why XD

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        1. Spent many happy months there; I really enjoyed the Nasho experience; taught me more about Australians than anything else, You must remember, WWII had only been over 7 or 8 years, when I first went in, and the soldiers who were responsible for our training, were WWII veterans, the best men I ever worked/ learned with and from.
          I say that with respect, they made you feel, and treated you as one of them, not just some raw Nasho recruit/conscript. What Australian men were; not what they have since become.
          I regret and mourn their passing. Must admit I get very teary on Anzac Day, seeing the last of them during the march.

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        2. You sum up my feeling s exactly. As a cadet we had ex Korean war veterans and they treated us schoolboys as men. Nasho would be very valuable now

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Nasho’s never did me any harm; quite the reverse, not that I was a wild thing, actually quite shy and withdrawn; truth be known.
          I’ve always thought it a good thing and it’s more than needed these days.

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  5. Great to see how my innocent post has taken the conversation to all together another level. My girlfriend’s father served in Korea – he was in the band corp, and not sure what else. Another girlfriend served in Ireland with the British Army. First round was transport driver, second time as military police. It was during the ’69 Ulster Uprising, they gave the guys pistols, but not the females, even though they were supposed to do the policing. I think it was another example of appearing to do a lot with what was really quite a little. . . wait, hey! Are we still talking about Prince Philip?

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