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”.
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. 😀