Sunday , July 5 2020
Breaking News
Home / National News / From the Archives, 1965: The day sergeant majors smiled on the new recruits

From the Archives, 1965: The day sergeant majors smiled on the new recruits

They spent most of yesterday at the depot.

They had dental and medical check-ups, filled in forms, received travel documents and listened to lectures on Service life.

In between they stood about and talked of their next two years, inspected a display of artillery and war vehicles and made friends of strangers. Most of the National Servicemen wore old casual clothes.

“You’ll get used to it”

Their hair was long, some smoked and occasionally one was chewing gum.

National Service recruits arrive at the Marrickville Army Depot in Sydney, 30 June 1965. T

National Service recruits arrive at the Marrickville Army Depot in Sydney, 30 June 1965. TCredit:George Lipman

Eagerly they picked up the self-loading rifles, hand grenades and other weapons on display, clicking open the rifle bolts and making rat-atat noises.

Regular soldiers quietly and patiently explained the arms, ignoring background noises.

One recruit, helping a warrant-officer demonstrate the rifle, complained that the “gun” was getting heavy.

The sergeant-major winced slightly, but said sweetly: “Don’t worry, son. you’ll get used to it.”

Some young men, ignorant or defiant of chevrons or pips, inquired as they wandered through exhibition huts: “Listen, mate, how does this work?”

Colonel “one of the bosses”

“Is that bloke one of the bosses?” asked a National Serviceman, pointing at a colonel using the telephone.

“Yes, be is,” a captain muttered, and forced a smile.

The Minister for the Army. Dr A. J. Forbes, toured the depot briefly and talked with some of the new arrivals.

“He asked what I thought about it. and I said I thought it would be pretty good,” said Private Claude Zavattaro, of Kogarah, who until this year was a civilian clerk.

“I said I was looking forward to it,” said another former clerk, Private John Douglas, of Dover Heights. “I am, too.”

The recruits sit down to a meal.

The recruits sit down to a meal.Credit:George Lipman

“I’m quite pleased about the whole thing,” said Private Dennis Danna, of Bexley, a former retail worker. “I’m just going to make the best of it and I hope to be trained as an officer.”

The recruits sat down to three-course meals — steak for lunch, chicken for dinner — at set places on whiteclothed tables.

The recruits cheered when the Eastern Command Band, in scarlet tunics, played “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Waltzing Matilda” and jazz items.

Several times during the day NCOs mustered their red-tagged Puckapunyal men and yellow-ticketed Kapooka men.

Loading

In a slouching gait reminiscent of defeated footballers leaving the field, they “marched” from one point to another amid much hilarity.

“Make the most of it today, lads,” said a sergeant in regulation step beside one ragged group.

The gaiety in the air did not suggest gloom on the part of the new soldiers, although Private A. Ransley, of Narrabeen, was not overjoyed.

“This is going to cost me 12 quid a week,” he said.

Most Viewed in National

Loading

About admin

Check Also

More Melburnians may make regional switch as home working penny drops

But rather than settle for a cramped inner-city apartment on their budget they are preparing …