Brian Edward MUNDY was born at Port Augusta on 25 March 1946, the son of Stanley William MUNDY and Phyllis Joan MUNDY (nee BREWSTER). He was educated at Port Augusta Primary and High Schools; he attained his Leaving Certificate in 1962. Brian joined the National Bank of Australasia and had been employed by them for three years at the time of his call-up for national service.
TheNational Service Act 1964, legislated on 24 November 1964, required 20-year old Australia males to serve in the Australian Army for a period of two years. The two-year period had been nominated by the Army General Staff as sufficient time for recruit and corps training and more than one year of regimental or unit service. The Defence Actwas amended in May 1965 to provide that conscripts could be obliged to serve overseas, and in March 1966, Prime Minister Harold Holt announced that National Servicemen would be sent to Vietnam to fight in units of the Australian Regular Army.
The selection of conscripts was based on date of birth, and conscripts were obligated to give two years’ continuous full-time service, followed by a further three years on the active reserve list. Although registration was compulsory, a process of selection by ballot determined who would be called up. Two ballots were conducted each year. The ballots selected several dates in the selected period and all males with corresponding birthdays were called up for national service. The ballot was conducted using a lottery barrel and marbles representing birthdays. All males upon attaining the age of 19 were required to complete the registration form, which were available from post offices.
Brian underwent his medical examination on 19 April 1966 and was classified as “A” and officially enlisted into the Australian Regular Army Supplement (National Service), or ARAS (NS), on 14 July 1966 as part of the 3rd Intake.
His enlistment papers record his next of kin as his father, Stanley William MUNDY, of 23 Seaview Road, Port Augusta. Brian stated his religion as being Church of England.
Allocated the serial number 4718424, this unique number would remain with Brian throughout his two years of service. The first number “4” designated he had been enlisted form the state of South Australia, whilst the second number “7” denoted he was a national serviceman.
His national service registration papers record the following remarks made by the interviewing officer on 19 April 1966:
Good type – clean, good appearance, confident manner.
Suitable for consideration for Officer Training.
A recruit’s daily rate of pay was $4.88, or $68.32 per fortnight; tax deducted was $6.72 which left $61.60 per fortnight nett pay.
Basic training for national service recruits from South Australia and Victoria was undertaken at 2nd Recruit Training Battalion (2RTB), Puckapunyal; at any given time, there were up to 4,000 recruits training at Puckapunyal. The Base also was home for the RAASC Training Centre and the 1st Armoured Regiment and the Armoured Training Centre.
Upon arrival at “Pucka”, each recruit was given a short medical examination, a number of injections, regulation haircut (no hair) and his uniform and kit.
For almost every army recruit, whether a conscript or volunteer, the initial experience of army discipline was a shock to one’s system. The daily regimen for the next ten weeks consisted of:
0600 hours (the 24-hour time clock was quickly learnt) – reveille,
0600-0615 personal hygiene,
0615-0630 barracks maintenance,
0700-0715 barrack and uniform inspection,
2130-2200 night routine, lights out.
All recruits were given instruction in physical training, weapon handling and shooting, first aid, marching drill and field craft. Each recruit was to be trained in the basic skills of an infantryman regardless of which corps he might later be posted to.
Throughout their training field craft was one of the essential skills taught to all trainees. Some of the areas they are instructed in were how to use all the military equipment issued to them, how to set up a section and platoon harbour, fire and movement and camouflage and concealment.
With weapons and marksmanship training recruits receive instruction on all aspects of firearms starting from the basic principles of shooting then elaborates with the finer points of the application of fire. They were shown the impact and fire power of different weapon systems at close hand on a 25m range. All recruits were required to pass all live fire shoots during the duration of their course. The basic infantry weapon was the Belgian designed-Australian manufactured FN 7.62mm self-loading rifle (SLR).
Physical fitness and training formed an integral part of military training throughout the Recruit Training Battalions with a large number of the instructors coming from the Royal Australian Artillery regiments and were generally renown (infamously) for their perceived ability to inflict pain upon the unfit recruit.
In navigation training classes recruits were taught how to navigate cross-country during day and night using a map, protractor & compass. They were given theory lessons on the aspects of navigation and then they apply the knowledge that they have received in a practical navigation scenario.
This routine continued for six days a week and recruits were generally given each Sunday off unless they were rostered for duty. Church parades were compulsory and 2RTB had churches and padres for each of the major denominations. After the Sunday Service, recruits had time to themselves and leisure time was spent doing their personal laundry, uniform cleaning and maintenance and letter writing. Weekend leave was non-existent and private vehicles were only allowed to be brought back to the base after the mid-course break.
Half way during their recruit training, each recruit was given a four-day leave pass (which included a Saturday and Sunday) and allowed to travel to their nominated home address. All travel was at the recruit’s private expense. At that time, the weekly wage for a recruit soldier was $35.70 – decimal currency had been introduced just five months earlier, per week and all soldiers were paid fortnightly.
2RTB was the principal training establishment for national servicemen from Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, and those soldiers from out of the state were generally disadvantaged as the travel time to and from their homes was included in the four days.
At the end of the recruit training, each course held a passing out parade and formal platoon portraits were taken. At this time, each recruit was notified which corps they had been posted to and what mustering they were selected for.
Brian was posted to the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) and underwent training at the School of Military Engineering (SME) at Casula (NSW). He arrived at SME on 21 September 1966.
Engineer training entailed attaining a high level of proficiency in the use of explosives, mine detection and clearance, water purification, bridge building and operating construction equipment.
Corps training was completed on mid-November 1966 and Brian was posted to 18 Field Squadron, which at the time was based at Wacol (Qld). He remained there for twelve months until the Squadron transferred to Laverack Barracks in Townsville (Qld).
During his time at 18 Field Squadron, Brian participated in two army exercises, the first near Tin Can Bay (Qld) in 1967 and Shoalwater Bay, near Yeppoon in February 1968 (Exercise Grass Parrot).
The military training area near Tin Can Bay became known as the Wide Bay Military Training Area; it was first developed and constructed in 1967 by No 7 Field Squadron, RAE.
Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area came under the control of the Army in 1965; it is situated 100 km north of Yeppoon. Referred to as simply Shoalwater Bay, the army’s prime reason for its acquisition was to use it for training troops in battalion sized formations prior to their deployment to Vietnam.
Exercise Grass Parrotwas the largest exercise held in Shoalwater to that time; both the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) and 6 RAR were deployed there, along with supporting engineer, armoured and logistical units, principally 1 Company RAASC, which provided the supplies and transport to the deployed units.
During his time at the Squadron, the men of the unit built a light aircraft strip at Rosewood, near Amberley RAAF Base. Following this, 18 Field Squadron travelled twice to Tully in Far North Queensland where they built infrastructure for a training base located at Jarrah Creek, near Tully. This base was initially used for testing army tanks prior to their deployment in the Vietnam; today it is the home of the Jungle Training Wing, Combat Training Centre.
Brian says his happiest memories of his army service were when he was working in the field with fellow engineers operating the Caterpillar D4, D7 and D8 bulldozers and front-end loaders along with the Euclid wheel tractor-scrapers.
On 20 June 1968, Brian completed pre-discharge procedures at Northern Command Personnel Depot (NCPD) and proceeded to South Australia on annual leave prior to his discharge on 13 July 1968 at Central Command Personnel Depot (CCPD), Adelaide.
Post-national service, Brianresumed his employment with the National Bank. He later married Joy Dawn McGUIRE and there were two children of the marriage. Brian retired in 2001; he and Joy moved to Victor Harbor that year.
Brian was later entitled to the Anniversary of National Service Medal 1951-1972 and the Australian Defence Medal.
The images on the following pages are from photograph’s in Brian’s collection and record his service with 18 Field Squadron RAE.
Service file of 4718424 Brian Edward MUNDY supplied by the Soldier Career Management Agency (SCMA, formerly CARO, February 2010.
Conscription in Australia, Wikipedia, accessed 13 April 2020.
Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, Wikipedia, accessed 1 May 2020.
Information supplied by Brian MUNDAY, April-May 2020.
Compiled by the RSL Victor Harbor History Research Team, May 2020.