Harold Robert RAKE was born at Victor Harbor on 23 June 1950, the third son of Eric Anthony RAKE and Evelyn May RAKE (neeChapman). He was educated at the Inman Valley Public School and the Victor Harbor High School and on leaving school he was employed as a postal officer with the Post Master General’s Department (PMG) for four years prior to his call-up at age 20 for national service on 10 November 1970.
Harry, as he was known, underwent his medical examination on 2 May 1970 and classified as “A”.
The National 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 Holtannounced 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.
Harry’s elder brothers, Wesley and Ross, had been previously conscripted into the Army and had served in the infantry and artillery corps, respectively. Their father, Eric Anthony Rake had served with the militia forces and the 2nd AIF during the Second World War (SX30919 Sergeant E.A. Rake, 110th Casualty Clearing Station), serving in Australia and overseas in the Pacific campaign.
Harry undertook his basic training at the 1st Recruit Training Battalion (1RTB), Kapooka, near Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. Previously national servicemen from Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia underwent their basic training at 2RTB, Puckapunyal, Victoria.
Upon arrival at Kapooka on 12 November, Harry and his fellow recruits were 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 1RTB 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 $36 per week and all soldiers were paid fortnightly.
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.
On 26 January 1971, having completed his basic training, Harry was posted to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps; he entrained to the Infantry Centre at Ingleburn for specialised training as a rifleman.
What followed was ten weeks of gruelling training with much of the time spent in the field. Harry and his fellow soldiers received advanced weapons training on the SLR, SMG, the M60 machine gun and the M79 grenade launcher.
Following this corps training, Harry was posted to the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8RAR). The Battalion had just completed its second tour in Vietnam on 29 October 1970 and returned to its Enoggera base, near Brisbane.
On 26 March 1972, whilst on leave Harry was charged by the South Australian Police for driving under the influence and exceeding the speed limit. He appeared in the Christies Beach Local Court and fined $145 with costs of $3.50 and allowed two months to pay. Even though the offence was a civil offence, Australian Military Regulation 753 ensured that such civil convictions would be recorded in the soldier’s service record.
With the subsequent wind down on Australia’s military involvement in South Vietnam, the Army decided to shorten the tenure of national servicemen’s obligatory two years and any soldier desiring an early termination were generally granted a discharge.
In early May 1972, Harry was at Central Command Personnel Depot (CCPD where the underwent pre-discharge formalities and on May 9th, he officially was discharged from the Army.
Harry later became entitled to the Australian Defence Medal and the Anniversary of National Service 1951-1972 Medal. He married Beverley MITCHELL and there were two children of the marriage.
SX30919 Sgt Eric Anthony RAKE
Eric, father of Harry, was born at North Adelaide on 17 April 1911. He had enlisted in the militia on 9 February 1942 and had embarked for service in New Guinea on 12 August 1942 with the 110th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS). His leadership and organisational qualities saw him promoted to sergeant. He was still in New Guinea when he transferred to the 2nd AIF on 11 January 1943. The 110th CCS was responsible for rendering immediate attention to battlefield casualties and medical evacuations, a traumatic task for all personnel. He returned to Australia and was demobilised on 12 December 1944. Eric moved to Victor Harbor in 1948. the above studio portrait is from the Harry RAKE collection, the photographer is unknown.
4803792 Corporal Andrew Beaven RAKE
Harry and Bev’s son, Andrew (born 12 October 1979), enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in June 1998. Andrew has provided us with the following summary of his service.
Serial number 4803792 / 8237751
Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps (RAAOC):
ECN 269 (Operator Petroleum) from 12 Nov 1998 – 25 Nov 2002
Australian Army Aviation (AAAVN):
ECN 164 (Ground crewman Aircraft Support) from 26 Nov 2002 – 7 Aug 2005
Royal Australian Army Medical Corps (RAAMC)
ECN 169 (Combat Paramedic) GRES from 17 Aug 2014 – present.
1 RTB (Kapooka) Training Wing, 6 Platoon A Company:
16 Jun 1998 – 31 Jul 1998; basic training.
Army Logistics Training Centre (South Bandiana) :
1 Aug 1998 – 12 Nov 1998; corps training.
9 Petroleum Platoon, 10 Force Support Battalion (Townsville):
13 Nov 1998 – 14 Feb 2001.
Combat Supply Platoon, Field Supply Company, 3 BASB/3 CSSB (Townsville): 15 Feb 2001 – 25 Nov 2002.
171 Operation Support Squadron, 1 AVN REGT/A SQN, 5 AVN REGT (Oakey); 26 Nov 2002 – 7 Aug 2005.
Army Personnel Agency, STBY RES (Townsville); 8 Aug 2005 – Nov 2009.
31/42 Royal Queensland Regiment 5 Sect, STBY RES (Ayr/Townsville); 10 Jun 2010 – 25 Mar 2014.
9 Close Health Company, 11 CSSB, GRES (Townsville) 26 Mar 2014 – current.
OP SPITFIRE/OP WARDEN, East Timor: 21 Sep 1999 – 17 Dec 1999.
OP TANAGER, East Timor: 25 Feb 2000 – 8 May 2000,
3 Nov 2000 – 14 Feb 2001.
OP GOLD (Olympic Games), Sydney: 2000
OP SUMATRA ASSIST CJTF 629, Sumatra: 2 Jan 2005 – 9 Feb 2005.
OP RESOLUTE, Maritime Border Command, Darwin/Christmas Island: 23 Feb 2018 – 30 May 2018.
Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) with Timor Clasp;
International Forces East Timor (INTERFET);
Australian Operational Service Medal (AOSM) with Border Protection Clasp;
Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal (HOSM);
Defence Long Service Medal (DLSM);
Australian Defence Medal (ADM);
United Nations Medal-East Timor (UN);
The Soldier’s Medallion;
Meritorious Unit Citation, 10 Force Support Battalion OP WARDEN, East Timor;
UNTAET Force Commanders Unit Commendation, East Timor;
Return from Active Service badge;
Operational Service Badge – Military;
AusAID Peace Builders Certificate.
In the following pages are a number of images from Andrew’s photographic collection of his service in the Army.
Service file of 4722091 Harold Robert RAKE supplied by the Soldier Career Management Agency (SCMA, formerly CARO), May 2010.
Conscription in Australia, Wikipedia, accessed 13 April 2020.
Information supplied by Harry RAKE and his son, Andrew.
Compiled by the RSL Victor Harbor History Research Team, May 2020.