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Glenn Daly

Glenn Daly

Warrant Officer Class 1, Australian Army


(Temporary) Corporal Glenn Daly

Detachment, 11 Movement Control Group, Australian Army
Service number: 2781548
Rank on discharge: warrant officer class 1

"When I arrived, we didn’t have buildings or anything like that at Vung Tau. We were still living in tents and with monkeys running around behind us in the sandhills with some scrub there. We didn’t need to worry about it. We really didn’t have anything set up for us. We were living on ration packs to start with. There was no water for a shower. So when you got the opportunity to go down to the beach, which is only a short distance, you’d go down there to try and get clean, but there was plenty of sea lice.

I watched the hospital grow, too. It was one of the first prefab buildings. Our first priority was making a floor for our tent. It was made from shipping boxes, and it was a real jigsaw of woodwork. For tools, we’d scrounged a ball-peen hammer, a claw hammer with a broken handle, as well as a rusty blunt saw. One of the other tasks was building a floor for the colonel’s tent. It was made from the prefab building crates. We did all that building with just those.

You get inventive when you’ve got nothing."

Glenn Daly was born on 2 February 1945 and his birthday was drawn in the first National Service Scheme ballot. Glenn said, “I was in the first intake and so was one of my lifelong friends who has the same birthdate. We did our recruit training at Puckapunyal with 19 Platoon D Company. There would have been 48 of us, and a couple of times a year we still try and get a number of those blokes together.”

“We were just a small unit of the first intake. We went off to do our training at the School of Military Engineering. I trained as a field engineer and because I’d been working for the Maritime Services Board, I wanted to go into Small Ships. I thought it was an opportunity to get some qualifications.”

“The sergeant called my name out and said I was going to Movement Control. I asked him what that was, and he said he didn’t know. Twelve of us from the first intake ended up in 11 Movement Control Group, and there were a similar number of Regular Army people in the unit. 11 MC Group was overseas movements, and 10 MC Group was within Australia.”

“We moved into an old rundown building at Georges Heights, and we worked down below at Chowder Bay with Small Ships. We did some more training and then moved to HMAS Penguin with the Navy, and we started to work over at Neutral Bay.”

“It was a small unit, so you formed friendships very easily, and as it turned out four of us went to Vietnam at a similar time. One went on HMAS Sydney with one of the vehicles and the rest of us flew over in a Qantas 707. You had the choice if you didn’t want to go, but nobody I knew took that option. I went to Vietnam on 26 April 1966 and came home on 24 March 1967.”

“I’d never been on a flight. We took off at midnight from RAAF Base Richmond because of all the kerfuffle about the Vietnam War. So, my first flight was to Vietnam on a Qantas 707, and I did many others later on Hercules and Caribous.”

“Because I was the first intake, we actually started the establishment at Vung Tau. So, we just lived in the sand hills, we didn't have buildings or anything like that. We were living on ration packs to start with and there was no water for a shower. When you got the opportunity, you’d go down to Back Beach to try to cleanup, but there were plenty of sea lice, so you came out itchy.”

“People weren't used to being in very humid places like that, and because of the inability to wash and things like that, it left you open to getting sunburnt and getting ill, with tinea in particular.”

“When I left, we were still living in tents with monkeys running around in the scrub behind the sandhills. We had a floor because we had scrounged some wooden boxes here and there. We got an old saw, I don’t know where from, and a ball peen hammer, and a broken-handled claw hammer, and we got by. And we established our own ‘shower block’. We had a pallet on the deck, another one on the side, and then we put up a piece of timber and strung the canvas shower bucket over it.”

“The ‘throne’ (toilet) was on a sandhill, right next to the road. There were no walls, no hessian, nothing like that. And you’d be sitting on the throne, and there was a Red Cross lady, who would drive past and just wave to you.”

“Our typical days at Vung Tau were associated with the Caribous. One Caribou, nicknamed Wallaby Airlines, would do the run to Saigon and back a couple of times a day. Another one would do a run more with the locals, and there'd be all sorts of animals on board, pigs and chickens and you name it. That flight went every day, and it went all over the place. Then we had the Hercules, the C-130s, that came in once a week from Australia. Qantas landed in Saigon and the troops were moved on in the Hercs.”

“In the initial stages, HMAS Sydney took troops over. We had to establish a transit area for the troops and for the stores that came off the Sydney and the LSMs (landing ship medium). The John Monash Small Ship and the civilian ship Jeparit also did the run to and from Sydney. We supervised the stuff that was coming off. It came to the hard landing on a barge, then it was trucked up to our transit area.”

“We had the occasional rifle fire, tracers going over us while we were working on the Jeparit in fact. When we first got there, we had a weapon, but no ammunition.”

“I was in Vietnam when the Battle of Long Tan took place. We didn't really know much about it down at Vung Tau, not initially. The Hercules only came in once a week, but they put on special flights to take some of them home. We assisted the military ambulance getting the injured onboard for repatriation to Australia or elsewhere for medical treatment. That was really hard because we were assisting blokes of a similar age to us, assisting men minus an arm or an eye, and then loading the coffins onboard as well. That has stuck with me forever.”

Glenn also has vivid memories of the sand in Vietnam. “We had to get ourselves established, we didn’t know the area, and there were very few people there. There were no troops on the ground, so we weren’t protected, and there were no fences, no nothing. It was a matter of, well there’s a sandhill, we’ll just put our stretchers there. In the first week or two, we were just laying on the sand on our sleeping bags which were too hot of course. But there was nothing else we could nab.”

“It was a matter then of getting comfortable with the conditions. You could nearly set the time in the afternoon in the wet season when the thunderstorms would come along. We were on a sandhill, the mess tent was on a sandhill, and then we had the bowl where the transport unit started to set up. And you'd get some good heavy rain, and it was flooding, despite the fact that we were surrounded by sand.”

“I thought the downpours were amazing. The way you could watch the cloud come over and all of a sudden it would just tumble. And the sights from the lightning, the different colours in the clouds, that was just something a little different than being in your tent in the sandhill. We didn't have any overhead protection for quite some time before we had our sandbags done and put around the tent.  The walls were all always out at an angle, to try and give a little bit of relief. That is one of the things that I can recall quite vividly. The other thing I remember is the camaraderie and the friendship. We had that all the time being in a small unit. We slept together and we ate together. We did all that.”