Anzac Day 2019: Vietnam War through a young Digger’s eyes

THEY are the images of war never before made public: candid snaps of young men behind enemy lines, ­captured by one of their own… raw, intimate and devastating.

These photographs, taken by Vietnam War veteran Allan Beer, himself just 20 years old when he was conscripted into national service, offer a rare behind-the-scenes look at conflict told through a young man’s eyes.

They tell of mateship and youthful optimism, of sons and brothers doing their best. These are not the elite soldiers of today.

Just barely into their adult years, a ragtag group of six men pose outside a Vietnam War camp.

They’re snapped aboard a chopper flying low, taking a break atop a roadside convoy and shirtless watching a naval ship pass by.

There are cheeky shoeshine boys sneaking a cigarette and live performances for a sea of soldiers in green.

The pictures, detailing a group of Australian troop’s moments before their first operation, today made public for the first time will be celebrated at a special exhibition at Howard Smith Wharves as part of an Anzac Day service.

The commemoration coincides with Mr Beer’s 50th anniversary of service and the collection includes photographs of the artist himself, snapped by a friend, looking every bit of his youth, crouched beside a rifle and some ammunition.

Another photo captures him as he wades through mud and water, clutching a gun, while on patrol.

The 70-year-old said that from a young age he was passionate about photography, and carried a camera in his pack that would later capture roughly 300 photos during his time in Vietnam.

“It puts me back there, (the photos) because you can write a book about something, but one photograph can explain a lot to you – more than the written word can,” he said.

“It really captures the moment, and a lot of photos accidentally capture a mood and it’s a bit of a magical thing when you take photos that do that.”

Mr Beer said that he could ­remember every moment behind each picture he captured – and that he ­particularly remembers two ­mischievous Vietnamese shoeshiners.

“These little kids, they were opportunists of course, making a living and they were cheeky little kids, I think that photograph really captured them well,” he said.

He said the photos had been sitting in a box all these years, but would be exhibited for the first time, as he believes younger people are showing a greater interest of what life was like in the Vietnam War.

“I really wish I had of taken more, but of course, there was ­always something going on; there was never a dull moment really,” he said.

“It was all a bit of an adventure; we are all pretty young and it was a bit of an unreal situation.”

Mr Beer told The Courier-Mail that he was lucky to have the opportunity to capture candid shots in a surreal environment.

“A lot of the shots depended on where I was at the time, hanging out on the side of a helicopter – a lot of people never get to experience that, so when they see the photo it is a ‘wow’ moment,” he said.

Sophie Chirgwin, The Courier-Mail April 25, 2019


Opinion – Rewriting Australian Army History – The Revisionists Strike Again

THE Australian Army commemorates March 1, 1901, as its official foundation date.
Since 1986 the Australian Army has published a glossy publication,
Brief History of the Australian Army, which is now in its fifth edition. The latest edition, which now devotes its first chapter to “European Settlement and the Aboriginal Resistance 1788-1920”.
Pardon, run that by again?
Engaging in so called frontier wars against Aboriginal resistance, as the current brief history edition claims, were never part of our army’s history.
Yet again the politically correct Canberra-based social warriors are rewriting history to suit their own agendas.
The Australian Army’s proud record since 1901 should be freed of such slurs.



SIX PACKS THE HEAT – 6 RAR wins the DoG Cup

The soldiers of 6RAR have proven themselves the best battalion in the infantry at the Duke of Gloucester Cup.

THE Duke of Gloucester Cup now has pride of place at 6RAR’s Cpl Dan Keighran VC Club, with its section taking the award, along with the Ghurkha Trophy for best overall shooting.







Sections from each of the Royal Australian Regiment’s battalions competed for the prestigious cup at the School of Infantry from August 5-8.

6RAR’s Cpl Josh Conaty led his section through patrols and long stomps to victory.

Although the team prepared from early this year, a few last-minute adjustments were needed.
“One of our team members finished a course on the day we left for DoG Cup, we briefed him on the strategies we were going to employ and he took that on board, just like we would do in any combat situation,” Cpl Conaty said.
“It’s been a busy year already. I’m sure the section was considered as the underdog this year, but I think our guys were quietly confident in their abilities.
“Looking up and seeing the trophies we took away from the DoG Cup in the cabinet of the Dan Keighran Club, it’s a great feeling to have earned that bragging right.”

6RAR spent two months in Shoalwater Bay earlier this year and majority of its fighting force are deployed to the Middle East.

“The message has gotten to our deployed members and they were so happy, we really wanted to boost their morale,” Cpl Conaty said.“I am so proud of all of the section members for volunteering and really put-ting in so much effort, especially on the day.”

Senior Instructor – Tactics Wing at the School of Infantry, Maj Alastair Robinson, said the competition changed this year.
“Last year we brought fatigue to the competition, this year the focus was on the basic skills of a soldier; marksmanship, navigation and communication“Each regiment was extremely competitive and the soldiers displayed a high level of marksmanship this year.”

Soldiers were tested on things like command ability, care of the battle casualty, soldier welfare, navigation, resupply and communications.

Over five days each soldier covered close to 150 kilometres, including a 20-kilometre extraction, a 3-kilometre jerry can carry and 4-kilometre stretcher carry.

Before the completion finished, each section was put through the obstacle course.

In October 6RAR’s DoG Cup winning section will compete in Exercise Cambian Patrol, a two-day competition in the Cambrian Mountains and swampland of Wales.

READ the full Report and Results here