A disciplined life

On ANZAC Day, we take this time to remember all who have served for our country. This year, we share the story of Coorparoo Aged Care resident, Les, who reflected on his experience with the army.

In January 1955, at the age of 18, Les was conscripted to the Australian Army in a ballot and completed three months training in preparation to be sent to Malaya. The overseas post never eventuated and instead, he completed service training in Gunnedah in the Transport Unit where he learnt to drive lorries and jeeps. Les recalls that his time in the army reserve took precedence over work and was required to work on certain days or weekends. He would also attend fortnightly camps at Gunnedah where he would stay in a marquee with 20 other soldiers while others would stay in huts. Les recalls that training was strict and says that if you did not fold your sheets, blankets and mattress away correctly, it was then tipped onto the floor, and you had to start again.

During one of his training camps, Les met fellow serviceman, Carl. They became lifelong friends and would catch up frequently at trainings and ongoing camps. Carl was Les’ best man at his wedding and said that their families were always close. Sadly, Carl passed away three years ago; however, Les still remains in contact with Carl’s family.

Les said that overall, he enjoyed national service. A distinct memory he recalls was one training session during the hot summer months. The training involved bayonet drills where Les had to walk a mile in the heat between two soldiers, remembering to lift his rifle above his shoulder, so that no one got stabbed. Les forgot and said the sergeant made him run to the other side of the training field as punishment, and then made all the troops do it again with him. On returning to camp, Les said he did not feel like eating the meal provided and made do with a milkshake instead. Later he endured terrible cramps through his body and legs, which took most of the night to alleviate. He said he never made that mistake again.

Les says that being in the army taught him to follow orders which prompted him to lead a disciplined lifestyle and always do the right thing. Since moving into Coorparoo Aged Care, Les has maintained his self-discipline and still hangs his clothes up in the wardrobe and puts his shoes away neatly every day.