Ray Greenfield is a resident of Living Choice Broadwater Court. He enjoys meeting up with a group of men in the village who get together often and share a common bond of serving in the armed forces. This is Ray’s story.
“An unexpected shock, I failed my National Service call-up medical. No reason was given, simply 'deferred'. This really got my hackles up and I spent six months sending in other doctor's reports and
writing to the minister and in the end, the army reluctantly accepted me into the 19th Battalion.
“My girlfriend of 18 months told me she wouldn't be waiting around. Then on leaving home my parents were in tears and gave me a five-pound note. On my first parade, I was abused `You look like a man from Mars, you go and tell that nice polite quartermaster to dress you properly.’ I found the quartermaster didn't like to be told and was neither nice nor polite.
“The meals were not mum's cooking so a few of us came back from leave with kit bags half full of tinned foods. We stored them in the roof cavity.
“One night our platoon Sergeant burst into our hut to complain about our failures. Simultaneously, a pair of legs appeared dangling from the ceiling manhole, ready to drop to the floor, about a metre behind him. Twenty blokes held their breaths till the Sergeant made an about turn, completely unaware, and left. Of course, my friend was nick-named 'Legs' from then on.
“On several occasions, our instructors became highly nervous and bad-tempered. This usually signalled a day of live hand grenade drills or firing the Owen gun on the short range.
“Fourteen weeks of training then four years of CMF in the 1st. Air Support Signal Unit. This period was midway between the Korean and Vietnam wars. The newspapers were warning us of danger from the north or the Middle East and the Services were always short of men.
“Some of us joined the regular army and served in Vietnam, others could hardly wait to get out. I found it to be a very satisfying experience despite some more difficult, unexpected events. Living away from home under strong discipline with live ammo was both physically and, on occasion, mentally challenging. And yes, I found another girlfriend who soon agreed to marry me!
“I joined the National Servicemen's Association ten years ago and found the camaraderie of those earlier days continued. I had the distinct honour of serving at The Martin Place Cenotaph Dawn Service in 2014 and again on the Centenary of Anzac in 2015. Today I am associated with an amazing group of ex-servicemen in our village.”