1975 Exercise in New Zealand

 

To the best of my recollection it was almost Winter, probably about late April or May 1975 that I was selected with a few other men from my unit, the 1st Signal Regiment based at Ingleburn at 104 Signal Squadron based at Holsworthy in Sydney to attend a Joint Exercise with the New Zealand Army in New Zealand.

We were to provide signals support to a small force of Infantry from 5 RAR and I think there were two (?) detachments, with most likely the standard crew of 3 men. There may have been other elements from other units such as Transport or such but I don’t remember. We sailed over to New Zealand on the HMAS Sydney and disembarked at Wellington on the North Island. From there we were trucked in the back of Bedford trucks up to the Waiouru Army Base from where the exercise was launched.

We completed the exercise in bitterly cold conditions. It’s the first and only time I’ve ever been issued a rum ration following a “Stand To” just after dawn. I had to pay for it when we returned back to Waiouru. I can still remember the line of sunshine on the ground just a metre away from me but I had to stay hidden tactically in the shadows. Nothing much happened where I was located except for a bit of drama one night when somebody thought the “enemy” was hovering nearby, but it turned out to be just a wild pig or deer.

After the exercise some members took off to see the geysers and volcanic area of Rotorua. I didn’t go myself and glad I didn’t. In my opinion they had to pay far too much for the day’s outing and didn’t think it was worth it. From Waiouru we again travelled by convoy further north to Auckland where we had some local leave, then boarded HMAS Sydney for return to Australia.

I wasn’t much of a photographer at the time but here are some I took from old slides. Some of them have suffered with age and mould, and some were so badly affected they can only be shown in black and white.

001 002
Disembarking from HMAS Sydney at the port of Wellington, New Zealand on the North Island Waiting with a group of other Sigs
(from Left to Right: unknown, unknown, Bob NcNee, Russ Swan)
003 004
In convoy travelling in exalted style in the backs of canopied Bedford trucks and wooden benches. Unsure but I think this might have been Bob Bradley? Convoy travels through some really pretty country.
005 006
Another view of the country from the back of a truck Heading out to the exercise area on foot.
007 008
Troops moving in tactical formation along a road. Yours truly, 25 years with wife and 2 kids back home. Walking in tactical “staggered” formation. We usually travel in vehicles fitted with radios but at least some of us were used as Infantry instead. All you can do is smile and get on with it.
009 010
Vehicles on dirt road within the exercise area. An armoured vehicle moves forward as others pull over during a pause in the march.
011 012
Unknown Aussie digger waiting for the word to move again. Helicopter landing to drop off a passenger.
013 014
Helicopters and a rather half-hearted attempt at camouflaging this Land Rover. Taking position in the line. This field is full of soldiers hidden in the grass. That’s me centre photo.
015 016
Some of the country in which the exercise was conducted. An armoured vehicle moves through our position.
017 018
On the march again. Mount Ruapehu is an active volcano.
019 020
Another view of Mount Ruapehu from the side. The volcano vent is over the other side. In convoy heading for Auckland.
021 Left: HMAS Sydney at Auckland ready to take us back to Australia

 

END

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