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1969

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All Washed Up

Gerry LLoyd, 1968-1969


The OR's tent lines had this great ditch running down beside them to apparently catch the flood waters in the monsoon season.

The first few months while I was there they just seemed a great place to be in the event of a mortar or rocket attack.

They would have been 2 metres deep, maybe even more. Duckboards spaced at intervals provided access to the Mess and the Ablutions where the "pissafone" was located with the "thunderboxes".

When the Wet Season came to Nui Dat, it was unlike any weather I had ever seen; the word torrential does not seem enough to describe such outpourings. The rain was usually warm but fell so hard our ditch filled in minutes.

The "Wet" was unpleasant with high humidity and mud everywhere; vehicle movement was very precarious; most of us suffered with prickly heat.

The Unit was quite well lit at night as the generators provided adequate power. Even the tents had a single light.

One night, just after a severe tropical downpour, I was heading for the Ablutions with toothbrush, soap etc. in hand when the "Stand To" hooter went off, warning of enemy action.

Immediately the lights throughout the Task force were extinguished and 106 was suddenly plunged into darkness

Needless to say my navigation was limited and I missed the duckboard and fell into the ditch which was full of floodwater running at high speed towards the wire entanglements and out into the lagoon which was the main natural feature in no man's land outside 106 Field Workshop's perimeter.

Yes, I was a qualified lifesaver but the fury of the outpour whisked me away like a cork tumbling over and over.

Eventually I was able to crawl out before going through the barbed wire,but amazingly I was still holding my toothbrush in one hand and the toothpaste in the other.

Embarrassed, I walked back to the tent lines, which were still cloaked in total darkness.

Within a few minutes of finding my tent the "all clear" was sounded and my comrades returned from their weapon pits and asked where I had been. Sergeant Cooper was asking questions.

Needless to say the explanation seemed a bit hard to fathom, but I was soaked through so all turned out to be plausible in the end.

Bruce Eklom, 1968-1969, comments

I believe that the "Natural" lagoon was in fact man made early in 69

ORs Tent Lines in the Dry, 1969 -- photo by Peter Lucas