This web site was compiled and researched by Gordon Kenneth Beach with the research assistance of Mal Grant
Names of members who served:
The purpose of this site is to record those names of Victoria Police Officers who were serving members of that organization and were called up for National Service for two years and then returned to Police Duties.
All served in the Australia Regular Army in a variety of Corps, , twenty six (26) in total, were allocated to serve in the Provost Corps, now called Military Police. There are fifty (50) members listed- including several members that had to resign from Victoria Police in order to serve in Vietnam and did not return to Victoria Police. Victoria Police would not allow an extension of their National Service obligation of two years in order to serve in Vietnam. There is an additional two (2) members who, for personal reasons, did not desire to be included in this database, thus making a total of 52 (Fifty Two) members.
There were of course both National Serviceman and Regular Members of the Armed Forces who after their service joined Victoria Police. In those cases some served in Vietnam and some did not. Also there were other serving members of Victoria Police who were called up for National Service who did not serve outside of Australia and after their two year service also returned to Victoria Police.
In total there were one hundred and twenty (121) members of Victoria Police who served in the Armed Forces in Vietnam- mainly in Army and Naval Service.
The service given by all in Vietnam should never be forgotten.
The list of names is as complete as is possible- any error and or omissions can be rectified by contacting me.
Awards included two Military Medals, a Distinguished Flying Cross.
Police members were not exempt from National Service, many were called up whist still in Recruit Training and had their National Service deferred until completion of the then Police Retention Exam which was generally conducted just prior to the completion of twelve months Police service.
Members called up for two years National Service did not resign from Victoria Police. All kit was returned to Victoria Police, but maintained their Certificate of Identity and their Police powers. Their seniority was maintained over this two year period, however, unlike some other State Police Forces, their Army pay was not made up to equal their Police pay and still had to contribute from their Army Pay into their Victoria Police Superannuation fund. Arrears accrued in Superannuation whilst undergoing National Service had to be paid upon return to Victoria Police. This was due to incremential increases in Police pay whilst absent.
Army pay, in particular during recruit training, was far less than their Police pay and did not really reach the levels of their Police pay until they commenced serving in Vietnam. A Military Policeman in Vietnam in 1968 earned around $70.04, whilst in Australia, pay was around $27.40 and whilst in Army Recruit Training was around $17.22- all this was per fortnight. Equivealant Police Pay at the Rank of Constable would have been around $52.00 per fortnight
After completion of two years National Service, members were placed on the active reserve list for a further three years and liable for active service if required during that further three period.
Little, if any time, was spent in Vietnam on familiarization or formalized instruction on how to carry out duties and was generally learned as things went along from another who had been in Vietnam a little longer.
There is no doubt that the professionalism of the Victoria Police Officers on National Service within the Military Police enhanced the abilities and skills of their regular counterparts.
Military Police duties in Vietnam consisted of curfew patrols, daytime patrols, convoy escorts, guarding official visitors to Vietnam, including the Prime Minister of Australia, coordinating the removal, short term holding prison at Nui Dat and transfer and hospital guard of prisoners of war in 1st Field Hospital, Vung Tau, attending and investigating motor vehicle collisions involving military vehicles, traffic control.
A Military Prison- Detention Barrack was maintained at Vung Tau for short term Australian Army Personnel sentenced in Vietnam for various infringements, such as disobeying lawful instruction, drunkenness, sleeping on duty. Longer term detainees sentenced for serious crimes, such as manslaughter were transported to Holsworthy Military Prison in Sydney.
Generally speaking rivalry between National Serviceman and Regular Soldiers was humourous and without malice towards each other. No real distinction was made by the Military between the two and all were treated as equals. Meals in Vietnam were quite good as the Australian Military were supplied by the USA Military. However not all were so well served with USA food- those in the Australian Infantry were on combat rations supplied by the Australian Army and were very good for weight loss!
As per normal military life, Privates and Corporals, had their own Barracks and Messes apart from higher ranks.
The first Military Police to arrive in Vietnam were from 1st Division Provost Company in 1966. This was later expanded to become Australian Forces Vietnam Provost Unit. It was disbanded in 1972 at the end of the Vietnam War and upon return to Australia.
Most soldiers in Vietnam kept a calender that counted down from arrival in Vietnam to estimated departure date and a square was marked off a day at a time, if a particularly difficult day was encountered then it was permissible to mark out half a day at time.
One particular activity was to have impromtu speed trials at low tide on the hard wet sand on the South China sea, between our Land Rovers and our USA counterparts in their Willys Jeeps. The victor was determined by who had the stronger nerves of steel as there was no real finish line and soon one or the other of the drivers would cease racing- no injuries were incurred! Local canines were a problem but soon learned to keep out of our way for reasons known only to us and the animal.
Return to Australia was usually timed to arrive into Sydney airport around midnight aboard a QANTAS charted flight. The reason for this was to avoid demonstrations against the Vietnam War which as time went on became more and more unpopular with Armed Services Personnel facing the brunt of public discord.
The flight home was quite a memorable moment as when the planes wheels left the tarmac at Saigon a huge roar went
throughout the whole plane accompanied by stamping of many feet and a few drinks thereafter.
On resuming Police duties after a two year absence there was not any retraining or refresher courses or any assistance from Victoria Police in any form whatsoever. In spite of this, members were generally able to assimilate back into Police duties.
A difficult time was on return to police duties, in particular in the early 1970's when Moratoriums were being held all over Australia, campaigning for the end of a war that many serving members had just returned from.
These members attained various ranks during their interrupted Police Service from Senior Constable through to Commissioner level.
Year served is commencement year not completion year
NAMES OF THOSE WHO SERVED as NATIONAL SERVICEMEN
Plaque at Victoria Police Academy, Glen Waverley, Victoria
National Vietnam Veterans Museum,Phillip Island, Victoria