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Remembering Victoria Police Officers that served during the Vietnam War & Saluting Their Service
Plaque at Victoria Police Academy
Glen Waverley, Victoria
The service given by all involved
should never be forgotten.
This web site was compiled and researched by Gordon Kenneth Beach with early research assistance from Malcolm Grant.
My gratitude and thanks to the many others who kindly assisted with identifying members and with their suggestions
The primary 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, served in Vietnam and then returned to Victoria Police.
All served in the Australia Regular Army in a variety of Corps,a large portion were allocated to serve in the Provost Corps, now called Military Police.
There are fifty-eight (58) 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 additionally one (1) member who wish to remain anonymous for personal reasons.
There were also both National and Regular Servicemen and 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.
There were one hundred and six (106) members of Victoria Police who served in the Armed Forces in Vietnam- mainly in Army and Naval Service and later joined Victoria Police.
There were eighty one (81) members of Victoria Police who were called up for National Service and served wholly in Australia.
There were also twenty one (21) members who were either National or Regular Servicemen who served wholly in Australia and later joined Victoria Police.
In total there were around 268 Victoria Police Officers involved in various capacities during the Vietnam War Years.
Awards included two Military Medals, a Distinguished Flying Cross and a Mentioned in Disptaches 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 incremental 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. Equivalent 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 in 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 humorous 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 calendar that counted down from arrival in Vietnam to an 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 impromptu 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. Return to Australia was usually timed to arrive into Sydney airport around midnight aboard a QANTAS charted flight. A common belief 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. Others thought it related to commercial flight scheduling and nothing to do with demonstrations. Whatever the reason, support for the war was diminishing the longer it went on. 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.