103 Medium Battery 1975
Laurie Skinner in Vietnam
3.7 inch Mark 3 Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun - Live Firing North Head Manly
No 53 of 1974 Gun Course - School of Artillery 1974
Anti Aircraft Radar No 3 Mark 7
Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, Memorial, Canberra ACT
25 Pounder New Guinea 1944


"A Diggers Tale"



By Ronald Bastian.

Around the early sixties, 1961 if memory serves me right, the powers that be whose task it was to create training programs for the Regiment must have decided that it would be a great idea to give the men lots of practice burying our beloved artillery weapons.

It became so popular that it seemed to develop into some sort of "fetish', because, every week or so, we packed up, headed for the bush, and they weren't particular where "the bush" was, out we trundled, lock, stock and barrels and as soon as we arrived at, what might have appeared to be a "nice spot", we were ordered to dig a large hole and bury our guns.

Now, this might have been OK when we had 25 pounders, but to try and manhandle the new guns with the "split trails" proved to be a serious accident waiting to happen.

The most favoured spot to bury the guns proved to be in the vicinity of Darke's Forest, near Waterfall on the Princes Highway. Although I recall that on one occasion, we dug a grave and buried our guns under scrim nets just behind the lines at the rear of the spare huts that were used for CMF (week end warrior) camps.

Just to make it interesting, we used to leave camp in late afternoon so that we arrived at the entry point just on dark... then... we had to find our way to the allocated burial grounds by having someone walk in front of the prime mover pulling the gun with the gun crew in the back.. and all of this in the pitch blackness of the bush and NO LIGHTS WERE ALLOWED, just to make it more interesting.

A couple of times we almost stumbled over an escarpment, fortunately it was identified just in time and a new route followed.

It became obvious after a while that, as we were digging holes in sandstone country, we would be likely to be striking rock a lot of times, where we could we jack hammered the rock away with petrol "Kangas". One clever chap suggested to our BC, Major Myers, that we drive a star picket down first to see if the rock was present.

Major Myers was impressed and immediately turned to me and said "Why didn't you think of that Bombardier", Without thinking I immediately retorted "They keep on telling me, don't think, just do what I say". he put on his "famous" frown and simply said "Don't be facetious Bombardier"...."Sorry Sir".

That night...or should I say, the next morning.. around 3 am, our gun was ready to be wrestled into the hole. We had already helped Bombardier Tommy Tanner get his in place, so his crew came over to assist us. Just as we had it almost completely in the trails dropped without warning and I was hanging on to the lunette. I had no time to release it and one of my fingers got crushed causing the end to split open like a sausage.

Wrapped up like a ugly sandwich...a large mug of the BC's coffee and even more rum, he sent me back to camp driven by his batman "Darkie" Aitkin.

Back at camp ...nobody... all on exercise, eventually got to 2 Camp Hospital, two Nurses held my arm as the Doctor pulled off the remaining fingernail and then put six stitches in my "Flat" finger.

Don't get me wrong..   I'm not crying "Hard-done -by", just another memory which will never go away.

The lesson..."Split trails don't say sorry"


This above photograph shows me in the foreground and Sergeant Thompson and the rest of the crew (One from memory was Gunner "Jock" Lapsley).   We dug our gun in (as per the story) behind the huts at 1st Field Regiment Kokoda Barracks.

A Field Battery in Vietnam - Gunner Tiffy
Sergeants from the No. 1 Queensland Volunteer Artillery
Artillery In Action At Heilly France - Circa 1918
Members of 102 (Coral) Battery in Vietnam
Gunner Claude Rubin Winduss (Second from Left) in World War 1


2010 - Australian Artillery Association - All Rights Reserved