Ian Hodder’s Experience

As a graduate of Ballarat Primary Teachers College in Dec 1964 I was “lucky” to be balloted into the 1st Nasho intake of 1965 but was deferred for one year. The army with its usual efficiency managed to delay my preservice medical in early 1966 until the intake that year was filled so I was deferred for yet a second time. Two of my college mates ( Leo Howman and John Teggelove ) went in as normal in 1966 and became PIR chalkies. Leo shared his experiences with me so I was keen to get a PIR posting if possible.

After beginning Nasho in January 1967 I was selected for officer training at Scheyville and it was at about the halfway mark of that course that I applied to go to PNG PIR as an education officer. I was told by my mentor major that I had little chance of getting there as a 2nd Lieutenant as there were at least 4 other applicants ahead of me with degrees while I only had a trained primary teacher qualification. When I enquired about my chances of getting to PNG as a Sergeant, I was told that I’d have a much better chance but (shock horror! ) this would mean resigning from my Officer Training course and waste the money which the army had already invested in me. I decided that this was not a problem for me as I was only ever going to be in the army for the duration of my two years.

Several weeks later, while on exercises near Singleton, a letter from the OTC commandant was delivered to me asking for me to confirm in writing my intention to resign in order to join the Education Corps. My resignation intention was written out and returned with the army driver. Several days later when we returned to OTC, I was called out (on the parade ground) in front of my intake who were all informed that I was resigning a possible commission. My shoulder epaulets were removed and I was marched immediately to my room to pack and return my gear to the Q store. I was not allowed to eat in the cadets’ mess that evening or at the following breakfast. After breakfast the next day, I was marched into the commandant’s office by the adjutant and stood to attention in front of the Lt. Col. who read out my progress file then asked me one more time if I still wanted to resign. When I said that I did, he then instructed the adjutant to “get him out of here”!

I was then placed on a 45 seater bus as the only passenger and sent to Singleton base where I spent the next few weeks training for an Education Sergeant’s position / rank. It’s rather ironic that my time at Scheyville had a heavy emphasis on leadership and decision making yet when I made a considered decision (based on misleading but well intended advice – Dan Winkel told me in Brisbane several years ago that they were in fact looking for primary teachers rather than secondary teachers) I was made an example of and treated with disdain. I guess I achieved my goal in the long run but my choice of action was not appreciated.

Roger Howard and Ian Hodder at Taurama Bks old Sgt’s mess
Roger Howard and Ian Hodder at Taurama Bks old Sgt’s mess

I was eventually transferred to Eastern Command HQ in Sydney where I worked in the Education section until being posted to PNG by late Aug/ early Sept. My initial few weeks were spent at Murray Barracks until I was sent to Moem Barracks 2PIR where I met up with Russell Jenkins, Richard (?)Todd, Bruce Richter and others. At that time our accommodation was still sac sac huts near the bay and the Sgts’ mess was similar. I have great memories of fun times fishing and snorkelling and small 25cc motor scooters as well as the daily routines teaching and getting to know the local people. By early January I was back in Moresby having been posted to Taurama Barracks 1 PIR where I met other chalky personalities like Bruce Boxall, Norm Hunter, Bob Green, Roger Howard ( also from Ballarat), Knobby Carnes, and others.

Highlights during my time with PIR included playing football, cricket, coaching the women’s softball team to a premiership, fishing, a one day Kokoda hike, flying all over PNG with the changeover Caribou aircrew one weekend, the Highlands Sing Sing at Goroka in 1968, Saturday morning at the Coral Sea lounge in Moresby, visits to Bomana War Cemetery and lots of other great times.

At Crystal Rapids
At Crystal Rapids

I have a collection of photos from that time including a final barbecue and swim at Crystal Rapids where finishing Taurama chalkies got together for a last fling.

I left PNG in Nov. ’68 so that I could return to Victoria Barracks in Melbourne in time to sit for my Matric. exams after studying by correspondence during my time in Nasho. I was discharged ( honourably ) in January 1969 and went on to study at Monash Uni then at Flinders Uni in SA.

While I enjoyed immensely my time with PIR and found the “Nasho” experience a worthwhile two years in terms of my own development I was never under any illusion that it would become my lifetime career. I have two older brothers who both did nasho in the 1950’s when 6 months service was the fashion followed by two years as a reservist. None of us decided to make the army our life but gee we can tell some tall stories when we get together and reminisce.

Apologies to those whose names I have forgotten but thanks for the fun times and memories we made.

Thanks also to the work of the Qld crew who work so hard to keep our memories alive and enduring.

Regards to all
Ian Hodder.

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One comment

  1. I very much enjoyed your recollections of National Service and PNG.

    Strange things I remember, but we used to play dice games at night and the rattling of the dice did not fit in well with your studies, so you specially lined a cup with cardboard to limit the distraction to your studies.

    I also record your significant contributions to the magazines we produced for the students (particularly in the puzzle section)

    Best Regards

    Maurie Jenner (67-68 group-Terry; Bruce; Phil; Graham; Maurie and yourself)

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