Wayne Clarke

Part of the Series “(Y)Our Stories”, “Oral History
Produced by on September 3, 2018

Wayne Clarke is an active member of the Gawler RSL and he has advocated on behalf of veterans for years. He was a national serviceman in the 1960’s and served a tour of duty in Vietnam.  He established successful careers in stock sales and real estate.  

History, especially Gawler’s History, is something he values and treasures. In the first two interviews he discusses growing up in Gawler in the 1950’s. In 1965 he was part of the first intake of a new program of National Service. He served in both New Guinea and Vietnam. Over several interviews with Barry Neylon he discusses his experiences and observations of those troubled times. In his final interview (yet to be posted) he talks about why the RSL is important to him and the community.

The interviews and transcripts are under. There are also a series of photographs of his time in New Guinea and Vietnam and a map of the Australian area of operation in Vietnam in 1966.

In his first interview Wayne discusses his boyhood in Gawler.

Listen to his stories of horses, blacksmiths, swimming holes, train journeys, and adventures with his mates and brother.

Interview One – Growing Up in Gawler in the 1950’s

Interview 2. Tales of molten metal, water rats, gypsies, swimming holes, the Gawler Memorial Swimming Pool, and the explosion at the Eagle Foundry with it’s devastating consequences. More stories of a young boy in 1950’s Gawler.

Interview Two – Eagle Foundry, Explosion, Gypsies, Swimming

Interview 3. The “birthday lottery” and call up for National Service 1965. Wayne discusses 12 weeks basic training at Puckapunyal and the “news” that they were being sent to Vietnam.

Interview Three – National Service 1965. The first 12 weeks. Basic Training

Interview 4. After graduating from Puckapunyal they move to Holsworthy Barracks NSW. Wayne volunteers for the Ready Deployment Force. As part of A Company 5 Battalion they are sent to Western New Guinea for remote border patrols at a time when tensions with Indonesia were high. Villagers were initially terrified, thinking they were returning Japanese soldiers. After completion of the patrol Wayne and his section are flown to Vietnam where he discusses Vung Tao and the massive airlift with the US 173rd Airborne helicopters into Nui Dat.

Interview Four – National Service Post Basic Training, New Guinea Border Patrol and arrival Vietnam

Interview 5. Base camp established at Nui Dat in May 1966. Attack by Viet Cong of the 274 Regiment in June. Wayne’s platoon engaged in long range reconnaissance patrols. Weapons upgraded. The loss of some good mates.

He is sent to a specialist Vietnamese language course in Saigon and is billeted at the Tan Son Air Base. Wayne talks about Saigon, the Viet Cong, type of planes at the air base, the tough disciplined South Korean soldiers, and a Viet Cong attack.

Interview Five – The Full On Business of War

Interview 6. The attack on Long Son Island (Nov 1966). Operation Hayman. Description of helicopters flying in “stick formation”. Patrols near Long Hai Mountains. Incident at a creek crossing where Wayne, as Section Leader, calls in air support.

Interview Six – Operation Hayman. Helicopter assault of Long Son Island. Calling in an air strike.

Interview 7. A description of the types of aircraft using Ton San Air Base. This includes the CIA “airline” … Air America.

Additional observations on Ton San airbase

Interview 8 will be posted by end of October. In this podcast Wayne Clarke will reflect on why the RSL has been such an important source of friendship and support during his life.

Many of the following images were provided by Wayne Clarke from his personal collection.

Wayne Clarke on the left with his Section in Phuoc Tuy Province

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