About the Author
R.B (Bruce) Ravenscroft
This is a story of an ordinary Digger who served in South Vietnam. I was an Infantry Soldier (a Private) in section 5, of 5 Platoon, of “Bravo” Company, the Seventh Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment.
My main role within the Platoon was as a Forward Scout.
I left Australia’s shores for South Vietnam on Monday 16th February 1970 and returned home on Thursday 24th February 1971 – just over one year in service. Every day in between those dates I kept a diary.
As far as I know, I’m one of only a small number of Diggers to have done so.
Although a lot has been written about the Vietnam War, particularly in the last ten yes or so, it often relied on second-hand information recalled after considerable time, then mistranslated, or clouded with the beliefs of the author. Some versions I’ve heard have been twisted to suit a certain point of view and may have been prompted by lack of rehabilitation or proper debriefing.
Some of these second-hand accounts are the work of Senior Officers or “Pogos” stationed at Nui Dat, Vung Tau or Saigon. They might have been over there, but as they slept on a mattress, instead of good old mother earth and never got to go bush, they often didn’t know what actually went on at the sharp end. Don’t get me wrong, the Pogos – Personnel on Garrison Operations, working back at camp in a supporting role to the front line – had an important job to do in their own right. They represented about seventy percent of the serviceman in South Vietnam and kept us supplied with all the things we needed to our job properly. And I’ll be the first to admit their support allowed us to suffer fewer causalities and even fewer deaths.
But our experiences were different, and just as the stories of Field Artillerymen, or Field Engineers, or Field Medics, or those of the Armoured Corps will vary, it is impossible for one serviceman to tell the authentic story of another. You will even get a different story or account from one Infantryman to the next, though all will probably have a similar ring.
Although this book comes Twenty-Six years after I served in Vietnam, it is my words as a young serviceman, written as I spoke and thought in 1970.
I would record details in my diary each afternoon (or as soon as the situation allowed) so it is a true account of everything I saw and heard and did during my time there.
As a private soldier, I had no control over most decisions, and at the time I agreed with some but not others. In hindsight, even after twenty years’ service in the Army, ad as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer, I feel some things could have been done differently, but other decisions were right for the situation.
While some people may not agree, or would rather pretend the Vietnam War never happened, I hope my story will give other a chance to learn more of what really went on at the front line.
R.B (Bruce) Ravenscroft