- Vietnam War (1962-73)
Uncle Frank Lampard OAM is a proud Ngarrindjeri Kaurna man and elder and one of the thousands of young Australians called up for national service during the Vietnam War. Training as a medic in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, he was posted to Victoria for two years from 1967 to 1969.
Listen as Uncle Frank unpacks his experience of national service, shares stories from his time living in Melbourne and away from country and gives powerful insights into the recognition and acknowledgment of First Peoples' military service.
“Vietnam Lottery (ABC News, 1965)”. Australian Broadcasting Corporation Library Sales.
“Minister for Army statement regarding the re-introduction of National Service, 1964”. Accession No: F03664. Item copyright held by the Australian War Memorial, licensed under Creative Commons and used with kind permission.
“ALP: Federal Election 1966”. Audio supplied by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Australian Screen Collection, used with kind permission courtesy of the Australian Labor National Secretariat.
‘Or Forever Hold Your Peace’ (1970). Audio supplied by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Australian Screen Collection and used with kind permission courtesy of Richard Brennan.
“[Christmas messages 1969] Commander's inserts DPR/TV (Soldiers greetings from Vietnam)”. Accession Number: F04718. Item copyright held by the Australian War Memorial, licensed under Creative Commons and used with kind permission.
“Prayer of Remembrance” from the 2021 Aboriginal Veterans Commemorative Public Service, Adelaide, May 28, 2021. Prayer written and spoken by Chaplain (Squadron Leader) Patrick Boyle, Air Force. Audio recorded by Hugh Fenton/Enlightening Films. Used with kind permission courtesy of Aboriginal Veterans South Australia (AVSA).
“Catafalque Party” (Army) from the 2021 Aboriginal Veterans Commemorative Public Service, Adelaide, May 28, 2021. Audio recorded by Hugh Fenton/Enlightening Films, used with kind permission courtesy of Aboriginal Veterans South Australia (AVSA).
Accession Number AWM2016.437.3. Yidaki performed by Leading Aircraftman Brodie McIntyre (Warlpiri). Item copyright held by the Australian War Memorial, licensed under Creative Commons and used with kind permission.
“62,000 Bells For 62,000 Australian Dead”, recorded at the ANU School of Music Canberra by Veronica Bailey, Thomas Laue and Chris Latham, from (included in track ‘Lux Aeterna – In Paradisum’, composer: Ross Edwards). The Diggers Requiem: arranged, curated and conducted by Christopher Latham (musical artist in residence at the Australian War Memorial) with soloists. Used with kind permission.
, The Royal Australian Airforce Band under the Musical Direction of Flight Lieutenant Aaron Michael, arrangement by Leading Aircraftman Niels Rosendahl and featuring First Nations musicians: (Navy) Leading Seaman Henry Burns (Torres Strait Islander, Saibai Island, Ayte Koedal Clan, Meriam Merr Language, Eastern Torres Straits): Lumut (Bamboo Drum) and Maber Sorr (Conch Shell). Seaman Nathaniel Denson(Kalau Lagau Ya Language, Top Western Torres Straits): Warrup (White Wooden Drum), Maber Sorr (Conch Shell). (Army) Private Kirra Grimes (Bunuba/Naaguja Yamatji): Kulap (Shakers); (Air Force) Flight Lieutenant Tjapukai Shaw (Wiradjuri): Didgeridoo and Flight Lieutenant Aimee McCartney (Taungurung/Bunurong/Wotjobaluk): Clap sticks and Kulap (Shakers). Used with kind permission.
Uncle Frank Lampard for his generous time and interview, and also to his wife Sandra for her continuing support.
Aboriginal Veterans SA, Ian Smith, Hugh Fenton and Chaplain Patrick Boyle; LAC Brodie Macintyre; Chris Latham; Fleur Griffiths, ABC Library Sales; Sandy Rippingale, ALP National Secretariat; Siobhan Dee, NFSA; Greta Wass, Australian War Memorial; Richard Brennan, filmmaker; Leading Seaman Musician Jonathan Rendell, Royal Australian Navy Band; SGT. Dr. Ralph Whiteoak, Royal Australian Airforce Band and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; Dr. Peter Yule, Justin Brown and the Shrine team: Sue Burgess, Laura Thomas, and Katrina Nicholson, curator of For Kin & Country.
The Victoria Aboriginal Remembrance Service is held annually at the Shrine of Remembrance during National Reconciliation Week. Visit the to keep up to date with events and news. Their next service is Tuesday 31st May, 2022, at 10.15am.
The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Shrine of Remembrance.
If this interview raises any issues for you, please contact:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
MEGAN SPENCER: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners are advised that the following program contains references to a person who has passed away.
Welcome to this podcast exploring all facets of our wartime history. The Shrine of Remembrance acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional custodians of the land on which we honour Australian service people, and we pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging.
Hello, my name is Megan Spencer. And this is For Kin and Country, a podcast that explores the stories of First People's defence service with a Victorian focus.
And this is the Victorian service story of Ngarrindjeri Kaurna elder Uncle Frank Lampard OAM.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Well, look, I'll give you my details as they are recorded by my birth and I'm Francis Henry Lampard. But day to day, I go by the name of Frank. And I was born on Point McLeay mission in its local hospital on the 26th of November 1946. Can you imagine that? Last century! Look, I've always identified as a Kaurna, Ngarrindjeri and sometimes in reverse Ngarrindjeri /Kaurna, because on both sides of my Mum and Dad's families, that's our history in regards to traditional ownership.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: This barrel held the immediate future for 40,300 young Australians who have registered for national service since January the 25th. It will continue to hold the immediate future for all young Australians who reach the age of 20 while the government continues its present policy of national service training by ballot.
MEGAN SPENCER: Uncle Frank Lampard is a proud known Ngarrindjeri/Kaurna man from South Australia, and he was one of the thousands of young Australian men called up from all over the country for national service during the Vietnam War between 1964 and 1972, or conscription as it came to be known.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: Inside here today were 181 marbles representing birthdays, The plan aims eventually at providing a constant strength of 13,800 young national servicemen in Australia's military forces.
MEGAN SPENCER: Uncle Frank's marble rolled in the ballot for national service in 1966, when he was 20 years old, and at teacher's college.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Certainly, for me, it was 1966. And of course, at that time, the Vietnam War was in full fire. As a result of that, conscription was introduced as a policy mandatory for all young men turning 20 years of age in that era. I actually, with a number of my friends from Teachers College, where I was studying at the time, we all made our visit up to Curry Street where the Commonwealth Office was...
MEGAN SPENCER: In Adelaide?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: In Adelaide. So that we could register our details for the call up. And I was to hear later in that year that I had to report for duty in January, the start of 1967.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: Governments announced review of defence will ensure Australia has a fully manned and equipped army, ready to meet any commitments in the near future. Selective National Service involving two years full time duty will begin with an intake of 2100 men. Of these, 750 will train at Kapooka near Wagga in New South Wales. The reaimder of the recruit training batallion will be established at Puckapunyal in Victoria.
MEGAN SPENCER: Training as a medic in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, Uncle Frank was posted to Victoria for two years, serving there from 1967 to 1969. He did his recruit training at Puckapunyal and his core training at Healesville.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: Recruits will receive three months basic training, three months corp training at army schools and field force units and then be posted for 18 month service with ARA units.
MEGAN SPENCER: After Medical Corps training, Uncle Frank was posted to 2nd Field Ambulance, which was deployed to Vietnam before he arrived. So, semi detached and on standby, he worked in Central Medical Records in Albert Park Barracks and Victoria Barracks during his service. Initially living on base at Watsonia, he and some army mates soon moved to St Kilda when they realised just how far it was from Albert Park and their work. The National Service Act 1964 exempted Indigenous Australians from the requirement to register for service. Uncle Frank, however, chose to register, enlist and to proceed with his service.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Indeed, indeed. And it was quite funny because part of the process soon after your marble had rolled is that you had to be medically tested and interviewed, medically tested and so on. And the thing is, during those processes, I was asked whether I was born somewhere else outside of Australia, and whether I might have had any Mediterranean heritage. And I just had to explain quietly, well, I might have some of that given my colour, but I've only believed myself as an Aboriginal. And I was actually advised at that time, I didn't have to go any further with the process if I didn't wish to because I was Aboriginal or Indigenous of this country.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: I went on with perhaps just a very brief response. And that was that, you know, Aboriginal people relate to the land, and our country as our mother. And, indeed, any of us, and I don't know whether there would have been too many Aboriginal conscripts, or for that matter, anybody who enlisted who decided that it wasn't for them to serve their country. But it was important that we served our country based purely on our love of it. And our relationship with it. You know, I said, 'No, look, we're proceeding please. And if I'm medically fit, and mentally, I'm okay, I think we should proceed'.
MEGAN SPENCER: Although he wasn't deployed to Vietnam, Uncle Frank learned a lot about what the soldiers were going through while he was in Melbourne from those who returned. He also speaks to the aftermath of that war from his personal point of view, with his younger brother Lawrence joining up after him and coming home very changed by the Vietnam War. Both of them grew up removed from their family as young boys.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: But at the time, you see, I didn't have that much to do with my extended family in the sense that, you know, I was removed from my mum and dad, by welfare, and I was brought up either in a boy's home, or I was fostered out. I went from my foster family's home and finished my teacher training and said goodbye to them when I left to go to recruit training at Puckapunyal. And I must say, my mum and dad unfortunately weren't about the place at that time. And I, what I did observe when I landed in Puckapunyal and got to move around a little bit, I did observe that there were some other Aboriginal men there doing their services as well. And that was interesting. But you know, I've since learned that there were a number of other Aboriginal people that were within my traditional owner group, and also closely related to me.
MEGAN SPENCER: Uncle Frank is a well-respected elder who works tirelessly in the Aboriginal veteran space. He is co-chair of Aboriginal Veterans SA, the committee behind the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial in Adelaide, which was dedicated in 2013, the first major memorial of its kind in Australia.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: I'd like to say a prayer of remembrance. Lord God, we remember the sacrifice of all our Aboriginal and Torres Strait veterans. Those whose names we know, but also those names that we don't. We remember all of the Aboriginal veterans that served this country with pride in such a complex time.
MEGAN SPENCER: Uncle Frank is also a member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group to the Australian War Memorial for their redevelopment project, and he was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in 2008 for services to the indigenous community. With uncles and other family members involved in the two World Wars and beyond, Uncle Frank has a deep sense of service. His two years living and serving in Victoria left an indelible mark on him, especially when he was part of the Ceremonial Guard of Honour at the Shrine on ANZAC day during his national service.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Well, I kind of glowed a bit, I have to tell you, it felt really great and it felt good. And you had a lot of pride with, you know, marching down St Kilda Road onto the memorial and taking part in the orders that were required as it related to the programme of the day and of course, the small contribution that you made in terms of those occasions.
MEGAN SPENCER: From a personal point of view, and as a young First Nations man living off country at that time, Uncle Frank speaks to the Indigenous experience of national service in Victoria. His love for his time in the services, the mates he made, stories as a young soldier in Melbourne during the mid to late 60s, and of course, as a First Nations person serving in the Australian Army with a brother who was deployed to Vietnam. Uncle Frank is a dynamic and a powerful speaker. Our conversation took place on Kaurna country. I began by asking Uncle Frank what kind of a young man was he at the time his marble rolled for national service in 1966.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: To be perfectly honest, I would have described myself as quiet. Not everybody would agree with that. The thing is, I was a type that, I tried to just get on with it. I was very keen about eventually getting into something that I'd actually love for a very long time once I did, and that was teaching. And so I was thinking about that before I went off to my recruit training and my service. I was a little bit inquisitive, not in any way, shape, or form very academic. I struggled in my studies, failed in many. I loved sport. So in the main it was a little bit of tennis, even less cricket, and lots of Australian rules football. But other than that, I loved going to dances. I don't know, I never had any particular strengths in any particular area, other than just living and coping and trying to get by.
MEGAN SPENCER: Did you have serving members in your family background? Was this a surprise for you? Or did you feel in some way, fated that you might serve your country through doing military service?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: In a funny sort of way, yes. My mother interestingly, and I never even thought about this very much, but I certainly did much later on, My mother always made a point of pointing out to me who the people were that had served our country in the First or the Second World Wars. But you know, more particularly her extended family because it was uncles of mine, who had actually married my mum's sisters. And so I was very conscious that there had been a fair line of Ngarrindjeri
and Kaurna people that had served in every theatre of war from First, Second and Korea and so on wars. So I just saw it in a funny way as sort of a personal responsibility to honour the pathways that have been trod by those people, in years gone by, and they were very close to me, you know.
MEGAN SPENCER: Even as a young man, you had that sensibility?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD:: I did.
MEGAN SPENCER: And on your dad's side, too, were there people who'd served?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD:: Yes, there were. It would have been uncles of my father, and obviously great uncles of mine. And so there's an interesting mix of both my mum and dad having close relatives who had actually served our country in defence. So, you know, without seriously thinking about it, there was something that sort of tapped away in the back of the brain that kind of said, you know, like, the country is making a call. You fit the category, you have to go through the process. And whatever happens as an outcome, and should you end up being called, it's the sense of duty to your country.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO; Vietnam is not just a place. It's a time in history, a time in history, when conquest of an enemy is not just a matter of superior force, it's also a battle for the minds of men. To win the battle, and lose the peace, would be a devastating defeat.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: But at the same time, there was a sense of, you had to keep it quiet too, because at the time, there was this fairly strong movement of young people at the time against the Vietnam War. And you didn't sort of openly admit necessarily publicly that, you know, you'd been called up and you were going off to serve the country, and yada, yada, and if necessary, assist and support what was happening in Vietnam, because, you know, the people that you mix with, especially in the tertiary sector, had always questioned whether we should have been there or not.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: All troops, out now...
MEGAN SPENCER: Yeah, I was gonna ask you about the mood at the time, when you did join up. So what were your feelings around it? You've said that you felt compelled to go through with this process and to serve your country, did any doubts cross your mind at all?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: None in terms of my decision. But I was always nervous, personally, of maybe being challenged over my stance. But at the same time, in a funny sort of way, you kind of prepare yourself mentally to address those sorts of experiences if they do arise. So, you know, as far as I was concerned, it was a duty, you know, the people that didn't support it were very strong. And lots of their arguments made really solid sense. And, you know, I guess I was happy that I was sort of able to smoothly get through without any of those sorts of challenges being put in my face in regards to it.
I kind of understood where they were coming from, and that caused, you know, a ripple of sensitivity and concern on a personal level. But in trying to weigh up the two, in the end, it was because of my mates that actually had gone through the process as such, there is no way that I was going to back out. So, you know, I just proceeded.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: 10,000 People are expected to gather at Melbourne, and even more in Sydney.
MEGAN SPENCER: Uncle Frank, I know, you had grown up out of home, off country and away from your mum and dad, but they were still in your life. And you're from a big family, too. I wonder what your family thought of your decision to go to Victoria to enlist, if they were around for you to discuss the decision with?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Well, I never really had any discussions with my mother. There would have been a lot of mothers who would have questioned why their sons, whose marble had rolled, that they had to go through with the process and likely end up in the Defence Force at that time. And I imagined in my mind that if I had a conversation with Mum, she'd be saying 'Look, I don't think that you should do this. I'm not happy about it. But if you've made up your mind, then it's your decision'. My dad, on the other hand, he's would have said 'Hey mate, you've got Uncles and lots of the family that have done this before. A few of them sadly, got killed. A few of them sadly got injured badly. And others came home. But I think because of the call up every 20 year old should have had a duty in regards to their country. And look, I think you should just get on with it. And let's hope that you safely come through it'.
MEGAN SPENCER: So, in January 1967, you do get on a plane, your first plane trip over to Victoria to begin your military service. Would you like to start that off for us?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD:: Yeah. Well, let's say it was with some nervousness, a degree of trepidation. But I gotta admit, it was all quite exciting. Once we got up in the air looking down, it was just amazing. I thought 'dear me, this is out of this world'. And look, I think I enjoyed the trip. And it was almost as though you know, as soon as you settled in and had a bit of a chat for a little while with your mates and you know, looking through the windows, we were landing at Mangalore. I mean, you can imagine, I've never travelled before, probably never went too close to an airport before and all of a sudden, I'm boarding a plane. I thought 'you beaut, I hope this guy goes all right and gets me there safely'.
MEGAN SPENCER: The DC3 Uncle Frank and his mates were flying on landed at Mangalore airport near the Victorian town of Seymour and close to Puckapunyal, the army base where they were about to start recruit training. I think you were put on trucks and driven there is that right?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Yeah, we certainly were. And of course, it was quite funny because we had a form up very quickly after disembarking and then you were passed on to a truck. And we trucked then into Puckapunyal. And my first impression of Pucka was is that 'this looks alright, it's not too bad'. So none of that fazed me in any particular way. And before we knew it, we were off the truck and formed up again and, and given some orders.
MEGAN SPENCER: After being issued his military gear, Uncle Frank was assigned to B Company 9th Platoon and to an army donga.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: When you were accommodated, we were put in those buildings that were put there in a hurry. You know, we were taken through all the routines that are expected in how we looked after our accommodation area, inclduing how to make our bed. That was interesting. And oh god, some of my mates at the time, they got themselves into trouble for not doing that properly! It was part of that discipline. If you tried cleverly to get out of something, it was gonna catch up with you. And unfortunately, when they struck and you got striked, mate, the outcome could be quite awful. Because you know, when you finally marched out of recruit training, it was about the first time in the last couple of nights that the NCOs in particular, that taught you all the drill it was required, they became friendly, quite friendly, to be honest. And one of my recall, had already had time in Vietnam, you know, he was a realist about your preparation had to be razor edge, you know, for your own well being and safety. I mean, it made good sense to you towards the end of it. But you didn't always enjoy, you know, some of the things that happened along the way.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: We remember those who still bear the physical and mental scars and disabilities of their service. We remember all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands servicemen, and women and children, no matter what their service looked like. We remember those from the city. We remember those from the bush. We remember the bravery of all of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island soldiers who fought, not for their own self, but for their land.
MEGAN SPENCER: Did you find that there were other Aboriginal people there that you met or that you were aware of? How were you treated also as an Aboriginal recruit at that time?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Well, to be perfectly honest, I never necessarily identified as Aboriginal. I couldn't see that there was a point in it. The second point of it is that there were some people that were already there with me that knew I was Aboriginal and not necessarily in my company or in my platoon. But at the same time, I did observe there was some other Aboriginal men in other companies, but you just didn't have the time to, to meet anybody else, you know, because the drills for everything was every day and for long hours. And all you wanted to do was to just not be around people, you know what I mean?
MEGAN SPENCER: It sounds like everyone was just busy training and you're becoming part of this army machine, I guess, in a sense, too. Is that a fair thing to say?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: That is a very fair thing to say. You know, I mean, whenever you had your own time, so to speak, you'd be writing letters to home, to someone. And if you weren't doing that, you were probably cleaning your rifle. Cleaning your boots. Making sure your gators were okay and cleaning them. Cleaning your clothes that you're in, you know, the laundry, washing your clothes, you're actually then having to dry them, then you got to iron them. And oh, Lord, you had to be so spic and span t wasn't funny. So you know, you were always busy. And for me, I personally felt like you know, time it just went bang. And before you knew what, after 10 weeks or so I was marching out of the place.
MEGAN SPENCER: After he marched out of recruit training, Uncle Frank then marched into Medical Corps training at the School of Army Health in Healesville, 64 kilometres east of Melbourne in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and surrounded by bushland.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Healesville was a unique barracks if you like, because most of it was tents, and there was a playground and an administration centre. And I think there were some nurses that were doing nurse training out there, oh boy. And, you know, even then, being in the tent, the ablution block for all of us, was up 100 metres away. And you can imagine five o'clock, six o'clock in the morning. The men, I was certainly one of them, I never put any clothing on I just put a towel around me and cut it down to the ablution area with my shaving gear. And of course had my shower and got back to the tent as soon as I could and then got ready for the day.
MEGAN SPENCER: I believe it was pretty cold in Healesville when you were there
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Oh, God, it was freezing. In fact, the creek down in the sanctuary just below where the camp was used to freeze over. And but you know, the most remarkable thing occurred while I was there, it was the first time in my life that I've ever seen a platypus because there were platypus in the creek. And we used the creek as an exercise of carrying wounded people across a waterway. And I'm wandering through the waterway and all of a sudden, I see this is little thing and I said 'Please don't bite me or anything else because I'm old holding up the damn stretcher' and all the blokes started laughing, they said 'You idiot, that's a platypus!' And I went 'Oh, God'. But gee aren't they cute?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: But, you know, in core training, we spent every day in lessons. And mostly because the majority of us wouldn't have had a lot of background in what's required as a medic or a stretcher bearer in services, and so we had a lot of learning to do. And you know, you had to continue to do a little bit of a drill movement. And at the same time, we trained hard for fitness and our fitness levels out to be up you know. And we had to go on long-distance runs cross country. That was good fun, I didn't mind that. As much as possible, you were encouraged to participate within your sport of choice. And wherever you happened to be.
MEGAN SPENCER: Were you making some good friendships in Medical Corps training?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD:: Look, this will sound a bit weird, but I wasn't one to necessarily make really close friends other than a handful in my time in the service, because there was always something in the back of your mind saying that you get too close and you know, you might end up Vietnam and you may never be seen again sort of thing, that was always sort of very quietly ticking away in the back of your mind. I had friends, but they weren't, you wouldn't have described them as absolutely close friends, because you didn't know then where you were going to be sent to after, you know, from recruit training, then you're in the medical corps in your corps, and you can be shipped off to anywhere else as well. And, and so, you know, you didn't have time to make really solid close friends, you know, until I ended up in Melbourne and camped at Watsonia Army Barracks for a little while.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: I'd like to take just a couple of minutes to talk about Vietnam. So much has been said for and against Australia's commitment in Vietnam. Yet this will be the first time you will be asked to make up your own mind. You see, whether we like it or not, we're right at this moment Australia is at war, it is no less a real war than if it was being waged in the streets of our own city. We are still in a position to decide just what part Australia will play in Vietnam. The decision you make at this election will be a critical one.
MEGAN SPENCER: So there was a very real sense that you were going to be or most likely were going to be shipped off to Vietnam to do your service wasn't there?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Look, I think everyone during the recruit and also corp training would have believed and thought there's an amazingly strong possibility that you could be sent off to Vietnam at some stage. For me, it was always in the back of my mind. I was always ready. But thankfully, all my service was done of all places, Victoria in Australia. So it's really funny. You kind of later I suppose, after your services I wished you had gone. But you know, isn't an amazing? My brother actually enlisted, he ended up in 6RAR and ended up as a stretcher bearer and a medic, and he toured Vietnam. Sadly, for me personally, I never had much time to chat to my brother about that, because unfortunately, he was killed at 23 years of age. And we didn't have much time after he returned from Vietnam for us to do that.
MEGAN SPENCER: So he did make it back alive to Australia, finished up his service, and then he was killed as a young man tragically, wasn't he?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Yes, he was. Yeah. Heartbreaking and, but while he was in Vietnam with 6RAR, I learned at the dedication of his burial location, the acknowledgement and recognition of his service, that his Commander in Vietnam spoke very highly of his service, but also said he was a mischievous devil that got himself in a little bit of unnecessary trouble from time to time. In the role that he had, his commanding officer mentioned that they were involved in some skirmishes where he had to attend to the injured and sometimes to the dead. And that must have played an awful, I suppose part in his thinking about making it a career.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: My message is directed to the families and loved ones and friends of the sixth battalion in both Australia and New Zealand. On this most special of family days, I can assure you that the thoughts of all of us are very much with you. The way everyone has managed at home as a source of unfailing strength to all of us. At the same time, I'd like you to feel very proud as I am of the men of this battalion, who have done everything that has been asked of them, and a lot more.
MEGAN SPENCER: After Uncle Frank finished his Royal Australian Army Medical Corps training at Healesville, he moved to Melbourne for his first army posting semi detached from 2nd Field Ambulance to medical records.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: I was posted to and accommodated out at Watsonia Barracks and we used to bus in to Albert Park Barracks. And, so I spent most of my time in the services for the period that I had left to serve in administration and some of it took place at Albert Park and some of it took place at Victoria Barracks. But I must say, a lot of the time, even though you might use these fancy words of administration, basically all we were doing were filing papers to a very huge degree. But interestingly enough, we were filing those papers in soldier's files, and of course, we were sworn to confidentiality in regards to that. We were advised that other than you know, the actual details of the person involved or the soldier involved with the report that came in that had to be filed away that that's all we should be looking at and filing accordingly and not spending time reading through the details of that paperwork. At the end of the day that had to be dealt with professionally, and ethically. And we were always reminded of that. And I think that all of those soldiers that were in that role, did it honourably.
MEGAN SPENCER: Did you get a sense of the war from your work filing these documents that must have been coming in from Vietnam and the war zones?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Not particularly. But we did get a sense of what was happening over there, because there were other returned soldiers from Vietnam that were on site. Every person, every soldier has a story to tell, and of course, over a cuppa, and over lunch, even when you're sitting quietly in a bar somewhere, in the canteen, they would share some of that story of their journey and time in Vietnam.
MEGAN SPENCER: And you were on standby throughout your national service when you were in records, central medical records in Melbourne. Initially, you were posted to 2nd Field Ambulance, but they'd left before you got to Victoria, hadn't they? So that's how you kind of wound up working in records.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Yeah, that's right. But I wouldn't have been the only one that was probably fated with that gift in a sense. Because 2nd Field Ambulance, I think it made a strong contribution over there. You know, as time drifts by quietly after your service, you think 'Gee, I wished I had been posted to 2nd Field Ambulance before they'd actually gone'.
MEGAN SPENCER: Why is that Uncle Frank?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Well, because at the time, there were fellas that actually were in 2nd Field Ambulance that went and for me, I was posted there, but yet I got that, you know, slither of luck that, that I didn't go to Vietnam. And I could be very thankful for that. But I suppose personally, I always had a concern that all of them that did go that they were going to return home safely at some stage.
MEGAN SPENCER: So sort of mixed feelings was it?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Very much so, very much so. But if I was going to be posted there, I was going to be posted there. As I said, I was a bit fortunate, and I had that slither of luck.
MEGAN SPENCER: Do you feel like your service working in records in Melbourne was valued, though? Did you value what you were doing? Did you see it as legitimate military service and supporting the war effort at the time?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: during the time, you would question it time and again, I wouldn't have been alone I don't think. We used to chuckle about it and make jokes about it. The paperwork and the filing that was required, for God's sake, how's that contributing in any way? But you do then mature up a little bit, you then realise how significant and important that work was. Since I've sought records myself and also my brother, it was just as well there were people like me and the rest of the team in those days, were actually filing those records away.
MEGAN SPENCER: At Watsonia barracks, Uncle Frank met fellow Nasho, Terry Hughes, remaining lifelong friends until his sad passing last year. According to Uncle Frank, Terry convinced him to move to St Kilda and was like the dad of the flat, keeping him and his mates on the straight and narrow.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Well, we were all sort of sleeping in the same section at Watsonia. And one of the things that we had to do as a boarder or a resident or whatever you want to call it at Watsonia you actually had to do guard duty. It was quite scary at times you know. I don't know whether I want to remain here because when you lived off the barracks you didn't have to do guard duty. When Terry came up with this glorious idea that look, I've had enough of this, and we'd only been there for a few weeks, mind you the wet canteen was handy! He said 'I'm gonna go and see if I can find somewhere I can rent a place where if any of you guys are interested you can join me and we can live off barracks'. Well he found this place in St Kilda and of course I'd already befriended him. He used to drive us here, there and everywhere. Anyway, we ended up in this flat on Barkley Street, which is sort of like almost parallel to Fitzroy Street where the great George Hotel is. And we used to be frequent consumers, at the George. So did a lot of other soldiers who were based at Albert Park barracks. But the funny thing is, it is a bit of a cute story, when we moved in there, it was fabulous. We had our own rooms, we had a lounge and a kitchen area. And it was quite reasonable. And we had a little bit of extra money that we could spend on doing other things. And the funny part about it, we were on the first floor, and then above us on the second floor was this bunch of ladies of the night, to put it politely.
MEGAN SPENCER: Working girls
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Working girls, that's a nice way of putting it. And you know what, we quickly befriended them, not for any services of any kind. But every time they had some sort of function, they would invite us along. And we used to go to some of them, not all of them. And the girls used to always say 'Now listen, any of you people here tonight that are our guests, you play up, we've got some security people downstairs, who will more than happily come up and sort you out'.
MEGAN SPENCER: And that was you guys.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: And that was us guys. And we kind of honoured that a little bit. But anyway, there was never too much trouble. And they got on with their lives. But you know, it was so funny. Because every now and again, you'd be caught by, you know, the lounge window looking down onto Barclay Street, and the girls are out there standing and doing business. And that gives us a bit of a laugh.
MEGAN SPENCER: What was this like for you? Because this was your, I guess, your first big city experience as a young man. I mean, Adelaide was a city but much smaller than Melbourne at that time. What was it like for you coming to the big smoke and seeing all of this colour and movement in front of your eyes, specially in St Kilda, back in the 60s?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: It was just exciting. And you know, I mean, we never even mixed much. But every now and again, we had a few drinks together and we would talk about each other's lives. We eventually sort of became friends. And almost related to the girls like our sisters to some extent. But basically just to make sure that they were always safe. Everything else was reasonably normal. There was a little hotel just across the street next door to us. And then there was a George Hotel in Fitzroy street, there was always a lot of after hour cafeteria type activities in that area. So that was all a bit you know, wow. Isn't this wonderful? And you know, you could go into town, see Young and Jacksons on the corner. And of course, the London Hotel used to attract a lot of us serving boys at the time. And that was a great place for all the services came together. Oh God, they were funny little activities happening there I can tell you.
MEGAN SPENCER: Were there any fights?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Yeah, fights. And of course, you know, there'd be the Navy, Army and Navy got on incredibly well. And then there was the Air Force. There were lots of us got on all right with the Air Force, but it was never the same relationship as the soldiers had with the Navy. But, you know, there would always be some clown amongst us who would have to cause a little bit of kerfuffle with someone in you know, drinking in the place or it might have been because they spoke to their girlfriend at the venue and then you know, they would strike each other in a boxing match which would be centre stage and before you knew it, lots of others got involved. And then they were glasses and jackets. And I can remember one night where the London had this unbelievable big mirror on one of the walls and next minute, BANG, the damn jug hit it and of course the mirror crumbled to the ground. But you know, you do all that silly stuff, and it will be settled there on the night. And people would go away friends and then catch up again, whenever we were there together again, but you went to some of their venues as well. You know, there were, there were different places in Melbourne, where the Navy gathered, there were different places where the Air Force gathered. And you know, you would get invited to those places. You had to behave yourself, you know, when you were there, but, but it was still fun, and you met people from all over the country.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: We remember the over 3000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who fought in World War Two. We will remember that we had the highest participation rates in the military as a proportion to our population here in Australia. We remember those who have participated in all of Australia's military conflicts, including Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
MEGAN SPENCER: Listening to Uncle Frank speak, I asked him whether at any stage, he'd encountered any resistance towards him, or racism as an Aboriginal soldier during his national service.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Look, I saw pieces of it happening around the place. But for me, I never experienced that, particularly, you know, and, of course, it was quite clear that occasionally, there would be racist remarks made about Aboriginal soldiers or Torres Strait Islander soldiers or Seamen or Airmen, you know, but thankfully, for me, I didn't have experience too much of that. Look, one of the things that I think became unique to me and even more prevalent after I left the services, is that we all identified each other with a uniform. You know, all the soldiers basically always in greens. I'd imagine the Navy fellows, you know, would have had an aspect of the uniform on which they all identified strongly with and there was no prejudicial sort of behaviour, necessarily, and you would have expected, you know, that the airforce, they were always in the blue, you know what I mean? And, you know, mateship, courage, and honour are so critical words, in terms of your relationship with one another, that I think everybody quickly senses and recognises that. And so if there's any level of weird and odd behaviour and racism occurring, it's quickly stifled by the fact that we are all in the same uniform on the same journey in the defence of our country.
MEGAN SPENCER: And you lived that experience, is that right?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Yes, I did. Yeah. And let me just relate, for example, Albert Park barracks had a football side. And of course, I was attracted to try and get into the side. So I went to a few the training sessions, and eventually made the side. And then, you know, some of the prominent people were there was a great Stan Alves, who, you know, I respected very highly. And of course, I think Carl Ditterich, also used to come in and out of Albert Park on a regular basis with he was in a different corp to the medical. And he had a game or two with us. And one of the things that I found about those people, and this is what I think was a consistent word you could relate to servicemen is generally majority, by far and away of us were modest. And that modesty, I think attracts you to not only each other, but to other people. And so, if someone was to go outside of those boundaries, others would quickly bring it back into control. And they would insist on it being followed through. Now, that isn't to say for one minute that it didn't occur. And it was hierarchical in relation to your status within the services. Now that happened, maybe during war, after war. But when you were together, we seem to all be able to live I think comfortably with one another.
MEGAN SPENCER: Uncle Frank, how did you find military life? What was your experience of it? As I guess, as an overall experience? Did you fit it? Did it fit you?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Look, I might have found it challenging occasionally. I might have been a bit unhappy with how I was related to. And that's, that's not about colour or race or creed or any of that sort of now that's about, I didn't quite get a movement, you know. And it would come down to discipline and how I spoken to that made me get a little bit uncomfortable, I suppose. But at the end of the day, I would have comfortably continued in the army if I was uncertain about what I might do once I was out. Thankfully, defence made available scholarships for people to return to study. And I took one of those to finish a year at Teachers College again. And I have to say that my desire to be a teacher was as strong as anything in my life. And I loved the job when I got into it. But I could have easily and I think quite comfortably remained in the services and perhaps made a career out of it.
MEGAN SPENCER: Uncle Frank, while you were living in Melbourne, for those couple of years that you were in the national service during the time of the Vietnam War, I wonder what your experience was like living away from country and also from your family, you were interstate in Victorian and not back in South Australia or around the Coorong where a lot of your family were based?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Well, honestly, I was never so deeply involved in culture, at that time, as I became. So it was never a particular challenge for me. But I've always carried an ethos and practice in my life that you should always be respectful. So on that basis alone, if I was on somebody else's country, I had to treat it well and respectfully, and I do my damnedest to honour core cultural aspects of their tribal group or community. I mean, reconciliation in those days was hardly a word that anybody ever talked about. And as years have gone by, I've become very passionate culturally, I've become very passionate about the elements of that such as language, and then protocols, and then respect and story, and, of course, all the other elements that make that solid, cultural commitment. At the same time, I become very passionate about reconciliation. And then you throw in with that, I'm also very passionate about the veteran's community, and what I can do to assist and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans, and veterans across the board in any way. If I've got a thought bubble that might be of some use, and others think it was worthwhile, and others value to some extent, I would offer whatever I could to cement that and commit to it.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: We remember the widows and the widower's friends, parents, and orphans, sisters, and brothers, and all who waited in vain for the return of a loved one. We also remember those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who served in peacekeeping operations, including Somalia, and East Timor.
MEGAN SPENCER: So it sounds like to me that your national service gave you a lot. And it also put you on track to be part of the work that you have done for a long time and are still doing to this day, which is in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service people current and previous. And I suppose the other side of it is that you know, the Vietnam War impacted on your brother as well. It's brought a whole lot of things together with who you are as a person and the kinds of support and work that you do today.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Absolutely no question. So I guess that, you know, had it not been for national service, I wouldn't have the same views about a whole lot of things in my life had I not had that journey. I mean, can you imagine, if it wasn't for my service, I'd have never met one of my best buddies that I've ever had in my life, Mr. Terrence John Hughes, God bless him. He's no longer with us. Terry was, you know, like a shining light for me for most of my time in the services and I'll never forget him as long as I live.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: While we remember the mateship, the agony, courage and compassion of war service, save us from ever glorifying the horror and tragedy of war.
MEGAN SPENCER: Uncle Frank, when you look at Indigenous service, military service in Australia now and your own contribution to that, your couple of years in the national service during the Vietnam period, what comes to mind for you? And where are we at now with recognition and acknowledgement of Indigenous service in Australia?
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: Well, I think the reconciliation process has had a huge part in that. I think we are now getting the acknowledgement and recognition that we deserve. Further, I think we've got a lot more people supporting us in the various processes that are necessary of carriage of those responsibilities. And one thing I know for certain is that the number of our young people that are now enlisting for services in the services across the board have increased incredibly, so I anticipate that there are going to be a lot of our young fellas that have decided that a career in defence is just what I want.
ARCHIVAL AUDIO: We remember with thanksgiving and with pride. All of those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who served Australia in war, we offer our prayers of remembrance and thanksgiving. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: But, you know, I think we're always going to be faced with having defence forces at our disposal as countries and as a result, it will present good opportunities for some. I just hope that we never get involved in a world war thing. All of us one day, you know, in jeopardy.
MEGAN SPENCER: I just want to say thank you very much for your generous time and amazing insights today. It's been fantastic listening to you speak.
UNCLE FRANK LAMPARD: It's been a great pleasure
MEGAN SPENCER: For Kin and Country is a podcast for the Shrine of Remembrance produced by me, Megan Spencer. Speaking today was Ngarrindjeri Kaurna and former national servicemen Uncle Frank Lampard OAM. Huge thanks to Uncle Frank for his time, insights and the interview and also to his wife Sandra for her continuing support. Many thanks to Aboriginal Veterans SA, Ian Smith, Hugh Fenton, ABC Library Sales, the Australian War Memorial, Richard Brennan, Squadron Leader Chaplain Patrick Boyle, Sandy Rippingale, ALP Secretariat, Kris Keogh for mastering, Leading Seaman Musician Jonathan Rendell, Sergeant Ralph Whiteoak, Dr. Peter Yule, Justin Brown, and of course to the Shrine team. And for the music many, many thanks to Chris Latham, Veronica Bailey and Thomas Laue, 62,000 Bells the diggers Requiem, Warlpiri man leading aircraftman Brodie McIntyre, Yidaki, and Robert Lintermans bugle, the Last Post Australian War Memorial and to the Royal Australian Air Force band, featuring First Nations musicians the Australian National Anthem Indigenous instrumental version.
The Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service is held annually at the Shrine of Remembrance during National Reconciliation Week. Visit the VARC Facebook page to keep up to date with events and news. The ABSA Aboriginal Veterans Commemorative Service is also held annually during National Reconciliation Week, at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial, Torrens Parade Ground, Adelaide. Find out more about Aboriginal Veterans SA at Reconciliation SA . For the full list of credits for this podcast, go to shrine.org.au/resources. The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Shrine of Remembrance. If this interview raises any issues for you, please contact:
Lifeline on 13 11 14, Open Arms (formerly VVCS) - Veterans & Families Counselling on 1800 011 046 or visit their website 13 YARN, Australia’s first, 24/7, national, Indigenous-led Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander crisis support line. Phone 13 92 76, or visit their website .
Visit the For Kin and Country exhibition at the Shrine of Remembrance, on until April 2023. I'm Megan Spencer and thank you for listening. Tune in to the next episodes of For Kin and Country coming soon and produced by a First Nations podcast maker for the Shrine of Remembrance.
Reviewed 16 May 2022