Remembrance Day: National service call up was a gift for Jim, 2019 service times

PROUD NASHO: Williamtown's Jim Clark with memorabilia from his days in the National Service in the mid-1950s. Picture: Charlie Elias
PROUD NASHO: Williamtown's Jim Clark with memorabilia from his days in the National Service in the mid-1950s. Picture: Charlie Elias

Not everyone was excited to be called up for National Service when it was first introduced in Australia in the 1950s but Williamtown's Jim Clark was one of the exceptions.

"As a youth I had been in the Army Cadets, so when my birth date was chosen it was not a shock to the system like it was for some blokes I knew," recalled the 83-year-old born in Abermain.

"In actual fact I was very excited to be enlisting. I was 18 years old and going through a plumbing apprenticeship at the time, but I was prepared for the adventure."

The year was 1954, the Korean War had ended and Australia was enjoying a rare period of peace time.

Mr Clark was assigned to 19 Battalion at Sydney's Holsworthy barracks and later served at 14 Field Squadron at Waratah.

"One of my greatest memories of my two and a half years in the Army Reserves was constructing the temporary Bailey bridges across the Georges River," he said.

"These were made of steel panels that were assembled in a couple of days then pulled away when they had no more use. It was hard, grinding work but enjoyable just being with mates.

"Most of the other time was spent in training, though we were put on standby for the Maitland floods [in 1955] but we weren't needed."

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Mr Clark said he would have stayed on in the Army but fell in love and married his sweetheart, Elaine, in 1957.

Last February the couple - who have three children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren - celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary.

Mr Clark believes many young people today could benefit from a stint in the National Service.

"A lot of blokes who were called up back in the 1950s hated it at the time, but when you talk to them now they say how it had helped them find a career and put some stability in their lives," he said.

"The beauty of Army life is that you can learn a trade and there are so many other benefits. I'm not saying it is for everyone but there are many young people, particularly the unemployed or disengaged, who could benefit ... it can change their life for the better."

Heatherbrae piper Ron Baillie performed The Battle's O'er in Raymond Terrace as a special tribute to mark the centenary of Armistice on November 11, 2018. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Heatherbrae piper Ron Baillie performed The Battle's O'er in Raymond Terrace as a special tribute to mark the centenary of Armistice on November 11, 2018. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Mr Clark says he enjoys being a member of both the Port Stephens branch of the National Service Association which meets monthly at Raymond Terrace and Stockton.

The National Service Act 1964, passed on November 24, required 20-year-old males, if selected, to serve in the Army for a period of two years of continuous service (reduced to 18 months in 1971), followed by three years in the Reserve.

Between 1965 and December 1972 more than 800,000 men registered for National Service. Some 63,000 were conscripted and over 19,000 served in Vietnam.

The NASHOs will take part in the Raymond Terrace Remembrance Day service in Anzac Park on Monday, November 11.

Kevin Jenkins from Port Stephens National Servicemen's Association laying a wreath at the 2018 Raymond Terrace service. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Kevin Jenkins from Port Stephens National Servicemen's Association laying a wreath at the 2018 Raymond Terrace service. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Raymond Terrace RSL Sub-Branch president Vic Jones RAR said this year's service would shine a light on the mental battles, in particular PTSD, those who fought faced when they arrived home.

Continuing its tradition of honouring a local veteran, the sub-branch has selected a World War I veteran whose name appears on the Terrace war memorial to feature during Monday's service.

Nelson Bay RSL Sub-Branch is expecting another strong turn out to its Remembrance Day service this year.

Students from St Philips Christian College will make the address and deliver the ode.

Major Dave Thompson, commanding officer of the Australian Army Band Newcastle, will lend his bugle expertise on the day.

Tanilba Bay RSL Sub-Branch will have the opportunity to showcase its newly completed memorial wall to the public on Monday during its service.

Remembrance Day 2019 service times

Raymond Terrace: 10.30am start at the Anzac Park memorial. Back to Raymond Terrace Bowling Club after the service, which is expected to finish 11.15am.

Tanilba Bay: 10.45amfor 11am start at the Tilligerry RSL Sports Club war memorial in Tanilba Bay.

Nelson Bay: 10.30am for a 10.45am start at the war memorial in Apex Park. Refreshments at Wests Nelson Bay Diggers after the service.

Medowie: 10.30am start at Lions Memorial Park on the corner of the Ferodale Road roundabout. Back to Bull 'N Bush Hotel after the service.

Karuah: 10.30am for a 10.45am start in Memorial Park on the corner Memorial Drive and Tarean Road. Back to Karuah RSL Club after the service.

Stockton: 10.45am at the Rawson Park memorial on the corner Mitchell and Hereford streets, Stockton.

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