George Mansford’s Tribute – Many salutes to our cobber, Frank Moffitt

It is nearing 70 years since I returned late at night after leave in WA, and reported to the orderly room of Charlie Coy 2RAR.  Frank was on duty as orderly corporal and after a yarn, pointed to the floor which was my bed for the night and my kit bag for a pillow. It was the beginning of long friendship while soldiering together and later in life when we pretended to be civilians. It was a time when Frank would fly north to Cairns each year for Christmas, and we would yarn of times gone by.   

 There are so many reflections in both good and bad times. The wrath of a RSM. Our CO (God) finding an accused guilty and for example marching to and fro with heavy packs as punishment with a sergeant barking orders, such as quick time, slow time, left turn, right turn. They couldn’t make up their minds. Such irony when years later, at higher rank, we became the enforcers. 

  Frank served with varying rank in five Campaigns. The South West Pacific WW2, Korea, Malayan Emergency, Thai Border and Vietnam (Three tours). He was wounded four times and often reminded of them with pain and poor mobility throughout his final years and yet he never complained.

  His loyalty and bravery were exceptional. I recall him travelling to an out of bounds region to rescue a mate in danger of arrest. His mate was rescued and Moff was arrested and reduced to the ranks yet again. However, he was so well recognised as a leader, he never lost command of his section, and in record time was once more commanding as a corporal. 

As soldiers there was a time our officer, recently graduated, was very much a lightheaded tyrant. There came the day we had to do our battle efficiency tests, all of which were based on physical fitness and endurance. Before the start, we lined up our packs neatly on the parade ground and left them to enjoy a drink provided by the Salvation Army man. Then came the big test. All passed expect for the young officer who came dead last.  The CO and RSM were not impressed. The young arrogant officer later found a significant handicap in the form of some lead weights, carefully wrapped in his haversack. He was suddenly transferred. There were three of us wo knew of the plot. Me, Dutchy Holland and the master mind. Guess who he was?

Soon after being commissioned, I was required to attend as an understudy to Captain Aussie Kleinig at a Court martial at Victoria Barracks. We went to the mess for a beer and behold, there was Moff behind the bar, all dressed up in white jacket revealing the rank of Corporal. I couldn’t resist and asked ‘Moff, why have you become a pogo in the officer’s mess? He looked at me and the Captain and said “I am on rest between wars, SIR” then placed the beers on the bar with three large fingers on the inside of my glass. I said nothing and drank the beer as if I was dying from thirst, then turned to a puzzled Captain Kleing and said “Moff and I are old mates.”

 Years later, Moff on his second Vietnam tour and serving with AATTV was critically wounded and for a while it was touch and go. Moff gathered his precious luck charm and a year later was back in Vietnam on his third tour.

 In the 68 years I knew Moff, the only major and irritating flaw I ever noted was that he would never admit he was wrong. 

Moff retired as a warrant officer with a proud record of service, including at least eight years of active service overseas a recipient of a USA award, the Silver Star for bravery.

Moff was your typical ANZAC.  He was always there when needed, and well known for leading from the front.  He was never reluctant to voice his views, particularly when the welfare of his soldiers was being jeopardised.

 Our family didn’t know that our final farewell to Moff on Planet Earth would be waving hooroo as my daughter drove him to the Cairns Airport after yet another memorable emotional visit during the Christmas season. I had been planning for Moff to return pre ANZAC Day when I could take him to some of the schools I visit each year and introduce him as a true blue Aussie. As a volunteer who had served in four campaigns and at great risk in  hostile and harsh environments on active service for a total of nine years active service is an outstanding achievement. His personal courage and devotion to duty exemplified the powerful image of the ANZACS, love of country and always with a cry of “a fair go” for all for all young soldiers to master and emulate.  

He left our planet with few coins to leave behind, but he also left a huge and priceless treasure chest of beautiful and powerful qualities to remember which, if only we, as one people and as one nation can find and use correctly, would make us the happiest and most unified nation on Planet Earth.

SAFE JOURNEY Franky, old mate. Vale Frank Moffitt, True Blue.

George Mansford 14 June 2020

Our Cobber and Brother in Arms –WO2 Frank Moffit SS***

Were you ever so fortunate, as it has been with me?
To soldier in a band of brothers with hearts so free
And without question, those you have trusted with your life
Mid countless nights and days of strife
Sharing warmth of a blanket and body heat in icy winds and drizzling rain
Thirsty, hungry, weary and waiting for orders to go forward again

Moff was there with the starter’s gun, a wiser and senior brother by far
A guide in life, as true as the Southern Cross or Northern Star
Always there, no matter where, to scout, to show and lead the way
Be it the darkest of night or the brightest of days
A veteran of four wars and many proud scars as well
On past nightmares and trials of war, he never ever would dwell

“To cop it sweet” was his motto when punished for times out of bounds
With Moff “reduced to the ranks” or “reprimand” were calls of familiar sound
A true blue ANZAC who challenged authority with mischief and glee
A headache for the Brass whenever a rebel he chose to be
I lost count of times with heavy packs, we tramped the barracks square
Empty pockets due to loss of pay and CB,** for mischief he did dare   

Soon his ashes will be scattered in a rainforest he loved 
His mourners far and wide, and screeches of birds saluting from above
There will be a time when our mob will be together again
Camped on a peaceful ridge with no snow, heat, mud or jungle rain
All of us from go to whoa and who always stood fast at its call
Our mate Moff, preaching love of country, Duty First and a fair go for all

 LUV YA Moff

 **CB- Confined to barracks
***SS-Silver Star (USA decoration for bravery)

George Mansford ©June 2022

AUSTRALIA DAY  in BRISBANE 1959—1RAR – Jack Clark, Frank Moffitt and George Mansford

                  

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