The Spirit of The Royal Australian Regiment

I was asked if I could provide some scribbles in regards the military spirit which embraces our beloved Royal Australian Regiment (RAR). Given my personal observations of troops in the field in recent time, there is no doubt it is very much alive and as vibrant as ever

Our tribal genesis is the genes of the originals who were the battle weary veterans of WW2. Many of them were still soldiering on and wearing the infant RAR regimental badge during the Korean War. Some were still there during operational service in Malaya, Thai Border, Borneo and to remind all of us that old soldiers never die, there were still a few barking orders and setting examples in Vietnam.

A very critical and mostly forgotten phase of soldiering was during the Great Peace where there were those who guarded our standards and regimental spirit. They did it well, as demonstrated in subsequent deployments including Butterworth (Malaysia 1970-1989), Rwanda and Somalia. Once the Great Peace ended, it seemed traffic jams were inevitable as yet more generations of the Regiment travelled to and from Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other deployments for hazardous peace keeping duties.

What of that regimental spirit? We were not born with it, nor was it issued, given as a magical birthday gift or presented by some senior officer from Canberra.  It was developed slowly but surely on parade grounds, sentry duty, facing danger, enduring incredible hardships together, caring and sharing with each other, including the fear often hovering close by. Such spirit will always be a huge and powerful weapon. It gives strength, and helps keep the team united, motivated and always ready to grit teeth, roll up sleeves to do what has to be done. The following text says it for all in our tribe of what we breathe, speak of, and believe. 
“The spirit, which grows up in a Battalion (Regiment) when it has been …… is a comradeship almost spiritual in its strength and intensity. It springs from hardships shared equally, risks run by all in common and its power exceeds most of the emotions that an ordinary man will ever know. The care of soldiers for one another, their sure and calm dependence on each other are hard to understand by anyone who has not known it.” – Osmar White

Today, the cycle of soldiering continues; the old teaching the new so many qualities not recorded in text books and which are waiting to be mastered.  Lessons which reach out from barrack room routines, parade grounds, guard rooms, sports arenas, messes, canteens and in the field. The proud history to be read, understood and confirmed by the deeds of yesterday etched on the sacred cloth flying high. Above all, the NCO Corp is watching; screaming orders as new recruits to the family blend with the old as they join the column. All are in step, marching into its tomorrow with purpose, and always with a proud indefatigable regimental spirit and ready to do its duty.

No matter where the column marches, all those yesterdays’ march with it. Its legacy is a proud one and has been tested in the most adverse conditions. The Regiment’s spirit has been demonstrated on many occasions, and to mention a few include the defiance at Kapyong, Samichon, Long Tan and Coral-Balmoral; the daring and aggressiveness at Maryang Sang and Binh Ba and the perseverance so demanding in insurgency operations, seemingly forever and ever.  Always has been the high standard of battle discipline. No matter when or where, the ANZAC humour still thrives, and above all, is the trust and faith in each other. All of this and more, was, is and always will be linked to the spirit of the Royal Australian Regiment. It is a powerful treasure that can never be bought or stolen.

At Enoggera Barracks where many of the fallen once trained, there is The WALK which honours the Regiments fallen with a tree and plaque for each of our heroes. The custodians of The WALK who devote their time to constant maintenance are old soldiers of the Regiment. They are clear evidence that the Spirit exists beyond serving warriors to the whole RAR family, embracing mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouses and children.

To claim it, to feel deeply its great pride, you must be part of it. 

GM August 2020

The Spirit of Our Tribe

I see soldiers of the space age wearing the beloved Roo
No different from yesterday’s youth who wore the badge too
Young warriors marching heads high, and as one 
Sacred cloth flying high, mid cheering crowd and beating drums

From Japan to Afghanistan, our badge was seen, and now, who knows where? 
Always sound discipline, and with sacred rules of share and care
Often cheery campfires with much loud laughter and song 
Clearly powerful evidence of camaraderie fueled by human spirit so strong

Everlasting ANZAC genes, once clad in khaki and then jungle green
Now in cam suits, ready for war where those before them had been
To add honours to sacred cloth already stitched with deeds against old foe
Emulating those of the past, never faltering wherever they do go

Home is where they hang their hats; be it barracks, tents, and bunkers too 
Ready to travel at short notice, to do what they must do
Examples set for new members of the tribe and what they will strive to be Junior and senior, marching with pride and purpose, for the entire world to see

Today, a new generation carries the torch still burning bright 
For evil abounds, and is always a threat to douse our proud national light
No matter race or religion, all with the same purpose, and as one, standing tall
Whatever the task or odds, always “Duty First” will be the call

Often asked is “why do old soldiers still seek each other’s company?”
Watch their excitement, laughter and shouts of joy, as familiar faces they see 
They’re young again, sharing, caring and daring with comrades so dear
As the reunion ends with sad bugle calls for lost comrades, often are the tears

At the sacred Walk, each of the fallen has a tree to honour service and sacrifice
Nearby are army barracks with the familiar noise of military life 
Each night as a bugle sounds “lights out”, the Grove’s feathered sentries shriek
Amid the trees where the spirits of our fallen comrades sleep

It has always been a special family of warriors with firm intent
Despite danger, fear or privation, always as one, and confident wherever sent
Love of country spurs them, be it peace or war, and always as one
A close, happy proud kin, watching and protecting each other, even after duty done

 George Mansford © August 2020