Tribute: General David Drabsch AO, MBE – Fair Dinkum and True Blue


More sad news as Father Time reaches out to remind all of our mortality.

I have no doubt that the sad news in regards the death of General David Drabsch has reached out far and wide to our military fraternity.

It’s odds on that many old veterans who served under his command ranging from a Platoon of 20-30 soldiers in  Korea to thousands of warriors in the First Division will be reflecting on soldiering days with him.

His is a proud history of military service clearly marked with personal qualities such as dedication, duty, and love of country. His military service included long separations from his loved ones and too often in an environment where the unknown and danger were constant.

 His military service, including sound leadership will be reflected on by many.  Surviving veterans of the Korean War will recall a fresh faced young lieutenant who was confronted with learning of the brutalities of war and leadership at first hand often in dire circumstances. Then later in Vietnam as a senior officer, he was responsible for a new generation of soldiers. Perhaps the highlight of his career as an infantryman was to command a battalion of The Royal Australian Regiment, (6 RAR) in both Australia and as part of the ANZUK Force located in Singapore.

Always was his sense of humour and fair play. He was gifted with deep and searching intellect, and with very clear vision of what direction our army should travel in an infant space age, despite ever reducing resources and constant changes of political direction. Simply put, under his command, his Division was always moving forward regardless of obstacles. 

Personally, one of my favorite memories was when despite heavy commitments and a demanding schedule, he and his charming wife, Pamela, detoured on their long journey of many obligations. It was an informal visit to an isolated Jungle Training Centre where during heavy rain, time was spent laughing and joking with some weary soldiers resting under an ancient roof which once upon a time in WW2 had been water proof. The General and his wife just wanted to say Gidday.  The impact on weary soldiers with no bright future for at another seven days was huge. To yarn with a General was not an everyday experience for wet sodden hungry and exhausted soldiers.

In his time he wore khaki, jungle green and camouflage suits spanning decades of soldiering. No matter his rank, no matter be it bad or good times, no matter the size of his command, it was always a happy, proud and effective military family.   To the soldiers he was God, the Boss, the Big Brass, Drabbsy, Sunray and more.

Today’s old warriors will be reflecting on his time as a soldier. It’s a certain bet they will recall him as an officer held in high regard for being who he was — Fair dinkum and true blue.

Deepest sympathy to Mrs. Pamela Drabsch and family.                               

                            A General True Blue

Pass the sad news to lonely young sentries marching to and fro 
Tell today’s warriors at roll call and as old soldiers, wherever they did go
For when the Bugle sings its salute tonight   
It will signal of a new spirit which has taken flight
Another Sunray of 6RAR with duty done  
So many challenges of life met and always won
Clear proud foot prints left behind still to be seen
Where he once walked in our nation’s cloth of khaki and jungle green
In tomorrow’s early dawn, the bugle will rouse military youth for duty to do
What better image and example for them than our boss, Drabbsy, True Blue

 George Mansford January 2021

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