Home    Tales index

Go to 161 Bty in Vietnam
To 161 Battery in Vietnam

Reflections of ANZAC Day

by Murray Broomhall

Return to Tales from the Trails

Murray Broomhall served as a member of the RNZA, during the Vietnam War. He took part in the Battle of Long Tan, as a member of the New Zealand forward observation party that was attached to Delta Company 6RAR. Murray Broomhall was awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation as part of Delta Company.

The Anzac Poppy is the symbol of Anzac Day in NZ I have often wondered over the years about the individual meaning to each of us of ANZAC day. Each of us has a different and personal view on what is a day of reflection and remembrance. We all have memories of the day, and how our lives have progressed. As the generations and the wars have changed, the significance and commemoration of the day has changed, or has it really?

I remember as a very young boy (1950-54) standing in awe amongst the crowd at Paraparaumu as my father and his mates marched past, unit by unit, led by the OLD men from the First World War. The parade was a major event each year and was looked forward to for weeks beforehand.

I remember my first Anzac Day on active service. I was in an ambush at the base of the Wilberton Mountains (can't remember the correct name), west of the Task Force base, Vietnam, and we withdrew and flew back into Nui Dat on Anzac Day. Robin Spring-Rice and I got totally blind as there was no beer, and we were drinking sour mash rye with soda water (the only soft drink left in stock). We ended up swapping uniforms with some Montagnard mercenaries who were camped on the perimeter of 5RAR. I was also celebrating my 21st birthday which had occurred while we were in the ambush.

I remember the first ANZAC Day after my father died. It was very strange not having a few beers with him and his mates at the Invercargill RSA after the Dawn Parade. At the time it was the only service held in Invercargill as they had dispensed with the 10.30 Civic Parade by then.

I remember the Dawn service in Timaru, the trip to the cemetery for the laying of the wreaths, the quiet walk though the dawn half-light to lay a poppy on my wife's grave, and then the trip to Esk Valley Church to have our own private service of Vietnam Veterans, and lay poppies on the grave of Dave Wright, a ritual I miss badly.

I remember my first Anzac Parade in Brisbane, the meeting of friends and acquaintances I had not seen for many years and the amazement I felt at the size the crowd and the number of young people who watched the parade to the end.

As we approach another ANZAC Day, I sit and reflect on the people I have known over the years that have been influenced by war and how each of them in their own way observed this day. Both of my grandfathers never spoke of it; but both would disappear early on the day and return home late in the day and never comment on where they had been. My father would parade with his mates and then adjourn to their regular table in the Invercargill RSA and stay there till Mum arrived to take him home late in the afternoon, full of good cheer and having regaled his mates, and been regaled, with stories of Greece, Crete, the Desert and Italy. My father-in-law would arrange for me to pick him up at 5.30 a.m. to take him to the parade. When I arrived he would have a hot rum toddy ready. Glad I was never tested on the way to the parade - would have been well over the limit. He would also spend time with his mates from the 23rd Battalion and meander home full of good cheer late in the day then adjourn to his beloved vege garden to tend to a few chores and I suspect quietly reflect on the day.

All of us have in some way been affected by war and conflict, and as we all decide where, with whom, and how we will spend this ANZAC Day, we will all remember those whom we have known throughout our lives who are now no longer with us.

"Lest we Forget"

Murray Broomhall, April 2001

Return to top

NZ Artillery of the Vietnam War    |    Tales from the Trails index    |    Old Comrades' home page