Gerry LLoyd, 1968-1969
One morning in 1969 at morning parade, the CSM, Milton Pearson, told me he had a special task which needed urgent attention. My mind boggled.
Was this to go behind enemy lines?
Was this a trip to Vung Tau to buy something special
Something unattainable at the "Dat"?
I was ordered to bring a Landrover, a shovel, and two metal dustbins to the area surrounded by the Sergeant's,Officers and OR's mess.
What could my mission be with such implements, I thought, as I drove to the spot indicated.
Milton waved me over to a concrete construction which was about 2 metres square which I had never noticed before and could have been an underground bunker for all I knew.
"Clean this out!" he bellowed.
"No worries, Sir!" I answered.
The pit had a concrete lid with wire handles which I started to lift, but within a flash I realised what this was; Milton was beginning to smile.
Yes it was the grease trap where all the unthinkables from the mess areas ended up.
After removing the lid I was almost overpowered by the stench. To describe the smell is impossible but the consistency was something like porridge. It was also about this moment that I realised Milton had disappeared ever so quietly.
I now knew the significance of the shovel and dustbins.
Before long I had scooped, scraped and dug enough of this goo to fill one bin and I lifted it onto the back of the Landrover without to much hassle. However the second did not go as well as I was splattered all down my greens with the effluent.
Finally I had cleared the hole of it's overpowering residue and was ready to transport it to the dump near the Luscombe Airfield.
On the way I was stopped by a sign saying
There was a whole stick of choppers taking off on one side of the road.
On the opposite side of the road was a battalion parading in their best gear, being inspected by their RSM and Officers before returning home to Australia. Being unable to move, I sat waiting and watched the parade. I noticed the troops seemed to have very distraught looks on their faces and seemed agitated.
I then realised it was because of me or more correctly what I had on board. The whirlwind of the choppers was blowing the stench over the whole area while I was stuck in the Stop zone.
Before I could do anything my bush hat blew off and floated in the downdraft across the parade ground.
Well I could not drive on without my hat so I had to retrieve it.Just imagine what the scene looked like as I tried to look insignificant in my smelly grease soaked greens and boots heading towards the ranks of spit polished troops.
However before I got within ten metres of the first rank the RSM accosted me with my bush hat which he lifted via the toecap of his boot towards me, not daring to touch it; I did not blame him either knowing what it had been involved in this day.
I did notice a bit of a smudge on his boot as I wheeled around to leave placing my hat back on and not daring to look back.
As I left the area a distinct sound of laughter and sniggering came from the ranks
even though the troops were at attention.
I remounted the vehicle and as the chopper traffic had now concluded, started the engine, dropped the clutch, and took off; nearly losing my load in the process. I was very happy to at last pour the thick sludge into the dump and return via a different route to the Workshops.