The long march home

During the big wars of the last century Australian soldiers killed in action were interred in war cemeteries overseas.  The cost of repatriating 100,000 plus killed in WW1 and WW2 would have been prohibitive so the government policy remained as interment overseas. The soldiers were buried with their mates close to where they fell. During the Vietnam War when soldiers started being killed this protocol was still in place and soldiers were interred in War Cemetrys in SEA, notably Terendak, Malaysia. In May 1968 everything changed. A National Serviceman, Private Noack, was killed and when his father was told he would be interred overseas he  demanded he be brought back home. The Government complied but over the course of the war 32 soldiers were interred at Terendak Malaysia and one, Warrant Officer Conway, the first Aussie killed in Vietnam, was interred at Kranji, Singapore.  Up until 1966 Next of Kin were told they would even have to pay 500 Pounds to have their sons repatriated. An uncaring and unfeeling attitude by a government having trouble catching up with the times. After this date all of our mates killed were repatriated.  As a Infantry Sgt in 7RAR in Holsworthy NSW I led many a Burial Party for diggers of our sister Battalion, 5RAR. Bring them Home became a movement started by Jim Bourke who, against all odds, managed to locate all our MIAs and bring them home.  Developing from that various RSLs including the Northern Territory branch and other veteran organizations started agitating for the repatriation of those guys buried at Terendak and Kranji. It has finally happened. One of those coming home is Private Norman George Allen, a member of my Battalion, 7RAR, who was Killed in Action on 10 November, 1967 Welcome home Norm. A full list of those coming home can be read here      

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