National Servicemen’s Day to be commemorated in Nambucca Heads

Nambucca Nashos (L-R) Fred You, George Wilson, Ray Bartlett, Don McKenzie, Dallas Dent, Richard Greentree and Alan Dolan will join other members of the community for a service of commemoration at the Nambucca Heads Cenotaph on Wednesday 14 February 2024 to mark National Servicemen’s Day.

EACH year on 14 February many Australians reflect on the service to the nation of those who were called up to carry out a period of National Service.

These National Servicemen were required by law to see out a period of time in the armed services as the Government of the day considered that mandatory military service would augment the troop numbers of regular Armed Forces to a level that was sufficient to deal with a range of potential contingencies.

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Known officially as National Servicemen’s Day, the Nambucca Valley will mark the occasion with a service of commemoration at Anzac Park, Nambucca Heads, on Wednesday 14 February, assembling at 10:45 am for an 11:00 am start.

“Unlike myself and many others who volunteered to join the services, these men, we fondly call Nashos, were called from their civilian workplace and families to bolster the numbers of the armed forces,” Mr Dennis Lane, President of the Nambucca Heads RSL sub-Branch, told News Of The Area.

“They served Australia with distinction and pride to protect the ideals and principles we hold dear and many paid the supreme sacrifice.”

The National Service Scheme was introduced in 1951 and although there were changes in the conduct of the scheme over the years including closing it down for a time, it came and went in various forms until 1972.

The scheme only applied to men and the 1951-59 version required those selected to undergo 179 days of military training in either the Army, Navy or Air Force.

For the 1964-72 version it was legislated that National Servicemen could be sent overseas on active service.

At the time Australia was involved in tensions with Indonesia, known as Konfontasi, and being drawn into supporting South Vietnam and the US in fighting against communist forces.

This version of National Service saw the requirement for all 20 year old males to register with the Department of Labour and National Service.

Men were selected using what was known as the “birthday ballot”, in which names were randomly selected for National Service by their date of birth.

Australian Regular Forces were heavily bolstered by these National Service men during the Vietnam War with over 15,300 of them required to serve in the war zone.

Almost half of all Australians killed in action in Vietnam were Nashos and well over 1000 of them were wounded.

In the past the Nambucca Branch of the National Servicemen’s Association had the responsibility of conducting the Nashos Day Service each year, however in recent years, due to reduced capacity of the ageing Nashos, the combined RSL sub-Branches of the Nambucca Valley have taken on this task.

National Serviceman Mr Dallas Dent concluded, “Gathering each year in commemoration and camaraderie is very important to us as we reflect on a time when the country told us we were needed in the Army and we stepped up, not knowing what to expect.”


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