Story 83 - Letters Home to Mum

By Gilbert 'Gil' Deem
104 Sig Sqn, South Vietnam
23 Feb - 18 Nov 1971


 104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83


My mother Shirley Anita Valda Deem (nee MacDonald) passed away in 2017 in Maryborough, Queensland.  Amongst her memorabilia was found 10 letters that I had written to her during my military service from February – November 1971 as a signalman technician with 104 Signal Squadron, 1st Australian Task Force based at Nui Dat, Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam.  I worked as an electronics technician (Tech Elec) on a work bench in Technical Maintenance Troop repairing mainly the unit’s electronic equipment, under the supervision of the Supervisor Technical Telecommunications (STT), SSgt Ron Stephan.   Part of my duties included maintaining the serviceability of the unit’s Ebony Switchboard.


My sister, Cheanne passed these letters on to me along with other items from my distant past.   Fifty years has elapsed now, and I thought it was time to publish those letters in their full form (without exemptions) to give readers an insight into what life was like for me during those times.   After all, I was only 19 - a teenager at war, and not a teenager in love!  


 104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83


The Ten Letters to Mum

Note:  Photos added for illustration purposes

Nui Dat

Sunday 21/3/1971


Dear Mum,


Pleased to hear from you last Friday.  Everybody has been wonderful writing to me, and I am getting a fair amount of mail. So long as I am not forgotten. It is a tremendous morale booster.  I know quite a few blokes who hardly get any mail who have become drunks.  Some of them think nobody gives a damm & let themselves go.  Maybe it’s their own fault if they don’t write.


Good to see Mark out trying to get a job.  Hope he finds one that is suitable to his training & one he is happy with.  I don’t know how keen he is for any of the jobs, but I wish him success.  No doubt Sydney is out of the question at this stage.


I am glad to hear that Dad & Mark have been looking after my car & getting things fixed up. Intend sending them $20 to pay for work done this Thursday.


Gorton was here last Saturday but not for long.  I didn’t see him as it was my job aiding Brian (our sergeant) to refill fire extinguishers in 104 Sig Sqn.  There are quite a few around the place so we have found out.  It was an all-day job & it was a change to get outside of Tech Maint.


 104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

Tech Maint Staff 1971


Work has been busy lately in that I have helped in the completion of several priority jobs.  Each day the technicians get assigned certain tasks.  Helped fix the phone back to Australia from Nui Dat last Friday.  Also have been working on a switchboard, getting it ready for installation.  We have good bosses so that part makes the work seem easier.  They never ride us.


Seeming I can’t get a birthday card for you for your birthday Friday I will just have to say, “Have a happy birthday, Mum.”  Cards are extremely hard to obtain seeming there are none in the Dat.  I have an Easter card for you but nothing to send it in so goodness knows when you will get it.  As for your birthday present, Mum – you know me.  It could be a Christmas & birthday present in one.  I have something in mind I think you will love.  Anyway, I will be thinking of you on Friday.  Will wish Dad the best too in my letter to him.


Don’t know if I told you I bought a camera or not.  It’s a beauty though – a Yashua Electro 35 costing $49.  Quite cheap I thought.  I have also bought a couple of tapes.  The only thing I have taped so far is Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66. 


Today I went into Vung Tau on the Sunday Beach Run.  Gee it was good to get away from the Dat for a day.  I had it easy, just swimming, diving & listening to the show in the afternoon.  On way back took several photos and have nearly finished one film so will get that developed next week.


104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83 

Harold Holt Memorial Pool, 1ALSG, Vung Tau

            Hope the rain is easing off and you aren’t doing too much work. Look after your health Mum.  Have a beaut birthday & Easter.  Say hello to everyone for me please.


Love Gil xxxx



Nui Dat

Tuesday 6/4/1971


Dear Mum,


I had planned to write on Sunday night & or last night but wasn’t able to get around to it.


Last night I got gastroenteritis and was extremely sick.  It started just after 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon and has still been going on until now.  I vomited about 8 times last night and lost count of the times I went to the toilet.  In all I had about hour’s sleep last night.  I couldn’t sleep as I had an insatiable desire for water.  At one stage I had a long drink and then to find that it came back up quicker than it went down.  My insides felt very clammy.  Anyway, it was some time before I could swallow water successfully.


I went to the dentist at 8.00 this morning and had a filling done.  It fell out about 2 weeks ago and was giving me a little trouble for a while, so I decided to get it seen to.  After visiting the dentist, I went and saw the doctor who told me I had gastric.  He gave me the day off and I only had light duties for tomorrow and Thursday.  I couldn’t have worked today as I was too sick to do anything.  I spent the day in bed.  I feel I have gotten over the worst part of it now and only have a headache.  Apparently, most blokes get it here due to changes in food and conditions.  The doctor has given me two lots of tablets and medicine.  It has done me some good.


Work over the past two weeks has not been quite as hectic over the last week as we have finished most of the major jobs, so I have been quite content to work at my own rate. 


On Saturday, the boss said I could have this Sunday off along with two other blokes from Tech Maint.  I intend going in to Vung Tau to have a general look around to get to know the region for the next time I go in. 


Changed my routine last Sunday by going into the orphanage at Baria just after breakfast.  It is run by the Catholic nuns who look after the Vietnamese orphans.  Children range from babies up until about 14 years of age.  There are about 50-60 children there and they are all genuinely nice. 


104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83
Nun and children at the Baria Orphanage

 When I arrived, the children were at church, so I had a look at the babies.  One little boy held out his arms to me and next minute he was in my arms.  He wouldn’t leave me until he spied another Army bloke.  Five of us went into the orphanage.  The children arrived back from church not long after and we gave them a swing and generally played with them.  The five of us got onto the water pump and helped fill all the water bowls and drums around the place.


Then we took the children out to the orphanage’s farm in relays in the Army vehicle.  The farm itself is quite nice and you would be surprised at how clean and tidy the place is.  I was surprised how clean the pig sties were.  You could nearly eat off the floor, it is that clean.


While I was looking at the pigs, I met four little Vietnamese girls aging from 7-10.  They seemed remarkable intelligent for their ages.  They told me their names and spelt them in my hands.  I have since lost the spelling but two of them (my favourites) are called Yarmey and Wun.  Although I can’t speak Vietnamese I can at times understand them.  They are truly funny, and I get along with them well. 


Wun would get jealous if I didn’t give her my attention all the time.  Yarmey would speak to me and say something, but I could not understand, and she would get anxious. 


Lunch was really turned on for us.  First off was soup which was lovely, then prawns with salad, followed by rice which had a spice or something through it, then another Vietnamese food and lastly pineapple.  What a meal!  I absolutely enjoyed myself.  You just couldn’t refuse it as it is bad manners to refuse them even if you don’t eat it.  The nuns were genuinely nice to us.


In the afternoon we just played around and had photos taken. I will send you one with the children with myself which I think is good.  I didn’t take my camera in but will take it next time.


When we arrived back at the orphanage from the farm, I decided to try out my French on the Nuns who spoke fluent French.  They were quite surprised to hear me speak it and asked if I was French.  I had to laugh.  One of them said that I spoke particularly good French.  I couldn’t understand them, but my knowledge was enough to enable me to have a good chat with them.  They can only just speak English but with French they are right at home.


Anyhow, the next Sunday I get off I think I will be going back there.  The children are great and love us when we come.  In a way I feel sorry for them, but they are a happy mob.


Well Mum hope your health is keeping up and the rest of the family as well.  Do hope your readings are going okay too.  Give my regards to everybody please.


Love Gil xxxx



Nui Dat

Monday 31/5/1971


Dear Mum,


            I am sorry I didn’t write last week but my letter writing was extremely limited seeming I was in Saigon for a week.  Only wrote 2 letters and both were to Kathy.  Seeming we didn’t get much time off it was hard to find the time to write.


Friday week ago, I was told that I would be going to Saigon for a week to do guard duty at the Canberra Hotel.  This is where the Australians stay at night and we must watch for any bomb throwers, etc. Our main job was to make sure that no civilian vehicle parked within 30 metres of the building as a case has been found where a car has had a bomb planted on it.  However, it turned out be a non-incident week.  Hours of work were long, and we got less time off than the hours we worked.  


104 Sig Sqn

Guarding the Canberra Hotel in Saigon


I mainly toured the bars on my few hours off with the corporal-in-charge.  Met many different Vietnamese girls.  Some of them were gorgeous.  I mainly drank coke as I can’t stomach Yank beer and the bars do not sell Australian beer.  As it is, I have only had a dozen beers in country so far. 


Took in a movie in Saigon city with a couple of birds.  They cost about $1.00 to get into the movie.  It was pure Vietnamese, so we didn’t have a hope in comprehending what was going on.  Apparently, it was funny in parts.  I felt ridiculous as my ignorance was showing.  Still now I know what goes on.  Some pictures have the English on the bottom.  “Easy Rider” is showing this week and it is spoken in French.  Quite funny watching Peter Fonda in the trailer rattling off some French.  Of course, it was dubbed.


Had taken quite a few good photos when my film broke thus ruining the whole film. I was terribly upset as I didn’t get the chance to do the photographing again.


During the day, the Australians work at a centre known as The Free World.  There are 8 or 9 nations represented in The Free World.  Mainly all there are associated with SEATO.  Visited there 3 times.  The accommodation facilities are nice, and the huge building is fantastic in its design features.

       104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

Free World Military Assistance Organisation Building, Saigon 1969


While in Saigon city I bought a Reader’s Digest in French.  On arrival in camp again I compared it to our English edition, and it does not vary very much.

I still wish I had not gone to Saigon as I wanted to go the orphanage on the Sunday.  I arrived back from Saigon late Saturday afternoon to learn the whole squadron was working Sunday.  Was not overly impressed at all.  This meant that I couldn’t go to Baria either.  Next weekend I am duty tech once again. 


Thanks for the photo of the children at the Baria orphanage.  I know both the little girls but the bloke I don’t know.  Their mob only go there once every 6 months anyway.  I will be showing the photo to one of the girls concerned when I go in next.  Banjo hasn’t brought my photos back yet but it shouldn’t be long so I will send you a few or the lot. There should be a lot of good ones.  I am anxious to see them too.


The last two days have been spent preparing our Armed Communications Vehicle for the squadron deployment tomorrow or Wednesday.  Luckily, I am not on it.  We have 4 from Tech Maint going and representatives from the other Troops too.  Have been working at night also.


I have been unable to do any writing because when 10 0’clock comes I hit the sack.  The boss said we had the choice of whether we worked tonight or not so I am taking advantage of it.  It is not even certain that the unit will go out as the vehicle has a lot of work to be done yet.


I know I have promised you a dolly so will see about one tomorrow.  I was planning to bring you a few things home.  Some, I hope, will be surprises.


Do hope you are keeping fit and are not lonely.  I miss the family and hope to be back with everybody soon. Give my regards to everybody please.


Love Gil xxxx


P.S.  Do not know why but I dreamt about Judy Clay last night.  Seems funny to me.  



Nui Dat

Friday 11/6/1971


Dear Mum,


Sorry I didn’t write earlier this week, but I kept putting it off.  Was very unhappy when I read about young Shane.  He was such a dear little dog and he leaves a small hole in my heart.  Guess he wasn’t quite as dear to me as Raff was.  Miss him a lot.


Mail going out of here is almost as bad as mail coming in.  Lately it has been going out only on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so I want to catch tomorrow’s mail.  I haven’t done much letter writing at all this week, mainly to Kathy.  I think she is very fond of me as I know I am fond of her.  Seems very sincere.  Has so nice parents.


This place is going to be a bit of a drag in the future as it appears we will not be getting out of Nui Dat for 2-3 months.  This is all due to the 1st Australian Task Force deployment in the field at Courtenay.  It is rumoured that our squadron will be out for 8-12 weeks, so while they are out, we won’t be getting any time off.  This includes Sundays which will be declared normal workdays.  This being the case gives me no chance of getting into the orphanage to see the Nuns and children.  Won’t be able to learn any Vietnamese for quite a while nor see my teacher.  She is away for a month on holidays so couldn’t see her even if I wanted to.


     104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

HQ 1ATF and 104 Sig Sqn on Courtenay Hill 1971


There will be more upset blokes around the area knowing they can’t get out for a couple of months as I do believe you should have 1 day off per week.  Normally I look forward to having Sunday off but now we have nothing to look forward to.  Still, I suppose, it is a personal problem.


Work in Tech Maint has not been hectic since the blokes went out.  We have been working at our own pace.  My job has been repairing handsets and K Phones for the past week.  Duties were quite hectic in that I had 4 in a space of 7 days.  It’s no good for the morale.


There have been many new blokes in in the past month.  Pretty soon I will be one of the oldest here.  Have decided to take my Rest and Recreation in October giving me 4 months left before I go home.


Anyway Mum, nothing exciting has happened at all lately.  I miss the family.  Take care of yourself and keep well.


Love Gil xxxx



 Nui Dat

Friday 25/6/1971


Dear Mum,


Thanks for your letter last week.  Always happy to hear from you.  Got a few photos back today.  I got them developed here and the colour isn’t too good.  I gave two good ones to Kathy, but I will get them done again.  The two I am sending are busy shots, but they are of me at the orphanage.  I am still awaiting on another 60 shots so I should be able to send you some good ones then. 


Was able to go down to the orphanage yesterday.  My teacher arrives back from Vinh Binh on Thursday and I will be happy to see her.  Only seen her once in the last 6 weeks.  No letter from her yet.  I am told that Vietnamese mail can take between 2-3 weeks before it is delivered.  It is still relatively quiet at the orphanage as there are quite a few children still on holidays.  We took 60 lbs of sugar, a case of apples, a case of oranges, and lemons and ration packs down there.  They really appreciate them.  Went out to the farm just before lunch.  Several of the crops were well and truly under way due to the good rains every day.  Had a tropical thunderstorm in the afternoon whilst everyone was resting.  Treated to another excellent meal at lunch time.  The Nuns really spoilt us.


Life back in the Dat hardly ever changes.  Had a bit of a break on Saturday afternoon as I was in a group of 15 fellows who went to Binh Ba for a game of volleyball against some Vietnamese.  Their tallest would have been about 5 feet 4 inches and our shortest was taller than any of them.  They really showed us that height cannot beat class.  The net was high, but they still managed to smash many balls away for winners.  Taught us quite a lesson.  I think they let us win just to cement good relations and make sure we come back.  They will then thrash us.  Beautiful country wherever we were, and I zipped of quite a few shots.  Was able to have a few snippets of conversation there.


104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83 
Example of our field telephone, K Phone


Our boss in Tech Maint leaves on Wednesday for a month’s emergency leave for Townsville to see his wife who is in hospital.  He wants to be with her when she has her operation.  He is extremely attached to her.  A good boss, too.  Sergeant Brian Dwyer will be in charge, but he should not cause me any trouble as I already have quite a bit of work in front of me.  Have about 15 telephones to repair.  I like working on them and there is nothing hard about them.  We have nearly caught up with all our work anyway.


Duties have eased off considerably seeming everybody is back.  Manage one every 10 days so it is a lot easier on me now.


Hope things at home are easy for you.  When I come home I should have some good stereo gear for you to play your records on.  How is your health?  I do hope Mark is seeing you quite often.  Write soon.


Love Gil xxxx



Nui Dat
Monday 12/7/1971


Dear Mum,


Well the weeks certainly seem to have gotten well under way. In twelve days’ time, it will be 5 months up and only 7 to go.  A day passes by very quickly.


Tonight, I am on picquet so it will give me a bit of a chance to catch up on letters.  I have been working out my Taxation Form tonight and come up with some particularly good figures.  I should get over $200.00 back without any worries.  It will go straight into the bank when I get it back. 


Thanks for sending over all my insurance forms.  I know where I stand with them now. Rains just about every day now.  The rainy season seems well set in.  It’s hard getting socks and clothes dried in weather like this.



 104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

The Rainy Season


Yesterday was Sunday and for the morning part of it we had to work seeming a general was coming to visit and we had to be in our place of duty when he came.  So, had to waste the morning waiting for him and when he did come it was only for 5 minutes.  As soon as he left we closed-up shop.


 104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

L-R Brian Dwyer, Nev Haskett and General Brogan in Tech Maint, Nui Dat 1971


Left for the orphanage at 12.30.  All the children were sleeping when we arrived, so we decided not to wake them.. Then the five of us went out to the farm where Kim Hong was.  She knew I would come; I don’t know how.  So, I stayed there and did Vietnamese and English with her until just after 5 o’clock when the blokes came back from the orphanage for me.  Got to know her in the afternoon a bit better and she was even talking in English to me.  I wouldn’t mind studying the language in greater detail.  I like languages.  You can learn a lot about people from this.


Anyway, work in Tech Maint has been easy and I have been working at my own pace seeming Staff Sergeant Stephan is in Australia.  We still have plenty of work to do.


During the past week I have been playing quite a bit of volleyball.  We play at 4 0’clock as it is too hot for the rest of the day.  Also, we have played in a couple of dart competitions.  Doing okay.  Also played 4 games of ping-pong.  Wasn’t beaten in any of them but wouldn’t take a good player to beat me.  I would like to get basketball going as there quite a few fellows interested. 


There is a patrol out now.  I don’t think I would like to be them as it would be quite wet. 


I haven’t spent much money in the last 2 months really.  Saving nearly all of it and only spending on necessities.  Don’t drink or smoke so that saves stacks.  I don’t like the environment at all for drinking.  Nobody has any respect for what drink can do to you.  I have seen some of the blokes and I’m glad I don’t drink. 


Steve arrives back from Hong Kong so I will be able to see what goodies he has bought.


Well Mum have no more letters to write.  How are the cards going?  Look after yourself and keep fit. How is the cold weather?  It never happens here.


            Love Gil xxxx



Nui Dat

Saturday 7/8/1971


Dear Mum,


Received your letter today.  Received it with 5 others after arriving back from Vung Tau this morning.  Had my first real break in just over 3 months.  Spent 2 glorious days down at the beach.  About 15 blokes from our unit left here for Vungers on Thursday morning.  Vung Tau city was off limits due to a couple of nasty incidents there on Tuesday night.  So, we were kept within the confinements of the 1 ALSG area for the two days.  Spent Thursday swimming, playing darts and drinking scotch and coke.  I do not like beer so wherever possible I drink scotch.  We cannot drink it in the Dat but can drink it there. 


104 SIg Sqn Vetstory 83
Badcoe Club, Vung Tau


Met Adrian down at the swimming pool at the Badcoe Club.  Just after 5 o’clock we went and did some practice at golf.  There is a small golf driving range in the area, and I spent an hour or so practising there.  Priced golf clubs in the shop there and they are even dearer than in Australia.  Only hope they aren’t that dear in Hong Kong.  At night I had a drink and watched the movie at 110 Signal Squadron with Adrian.  Was feeling very sore the next day so didn’t bother taking off my shirt. Played some more golf too.  Just generally walked around and slept all day.  There is an indoor basketball court near the Badcoe Club.  I had a practice there with a Negro. They are excellent sportsmen.  Really miss playing golf and basketball.  Had a drink too up at the Yank R&R Centre.  They certainly are a funny mob.  


 104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

Harold Holt Memorial Swimmng Pool, 1 ALSG, Vung Tau 1969


 We left Vung Tau this morning for here.  Staff Sergeant Stephan had arrived back on Thursday afternoon and had everything organised in Tech Maint.  My job when another tech goes home is to fix large radio sets.  So, I had to watch and listen to him today and I will be doing this for another 3 weeks or so.  Tech Maint will be back to full strength next Sunday.


I thought I had written and told you that I had received the Bundaberg News Mails.  Thank you for sending them Mum.  I enjoy reading them.  There is some good gossip in them. 


There was a call over the radio last Sunday from “The Girls in Bundaberg” to “The Boys from Bundaberg.”  I haven’t got a clue who they would be.  According to Dad’s letter Bundy has some real rats in it.  I had a good idea something was going to happen when the police went down to Brisbane.


I feel sorry for Cheanne.  She has disappointment after disappointment and doesn’t deserve such.  I only pray she meets someone who is decent and kind and before long, and before she really gets hurt.

Am on picquet tonight so will get a chance to catch up on letters.

Hope you are looking after yourself Mum.  I’m okay and losing a bit of weight around the middle.  God bless!


Love Gil xxxx



Nui Dat

Tuesday 17/8/1971


Dear Mum,


I thought it was about time I dropped you a line.  The days seem to get away from me and before I know it I am behind in my letter writing.    Just under a week to go now and I will have 6 months up.  Will also enter the double decade barrier.  You never stay young for long I reckon, not that 20 is old.


Have settled back into work again now.  It took quite a while to get back into the swing of things after coming back from the 2 day’s holiday in Vung Tau.  Been working on radio sets since then.  Have been learning as much as possible from a corporal who is leaving in September.  I will take over the repair of 524’s from him.  Certainly, I have had some good problems first-off.  I should know the set inside out by the time he leaves.  Really the Army should conduct courses on these radio sets as they can be extremely hard at times.  Still I must do the best with what’s available.


Went into Baria again on Sunday.  In the morning 6 of us went and picked up some wood 5 miles west of Baria.  They use plenty of it for the ovens at the Orphanage.  Got out to Long Toàn a bit later than normal that day – around lunchtime.  Found out Kim Hong wasn’t there and was sick so she was staying back in Baria.  So, I went back and chatted to her.   Said I wouldn’t be seeing her after a friend of hers comes back from Australia.  She had known him for a year here.  I really don’t know about their friendship, but I guess it wouldn’t be right for me to be seeing her.  She understood.  Don’t know if I will still go there.  Have another favourite there though. She is 11 years old and a beaut kid.  Will be beautiful when she grows up.  Won’t let me photograph her though.    Have made many friends now and know lots of the children’s names.


104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83   104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

            Photo Left:  Pham Thi Kim Hong      Photo Right:  Reverend Mother Sister Augustine


Somehow I have missed out on being Duty Tech of a Sunday somewhere along the line, but I guess it will catch up with me. 


Got another lot of papers last week.  Thanks for sending them.  I enjoy reading them.


Have applied for Officer Cadet School, Portsea. I am just waiting on a signature and a couple of references to come back.  Applications must be in by 30th August for entry in January 1972.  We could be home by then so I thought I would apply now.


Well Mum I do hope you are well.  This place isn’t the best as regards to health.  I keep getting wogs every now and then.  Never had so many sicknesses all my life.  Just got even a bout of tonsillitis.  How’s the cards?  Say hello to Mrs Nitz for me please.  Hope to be home soon.


Love Gil xxxx



Nui Dat

Friday 27/8/1971


Dear Mum,


Sorry I’ve written a bit later than usual, but I have been waiting for the date when we come home.  It’s finally come through.  At the moment, we haven’t been furnished with much information and a lot of questions remain unanswered but expect to be known over the next week.  For a start, the main body of our unit must be out of Nui Dat by 12th October and leave from Vung Tau by Hercules transport on 6th November.  That means we really haven’t got much time left here so a lot of work must be done around the place in a short time. 


We haven’t begun packing yet but, at the moment we are throwing out anything we won’t be taking back to Australia.  Thousands of dollars are involved, and it seems a terrible waste which cannot be helped.  As yet, I don’t know if I will be going on the 6th November and whereabouts in Australia we will be going to.  It is rumoured that we could be going to Holsworthy, Sydney.  Still, I expect I will be able to tell you the full story within a fortnight or as soon as our leader finds out.


 104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

A relaxing time with a few of my friends outside the tent lines


My Rest and Recreation to Hong Kong is off so that means I cannot buy the equipment I intended to buy there but I will have to make do with what’s here.  They are having sales at the PX and Gook shop at the moment and I have missed out on the good things so will have to wait until the next one.


Looks as though it will be very difficult to get into the Orphanage from now on and I know Kim Hong will be disappointed.  Nui Dat is closed at the moment owing to the elections being held so nobody can go into the Orphanage on Sunday.  Anyway, I am Duty Tech and working in the OR’s Mess that day, so really I don’t mind.


There hasn’t been much work done in Tech Maint lately as regards to repair work.  Maybe we get a couple of hours a day to do repair work but for the rest of the time we are cleaning up.  The big job of packing equipments comes up soon.  I am not looking forward to that at all.

Today Kathy’s birthday present for me arrived.  She sent me an electric shaver, a particularly useful commodity here.  At least I won’t have to step out of the tent any more for a shave.

The Dat will be terribly busy over the next 3 or 4 months as units go home at different times.  We will have to be incredibly careful as the Vietcong could have a go at us while we are withdrawing.  The elections don’t help at all.  I can’t tell you anymore.  As soon as I learn something I will let you know.


 104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

 Accommodation tents and duck boards in our living area among the rubber trees


Hope you are well.  Don’t work too hard.  Looks as though I will be helping you eat that chook for Christmas.  Give my regards to all please.  Sorry to hear Cheanne isn’t so well.


Lots of Love Gil xxxx



Nui Dat

Sunday 5/9/1971

 Dear Mum,

Sorry if I am a bit late in writing this week.  Did my first patrol last week.  You don’t have to worry about me as there isn’t much to these patrols.  All we do are ambushes at night and stay in a fixed position during the day.  We hardly saw any civilians so I guess we wouldn’t see any Vietcong.  Our ambush positions looked like they had been used about 100 times before, so I reckon the Vietcong knew we were there anyway.  We were quite safe with the amount of fire power behind us.


 104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83

104 Sig Sqn TAOR Fighting Patrol Feb 1971


Got the news that I would be going on Rest and Recreation to Hong Kong on Wednesday 8th September when I got back from patrol.  It was a bit of a surprise as I must get my gear ready to go and get as much coin together as possible.  Will be there for a week so that will be quite good, I hope.  I am the only one going from our unit that day


Had a quite easy week in Tech Maint as I did taping Monday and Tuesday while the boss went about an equipment’s check for sending home.  Got told Wednesday morning I would be going on patrol on Thursday for 2 days, so I spent a day getting my gear ready.  We had Saturday off when we came in in the morning.  Only went about 3,000 metres from the Dat towards the Warburton Mountains.


We weren’t allowed into the Orphanage or out of the Dat due to the elections over that weekend. 


This Sunday I went to Vung Tau and played rugby union in full back position.  We lost due to our condition.  I had hoped to go back to the Orphanage after the game but no joy as there was no vehicle going that way until 4.15 pm.  However, I still managed to see Kim Hông that night.  She was happy to see me as I said I would be there that day.  From now on, it might not be easy to see her as our unit will be in Vung Tau in just over 4 weeks.


Go for my Rest and Recreation medical tomorrow.  Should pass.  Do hope everybody is well Mum and you are keeping fit.  I should be home some time in December, with our rear party so I have been told.  Haven’t heard from Cheanne for a while.  Hope she isn’t sick.


Love Gil xxxx


104 Sig Sqn Vetstory 83
104 Sig Sqn - 6th August 1971
Photographed in front of Radio Troop HQ Building,
(myself circled)

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