Title: STARLIGHT MINOR – A Grandfather and Grandson’s Memoirs 1st Field Ambulance WW1 & C Coy 4RAR/NZ Bn (Anzac) Vietnam
Author: Farry, Daryl R
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 2009
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 314 pages
Comments: This book is written as two stories detailing the experiences of two generations of the one family at war. The author’s grandfather, James (Dave) McClelland, served through the horrors of World War 1 as a dresser/stretcher-bearer, and fifty years later his grandson served as a National Serviceman with 4RAR/NZ as a medic with ‘C’ Company in the jungles of Vietnam.
They both volunteered, they both fought with just their training and basic medical equipment to keep Diggers alive. They suffered the physical hardships of working in harsh conditions. They lived on after their wars with the memories of those experiences. Clearly, they were deeply affected, but survived to make worthwhile contributions to society.
James (Dave) McClelland’s story is written in the first person from his own diary and from many hours of research. It is not a story for the faint hearted. It graphically paints a picture of the horrors the young Diggers lived with, not just occasionally, but on an almost daily basis. Their methods of survival and of coming out the other side, basically intact, are described in detail: humour, mateship, larrikinism and intolerance of officiousness.
Daryl tells his own story of his determination to follow the family tradition of military service as a medic. In Vietnam, his goal was to care for the health and well-being of the men of the Company, a task he clearly achieved in very testing circumstances. It was a very dangerous place when he arrived there in 1968. The enemy was ruthless, well-trained, guerrilla fighters, skilled in all aspects of local terrain and demographic conditions, which they used very skilfully to their advantage. Even so, the Australians and New Zealanders retained control of their area of operations in Phuoc Tuy Province. They were a modern force priding themselves on superior combat related skills, skills that came to the fore in areas of leadership, tactics, weaponry, and training, mixed with the true spirit of the Anzac tradition.
Charlie Company lost five men KIA on that tour with many more wounded, and Daryl and other Diggers of the company still feel the loss and complete waste of those young lives, ripped away in their prime and never able to grow old. He pulls no punches throughout this account as he describes incidents that should have had better outcomes. Some may feel offended at such honest opinions possibly expressed for the first time, but his statements are reflections on what was said and done many years ago in the heat of battle.