Thursday, 15 March 2012

The mystery of Blue's beer

Onya, Bazza!

Blue just wanted to know who drank his beer. We struggled with the maths but finally agreed that 7.5 million cans over six months divided by troop strength meant we should have had six cans a night each.
However, The Ant reminded us that in camp at Nui Dat our ration was two cans a night and when we did occasionally get to Vung Tau he only drank local beer. Then, always alert, Grunt said: "Wait on, at any one time, a third of us were out on patrol. It was hard enough carrying water and ammo let alone beer."
We also recalled that some stronger willed Nashos did not drink alcohol. So the remaining third of us had to get through 18 beers every night. Since the boozer opened at 5pm, was closed for dinner and curfew was 10pm, we conceded the task was beyond even us.
We concluded that there must have been a phantom company that had Olympian drinking capacity was sent over along with the beer. Or else the whole story is a furphy.
Nevertheless, if it is true that if 7.5 million cans were dispatched from Australia to Vietnam for us Diggers over six months, whoever got them, it's your shout.
Barry Golding, Sherwood, Qld

Google Images supplied the beer pic


Anonymous said...

Hey, PT, that was a good yarn. It's just a bl**dy pity it appeared in that piece of rubbish that calls itself "The Australian".

That fact came to light when I was at our local gym (others call it their watering hole) bendin' my arm with a couple of my best mates, including "Warpy" (we call him that because he's so warped from only ever reading that rag).

Well, yesterday Warpy brought us all up to speed on the matter when he told us he'd read a piece (aka a letter to the editor) sent to that rag by Don Mountford, of Crawley, WA. Warpy had a clipping from the rag in his wallet to tell us all about it when it came his turn to add to what we call our "Knowledge Session".

Mountford had this to say about the mystery about Blue's beer:

Good calculations Barry Golding (Letters, 10/3), but I reckon I know the answer. My unit was based at Vung Tau in 1966-67. We operated a 24/7 unofficial beer canteen there and we moved some beer I can tell you.

Many Americans joined with our diehard drinkers to chug the grog down by the pallet load. We gave binge drinking a bad name but special mentions for John, Bernie, Snow and Des who consumed far beyond the call of duty. Bernie, who absconded with the undistributed canteen profits, lives on in undeserved luxury.

However, what happened to the other 500,000 beers is a mystery.

Yep, the un-Australian rag that pinched this great nation's name and uses the title as though it owns the country had it in its letters section yesterday, 14 March.

michael bogle said...

In response to Barry Golding regarding the mystery of 7.5 million missing beers assigned to the Aussies in Vietnam (The Australian 10th-11th of March), I can now reveal that thousands of cans of Swan Lager lie at the bottom of the Saigon River channel. In 1966, I was assigned to the 117th Transportation Company (Light Boat & Terminal Shipping) of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam when we learned that the merchant marine freighter "Baton Rouge Victory" had been holed by a mine (who knows?) and run aground in the shipping channel south of Saigon Port. Despite brave, valiant and courageous efforts to dodge the assignment, four of us from the 117th at Cat Lai found ourselves on the deck of the "Baton Rouge Victory" in late August 1966 to off-load a cargo of vital war materiel. Imagine our surprise when we found that the first hatch we opened was full of palletised cartons of Swan Lager (I later learned that these were known as "slabs"). This was the era of break-bulk cargo on wooden pallets, no containers. Seven crew had already been killed in the attack on the "Baton Rouge Victory" and we were damned annoyed to have to put our heads over the parapet for a cargo of Aussie beer. And where the hell was Perth anyway? But working at night (too risky during the day) with a crane, barges and a couple of locally recruited stevedore gangs, we got stuck in. As we worked toward the bottom of that hold, things got soggy and toward the end, we were hoisting up dissolving cartons of beer in nets and watching the tins fall into the river. No need to mention how much hot beer the stevedore gangs drank. Or how much got kicked in the water or pinched off the barges at Saigon Port when we brought them up. How much went into the water? Sorry Barry, Blue, the Ant and the Grunt, but I'm going to say that we must have accounted for thousands of cans of Swan Lager. Send me your address and I'll mail you a $20 for a shout. Personally, I never liked Swan Lager, 33 was more to my liking.

Michael Bogle, Sydney