Home Away from Home

Home Away from Home: Inside and outside the wire

I just about spewed and fainted. The area we’d be given was all overgrown and when we started pulling aside the undergrowth there was all this rubbish. There were drums, old vehicles and pieces of iron. It was like a dump.

Terry Culley, 4 Troop NZSAS

In New Zealand’s first war with no front line, even the most meagre refuge offered much-needed relief, a place to find strength and sustenance under the almost constant threat of attack. Soldiers’ tent lines and bunkers were, at best, adequate shelters housing their beds and personal possessions. The surrounding camp was a source of food and drink: a place of semi-secure respite from the conflict.

Sentries patrolled the boundaries of allied bases. Relaxation inside the wire meant less intense vigilance, but weapons remained at the ready in case of attack. Sapper Don Smith found his automatic carbine good in the jungle, light to carry. ‘We used to sleep with one right beside us, fully loaded with the safety catch on. And we had our weapons with us all the time.’

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Want to find out more about the living conditions of New Zealand service personnel in Vietnam? Click on the images below to access related written, audio, and video content:

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How to cite this page: 'Home Away from Home - No Front Line', URL: https://vietnamwar.govt.nz/home-away-home-no-front-line, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 6-Aug-2014