GREENBANK SUBJECT 1 AND 2 FOR CORPORAL By Chris Nelson, 8 RAR
When I was on my subject course for promotion in the Army in 1971 we did the training and course at the Greenbank Army Training Area near Brisbane. It was subject 1 and 2 for corporal. Sgt Lofty Wendt, who was waiting on promotion to WO, was in charge and had us all lined up out the front of his HQ.
It was during this course that the private soldier was taught to give drill lessons, weapons lessons, run a section and carry out all the duties of a section 2IC and full corporal section commander in readiness for him being promoted to that exalted rank.
Lofty told us that after the course only half of us would be there, because the others would have failed and would be returned to unit (RTU) to hang their heads in shame at dropping out. Those that passed, he promised may one day, in the dim dark future, manage to get at least one stripe on their arm. It was all up to us young diggers to prove we had the leadership and character traits required of the Royal Australian Regiment.
On my first day I was marching a squad of would-be NCOs along the road on the way to a drill lesson. I spotted my mate, Neil Hill conducting a drill lesson on the small dirt patch beside the roadway. Lofty Wendt was watching him and me from the side of the parade ground. Lofty stood ramrod straight, looking down his magnificent nose over a huge handlebar moustache, his eyes taking in every fault.
I braced up and called out the time in a professional manner, making sure the arms swung shoulder height and the thumb was leading. Over on the little dirt patch Neil tried to put some power and loud authority into his normally soft word of command. He was so successful that his upper and lower dentures were blown out of his mouth in a shower of spray, landing about a metre in front of his horrified squad, who stood there stock still with their mouths open in disbelief for a few seconds. The rest of Neil’s verbal orders were unintelligible due to him having a mouthful of gums only.
His squad doubled over with ribald laughter and rifles clattered to the floor. Neil looked around in disbelief with his eyes wide open and his jaw clenched shut when he spotted Lofty glaring at him. Neil appeared to have no lower mandible whatsoever as it was only his beautiful Army teeth that gave him the allusion of a chin.
I noticed Lofty Wendt, still watching. He shouted, “Come on, digger. Pick ’em up, shove ’em in and start again. This time put some bite into your orders.” He then did a beautiful (Lofty-style) about-turn and marched off, no doubt chuckling to himself.