HORSE WHIPPED By Terry (Ferret) Bryceson, C Coy 7 RAR Vietnam 1967-68, 1970-71
In the latter part of 1967, a mate of mine, Phil Welsh and I were in Vung Tau on R&C. As usual, one day we gravitated to The Grand, where we proceeded to drink plenty of vodka and 7 Up. After about five or so hours, we decided to head for The Flags for some stress relief, if you get my drift.
We caught a horse and cart ride to The Flags. On the way I asked the driver if I could drive the cart, to which he replied with a short “No!” Being pretty well pissed, neither Phil nor I noticed this driver talking to the local cowboys (that’s the local hoons who rode motorbikes). When we got to The Flags, I gave the bloke 50 Piaster, which was twice as much as it should have been.
When we got off the buggy, I felt this whack across my back. I turned around to see this prick standing there with his horse whip. That was what he had hit me with. Of course the first thing I did was to head straight for him. The only trouble was that he also had an iron bar with him. It was then that he belted me over the head. Neither Phil nor I had realised that about 14 or so of these cowboys had turned up. As the blue continued, the Mama San from the Airborne Bar came out, grabbed me and took me aside. I hadn’t noticed that my shirt was covered with blood from my head wound. The next thing we knew, the US MPs arrived to take me away. My complaint to them was that they would hand me over to our meatheads. However, this big negro said words to the effect of, “If they can get you off us, they are better than we think they are.”
They carted me off to the 36 Evac Hospital and kept me overnight. They put eight stitches in my head.
The next day we returned to the R&C Centre, where this useless, fat Service Corps SSGT asked if I was the bloke who’d got a hiding in town the previous night. I replied in kind. “No, I wear this bandage on my head for fun.” Needless to say that he was not impressed.
We returned back to the battalion, thinking nothing more about what had happened in Vung Tau. However, a couple of days later, I was called up to Porky’s, (Lt Col Eric Smith, the CO of 7 RAR) office, where I was questioned about the blue. Apparently, a rather large American negro had assisted us during the blue and had caused a fair bit of damage to three of the cowboys. This had caused quite a bit of a stir between the Vietnamese, US and Australians. On reading the statement made by the US guy, he stated that he saw us getting a hiding so he decided to help. That he did. He hit one bloke and broke his jaw in three places, slammed another one over his knee and then threw a third about 10 yards onto his back into the middle of the road.
Needless to say Old Porky was not impressed with one of his diggers, (especially a reo) getting into a blue like that in Vung Tau.
After telling Col Smith what had happened, I was abruptly dismissed and told to get back to C Coy.
To this day, that was the last time I’ve heard any more about that incident. Unfortunately, I never got to meet that guy to thank him. Even today when I scratch my head, I can still feel the lump from the whack and the stitches.
When in doubt, empty your magazine.