ED: From my inbox … * I have not attempted verify the quoted figures.

The ‘word was’ when national service cranked up before the Vietnam war, if a young bloke’s marble was picked out of the barrel to be ’selected’ to serve for two years as a national serviceman.

Without getting personal and going into many reasons……… a young bloke could avoid national service for many reasons.

One way to go about a reason not to be called up was to contact his local federal member [no computers then!!] The Member would sign what was called a ‘ministerial’.  This wasn’t so bad as a lot of young blokes were an important cog in a wheel in someone’s business or family business.  Or religious reasons, as well as other reasons.

When I worked at Central Army Records Office (CARO) in Melbourne, another bloke and I would visit a mate in another section, and he would inform us of those selected for national service who were medically unfit to serve.  The numbers were just awful from one visit to another.

I’m not all that good at interpreting statistics but as far as I can gather between 1964 – 1972,

804286 candidates were registered for National Service 237048 had their names/birthdays pulled from the barrel of these 101694 were rejected outright leaving 135354 to report for duty of these 71614 avoided service for some reason or other leaving only 63740 who actually served.

That is less than 8% of those who registered!

Of all infantry (all ranks) to serve in Vietnam 8167 were National Service and all ranks ARA to serve in Vietnam was 8024 (i.e., Nashos were in the majority).


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  • john schotte January 4, 2024   Reply →

    i served as a nasho 1967-1969 and vietnam 181 days why can,t nachos who served less then 1 year not be recognised for the vietnam campaign medal .we have been asking government after government fo this but nobody seems to care about it anymore?

  • Peter K January 4, 2024   Reply →

    Those figures don’t relate to what I have read previously. I have seen written in the media 80,000 and another time 60,000 served In Vietnam over the period of the war, although theses later figure I assume must take in to account personnel in all three services but the information was not presented in a very factual manner.

  • Kevin Hunter January 4, 2024   Reply →

    There are a lot of fudged figures out there. I read the stats that 43% of those who served in SVN were National Service but when you bring it back to 12 month tours it comes back to 28% or 72% ARA and 28% NS. Oddly enough very similar to US troops with 73% regular and 27% Draft. The main difference was the massive amount of training and experience given to Aust soldiers which sometimes led to tours as low as Three or Four months, particularly in more specialised trades. In contrast a lot of the American forces who were regular who were recruited, were in SVN in 10 to fifteen weeks of signing on the dotted line. A lot of these troops were from the lower economic side of America, and joined the forces because of the lack of paid employment available and patriotism, hence the uproar when the neighborhood youth came home in a box, and the start in America of the Moratoriums The Australian troops that went to Vietnam were possibly the fittest and best trained that were sent to War. Don’t shoot me if you don’t agree, you may believe these to be fudged figures, but it all makes sense to me and please don’t accuse me of bashing NS . I did two tours and to be honest most of us didn’t know who was NS They were all good soldiers.

  • Roger Balmer January 4, 2024   Reply →

    I would like to know why Alan Jones (Formula 1 driver) was not called up.
    He was born the same day/year as myself. Would love to know why ??

  • Malcolm Edmiston January 5, 2024   Reply →

    This does not recognise the regular servicemen who did more than one tour of Vietnam. It also does not recognise that there were many Nashos who did not go to Vietnam. Many sportsmen remained to continue playing for their club at weekends, even posted back to their home State to continue that career.

  • Darryl Hill January 7, 2024   Reply →

    If you were some top sportsman a few strings were pulled,i was ARA who joined at seventeen and a SGT by 21 mainly because of the massive increase in the Army and had first intake Nashos under me and had no prob with any of them and some were better than some of the ARA blokes,plus were good drivers of the M113 APC with 1 APC SQN 66/67 later to become A SQN 3RD CAVALRY REGT,one misconception of the war that Nashos were forced to go which is bulldust as i knew ARA bloke who did not to and didn,t

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