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To 161 Battery in Vietnam

A Quandary

WF Giles

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When 161 Battery was preparing to go to Vietnam in 1965, an order was posted listing the NZ issue clothing that everybody had to have, including 2 pr of Rubber Soled Boots (Boot RS). It was stressed that as we received a clothing allowance we must purchase only items we were deficient of.

It was explained to our superiors that some soldiers still had leather soled boots. A signal was sent to Army HQ. After the necessary interval that is needed for Army HQ to make a decision, we were informed that (Boots RS) had been available for x number of years which exceeded the expectant life span of leather soled boots so we should have purchased (Boots RS) by now. So that was that - subject closed.

However, leather soled boots were still on sale in Camp "Q" and I had purchased a pair only weeks before and still had the piece of paper necessary with every "Q" transaction. This was pointed out. So another message was sent.

We waited with baited breath for the final judgement. I wish I had a copy of it but it went something like this:

"Personnel in possession of serviceable leather soled boots may exchange them for (Boots RS) however on handing in the old type boots they must have the laces removed and be tied in pairs with a cardboard label affixed to each boot with the soldier's NAME RANK & NUMBER."

The new boots were not to be worn until we were overseas, and if the unit or any individual did not go overseas the unused boots were to be returned to the Q store and the old style boots returned to the soldier.

In fact a couple of soldiers swapped 2 pairs and after 24 hours in sandshoes were allowed to wear 1 pair of (Boots RS).

Surely this exercise was truly a judgement worthy of SOLOMON.

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