Men aged between 18 and 30 during the 1960s.
In today’s Australian society, young men from the ages of 18 to 30 are usually starting their lives as independent citizens- graduating from school, going to university, getting employed- even starting families. But in the 1960s, this age group faced other issues- the effects of the Vietnam War. Reduced supplies, national disquiet, and even conscription threatened these young men’s way of life. The fear of communism hung like a cloud over Australia, fuelled by government propaganda such as signs, posters and advertisements (Source 1). When Australia entered the war in 1962, men aged between eighteen and thirty volunteered to protect their homeland from ‘invasion.’ Young, fit and healthy, these men had all the necessary skills to fight, build, defend and otherwise survive in Vietnam. But as the war continued through its 16 years, Australians began to question the reason for fighting, and the number of volunteers diminished. As a result, conscription was introduced in 1964, forcing men of this age into five years of full and part-time service in the army (Source 7). The men were liable for ‘special overseas service’ in which they chose to fight in Vietnam. Men that were sent faced death, injury and psychological disturbance in the face of the war. The lucky number that stayed home adjusted to increased workloads (weapons for the war were in high demand), televised images of the war and the possibility of protecting the border of Australia should the overseas soldiers fail. A number of Australians, mainly 18-30 year old men and women, began to protest against conscription. ‘The thought of going into the army- no way. I thought, it’s a civil war, let them fight it out.’ Recalled Peter Longobardi, who was 17 at the time. ‘At Sydney UNI, there were marches and protests. I was a part of them.’ When the number of those who opposed the war increased, they began to coordinate mass protests all across Australia, dubbed the Moratorium Marches of 1970-71.
Men aged 18-30 during the 1960s had their lives turned upside down- one way or another- by the Vietnam War. They endured war and the death of friends, forced service, fear of communism and much more. Their lives were very different from those that we live today, but their sacrifice may give us the opportunity to appreciate the many things in our lives that we often take for granted.
2. Primary and Secondary Sources
Source 8- ‘Horror Movie,’ written and performed by the Skyhooks, 1975
Primary Source (song)
Source 2- ‘I have seen the rain,’ written by James Moore, performed by Pink in 2009
Secondary Source (song)
Source 4- April 1966
‘Prophetic, or pathetic??’
The Headquarters Company, 1st Australian Task Force Web Site
Primary source (newspaper article)
Source 5- Conscription Protest- Circa 1964
Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family
Primary source (photo)
Source 11- Vietnam War Moratorium
Primary Source (photo)
Source 9- Early Days in Vietnam- 1969
Wilsons Family News & Travel
Primary Source (diary)
I went to the transport compound after breakfast and handed some greens into the laundry. I started to change a tyre but halfway through I was lobbed with another CSM’s work party (What about some driving?) We collected rocks all morning to make a retaining wall and in the afternoon shovelled sand to re-grade the floor of the picture theatre.
Physical work here is very hot and…