Toodyay Shootout

THE BIG SELL - "The Toodyay Shootout"


At 13 Inf Bde's Annual Camp in September 1959, in the middle of the 6-day exercise in the Avon Valley Training Area, the "war" suddenly stopped. With my "Vickers" in my arms, we were loaded onto trucks and taken to an area (God knows where!) and along with a few hundred others seated on a slight slope, to listen too and observe a presentation about the "new" army.

The main thyme of the presentation was introduction to the new weapons and equipment that was coming our way. Out with "Brits" and in with the "Yankee". The presentation went on for some time with various degrees of interest from the spectators. You must remember that most of the spectators were men just doing their obligation under the National Service Act. (Believe me, there were some "Real" characters within the platoons and company's. Thank goodness most of them disappeared on the 30th June 1960.) So, after all the palaver was finished, up came the "grand finale" a demonstration of the "old" verses the "new".

Out strolled a section of 10 men (the old), dressed in Khaki WD, 1937patt webbing, Hats KFF battered and at all angles, .303 Lee Enfield Rifles and 10 rounds of ammo each. Out in front of the section about 50 - 100 metres, tied to trees and bushes were about 30 balloons.

"Watch the firepower demonstration of the old and then the new."

The section adopted various fire positions, lying, squatting, kneeling and standing and the Section Commander gave his Fire Control Order (FCO) and steady firing commenced, after a few minutes the firing stopped when the last balloon went "Pop". (It is not known if they used all the rounds.) The section then moved to the side with appropriate applause and encouragement from the spectators.

While a work party was "reconditioning stores" (i.e. putting balloons up) out jogged the "new", all resplendent in their shiny Jungle Greens, black gaiters, Hats utility green, Yankee webbing with bum pack and the SLR with 10 rounds of ammo. When the reconditioning of stores was complete, the section adopted the various fire positions and the Commander gave his FCO and away they went. The next couple of minutes was just noise, finally it was down to individual shots as they empted their magazines and all went quite. 100 rounds fired and a third of the balloons still smiling back at us. A mumble, giggle, laughter rumbled through the lounging spectators. Out front, all was quite, after a pregnant pause that seemed to last a lifetime, "That's it, demo over, on the trucks, CSM's take over". And back we went to "War".

Pte Robert Oakes - MMG Pl Spt Coy 16Bn The Cameron Highlanders of WA.