IN the heat of the day, Ballarat’s national servicemen and their families gathered along Sturt Street.
They were there to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the unveiling and dedication of their own memorial and to lay wreaths for those who died in the service of their country. In particular, they honoured two Ballarat-born national servicemen who later joined the regular army.
For the “Nashos”, the establishment of a memorial in Ballarat to honour those called up for national service between 1952 and 1959, and again from 1965 through to 1972, was an important moment.
Many feel their service has been forgotten next to those who served during the two world wars, Korea or Vietnam.
“For us, the story of Australia’s national servicemen is quite an important story. It is our own story and we want people to know about it,” Ballarat and District National Servicemen’s Association president Stan Kellett said. “We did our bit too as our government required us to.
“We are a dying race, because the first group are now turning 80. We have lost a few by natural attrition and, unlike other branches (of the military), there are no new Nashos of course.
“With the first group, we were 18 years old. With the second lot, they were 20-plus. There is a vast difference between an 18-year-old and someone who is in their 20s.
“The second group overlapped with Vietnam and there were 212 Nashos killed.”
Those conscripted in 1952 could do their national service with the Royal Australian Air Force or the Royal Australian Navy, although, from 1957 onwards, all national service was with the army.
Among those attending the Ballarat memorial yesterday were Dr Tom Roberts, from the Royal Australian Air Force Association, and Nashos’ patron Lieutenant Colonel Ted Lynes, along with a representative from Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight.
Next Sunday marks National Servicemen’s Day in Victoria, with branches across Victoria gathering at the Shrine of Remembrance on St Kilda Road in Melbourne.