Club Cowra

National ServIcemen’s Day In Cowra

Written by: The Cowra Phoenix

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National Servicemen’s Day is observed to recognise the contributions of National Service to Australia.

Since the Second World War Australia has had two very different National Service schemes.

The first took place from 1951 to 1959. A total of 227 000 men passed through the scheme, which required six months recruit training in the Army, navy or Air Force followed by five years as a reservist. Few saw action, though some were deployed on naval ships in Korean waters during that war. They were also at the atomic bomb tests at the Monte Bello islands, and in 1956 at Maralinga. RAAF National Servicemen worked on aircraft that had flown through atomic clouds. The second scheme which took place from 1965 to 1972.

The government at the time considered that Australia had inadequate Defence manpower and aimed to increase the strength of the Army to 33 000 by the end of 1966.

The National Service Act of 1964 required 20-year-old males to register, and if selected by ballot, to serve in the Army for a period of 24 months (reduced to 18 months in 1971), followed by three years in the reserve. In 1965 the act was amended to provide that conscripts could be obliged to serve overseas. In March 1966 Prime Minister Harold Holt announced that National Servicemen would be sent to Vietnam to fight in units of the Australian Regular Army.

Between 1965 and December 1972 over 800 000 men registered for National Service. Some 63 000 were conscripted and over 19 000 served in Vietnam and Borneo.

The Cowra RSL sub-Branch will observe National Servicemen’s Day on Sunday 11th February with a ceremony held at 10.00 am on Sunday 11th February 2024 at the National Servicemen’s Memorial in Squire Park, Cowra.

The special guest for the service will be the Deputy Mayor of Cowra, Mr Paul Smith.

All National Servicemen are invited to the Memorial service and we look for to seeing you.

Any further information can be obtained by contacting the Cowra RSL sub-branch Secretary Ken Guihot on (02) 6342 3540.

Cowra Regional Art Gallery

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