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CMNL Commemoration
Commemoration services bring people together and provide veterans opportunities to reunite, connect and to remember the fallen. At RSL Clubs across the country, veterans, families of veterans passed and present and communities gather. At these occasions veterans share like-minded stories, passing them on through generations, never to be forgotten.



Commemorating 50 years since Australian forces left Vietnam.


Gather & connect at a

Calling all Veterans, veteran families and our community
to join us on this day.

Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club
11am Sunday 13 August
Click HERE for more information

Bargo Sports Club
10.30am Friday 18 August
Click HERE for more information

our communal ode

We will remember them.
The fallen, those who served and their families.

A CMNL film, featuring Vietnam Veteran Ernest Newbold.

Ernest’s Story

Ernest reflects on the last  50 years and shares his story.

CHP Anzac -2022- Thank You Banner
We pay special tribute to the Veterans of the Vietnam Conflict.
The efforts of those past and present will forever be remembered.

We thank you all for your service.

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Ernest Newbold Reflects

Ernest Newbold is a proud Vietnam Veteran, a Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club Sub-Branch Member and Trustee.

We thank Ernest for the honour of having him feature in our 2023 CMNL film ‘our communal ode’, and for his contribution to our 2021 publication ‘Celebrating 90 Years of Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Sub-Branch’. An excerpt from his story published here.

50 years on from the end of the Vietnam War, Ernest continues to nurture connections to members of his unit, and many other fellow veterans. He looks forward to the occasions that bring them together, and is looking forward to gathering with fellow veterans and family at the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Veterans Day Services, both at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra, and at The Bert Crook Memorial, Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club this August.

When asked to reflect on decades that followed his service in Vietnam, there were
many moments of pride, adventure and bravery, and those of disdain and trauma.

Ernest Newbold Collection web85 scaled
Ernest Newbold (front) 1967 on patrol north of Long Dien with the 131 Division Locating Battery, looking for enemy mortar base plate positions after enemy activity the previous night.


Ernest Newbold CHPRSL Sub Branch 1
Ernest Newbold (left) ANZAC Day 2023, gathered with fellow veterans and family at The Bert Crook Memorial Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club.



At the age of 20, Ernest was required to register for National Service and in a random selection, by way of a tray of numbered marbles, he was selected by his date of birth. Although the conscription was controversial at the time, he was happy enough to be selected for his contribution, and the experience.


After months of training, and the best part of 12 months of dutiful skilled service in Vietnam where he held great purpose, Ernest was sent home to return straight back to his old routine, in the office. During this time the focus was on recruitment and training, not those leaving out the back gate, and simply had to readjust to the norms of society.


The decade that followed was difficult, with little occasion to reconnect with his unit, and share conversations with like minded people. Ernest continued to apply his learned strong sense of duty, hard work and commitment in his employment, and struggled to sleep well and retain work life balance.
In 1975 he became a member the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Sub Branch, where he made and retained new connections, and had a new purpose.


After the 1987  ‘welcome home’  where units were required to march in groups, Ernest’s unit started gathering regularly “even if only on ANZAC Day, it was not long enough” When you talk with people you served with, they understand the feelings and experience more than your family would. The mention of a name. . . it takes you back..


It wasn’t until some 30 years following his service that Ernest began receiving support. He had gained awareness of the mental health issues he had been living with. He was encouraged by a fellow veteran that he had met at work to reach out to Veteran Affairs for assessment and support. In those days the support was medical and financial, but not a lot of practical support was available.


There were few opportunities to reunite, as the Sub-Branches operated by geographic location, not unit. Around a decade ago, Ernest and a couple of veterans from his unit decided to form their own association ‘131 Locators’ and raised the flag to to be seen and found by their fellows. This resulted in being found by old mates, and regular gatherings at an RSL Club local to one of the members.

2023 – a time to reflect

Ernest has many a story to share about his Nui Dat (small hill) listening posts, shared tent quarters and out in the field. Over a coffee Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club he shared many of those stories, including the time he and his unit built their own place to gather at, as his unit were positioned in separate posts across many small hills.

“The RSL is a nice place to gather, I am now involved and have met a great group of people.
      I look forward to the special events to connect  and share stories, when ever they occur”

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Above: Ernest and his mates digging for the sand they needed for the concrete slab for the original ‘131 Locators’ recreational tent. Their unit was positioned all over the ‘small hills’, and here they would gather to connect & share their stories.


Left: Ernest Newbold – Trustee, Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club Sub-Branch


This story is an excerpt from our 2021 publication.

Celebrating 90 Years of Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Sub-Branch

Authored by Neil Cadigan

Ernest Newbold shares his story

Ernest Newbold Collection web60 scaled

Ernest Newbold

The Vietnam Conscript

Ernest Newbold is like many Vietnam War veterans in that he was called up for service without choice as a “nasho”, plunged into jungle warfare in Asia after less than 12 months of training, carrying out an important war role then, overnight, was expected to mingle back into normal society without a skerrick of assistance or a street parade of appreciation.

He confesses he had a hangover from the experience for years. He felt a lack of purpose after performing such as vital wartime role amid the constant sound of gunfire, planes above and sudden calls to action, then being expected to morph back into a rather sedate life as an accountant.

Newbold, who joined the RSL (Enfield branch) in 1968 and became a Canterbury-Hurlstone Park member in 1975, is one of thousands of Vietnam vets who are finally generally accepted by fellow veterans within the RSL ranks, although most have sought solace and security through battalion or unit-based or Vietnam-specific associations.

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For Ernest Newbold, raised at Croydon Park and educated at Fort Street High School, his ten months in Vietnam had a telling impact on him that continues four and a half decades later. He proudly talks about the tasks his unit carried out and rarely misses an Anzac Day annual reunion while being an active member of a strong 131 Locators Association, formed in 2008 and made up of about 150 members who served the 131 Divisional Locating Battery unit over the years (not just in Vietnam).

Ernest’s name was called in the first lottery ballot when compulsory national service was introduced by the Robert Menzies-led Liberal government in 1965 for selected men aged 20. Because he was studying accountancy and commercial law, Ernest was able to defer his service by a year. He remembers walking into the enlistment centre in Sydney in April 1966, just a few paces from fellow conscript Doug Walters, the young Test cricketer, as protesters from Save Our Sons, a well-organised group of objecting mothers, waved their placards outside.

After training at the newly built Singleton base, then Holsworthy, North Head and Canungra in the Gold Coast hinterland for jungle training, he departed Sydney on 4 May 1967 on a chartered Ansett DC-6B to Darwin. After an overnight stop, his unit of reinforcements boarded an RAAF Hercules to Vung Tau in Vietnam, the army’s main logistics centre.

He’ll never forget those initial few hours in a war zone. “I remember my first night in Vietnam, with artillery and mortars firing endlessly. None of us got much sleep with the firing going all night.” All these years later though, Ernest and his army mates from those days still cannot categorically recall how they travelled next day from Vung Tau to the operations epicentre at Nui Dat, which can only be a signal of the psychological shock they were suffering. “Most of us can’t remember how we travelled, although we recall the trip on the Hercules from Darwin. We are pretty certain now we went by RAAF Caribou, although some swear we went by truck. But I know I never travelled on an army truck in Vietnam so the consensus is we went by Caribou.

There’s a blank piece of memory there that you just can’t recall. I think it was the fact we actually landed and had our feet on the ground in Vietnam and it was all going on around us; there were helicopters and lots of military aircraft going overhead and it’s like . . .

”We’re really here, it’s happened. We didn’t know what to expect
– it was a shock to arrive there and to get our heads around the fact we were in the middle of a war.
We’d never lived under artillery like we did in Vietnam.”

Yet Ernest can remember vividly many aspects of his service: locations, exercises, the equipment and the visit by a group of entertainers including Patti McGrath, Denise Drysdale, Lorrae Desmond and the band The Strangers, all of whom he was fortunate to have lunch with just before Christmas 1967.

As the nominated chief photographer for his group, his images are maintained on old Kodachrome colour film (and long since digitised).

The main purpose of his unit, the 131 Divisional Locating Battery, was to detect enemy mortars and the position they were firing from so they could organise
counter battery fire to neutralise the enemy onslaught and put them out of action. They could also dig into a mortar crater, record the angle of descent and a direction and what sort of mortar it was and calculate the likely position it was fired from.

Ernest’s deployment was sandwiched between two momentous battles from the Vietnam conflict – Battle of Long Tan in August 1966 and the Battle of Coral-Balmoral in May 1968. He arrived on 4 May 1967 and returned to Sydney on 30 January 1968. He went from a trainee accountant just out of his teens to a man hardened to the noise of surrounding mortars and air attack. And then, at the end the most eventful and adrenalin-filled chapter of his life, it was thank you very much and “as you were”.

“All of a sudden it’s all over and back home again, and it’s difficult coming home. After doing 12 months of corps training and basic training and then going over there for the best part of 12 months and putting what you learned into action and becoming fully experienced and knowledgeable in what you’re doing, you’re not needed anymore”.

“And another group of blokes go over and go through the same process of putting their knowledge into practical experience and learning all about it. That was a bit of an odd thing. We did our final roll call and parade and were told, ‘As from midnight tonight you’re civilians and no longer needed.’ If I’d been in regular army I would have remained with people I’d been with and still done military activities or stayed in Vietnam; either way I’d have continued military routine and discipline. Instead, we were supposed to suddenly switch off and be a civilian like nothing had happened.

“It wasn’t until quite a few years later that I realised how much having been away and serving your country in a theatre of world gave you a tremendous sense of purpose, greater than any sense of purpose you’d experienced in your previous life,” he reflected. “Suddenly, that’s all gone and you’re back to being a civilian and trying to get back to a sense of purpose and it took a long time to come to grips with that. This affects people today still, I’m sure.”

He also believes the unusual sleep patterns he’s suffered for years are a legacy of his national service. He would work long hours and look forward to weekend leisure time only to find he would sleep intermittently but never for long periods. After consulting a psychologist he realised it was a throwback to shifts of two hours on and four hours off while in Vietnam and always subconsciously being on alert for an unexpected call to action. After discovering further psychological issues that had lain dormant, he was eventually granted a totally and permanently incapacitated (TPI) pension and was diagnosed as having “war-caused anxiety disorder with comorbid depression”, part of the family of PTSDs.

“For many years I thought there was nothing wrong with me, I’m normal. Then, in 2003, someone showed me a book about PTSD which had a list of bullet points and he said, ‘How many of them to relate to you?’ Two-thirds did. He said, ‘Everyone thinks they are okay but you don’t understand what war service does to you.’”

Ernest was 60 when he was forced to leave his job, took six months off and then was allocated a TPI. He is thankful for the comfort of a network of countrymen who served in similar circumstances to him.

“I admit I’m more interested in belonging to the Vietnam Veterans Association and my unit association where we meet once a month. But the RSL has been there for a long time.” I still see the need for the RSL to exist. Basically, the RSL supports veterans of all eras – I don’t know exactly how anymore other than through war veterans’ homes and the like, but I think it is important the RSL is there to speak and put their case forward when they need to say something. They represent a century of the history of war veterans.”

“But it needs to find ways to attract the current crop
     of veterans who are returning and give them something
     they can identify with and benefit from.”

Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Sub-Branch is dedicated to the welfare of ex-serving and serving Defence Force personnel and their dependants, and engaging the community with the RSL Legacy.

The Sub-Branch has a large and a socially active membership and is open to any member of the Australian Defence Forces (and their Allies) who has served a minimum of six (6) months in any capacity (Regular or Reserve). The Canterbury-Hurlstone Park Sub-Branch of the RSL (NSW Branch) welcomes applications for new members.



Ernest Newbold – Private Collection

Ernest Newbold – Photography Collection

Share your story

We invite you to post your Vietnam War story here to share with our community!

It is important in our Australian history for all generations to create connections, to learn, understand, acknowledge, and share the stories  which helped shaped Australia, a chance for everyone to honour the contributions and sacrifices our Veterans have made.

  We look forward to collating your stories here
& welcome you to help us share them with others


  • Peter Joseph Flaherty says:

    Hullo,I served 25/5/1966-13/5/1967 in South Vietnam, my Army No 216283, I got wounded in the head 1966 and the lower right leg 1967, I served in the Army for 3&3/4 years and was Medically Discharged from futher service, I took a lot of photos, I hope I can fine my photo album, I signed the Secrets Act of Australia at the age of 18 in the military, my specificate purpose, was the exchange of Intelligence with allied millitary, embassies and special comand posts, 7-3, 3-11, 11-7 on my own, a major problem of my life has been flash backs when I have been sleeping, which wrecked a lot of Relationships, conseqencely I have never been Married, i have been a member of Canterbury R S L for a lot of years, although my membership is over due now, as I don`t go out of a night these days, or very far from home, I will try to get down there for the 13th thankyou cheers Peter

  • Peter Flaherty says:

    I left a story of my time in “charlie country”, I have enjoyed my membership of Canterbury R S L, over the years, I hope I can get down there for the ocassion, cheers Peter

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