The History of 90 TRANSPORT PLATOON, RAASC
Cliff Hodgson has kindly related for us the history of 90 Transport Platoon, RAASC. Below are his recollections of their history and movements.
The history of this unit prior to Oct 1969 I can not tell other than to say it was the domestic transport Platoon for West Aust (Perth). Domestic units hold a very mixed bag of vehicles from semi trailers, buses, ambulances , some hold fire fighting vehicles , staff cars, Utes and CL trucks (Commercial Loading) and in some domestic units the odd GS (General Service) ie. Land Rover, 4x4 trucks depending on what other units are in that location that the domestic unit has to support.
On my return from Vietnam (May 1967) I was posted to the transport section at 1RTB Kapooka near Wagga Wagga NSW, A domestic unit, about Aug 69 I was called into the office and informed I was posted to 90 Tpt Pl, to take effect in a months time A posting to Perth was like winning gold lotto every one at Kapooka was envious. A week later a signal came through to say to say it was 90 TPT Pl. Randwick Sydney for on posting to Singapore, 90 in the west took a name change for some reason.
On my arrival at Randwick it was just one big reunion the new 90 was being made up of drivers mainly of all those that had served in Vietnam during 1966/67 87 Tpt Pl and 1 Tpt Pl. The wealth of experience that this unit was made up from I doubt if will ever be equalled again. The only exception to this was our CO and 2IC and our admin Sgt plus about 6 others and our blow fly that were new to us all. In Vietnam there was a lot of unit pride and bantering between the two Platoons as 87 was mainly Tipper and 1 Platoon was general cargo but we all worked, ate and played together. By late Nov we had all our unit stores including 24 new F1 ( MK5 ) 3x LWB Land Rovers and Trailers. As well as 3 x BSA motor Cycles and a Massy Ferguson fork lift and were on our way to Singapore with our wives and tin lids. 90 hit the ground running what with getting our families settled into new homes in a foreign country and a full on work load, convoy after convoy from Singapore to a place called Terrandac north of KL in Malaya it was about a 400km+ round trip and it was full on until we moved the First Battalion RAR lock stock and barrel to Singapore. The pressure backed off for a little we only had to support an Artillery unit and our RAE unit and the First Kiwi Battalion along with a 5 nation exercise held in Northern Malay that lasted 6 weeks
I still remember the day we were all told have our uniforms ready for a what we thought was to be a bull sh=t parade The commander of 28 th Commonwealth Brigade was the reviewing officer (A POM) It turned out that in a period of seven months our unit vehicles had covered a total of 90.000 miles with out a single incident and we were given a few days off as an award. We all got to sleep in our beds more than in trucks and a lot of the wives got pregnant about this time By this time our vehicle were also starting to show signs of need, minor repairs etc. Servicing was always carried out when and as need our transport Sgt. and our workshop team RAEME saw to that and in less time than ever expected we had no replacement tyres for half the vehicles and by now the wet season had started to set in so things slowed down some what.
During this slack period we had a British Transport unit move into our lines with all their vehicles (RL Bedfords) and equipment and we all had to be crossed trained on each others equipment including weapons, vehicles and what ever else we all had. The Aussies just got in the Bedford and drove them and an hour later one would have thought we had been driving them since day dot, our vehicle proved to be a problem for most of the younger British driver our steering was too heavy and the gear box was a problem to them. A good Beddie would do 70 MPH our’s flat out at about 55 mph , they hated our inters.
But we proved who had the better vehicle. Off road work which at time was plenty, I don’t ever recall a Beddie towing or recovering an International but we often had a Beddie on our hook (tow) and this use to hurt the Poms. Bedford were too light in mud or greasy tracks, traction was always a problem in the wet, but on the highway they would leave us for dead
We had just settled down to a new routine when we were introduced to 12 new members to the unit A section, Kiwi’s. We were now officially an ANZAC UNIT and some seemed to have an attitude problem like "don’t tell me" or "I know".
Within a few days we had our fist accident involving one of our trucks followed by 3 or 4 ? others over the next twelve months. The second twelve months saw our work load change some what besides our normal support roll to the other units. Our 1st Batt. Was now providing the perimiter defence at Butterworth very close to the Thai Boarder. It was about a 12 Hour trip and we had trucks going back and forth all the time and some of us were later involved in Driver training roles including bus work for the poms using their vehicles. I was lucky to be picked to drive a new Royal Navy Humber Super Snipe for three weeks for a visiting British Dignitary ( it was like a holiday ). I also got to drive a 3 ton 4x4 comer tipper and several MK 4 ton Bedfords with MF engines
In Mid December of 1971 the troops and their families at 90 Tpt Pl started to started to return to Aust. And the only thing that saddened me leaving Singapore was 174-658 had to stay behind. I had picked it up from Bandiana in the Nov of 69 new and it hurt to hand it over .It was the only unit that I ever served in that vehicles were issued to a driver and you set the vehicle up as your own and they were treated as if they owned them and very rarely did any one use your vehicle.
Today 90 Transport no longer exist But the troops of the original 90 have formed an association about 6 years ago and its slowly gathering momentum.
|174 658 Eng support|
|174 658 Eng support|
|Winching a land rover through mud in Malaya jungle|
|Unloading Bailey bridging at a Malayan Army camp in KL|
|Refueling in KLon way back to Singapore|
|Kiwi bent Beddie and one of our land rover on the wash point|
|My 6 wheels|