Saturday, November 10, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Monday, December 26, 2011
I’m going to leave the topic of HMAS Leeuwin and the junior recruit training scheme alone now, except to make the following statements:
The Rapke Inquiry of 1971 was an investigation of the navy by the navy. The relevant federal minister of the time was a former naval officer and so, also, was Rapke himself.
What I want to describe are several incidents, the nature of which appear to have been entirely overlooked by Justice Rapke.
Those of you who’ve read my satirical look at JRTE, would be aware of the nutty petty officer’s assault on a lone JR with a rifle. To begin with, I have no idea what they were doing alone on the bullring. It could have been that the unfortunate junior recruit was the only one on punishment that day. That seems unlikely but can’t be entirely ruled out. It is also possible that PO Corkhill had singled out, as seems to have been his habit, this kid for special attention. Carrying rifles at the high port, over the head, was a borderline area in regulations stating that men under punishment could be given extra drill. On an occasion in December ‘63 when the Commodore was watching some early boxing bouts in the drill hall - he must have taken as look over his shoulder and seen the duty
Secondly, on an occasion where both intakes, 7th and 8th, were sent on the cross country run to the Bicton Baths, a caged pool on the Swan, and back, a small number of JR2s hid in bushes to avoid running the whole distance. They were detected and pointed out to all the boys on the bullring as being the reason we were to run the whole course again. Entirely predictably, some took personal exception to this and took it out, physically, on smaller, weaker boys. Jock McGregor, a heavyweight boxer, slapped one of the JR2s around on this occasion. Here, the senior man, LPTI Roesler, all but administered the illegal punishment himself.
The disparity of power between a petty officer, even a leading seaman, and a junior recruit, within the regulations, was enormous. If that power was used secretively, as in the case of Corkhill, or cunningly, vicariously, as with Roesler, one can only puzzle over the motives of these grown men.
There’s my own situation, and that of Bill Smith, and there can be little doubt the scene wasn’t repeated in other classes, other divisions, where it was suggested from above that certain individuals got scrubbed. In my own instance and Bill’s, older boys were used to carry out the mistreatment. Again, it’s peculiar how adults could behave in that way. On the one hand, unable to directly confront people so junior, yet, on the other hand, quite ready to issue covert instructions of that nature. Oh we wouldn’t want to question an individual’s personal hygiene but it’s quite all right to scrub his back till it bleeds and degrade him pretty much as we please...They’re both poms…Y’know what poms’re like…
On the radio news today, 27/12/11, there’s talk of recruiting into the RAN from the
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Below, I’ve included a letter to the 6/7th Intakes of Junior Recruits at HMAS Leeuwin (1963-4) website from Jim Hammond, a man who spent twelve years in the RAN; a man, I feel, of considerable courage.
Letter to the Editor
The recent article in the newsletter regarding bastardisation at Leeuwin has prompted me to write in the hope that some positive discussion on the subject may now be generated. The fact that the three Bs: Bullying, Bastardisation and Bashings can lead to debilitating illness in victims later in life should raise some questions in the minds of the perpetrators and their victims.
Do the bullies of Leeuwin now show some remorse over their actions? Or do they brush it off by using the familiar excuses such as:
It was just a bit of fun, or
It didn’t happen, or
It was all part of making a man out of the victims, or
Boys will be boys, or even
Those weak or different victims deserved it!
There is no excuse for such abhorrent behaviour. It has taken Governments too many years to make bullying in the workforce illegal. But it is now. Sure, it wasn’t illegal in 1963, but it was definitely wrong! Any caring, compassionate and intelligent person, even in those days, would not participate in the activities of the few bullies in our midst.
A scan of the mailing list of this newsletter identifies some well known bullies of JRTE. Have they changed? Have they passed on the bullying trait to their children who now carry on the tradition in the schoolyards and workplaces?
Why, you ask, am I raising such an unpleasant issue 42 years later? Because I suffer Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome as a result of bullying, bastardisation and bashings at Leeuwin. Does that still make me weak or different? In the eyes of some of you, probably yes.
Talking about one’s mental illness is part of the healing process, and I hope that your feedback or comments may contribute to my healing.
It would be great to see your comments in the newsletter for all to read. However, if you wish to keep your comments quiet, feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s the headline from the May 14, 1971 edition of Navy News. Connolly is the guilty party. And in the box below the headline, as though to shame JR Connolly further, we’re told that he and his mother had requested that he be discharged. This because four blokes had beaten the shit out of him for daring to assume ‘rights’ such as they themselves did; rights that violated naval regulations. And with utterly predictable armed service sense of right and wrong, Connolly and his assailants received the same punishment.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Things, obviously, are heating up. From out there in the world, well,
That above is a sample page, containing a handwritten statement in which the only name not expunged is that of the original subject of this inquiry, JR (Junior Recruit) Connolly, remains. (Connolly’s mother had expressed concern to naval authorities through a
In the typewritten page below, again, the only name not expunged is that of JR Shane Connolly.
In both documents and in other material from the Inquiry, there’s a build toward Shane Connolly as the troublemaker since he had started a fight on the platform at Spencer Street Station on the day the group was leaving by train for WA, with some other JR who had directed a remark at one or more of Connolly’s sisters. In any event, he was ganged up on and bashed by four or five senior boys quite soon after arriving at Leeuwin.
It’s a bit of a sad tale and one we’ll very likely never know the whole truth of, but in just these two examples, we can see how selective questioning, transcription, and even copying can create a particular image for history.
Already, we’ve had a statement from a senior member of the RSL, stating that bastardisation is necessary to toughen people up for battle. What a load of shit! They’re going to have to do better than that, but, don’t lose sight of the fact that it may well be suggested that you put yourself in the way of the treatment you received…
In the Gun Plot website, some of you may have seen, or even taken part in, the Discussion Forums. One particular contributor stated categorically that that we who had spoken up about abuse at some stage of our time in the RAN were clearly people who had spent all of our superannuation and were desperately trying to build cases for compensation. Personally, I don’t have, nor did I ever have, any superannuation. My working life after the RAN, was a hotchpotch of casual work, brief periods of permanent employment and long periods of unemployment and destitution. Pretty well emotionally fucked by my experience at Leeuwin as a junior recruit which I’ve described elsewhere in this blog, I had problems, significant problems, in trusting people. However, I’m not about to fall into making excuses for myself. Let the perpetrators do that. They’re the ones who committed a variety of crimes on my person. They were able to pursue long careers in the services.
I don’t know, nor would I care to predict, what lies ahead for those of us who’re taking part in the government’s survey and what might stem from that. It’s very likely that some of us will be traumatised all over again. I hope we can draw strength through knowing that, this time, we’re not alone and that’s no small thing. Believe me, when I was stuck on a train on my own back to the East, to