18182

DIGBY JOHN HAMMOND

Fourth Battalion

The Royal Australian Regiment

(4RAR)

 

31 February 1946 - 08 October 2006

 

18182 Warrant Office Class Two Digby John Hammond was a soldier who went to war. He enlisted in the Australian Regular Army on 30 May 1963 and served for the next twenty six years.

 

Digby served his nation in two campaigns; Borneo and South Vietnam. Digby was a warrior in the famous armed forces of Australia, respected since World War One by friend and foe alike; respected for their audacity, their sense of camaraderie, their sense of humour and their courage under fire.

 

Digby was a professional soldier and as such, he and his fellow soldiers, his mates, served Australia. In Digby’s eyes, they had trained together and it was only right that they should fight together. The Spirit of ANZAC was always paramount in Digby’s mind.

 

Digby served Australia in West Malaysia and Borneo with D Company, the Fourth Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (4RAR). The Royal Australian Regiment is the Infantry regiment of the Australian Regular Army.

 

4RAR was originally raised in Woodside on the first of February 1964. Digby actually joined the battalion on the seventeenth of January 1964 and as an original member, his name is inscribed in gold in the Battalion’s roll book.

 

Digby was a marvel as a soldier, he had that inbuilt sense to determine when the tension was the greatest and it was he who broke the tension by cracking a joke or doing something quite out of the ordinary. His sense of humour almost fell foul of military discipline when on board the ship carrying the platoon to Borneo, several including Digby and his best mate Kevin Freer, decided to have a haircut. Not content with an ordinary haircut they had their heads shaved. This was a startling breach of Army protocol and long before it became fashionable.

 

Digby took part in clandestine operations against the Indonesians on patrols in Borneo which traveled up to eight kilometers into Indonesia hunting the Indonesian Army. These patrols were so secret that dog tags could not be worn nor could anything be taken which might identify them as Australians; so secret that artillery and helicopter support could not be used; so secret that all radio messages were sent by answering questions and acknowledging by presses of the radio handset. So secret in fact, that it took thirty years for their exploits to be made public.

 

To understand Digby as a soldier is to know the ways of a rifleman. A rifleman is part of the six man assault group of a ten man section of which there are three to a platoon. His work is 90 percent boredom and 10 percent excitement. He carries a load of up to 50 lb and is expected to perform as a an Olympic athlete whilst looking for sign of the enemy, mines and snipers; protecting those in front, behind and alongside, passing messages by silent field signals, and when needed, to assault enemy positions with never a thought of not moving forward.

 

He has the task of looking for sign of the enemy such as boot prints or scrapes against trees, of looking for and identifying deliberate signs left by the enemy to guide their own troops, of identifying likely ambush sites, of detecting signs of mines and booby traps, of attempting to smell the enemy by the aroma of cooking food, of attempting to hear the enemy before being heard, of attempting to locate enemy latrines by the number of flies in the air, of locating enemy bunker systems often indicated by camouflaged tree stumps. He has the task of attempting to keep alive those of his mates behind them, in front of him and beside him; to sight the enemy first and to kill him; and all the while moving as silently as a ghost and passing silent field signals forward and back. At the same time that he is doing this, a smart and just as professional enemy soldier is doing the same thing against him. It took an exceptional soldier to be a rifleman in Borneo; operating in pure jungle and mountainous terrain, continually wet, continually fatigued and continually on the alert. Digby was an exceptional soldier.

.

The platoon commander at the time, Lieutenant Roger Wickham speaks of his platoon, his soldiers and of Digby:

 

”You might have never noticed it but I loved that platoon and as I told the Royal Marines when I was Ship's Adjutant of HMS Fearless and as I told the US Marines when I was with them in Da Nang (South Vietnam), I would have backed my platoon Eleven Platoon, against any other from any other Army in the entire world”.

Digby continued his operational service by serving with 2RAR in South Vietnam with 1RAR and later with 11 Training Group in Townsville.

 

Digby was a warrior of the Australian Army, the most respected army in the world; that in turn made Digby a warrior respected by the rest of the world. He was mostly respected however by those who served with him, his commanders and his fellow warriors. This can be demonstrated by those who have personally offered their condolences:

 

Brigadier David Thomson MC,

Brigadier John Deighton AM, MC,

The former RSM of the Army, Arthur Francis OAM,

Warrant Officer Class One Bluey Gibson DCM,

Warrant Officer Class One Darcy Tillbrook,

Warrant Officer Class Two Doug Burke,

Former members of D Company, Fourth Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, and

Warrant Officer Class Two Alan Price, the President of the Fourth Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment Association Queensland, on behalf of all members of the association and all officers and soldiers of the now 4RAR (Commando), currently based in Sydney and serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and East Timor.

 

 

                                                                                        For his service to Australia Digby was awarded the:

 

Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975 with clasps Malaysia and Vietnam,

General Service Medal 1962 with clasp Borneo

Vietnam Medal,

Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 with clasp South East Asia

Defence Force Service Medal

Australian Defence Medal

Vietnamese Campaign Medal,

Pinjat Jasa - Malaysia

Infantry Combat Badge, and the

Returned From Active Service Badge.

 

 

        

 

 

To have served in the Fourth Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment for us was a privilege; to have served with Digby was an extraordinary privilege. We thank you for allowing us the extraordinary privilege of serving beside your partner and your father.

 

Digby, in that special place in heaven reserved for warriors, please find a harbour for us, your fellow warriors and your mates. Good-bye mate, well done and may God bless you and keep you until we meet again.

 

The warrior with a rifle in one hand and a mischievous smile on his face has gone home.

 

DUTY FIRST

 

Thanks to Al Price for this eulogy

 

*Apologies for the late insertion of this entry, no excuses........ed