Viet Nam was Australia's longest war. What was it really like for the 50 000 Australians who served between 1962 and 1972? Bullets, Beans and Bandages is a unique collection of impressions, reactions, feelings and fears - the often spell binding personal experiences of Australians who saw active service in the Second Indo-China War.
Gary McKay conducted extensive interviews with over 100 veterans and their families to obtain a kaleidoscope of
verbal snapshots of what these many and varied Australian men and women experienced during their time in Viet Nam. He spoke to nurses, doctors, Qantas cabin crew and pilots, men who served with the Army, Navy and Air Force in helicopters, clearance diver teams and armoured units.
Bullets, Beans and Bandages is not another story of infantry slogging through the jungle - it goes beyond the combat and into the many units and organisations that fought with and supported the combat and fighting units. Too often their work is unheralded and their praises unsung and the author who served as an infantryman now puts the record straight with a book which shows how these Australians ensured that the men in the line of fire were supported, nurtured and comforted when they became casualties. This story has long needed to be told; it gives recognition to those who made the infantryman's job -and his survival - possible.
Some of the people interviewed had never spoken of their experiences to anyone before. Their candid recollections make Bullets, Beans and Bandages a compelling read and an invaluable oral history of Australia's war in Viet Nam. Bullets, Beans and Bandages was first published as Vietnam Fragments in 1992.
I could not put it down, for it is a fascinating and compelling account of our long ten years of war in Viet Nam… It is all there, comments by individuals who went to the war, sailors, soldiers and airmen, and nurses and casualties. Some volunteered, some were conscripted, whilst at home, the mood of the people went from complete disinterest to anger at our involvement.
W. B. Digger James, AC, MBE, MC
RRP - Paperback, 300 pages with illustrations, maps and index. $A 20.00 plus postage & handling costs.