161 Reccelections  


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  This page will feature recollections from members who served in Vietnam with 161 Recce Flt and 161 (Indep) Recce Flt.

For those members of 161 Recce Assoc who have not contributed to our collection of stories here is your opportunity to do so. Please send your writings via email to Len Avery .

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Brian Calder | Tom Jobling | Peter Nolan | Peter Ginman | John Stead  | Eddie Bevans | Peter Spoor  


Latest Contribution

Caught by a Constable

By Tony Lourensen

It was early December 1967 and the Orderly Room was, well, orderly.  I was so proud of a corner of the room in which I had erected a solid shelf against a wall. On this shelf I had placed rolls of brown paper, sticky tape, rolls of string and everything one would need to prepare and wrap parcels for posting home – even a small balance scale for weighing to determine the postal costs. I also managed to scrounge glass and sponge, and other necessary things like, airmail, surface mail and custom declaration stickers. A small notice board above the shelf had all relevant information concerning postal rates, weight and size limitations. This little service was certainly appreciated by the troops and there was a constant trek of people bringing in all sorts of stuff to send home. Mostly the things being sent home were cartons of cigarettes, silk material, lacquer paintings, wooden carved items and other souvenirs.

By far the most popular item sent home by the troops was the “Vietnamese Doll”. This was a plastic doll, about a foot tall and dressed in the most colorful and beautiful silk national costume imaginable. Long black hair and the faces were wonderfully painted and the doll stood on a flat square of wood. One very noticeable and outstanding feature of the doll (certainly not indicative of the SE Asian women) was the size of the breasts – which seemed a little exaggerated.  There was a male equivalent of this doll, again splendidly dressed in national costume.  It was the same doll, but the hair was shorter and the breasts were simply pushed inwards to show a flat chest. 

They were sold cheaply in every shop and stall within South Vietnam. I would buy some in Baria when I had a chance to escort the laundry run there and bargain with the locals for the best price. The more one bought, the cheaper the price, so I ended up with a few of each and sold the surplus ones to any guy wanting them.

I was by myself in the Orderly Room during a quiet period in the day. I took one male and female doll to my special postal shelf to post them home. I had a cardboard box, much like a shoebox and internally lined the box with some small wooden lacquered pictures for strength and protection.  I stuffed some shredded paper around the dolls then taped the lid down. I reached for the roll of brown wrapping paper (a rather heavy roll) and it somehow fell on top of my parcel. I thought I had better recheck the contents, and indeed, the female doll had been damaged – one of the breasts had disappeared inwards. I took it back to my desk to see if it could be repaired. I did not want to send damaged stuff home to Claire.

These dolls were made of a very thin plastic material - it was not broken but had a dent, much like ones that happen to ping-pong balls. With great difficulty, I managed to remove the doll’s clothes without breaking the stitching or tearing the material. I first tried to apply pressure on the area surrounding the dent to see if it would pop out – no joy. I then thought it might be possible to pry the dent out using a pin or needle- no joy either. I thought of the ways that I once used for popping out ping-pong ball dents. One was to put them in hot to boiling water and the air inside would expand and out popped the dent – a bit difficult in this case. Another way was to suck on the dent and pop it out – I tried this and it was actually working and I could feel the dent coming out. I looked up and staring at me with wide and questioning eyes was Major George Constable, the OC. 

He said, “just when is your R & R due Corporal?”

 My mouth and lips let go of the doll’s breast and I tried to say something, but my brain was completely occupied with just what the OC imagined. My reply was not exactly a picturesque flow of words and sounded much like “errrrrr”. He walked through the orderly room and I ran after him in hot pursuit, still clutching and pointing to the doll and trying to explain (in some unknown and garbled language) what I was really doing – this did not improve the situation as I used words such as tits, home and suck. He would have none of it – just held up his hand for silence and kept walking. I chased him all the way to the Officers’ Mess and finally gave up hope when he slammed the screen door behind him. 

I retreated and walked away with my doll – it was still half naked with one and a half breasts.  The level of laughter from the Officers’ Mess was only matched with the level of redness on my face. I did not look around because I knew that I would see a gallery of pilots’ faces at the window and their belly laughs echoed throughout the base – God knows what the Old Man told them.

Bugger it all, I thought, as I continued to suck on the dent (my eyes alert for anyone in the area).  I successfully completed the breast augmentation on the doll, rewrapped the parcel and off it went to Brisbane. I was tempted to add a note to Claire about the repair job, but I didn’t want her to think that I was going over the edge. Seems there is a certain Constable who thinks I already have.

At dinner, I could only eat the mashed potato. Maybe I was a bit paranoid, but I felt that everyone was taking more than a passing interest in watching me eat. Hungry as I was, I was not going to touch the two fat beef sausages on my plate. Sorry chaps – no cheap thrills from this little clerk.


Tony Lourensen served with 161 (Indep) Recce Flt from 30 June 1967 until 08 May 1968 as a Corporal in the Orderly Room.

This ‘Reccelection’ has been extracted, with permission, from Tony’s book;

Ho Chi Minh, Johnsy and I.

Copies of the book are available from Tony or through the 161 PX.

Further details regarding the book can be obtained by logging onto the following web site:

< http://www.tonylourensen.com/ >

11 May 2008.


Previous Reccelections   

Brian Calder | Tom Jobling | Peter Nolan | Peter Ginman | John Stead  | Eddie Bevans | Peter Spoor

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