They have been called the ‘quiet generation’ – born just before or during WWII, when their country was at war and when their fathers, uncles and brothers were away fighting for Australia’s way of life.
CAPTION: National Serviceman Jack Hamilton, centre, with fellow ‘nashos’ in Sydney, 1951.
This is the generation of young men who were all required to serve in National Service from 1951 to 1959, then again 1965 to 1973.
Their service added a new word to Australia’s lexicon – they were the ‘nashos’.
In the first National Service Scheme between 1951 and 1959, all men aged 18 received a ‘Happy Birthday’ greeting from the Prime Minister, and were asked to register for National Service.
In the first National Service Scheme, men aged 18 were called up for training in the Navy, Army and Air Force.
A total of 287,000 served in 52 intakes.
Only 6300 of them went into the Navy.
The Army and RAAF nashos also served with the Navy on ships like the Vung Tau Ferry, the famous troop transport HMAS Sydney carrying them to and from Vietnam.
It was the height of the Cold War, when Australia feared for its defence capability in the face of Communist aggression.
Memories of the war in the Pacific, Japanese attacks on Australia and the commencement of the Korean War in 1950 were seared into Australia’s national consciousness.
Such was the case with Jack Hamilton, now 92, who served as a Navy nasho from 1951 to 1954, in the first 50 intake from Queensland.
Mr Hamilton was an apprentice sailmaker and already a Naval Reservist very familiar with the sea, ships and boats.
Mr Hamilton went on to make sails for racing yachts.
Even today, he continues his quiet service, as a volunteer at the Queensland Maritime Museum three days each week, as their sailmaker.
Set up in his workroom with industrial sewing machines and canvas, Mr Hamilton mends and makes sails and his bestselling Navy kitbags, raising funds for the museum.
“I still look back at those nasho days as one of the best times of my youth,” Mr Hamilton said.
“Maybe we should bring National Service back again.”
The Australian government recognised the contribution of National Servicemen with the Anniversary of National Service 1951-1972 Medal and the Australian Defence Medal.