In 1990, a 25 year re-union was held at Holsworthy barracks. Old ‘Tigers’ returned to the scene of their training for war … a time when 5RAR had been first formed.
“In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect ...”
Shakespeare (Henry V, Act 3, Scene 1)
All veterans united,
’Twas a special ‘silver’ affair;
Twenty five years since formation,
A unique celebration,
Returning back home to their lair.
What a contrast I noted,
The Army today well promoted,
All modern conditions enjoyed;
Being more like a resort,
A plush bar, pool and court,
Now both males and females employed.
And a dinner highlighted,
Old memories ignited,
Those same faces seemed still in control;
Speeches telling of glory,
Great deeds in their story,
Past leaders now appeared very old.
Yet, it seemed clear to me,
That some couldn’t see,
At least by the theme of their lines;
Though decorations well earned,
Many lessons not learned,
Some still with inflexible minds.
Then a mate took a stand,
Microphone in his hand,
A soldier no army could tame;
A pin drop you could hear,
As he quoted Shakespeare,
Recalled how our unit came by its name.
All silent, digesting,
His main theme suggesting,
Any self-praise has never inspired!
Though ready to fight,
Tigers stay camouflaged, quiet,
In the background until action required.
After late evening toasts,
New soldiers, our hosts,
Showed us the barracks, our rooms for the night;
Blankets and beds,
A place to rest up sore heads,
A bugle woke us again at first light.
A stroll that next morn,
Not long after dawn,
I searched with success for that site;
Where we as very young men,
A generation back then,
Were ‘programmed’ that war was alright.
On our old parade ground,
A familiar echoing sound,
In perfect rhythm, which army boots made;
Typical infantry scenes,
Slouch hats, rifles and greens,
Orders barked out loud and obeyed.
As I imagined they would,
Our old huts ghostly stood,
Empty, just awaiting a war;
And I silently prayed,
That the next lot on parade,
Would learn lessons from those gone before.
John O'Callaghan discussing the Shakespearean origin of the Tigers' mascot - 1990 Re-union Dinner at Holsworthy