Burnouts in the Big Red Car
At the age of 18, Anthony Field was a recruit at Kapooka, where he underwent basic training for the Australian Army.
Next stop was the School of Infantry in Singleton, NSW, where he learned how to be a grunt, training in the use of machine guns, rocket launchers, and grenades.
After qualifying as an infantry soldier, he was posted to 5/7 RAR at Holsworthy Barracks. Long before the Big Red Car, Anthony was trained to drive M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers boxy, tracked vehicles armed with .50-caliber heavy machine guns and was also employed as a ceremonial bagpiper in the Pipes and Drums section.
He wound up deploying to a divided Germany in the height of the Cold War, an experience he remembers fondly. “I loved it mate. The Berlin Wall had not come down yet, and what we went over for was, there were, I think, four or six unmarked graves, but they discovered that they were Australian soldiers, and we went over,” Anthony says.
“We did an exercise with the NATO forces, and we commemorated the graves of these unknown Aussies. It was very moving to be over there. The exercise we were in was absolutely insane, because at the time the Cold War was on, so it was serious.
“The equipment they had, compared to what we had in Australia, was mind-blowing. They were on the Leopard III or IV, and we were driving these old Centurion tanks. It was just crazy, seeing the technology that the world had.”
It’s strange to think that one of Australia’s most beloved children’s entertainers was once a heavily armed soldier – what drew him to the infantry?
“I basically couldn’t get in as anything else,” he laughs. “I was really happy to be a rifleman.” His service is something he’s proud of and he takes part in ANZAC Day commemorations every year.
Anthony is also a proud recipient of the Order of Australia Medal for his services to children.
A version of this article originally appeared on sensemusicmedia.com and has been republished with permission.