Roderick David WHITE AM, RFD

Badge Number: NC 33298, Sub Branch: Hornsby
NC 33298

WHITE, Roderick David

Service Number: 2239085
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR)
Born: North Sydney New South Wales Australia, 23 November 1946
Home Town: Chatswood, Willoughby, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Businessman , company director
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Vietnam War Service

15 Feb 1971: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Corporal, 2239085, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR)
15 Feb 1971: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Corporal, 2239085

Rod White and the RSL

The 25-year-old corporal had only just returned from the war in Vietnam to the family home in Sydney when his mother, a widow who’d raised six children, gave him strict instructions. “I asked what have they been doing, and she said every week or so there’d be a box of vegetables or groceries on the front veranda".

I’d only been home a few weeks, it was late 1971 and I remember going down to the Chatswood RSL and meeting these old boys sitting around a table having a beer or two, and thanked them, then one of them said you’d better come over to the office and fix up some paperwork, and itwas a membership form.”

That was Rod White’s introduction to the RSL and now, after 44 years’ membership, he has been elected as the 25th NSW
State President.

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Biography contributed by Ned Young

Roderick David White AM RFD


"My service in Vietnam was preceded by five years in what we now call the Army Reserve, the old Citizen Military Forces (CMF)".

I enlisted at the former North Sydney Drill Hall in 1964. Many of those in command were wearing ribbon bars from service in WW2, the Korean War, Malayan Emergency… people who had only some years earlier seen operational service and of course many others. I was influenced by all of them, some in particular.

So when I volunteered for National Service in 1969 I went into the regular army having served in the 17th Battalion, the old North Sydney Regiment, as a substantive corporal, and I’d had five years pretty busy Army Reserve service.

I was able to immerse myself more quickly into full-time military service than some of my peer group. But at the end of the day the Army shapes you up pretty quickly.

“I went into an infantry battalion; initially the 9th Battalion RAR at Enoggera in Brisbane and a few months later was transferred to the 3rd Battalion RAR at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. To my pleasure I quickly got one stripe back as a lance corporal in the antitank tracker platoon, so that’s with the 106mm recoilless rifle mounted on the back of short wheeled base Land Rovers, and the black Labrador tracker dogs.

In Vietnam the platoon deployed as a rifle platoon. Some of the other Battalions used the 106mm Recoilless rifle. “The Royal Australian Regiment had some great dog handlers and some outstanding dogs but our platoon’s role was changed and we became part of the greater rifle company effort of patrolling by day, ambushing by night, at times being pulled back to assist with developing a fire support base.

We were very close with the Assault Pioneer platoon together with the Mortars and Signals platoons. “I subsequently got promoted to corporal, back to my old army reserve rank, and I was very pleased to be a corporal within an infantry platoon. Later I was asked to become a mortar fire controller, some of the MFCs were sergeants. I did a course and for about three days just called in mortars and was then attached at times to both the antitank & tracker platoon also the assault pioneers. So for the last two or three months in Vietnam I was a mortar fire controller.

We had an incident over there where we inadvertently called these mortars in so close to our own position that a number of us got hit and I got a small piece of shrapnel in my upper right arm. Like in many other operational areas it was difficult to navigate and that you may not have been on the ground where you thought you were. Some of the area we operated in was near impossible to move through let alone navigate in.

Fortunately no-one was very seriously injured but some of the blokes got metal in them and we had to go down to the hospital at Vung Tau. I was able to re-join the platoon later and the good news was that although I was still a corporal, I was given a Sig(naller - soldier) to carry the radio for a while.”

After their return some Vietnam veterans were made to feel unwelcome in the RSL but Rod did not personally experience that. 

Rod went on to render valued service in the Army Reserve rising to the rank of Major. He also pursued a distinguished career in the building industry.

RSL NSW Reveille magazine