Barry Heard Print

In the library with Barry Heard's book

Today we got a visit from Barry Heard, a famous Australian and award winning writer. Two of his books, ‘Well Done, Those Men’ and ‘The View from Connors Hill,’ are personal memoirs of the bloody battlefields in the Vietnam War and his life before being sent to Vietnam. Barry talked of his time in the war, when at the age of 20; his birth date was pulled out in a lottery draw and he had to serve the Australian Army for two years.  His accounts were horrific, but very touching.

His story had 44 teenagers totally absorbed, hanging on to every word he said. Whilst the session was intense, it taught us all how much those soldiers did for us. When you fight and survive, you don’t just forget what you’ve seen. You don’t just let go of who you have become. Your past can haunt you, tainting your life forever. Barry talked about this a lot. How he spent months in a psychiatric ward, crying. Both his mates and he had such trauma. They would shake and couldn’t control their emotions, feelings and bodily functions.  They didn’t speak and couldn’t cope with loud noises, especially crowds. Whilst at the time they were having nightmares of their life past, life became very humiliating.

When soldiers’ got home from war, their bravery wasn’t recognized. Instead the Australian public fixed on their ‘anti-war’ protests, treated them like scum and spitting on soldiers as they walked past. What Barry experienced was tough, but we can learn from it. The new generation can embrace our worlds mistakes, and strive they do not repeat themselves. I hope there will never be war and I hope there will never be conflict. I am not naïve just optimistic.