My name is Robert (Bob) J
Meehan and in 1969 I was required to register for National Service and then
served most of my two years compulsory military service as an Infantryman
within 12 Platoon, Delta Company of the 4th Battalion of the Royal
Australian Regiment (4 RAR). During that time I was posted to Townsville and
This book in not intended as a long and detailed account of my life, of military units, battles or a blood and guts excursion into war, but rather like looking through a window of me growing up in the bush and the city, of being a young tradesman, of being called up for military service and of experiencing a period of time that changed my life forever and then my return to life as a civilian.
I hope that you enjoy my story and the stories of a great many people for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration, those most magnificent people who allow me to call them MATES.
ny life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.
You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.
This book in not intended as a long and detailed account of my life, of military units and battles, or a blood and guts excursion into war, but rather a brief story of my growing up in the bush and the city, of being a young tradesman, called up for military service and that of a period of time that has changed my life forever, then of my return to life as a civilian. My life is not over; this is the story of it thus far.
Here is my story and that of a great many people for whom I have the greatest admiration, those whom I consider the most magnificent people a man was blessed to call my “MATES”.
ecorded in several
spellings as shown below, this surname is of early medieval Irish origin. It
derives from the Gaelic O' Miadhachain,
meaning the male descendant of the son of the honourable
one! Traditionally, Gaelic family names are taken from the heads of tribes,
and were usually prefixed by O' in
The Meehans in
John Charles Meehan MLC 1865 - 1930
(MLC – Member Legislative Council)
John Alexander Meehan 1891 - 1960
Terence Francis Meehan 1925 - 1980
Robert John Meehan OAM 1949 -
(OAM – Order of
David John Meehan 1973 -
Bradley John Meehan 1995 -
My ancestors left
Then there’s me.
was born Robert John Meehan in the
country town of Cowra, NSW on Tuesday 26th April 1949, to
parents, Terence (Terry) Francis Meehan and Noela Jean Meehan (King). I have
Cowra is a farming
district about 200 km due west of Sydney. The
town spans the
The origin of the town's name is unclear, old locals claim that the name is aboriginal for “rocks”, although the local Wiradjuri language has no words for “rocks”. I spent most of my childhood exploring and playing in the hills behind my grandmother’s house, often coming home with the arse worn out of my pants from sliding down the rocks.
The hills surrounding the township are littered with huge granite boulders and an assortment of wildlife, mainly reptiles like frilled neck lizards, brown snakes and goannas. I could always outrun them but the goannas were a bit of a worry. When startled, they would run and do what is called “Tree”. This meant that any tall object would be ideal to run up to be out of danger, even run up a human. I’m not sure but I think they also find it hard to change direction while running, so are known to have run up and over a person. We had kangaroos and wallabies, but as the land gave way to agriculture they become scarcer. The skies were always full of wedge-tailed eagles hunting rabbits that were always in abundance, not to mention young lambs. I used to sit on the rock outcrops and shoot rabbits, of course having checked that the snakes were not sunning themselves on the same rock.
served with the 2/12 Battalion during WWII in
The capture of
Shaggy Ridge cost the 18th Brigade the lives of 46 men and 147 wounded and
inflicted over 500 casualties on the Japanese, including 244 confirmed
deaths. It cleared the way for an advance across the Finsterres to the
left the family unit when I was two years old. I never saw him again until I
was in my mid thirties. He died two years later. I have one old photo of
him, taken in uniform in
My childhood was difficult without a father but I lived through it. I can never remember having a happy time with my mother. She was cruel, abusive and most of all not very honest with the truth. The one thing I remember from my childhood that resembled an act of kindness on her part was when she went out to the pub and left my sister and me alone during the night. If we were good, we would wake up to find a Cadbury Violet Crumble bar under our pillows. I still love them to this day. The new Crunchy bar doesn’t come near the old Violet Crumble.
One time she caught me playing with matches. I was about seven at the time. After getting a flogging, she dragged me kicking and screaming to the bathroom where we had a gas hot water heater. The heater had what is called a pilot light. You would light that and then turn it into the main part of the heater to ignite the gas of the heating element. My mother lit the pilot light, adjusted the flame so it was like a finger of flame, then proceeded to burn the tips of my 10 fingers and thumbs to the extent that it caused large blisters to form. This was her way of stopping me from doing it again. It didn’t.
Another time I remember very vividly is the day I did something wrong. My mother decided I needed another dose of discipline. This was to be administered with the aid of a wooden copper stick. Back in them there “good old days” most people had a large copper tub in which they would boil water and then do their clothes’ washing in it. They would stir the water with a wooden stick (one inch by one inch and about four foot long) which over time would become white and furry on the outside from the hot water. Anyway she proceeded to beat the crap out of me with it. She hit me so hard the stick broke. I thought to myself, thank Heaven that’s over. I was wrong. She then got the shits that I broke her stick and went to fetch the detachable iron or jug cord and then not only did I receive a flogging for the first misdemeanour, I got another for breaking her precious copper stick as well.
I recall the time I got a flogging for throwing a ball to my sister and I missed and it broke a neighbour’s window. It just so happened that my grandmother had given me ten shillings as a birthday present, to buy Johnny Horton’s ‘Sink the Bismark’ a ‘45’ Columbia record. I had to give the money to the neighbour so she could repair the window. I did eventually get the record.
At the age of nine, one of her drunken boyfriends hit me so hard, I was knocked out cold (YES you do see stars). I have never forgotten that night, being chased down the street and beaten. I wasn’t the best-behaved kid, sometimes acting like a little bastard as my mother would call me. I guess it was my way of fighting back at her. I would often run away from home; it wasn’t that far to my grandmother’s house. I felt safe there. I must have been a brave little kid because I’d often run away at night and I was scared of the dark.
I remember the reason I ran away one time, it was over a jacket. I had been given a Mickey Mouse Club jacket with all the logos sewn on it. I absolutely loved it. I wore it everywhere – to school, to the shops, even to bed. I would have showered in it if I could. For some reason I was in trouble with my mother and during the course of getting a hiding, I tried to get away from her. As I did, the jacket tore. I stopped struggling and just stood there. My mother told me to take the jacket off and then proceeded to rip it to shreds. I ran away crying and again ended up at my nana’s.
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