A good memory of Vietnam: Retired Lieutenant remembers 1966 Little Pattie concert

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Email A good memory of Vietnam: Retired Lieutenant remembers 1966 Little Pattie concert

Updated August 22, 2016 07:10:35

Photo: Lieutenant Ian Savage (ret’d) had the “enviable task” of driving Little Pattie around. (Supplied: Ian Savage)

Ian Savage was a Second Lieutenant in Armoured Corps, 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron, on August 18, 1966.

The then 21-year-old had been based at Nui Dat for a couple of months, when he heard there was going to be a concert.

“And when we knew it was Col Joye and Little Pattie and the Joy Boys, it was pretty good, pretty good stuff,” Lieutenant Savage (retired) told Australian Story.

“It’s not like today where you can pick up your mobile phone and talk, in those days something from home was really, really special.

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“We were looking forward to it.”

In 1966, Lieutenant Savage had what he describes as the “enviable task” of being a “taxi service” for the performers and he drove Little Pattie around in an armoured personnel carrier.

“I had to take them from their tents to the stage area and it was pretty basic, they used the back of a truck, to my memory, and then they just hoisted a tarpaulin over the top,” he said.

“The lads had to stand up or sit down on the dirt to watch the concert because we didn’t have any chairs in those days.”

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Lieutenant Savage still has photographs from the day and has kept his diary from the time.

Little Pattie and the Joy Boys in a black and white photograph from 1966. Photo: Lieutenant Savage kept this 1966 photo of Little Pattie and the Joy Boys. (Supplied: Ian Savage)

“Little Pattie was bright and bubbly and sang the songs that we all knew, it was like being back home, that sort of entertainment was so rare for us,” he said.

“Sometimes you couldn’t even hear the band for all the screaming and yelling out.

“The guns started to fire, they were close by, the artillery battery started to fire, in support of D Company that had just come under fire at Long Tan.”

Lieutenant Savage drove Little Pattie around “on the cupola lid behind the driver in the armoured personnel carrier”.

“You can imagine her sitting there in these long white socks and the miniskirt, the hand on the back of the driver going through the lines,” he said.

It was then that the ferocity of the Battle of Long Tan was filtering through and “I was called over the radio to take the vehicles back”.

Second Lieutenant Ian Savage looking through a photo album in his home. Photo: Second Lieutenant Savage still has photographs from the day of the concert. (Supplied: Ian Savage)

Vietnam veterans have “only gotta look at Little Pattie and it all flashes back to them,” Lieutenant Savage said.

“She is an example of a good memory of Vietnam and those things will never, ever leave us.”

Australian Story’s exclusive coverage of Patricia Amphlett in Vietnam airs tonight on ABC at 8:00pm.

Topics: arts-and-entertainment, history, unrest-conflict-and-war, vietnam, australia

First posted August 22, 2016 07:06:12

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