Sharing Stories of Service: George Bostock
George Bostock is a Bundjalung man from Grafton, NSW, who grew up in Brisbane and Sydney. He is a veteran of the 4th Royal Australian Regiment (4RAR). He served for 20 years and saw active service in Malaysia, Borneo and South Vietnam, holding many jobs including as an infantryman and a paratrooper.
Born in Grafton, George and his family moved to Brisbane, where he completed his primary school education at Moorooka State School. After leaving school at 14, George ‘knocked about’ in Brisbane and Sydney working as a labourer and on building sites. When he was 20, he decided to join the army as he ‘thought it would be a good job opportunity and keep him out of trouble’.
In 1961, he enlisted into the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) as an infantryman. He was an original member of 4RAR, which was formed on 1 February 1964, as was his brother Jerry. George served in Malaysia and saw active service in both Borneo and South Vietnam with 4RAR before transferring to Air Despatch as a parachute rigger. He had several other postings before being discharged in 1981, after 20 years of service, with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
After his time in Vietnam George wrote a record of his experiences for his grandchildren. These writings were later developed into the play, Seems Like Yesterday, which tells the story of an Aboriginal soldier joining a troop in Vietnam. Despite the discrimination against indigenous people back in Australia (citizenship was not granted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples until 1967), it seems the life of a soldier in the armed forces was mostly free of racism. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers fought as soldiers, not Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and bonds were formed with white diggers that would last beyond the battlefield. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers soon found the sense of equality they'd enjoyed among their fellow soldiers did not exist outside.
George is featured in the Anzac Square Memorial Galleries Post 1945 gallery as part of the Queensland Stories section. There is a selection of his personal photos which show him during his service in the army.
There is also an extract from his poem ‘Contact’, written about his time in Vietnam.
It was in 1968 when I went to the war in Vietnam
I sailed over on a troopship
I wasn’t a conscript
I had enlisted of my own accord I was a street kid. Unemployed and bored.
I did my twelve months’ tour at Nui Dat
Going to Fire Support bases. To company harbours
Then out with the platoon looking for tracks.
It was great flying in a chopper or riding on top of an armoured personnel carrier
But we walked most of the time up to our knees
Heads down arse up carrying on
Thinking about a weekend in Saigon.
- Taken from the poem Contact by George Bostock
This year we will be featuring 15 stories of service personnel from WWI to present. We encourage you to share your stories of service with us. To learn more about this campaign and how you can contribute, visit our website.
Visitor Services Assistant, Anzac Square Memorial Galleries, Visitor & Information Services