Surname: Murdoch
Christian Names: John
Country: Australia
State or Province: QLD
City or Town: Bundaberg
Service: National Service
Branch: RAAF
Case Notes:

John Murdoch ex National Serviceman of Bundaberg Queensland

Here is a photograph of John Murdoch of the Bundaberg Branch of the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia, Queensland Inc.  Notice he is wearing Clasps on his Anniversary of National Service Medal.


We are advised that the Clasps say “RAAF” and “1954”.  They look innocuous enough, but are they really? 

Background - Medals

After many years of lobbying the federal government, the NSAA obtained for all National Servicemen (whose service during the 1950s was limited in many cases to as little as 3 months in training camps, and from 1965-72 was for 2 years full-time) a "gong": the Anniversary of National Service Medal (ANSM). 

The ANSM is in the lowest official category of medals - "Commemorative" - and simply recognises an "event": the implementation of government policies concerning conscription.  Nevertheless, the ANSM has caused significant discord amongst serving and former regular service people, who consider that the value of their full-time voluntary service of up to fifteen years prior to eligibility for a long service medal was devalued by the ANSM. 

Representations were accordingly made to the government to redress that situation by striking a medal for voluntary service.  However, not satisfied with their official "Commemorative" medal, the NSAA - and reservists - got into the act and convinced the government that they too should be awarded an official medal in the higher "Service" category to recognise their military service rather than just an "event".  According to many non-veteran "nashos", they also wanted "... to have a service medal to wear on Anzac Day", despite the fact that they had declined to volunteer for active service.  The government consequently acquiesced by reducing the eligibility criteria to the lowest common denominator so that the nashos and reservists also became eligible for what was to becomethe Australian Defence Medal. 

Because of the nashos' and reservists' opportunism, the minimalist criteria for the ADM have further devalued full-time voluntary service and the deprivations and hardships of "regimental life" - full-time service in the Army and its RAN and RAAF equivalents.

Because of the nashos' and reservists' opportunism, the minimalist criteria for the ADM have further devalued full-time voluntary service and the deprivations and hardships of "regimental life" - full-time service in the Army and its RAN and RAAF equivalents.

Having always tolerated the "quota" and "top-down" systems relating to decorations, serving and former regulars have no option but to accept this as a further injustice and to content themselves in the familiar knowledge that "medals do not make the man" (or "less is more") - and that nothing can compare with or detract from their hard-earned and esoteric esprit-de-corps.

Background - Devices

Devices, such as bars, clasps and rosettes, are often approved as appurtenances to decorations and medals.  They may signify battle honours, multiple awards, or defined areas of overseas operational service.  They appear innocuous, but are valued highly by their recipients and respected by those who understand such things because each device is generally tantamount to the award of an additional medal.

The government has never approved or issued any "devices" such as clasps for either the ANSM or the ADM.

"Self-proclaimed" clasps attached to an official medal may well seem inoffensive to those whose lack of effective service does not enable them to appreciate our system of military awards.  They may also appear insignificant compared to self-purchased medals; however, each "self-proclaimed" device effectively represents an additional "self-proclaimed" medal.


Fake devices are thus an affront to people who have earned genuine devices through their commitment, deprivation, and arduous service.  Fake devices are thus equally as pretentious and deceptive as "tin" medals and we will continue to discourage their embellishment of either genuine or "tin" gongs. 

Ignorance is no excuse in the matter of medals and devices because plenty of authoritative resources have always been readily available.  Pretentiousness and attempts to impress uninitiated people through deception are affronts to all self-respecting veterans and ex-servicepersons and will no longer be tolerated.


National Servicemen

The NSAA has chosen to adopt the "civilian uniform" of a blue blazer with NSAA pocket emblem, tie, trousers of various colours and blue Army Beret with the wearer's Corps Badge and the NSAA badge.  This attire looks smart and tends to contrast with that of veterans, who tend to understate their service by appearing in "mufti" on commemorative occasions.

In addition, many non-veteran nashos have also adopted the strange habit of saluting at every opportunity whilst in their "civilian uniforms", presumably because they think that a beret justifies a salute - or perhaps because they're copying some British or American veterans and non-veterans who, for reasons we can only assume to be self-aggrandising, seem to want to salute all over the place.   Again, the nature of their service appears insufficient for them to have learned the Australian military traditions that become ingrained through regimental life, including the protocol that when not in military uniform, the correct gesture of respect for the fallen is that after bowing the head, one's medals are covered with the right hand or headwear.  It's called "the veterans' salute", but it's also appropriate for non-veterans.

We respect non-veterans' service and support the nashos' and reservists' annual commemorative occasions, but Anzac Day and Remembrance Day are veterans' days and community institutions, and must be conducted as such if they are to regain their essence and gravitas, as distinct from their popularity. 

We therefore trust that the ESOs will return to the traditions that have progressively been eroded over the past decade or so, and that those of their members who have embellished or faked their service will regain their self-respect by ceasing to live a lie through wearing their correct medal entitlement. 


The Media

Because of their pair of genuine gongs - sometimes accompanied by a "long gong" or two - or unfortunately embellished by a "tinnie" or three - non-veteran nashos are often referred to in the media as “Veterans”, which again is an affront to genuine veterans, and particularly to the comrades and relatives of the fallen.  A veteran is a person who has been deployed to a war zone and has been issued with a Returned from Active Service Badge (RASB) - which, since the advent of several medals for things other than war service, has become more significant than ever before.

When the media inevitably mistakes non-veterans for veterans in the future, we will draw the public's attention to the error until we eliminate the need for the term "genuine veterans". 

Now back to John Murdoch

Many veterans are concerned about the behaviour of the NSAA, however they tolerate them and have accepted that their three months recruit training and subsequent Citizens Military Forces Service has been recognised with a couple of medals.  It is always the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.

Now appearing on the scene are Clasps on the ANSM.

We have never seen this before and hope to never see it again. It is contrary to Department of Defence Honours and Awards protocol and for the reasons stated above, they have no place on the ANSM.

We sought advice from the Queensland Branch of the National Servicemen’s Association, however a senior executive from that organisation sent us the following email:


date22 October 2010 17:38

subjectJohn MURDOCH


hide details 22 Oct

Good Afternoon,

re Mr. John Murdoch

John is a much respected member of Bundaberg Branch of NSAA (Qld) Inc. and has been for many years, infact is the elected Branch Treasurer for a few years also).

The "clasps" worn attached to the ANSM which he proudly wears are as follows:



To signify his Nasho Service.

Trust this will allay any fears is held that John is not "On the Up."



Obviously the attitude at the top level of the National Servicemen’s Association in Queensland is that if you are a “good bloke” you can "proudly" embellish your medal entitlement.  Why was there a rush to defend Murdoch, but no attempt to verify the correct protocol and resolve the issue?  Do they care; or does everyone just make up their own rules; or are there special rules for some?  The WA R&SL has the same attitude in the case of Otto Pelczar.

The military is steeped in traditions, uniformity, earned respect, and leadership by example - but apparently that's all lost on some of the Ex Service Organisations (ESOs) and particularly their non-veteran "leaders".  Veterans take seriously their responsibility for passing on traditions, and if the NSAA in particular wants the rest of the ex-service community to take it as seriously as it takes itself, it has another think coming.  True leaders never falter in subjecting themselves to higher standards of behaviour than their followers because they commit themselves to excellence and respect the traditions left for them carry on.

Whether or not they have experienced full-time and/or active service, it is incumbent on the leaders of all ESOs to acquaint themselves with our military's traditions and protocols and to ensure the compliance of their members.  In failing to do so, they are complicit in jeopardising the reputations of people who may otherwise have made valuable contributions through their work in ESOs, but unnecessarily diminish their reputations through sheer foolishness.

National Servicemen, Veterans and ex Servicemen should know that medals protocol is very clear and if you purchase unearned Medals or Clasps and wear them on your left breast it is a pretentious wannabe act that is contrary to Official protocol and is increasingly looked upon with disgust by genuine Veterans, who are intolerant of people who steal others' valour and dignity.

Also, saluting in civilian clothing is an act that is simply not within the traditions of the Defence Forces of Australia and all of its predecessors.. The ex National Servicemen shown in the photo below are saluting in civilian clothes when they should be placing their right hands -or their berets - over their medals.  Why?  Read on: 

“Ex Servicemen in civilian dress are to wear: - Medals or Decorations awarded to them personally on the ‘left side’. - Medals or Decoration awarded to other family members on the ‘right side’

The Salute by Veterans at the Cenotaph or Wreath Laying Ceremony (Remembrance Service)

It will be noticed at any Remembrance Service or when passing a Cenotaph Veterans will place their Right Hand over their “Left Side” many may believing that they are placing their ‘Hand over their Heart” in Respect or Remembrance of their Fallen Comrades”;- this is not so.

The Veterans Salute to their “Fallen Comrades” originated in London on Armistice Day in 1920, during the ceremony to unveil and dedicate the Cenotaph in Whitehall at the same time a funeral procession accompanying the remains of the “Unknown Soldier” halted at the Cenotaph during the ceremony before proceeding to Westminster Abbey for internment. Those present included the senior Soldier, sailor and many Victoria Cross winners. The ceremony concluded with a march past. The Regimental Sergeant Major of the Guard Regiment conducting the ceremony, faced with a gathering of highly decorated and high ranking military men (including many Victoria Cross winners), all wearing rows of medals, decreed that all would salute the Cenotaph as they marched past by placing their hand over their medals, signifying that “No matter what honours we may have been awarded they are nothing compared with the honour due to those who paid the supreme sacrifice”.


Now see the photo below a couple of “dags” doing it all wrong.


John Murdoch’s offence appears, prima facie, to be on the lower end of the Wannabe scale but it is sufficiently significant to warrant a place on our web site.


This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the Vietnam Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations.







Located in: Stolen Valour
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