Anderson (DICK)

Date of Entry: 10 May 2017
Surname: Anderson (DICK)
Christian Names: James
Country: Australia
State or Province: Queensland
City or Town: Gold Coast
Service #: R64828
Service: Royal Australian Navy
Branch: Aircraft Handler
Commencement of service: 27 Nov 1965
Completion of service: Unknown
Case Notes:

 

 

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James Anderson joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1965, under his birth name of James Anderson Dick.

Anderson trained as an Aircraft Handler at HMAS Albatross, his duties involving the marshalling of aircraft, and also aviation firefighting and rescue.

Anderson was posted to HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Sydney, undertaking operational service with Melbourne, as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR), and Sydney, providing logistic support to Australian troops in Vietnam.

For his service, Anderson is entitled to the medals he is wearing in the above picture, namely:

  1. Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75.
  2. Vietnam Logistic Support Medal.
  3. Australian Service Medal 1945-75.
  4. Australian Defence Medal.

He is a veteran entitled to recognition for his service, however, Anderson took it all that little bit further.

Anderson came to attention through a media article in the Gold Coast Sun, on 24 April 2016, where he recounts his exploits and experiences during the ‘Indonesian Confrontation’ and the Vietnam War:

Gold Coaster Jim Anderson has finally put the past behind him after surviving the horrors of the Vietnam War

A VIETNAM veteran who has battled the demons of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for decades has finally emerged on the other side, stronger for the harrowing experience and more at peace with himself. Jim Anderson, 70, of Wongawallan, served in the Royal Australian Navy for 12 years. As a 20-year-old he went to sea to serve in the Indonesian conflict where he was confined in a small box in the ship’s magazines for 10 long days.

He then did a two-and-a-half-year stint on the HMAS Sydney from 1967.

“We did about nine trips to take troops and supplies to Vietnam and to bring soldiers home,” he said. “We anchored off Cape St Jacques, near Vung Tau in South Vietnam, and the troops we picked up were very traumatised. Some of those poor fellas were literally ripping their hair out.”

Mr Anderson said the growing fear of being blown out of the water by the Viet Cong and other experiences triggered PTSD. “They bombed the harbour while we were there and we had no way of protecting ourselves. We were sitting ducks,” he said. “The USS Meeker County had her stern blown out and we came alongside her just after she had sunk. I remember feeling so vulnerable. I had never drunk alcohol before but that’s when I started drinking. It was all the tension.”

To make matters worse, the RAN ships were docked at the mouth of the Mekong River and sailors unknowingly bathed in and drank water contaminated with deadly Agent Orange. Mr Anderson’s hands still shake and, worse, he has seen too many of his mates die of cancer or their children born with deformities.

However, he said when he came home, the PTSD really kicked in.

“Vietnam soldiers like me were spat on and abused. That was the worst part. We had pigs’ blood thrown on us in Sydney and I was punched by a woman who called me a baby killer,” he said.

Mr Anderson started experiencing debilitating nightmares and crippling anxiety.

“I would dream of chasing people around the house and of a woman dressed in black standing in the corner of the bedroom. I would jump out of bed and frighten the hell out of my wife, Lorraine,” he said. “I had flashbacks to Vung Tau every five minutes and such bad anxiety that I couldn’t go to the shops in case they were crowded.

That’s when I really got stuck into the grog. I was full of anger and I remember going down to a pub in Botany Bay in full uniform, hoping someone would pick a fight with me.”

Mr Anderson struggled with PTSD for 20 years until he finally took his wife’s advice and started intensive counselling. He was given medication and, with the unwavering support of Lorraine, started to tackle his demons. “I still have counselling but the anger has gone,” he said. “Life is good and I feel blessed.”

Today, Mr Anderson has eight grandchildren and is a much-loved husband, father and friend with a wicked sense of humour and unwavering optimism.

“Our experiences in life make us what we are.”

Anderson has made quite an emotive statement, however, upon examination of the readily available evidence, Anderson is simply telling nothing more than fantastic stories.

Within the day of this article appearing online, reader comments were made, throwing doubt on the claims made by Anderson.

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Let us examine Anderson’s claims.

“As a 20-year-old he went to sea to serve in the Indonesian conflict where he was confined in a small box in the ship’s magazines for 10 long days.”

Anderson joined HMAS Melbourne on 21 March 1966, the ship sailing 3 days later for the Singapore exercise area. On 24 March 1966, Melbourne came under control of Commander, Far East Fleet (CMFEF), and became attached to the Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR), until 25 April 1966, when the ship left that area of operation and conducted escort duty to the HMAS Sydney enroute to Vietnam.

Anderson speaks of the ‘Indonesian Conflict’. Although a treaty officially ending hostilities was not signed until August 1966, the conflict effectively ceased in September 1965, when Indonesia’s President was removed after an anti-communist coup.

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As shown in the above extract of the Report of Proceedings (ROP) for April 1966, Melbourne entered potentially hostile waters on the 3rd of April whilst transiting from Manus Island to the Basilan Straits (Philippines). As the ship was in proximity of Indonesia, Defence Stations were assumed until 2359 hours on 7th April. This was a total period of five days at Defence Stations.

Anderson was an Aircraft Handler and during Defence Stations, if on watch, would be part of the team marshalling aircraft on the flight deck and inside the hangar, as well as providing aviation fire fighting support.

Although the Melbourne was armed with 40/60 Bofors anti-aircraft guns, ammunition

would not have been prepared for distribution from magazines to each gun mount, until the ship had proceeded to Action Stations, the next level up from Defence Stations, and a situation where attack is imminent.

Anderson, as an Aircraft Handler, would not have been positioned in the magazines during Defence Stations and, if he had, it was certainly not for 10 days.

Melbourne’s ROP shows that this short period was the only time the ship went anywhere in the vicinity of Indonesia during that deployment.

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The official publication on Navy involvement in the ‘Indonesian Confrontation’, produced by the Navy History Unit in Canberra, totally rebuffs the claim made by Anderson:

“Prior to the "official" period of the Indonesian Confrontation, Melbourne was allocated to the FESR for 17 days from 28th February 1962 to 16th March 1962 and in company with the Daring class destroyer, Voyager & the "Q" class anti-submarine frigate, Queenborough, challenged the right of sea passage through the Indonesian Archipelago. This was the only time in the history of the ship that she was prepared for, and placed in a position to engage with an enemy if challenged”.

The next claim made by Anderson is just as fanciful when the facts are disclosed.

“Mr Anderson said the growing fear of being blown out of the water by the Viet Cong and other experiences triggered PTSD. “They bombed the harbour while we were there and we had no way of protecting ourselves. We were sitting ducks,” he said. “The USS Meeker County had her stern blown out and we came alongside her just after she had sunk. I remember feeling so vulnerable. I had never drunk alcohol before but that’s when I started drinking. It was all the tension.”

Vietnam service is recorded on a Nominal Roll, maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Whereas service for Army was calculated from the date of arrival in country until the date of departure, Navy ships were considered to be rendering operational service from the date of departure from the last Australian port, to the date of arrival at the first Australian port.

Accordingly, a ship could be accredited with 28 days ‘warlike’ service, yet only spending a few hours actually anchored in Vung Tau during that period, as was the case for HMAS Sydney whilst engaged in logistic support to the Vietnam operations.

The Reports of Proceedings for both Melbourne and Sydney, were accessed on the Australian War Memorial website to ascertain the validity of the claims made by Anderson.

Anderson was onboard Melbourne for the following Vietnam deployments:

25 Apr to 06 May 1966 – Melbourne did not enter Vung Tau, instead being diverted to what is now known as Con Son Island, some 100 km away, to refuel with HMAS Supply, and on completion, proceeded to Hong Kong on 04 My 1966.

25 May to 09 Jun 1966 – Once again, Melbourne did not enter Vung Tau, escorting Sydney down the Vietnam coast until these duties were taken over by HMAS Derwent. Melbourne then made passage for Penang, arriving on 09 Jun 1966.

In relation to those two deployments, Melbourne was not anchored in Vung Tau or even close-by to hostile forces.

Anderson served six deployments on Sydney which qualify for Vietnam service.

The following, taken from Sydney’s ROP, shows the dates of those deployments and actual time anchored in Vung Tau.

27 Mar to 26 Apr 1968 – 7h 00m

21 May to 13 Jun 1968 – 6h 58m

13 Nov to 28 Nov 1968 – 4h 20m

08 Feb to 25 Feb 1969 – 5h 25m

08 May to 30 May 1969 – 5h 30m

17 Nov to 05 Dec 1969 – 6h 12m

There is no mention in ROPs of Vung Tau harbour being bombed whilst Sydney was anchored or in transit. By comparison to other areas of the conflict, Vung Tau was largely free from Viet Cong activity.

In all, Anderson spent a total of 35 hours and 25 minutes anchored in Vung Tau. As no leave was granted during those port visits, Anderson did not, at any time, set foot on Vietnam soil. Unlike the majority of those who served in Vietnam, Anderson had the comforts and safety of Sydney at his disposal at all times.

So, let us now consider his claims about the USS Meeker County:

USS Meeker County (LST-980) was an LST-542-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named after Meeker County, Minnesota, she was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name.

Originally laid down as LST-980 on 22 December 1943 at the Boston Navy Yard; the ship was launched on 10 February 1944 and de-activated in 1955.

In 1965, an urgent need for amphibious types caused Meeker County to be reactivated. Modernized at Baltimore, she recommissioned on 23 September 1966, underwent intensive training at Little Creek, and on 20 January 1967 departed for her new home port, Guam. She arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam, on 7 April and then sailed for Vietnam for a tour of duty as a unit of Landing Ship Squadron 3. Operating from Da Nang, she provided almost continuous support to combat operations in Vietnam into 1970.

Decommissioned in December 1970 at Bremerton, Washington, Meeker County was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 April 1975. 

The USS Deeker County only suffered battle damage during the D-Day landings in World War Two. Participating in the invasion, LST-980 was bracketed by bombs, one of which, a 125-pound dud, penetrated the hull and two bulkheads, killing one man and causing minor damage.

Again, Anderson has simply lied. The only bombing, so far, has been of his outright fantasy stories.

Then there was the following statement, which we will not even go into, other than to say, given the evidence, none of it is true.

“I had flashbacks to Vung Tau every five minutes and such bad anxiety that I couldn’t go to the shops in case they were crowded. That’s when I really got stuck into the grog. I was full of anger and I remember going down to a pub in Botany Bay in full uniform, hoping someone would pick a fight with me.”

The reporter at the Gold Coast Sun was contacted and could not speak highly enough of Anderson. To date the paper has not retracted his story or followed the matter up, even after public comments doubting the validity of the article. A simple bit of fact-finding by the reporter would have avoided the embarrassment which has followed.

As ANZAC Day once again approaches, more ‘wannabees’ will crawl out and want to tell grandiose stories of their exploits to anyone prepared to listen, some of these stories will once again appear in the media, as gullible reporters fall for such tales of derring-do.

Veterans abhor other Veterans who grossly exaggerate their service, Anderson has done just that for no other reason, than to falsely raise his profile and gain preposterous sympathy and benefits from Department of Veterans Affairs.

It is best summed up in the final statement by Anderson ; “Our experiences in life make us what we are.” We are quite confident that his lack of experiences have justifiably made him the liar he is.

James Anderson, the lies about your history now cement your future place here on the website with others of your ilk.

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