September 1952


Part of our bush training was comprised of crossing a water obstacle, over a narrow log, under battle conditions. There was a large body of water about 20 feet round, the water was very muddy, about 2 1/2 feet deep and very cold for September. There was a log about 12 inches round placed across this "pond".

Our training comprised having to walk across this log from one side to the other, one soldier at a time, with full gear on and carrying our rifle in front of us, complete with bayonet in position.

All the soldiers were allowed to jeer, taunt yell and throw rocks into the muddy water and also splash the cold water on the individual soldier crossing the log, the only thing they were not allowed to do was to push us.

There was about 50 of us at a time doing this exercise. I stood back and watched this grand performance, as many men were distracted and fell into the cold muddy, water. I always learnt in the army not to be first in a queue and definitely not to be the last.

After about 30 soldiers had crossed the log (those that fell off the log had to return and try again) it was my turn to cross this obstacle.

Like David Carradine, the star of "Kung Foo" (The Grasshopper), I decided to focus only on crossing the log and blank out everything else around me.

I started across, everyone yelling and jeering, cold water was splashed in my face, I took no notice. One of my mates Des Fitzgerald, really wanted me to fall in the cold muddy water. He was waving his hands close to the side of my face, and making a lot of noise; but I kept going like a horse with blinkers on. At last I got back to terra firma at the other end of the log. I was one of the few who didn't fall in.

To this day I use this training continuously. If an emergency comes up while driving the car, while flying my radio control model aircraft or as the local "Lolly-Pop" person while getting the young children across the local school crossing; anywhere where I need total concentration.

Walking the Plank

Ernie R. Holden.

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