My Introduction to Colonel Donald Beard, Medical Officer.
Early May 1968, or there abouts, I was busy inspecting the weapons of 3RAR when a driver from 1 Task Force HQ drove up and asked me if I was WO Robert Thompson? When I said I was, he told me I was wanted immediately at the hospital at Vung Tau and a chopper was waiting for me.
We drove over to the Dust Off Pad where I joined two other soldiers. The Huey was already winding up as I arrived and we all hopped aboard. Little was said on the short journey because of the noise. We landed at the hospital pad and an orderly met us and escorted the three of us into Casualty, he asked us to show him our dog tags. The penny dropped. We were to give blood.
The Orderly told us that there was an operation going on that required blood to save a soldiers leg. Within seconds he had tapped into our arms and the letting of blood began. We were handed goffers (soft drinks) and told to drink as much as we could.
About half an hour went by and a Doctor appeared in hat and gown that had blood splattered down the front. He introduced himself as Donald Beard and he told us that to save the soldiers leg he was operating on he had to have more blood and told us that to achieve this we would be woosey and we would have to lay on our backs and have our legs tied up to the rail in the passage way.
By this time there is six of us all with a blood grouping of ‘A2’ lying in the passageway drinking as much as we could. It looked like a live butcher shop with us strung up by our feet. We stayed this way for some time. Eventually Col. Beard appeared again and one of the comedians asked if he needed more blood. He said no and he thought that our efforts had saved the soldiers leg. He would let us know as soon as he was sure. We all had to stay at Vung Tau that night. I stayed over at 101 Field Wksp.
Later in the week when I had returned to Nui Dat I got a message from the hospital to say they had saved the soldiers leg and that Col. Beard was putting on a luncheon on the roof at the R&R centre at Vung Tau on the Sunday and if I could get down I was welcome. I later found out that Col. Beard often did this and paid for it himself. I couldn’t make it.
This was my introduction to a great doctor that went on to be a Queen’s Surgeon. Later on I met him again to repair his operating table but that is another story.