I was helping my father dig a post hole in the hot Queensland sun when – out of a clear blue sky as they say – he said “You probably think it’s great to kill a man. Well, it’s not”.
Not what I was thinking, Dad.
I was actually wondering why we were digging a post hole with shovels and a crowbar when we have a perfectly good post hole digger which I offered to hook up to a perfectly good tractor so we could have had this hole dug by now.
But that’s another story.
In hindsight I could have said “No opinion on that, Dad. However I am only eleven. Give it time. Who knows what the future will bring.”
(Vietnam as it turned out. I could have had the opportunity to find out first hand whether he was right, but my number didn’t come up in the lottery and at the time I decided to just go with that).
Dad was a Rat of Tobruk, he was at el Alamein, Tarakan.
Copped some shrapnel along the way (which is how I came into existence – he married one of the nurses who nursed him).
Got to thinking about this during the week listening to Bernard Gaynor talking about how the Army’s campaign to recruit women for combat roles has been a disaster.
It’s not that there aren’t gutsy ladies who are prepared to get involved.
My Aunty Jack (actually Great Aunt, given name Phyllis) drove an ambulance in WW1.
Maybe she would have carried a rifle or manned a howitzer if it had seemed like a good idea.
But it wasn’t then and for most women it isn’t now.
I’ve been told how the men and women in the Australian Army go through the same physical routines – for a while.
But then the women go back to barracks and the men continue.
I’ve been told males and the females start out carrying the same size packs on the route march, but then the loads are adjusted so the men carry more and the women carry less.
It’s nobody’s fault that women just aren’t equipped for grunt work in the military the way men are.
In most cases they’re just not big enough and strong enough.
It’s not that women lack ferocity.
They can kill all right – we know that.
It’s not that they don’t want to start a fight.
The University of Chicago found over a five hundred year period Queens started wars more often than Kings.
(27% more often, if you like stats).
It’s just that size does matter.
My Aunty Jack was a helluva gal.
She may have even been able to kill the enemy and not been left with the mental scars that plagued my father.
But she wouldn’t have been able to do it hand to hand.