Nashos decide to disband

The last day for the conscripted men from Stanthorpe. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

By Lucy Waldron

It is a bittersweet moment for the Stanthorpe National Service Army men, colloquially known as “Nashos,“ as they made the difficult decision to disband their sub-branch.

The decision marks the end of an era for the Nashos, who were part of Australia’s national service schemes from 1951 to 1972.

During this time, approximately 287,000 young Australian men were conscripted for compulsory training in the Navy, Army, and Air Force.

The schemes, implemented during conflicts such as the Malaya, Korea, Borneo, and Vietnam battles, aimed to bolster Australia’s defence readiness.

Among those conscripted was Stanthorpe local Des Fossey, who entered service in 1955.

Reflecting on his experience, Fossey expressed gratitude for the discipline and training he received during his time in the Army.

“I believe everyone should do it,“ he said.

“It was one of the greatest things that had ever happened to me.“

While conscription has sparked controversy throughout history, with many praising the scheme while others highlighted political, social and ethical qualms, Fossey and others who served alongside him cherish the camaraderie and life experiences gained during their time in the military.

“I know some men who did go overseas came back with PTSD, I was lucky that all I got from the experience was the camaraderie of lifelong friends.”

The last conscripted soldiers left the Australian Army in 1972, marking the end of national service in Australia.

Since then, the Australian Defence Force has transitioned to an all-volunteer force, with recruitment based on voluntary enlistment rather than compulsory service.

Therefore, as the years pass and the Nashos age, the sub-branch faces declining membership with no new recruits joining their ranks.

The decision to disband was not made lightly, but as Fossey noted, the memories shared among Nashos will endure.

“Once you’ve been there, you never forget your mates.”