Raymond James NEIL, known as Ray, was interviewed by Margaret Tickle for the Busselton Oral History Group (Inc) in June 2014. It is one of a series of recorded interviews with ex-service personnel funded by Lotterywest to celebrate the Anzac Centenary.
Raymond James Neil was born in 1941 and spent his first 18 years in Donnybrook. He worked in the orchard where his father had been accidentally killed when Ray was six. He went to Legacy camps because his father had served overseas in WWII. He played many sports and was in the local top football league when he was only 14.
In 1959 he joined the army as an infantry recruit. He tried out for the newly formed SAS (then the Special Air Service Company). He was successful and was posted to Campbell Barracks at Swanbourne.
He married Beverley (nee Cross) and had two children. She died after 22 years and he married Marlene.
Ray earned the nickname ‘Woofa’ because he ate leftover rations during SAS training.
The SAS were deployed to Borneo as part of the Malaya/Indonesian conflict. He had two deployments to Vietnam, the first in 1966 where he suffered a smashed leg when a chopper stalled and thudded to the ground injuring the troops about to jump out. Ray tells of the SAS involvement in the Vietnam conflict.
After Vietnam, Ray had a very satisfying period in the Training Squadron of the SAS, attaining the rank of warrant officer class two.
His TPI (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated) pension through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs does not relate to mental stress issues, but to the leg and many other physical injuries from his 20 years’ service.
Ray has SAS mates in various parts of Australia. Their bond is testament to a shared experience forged in times of personal challenge and danger.