THERE was no shortage of prominent figures at the unveiling of the Wonthaggi Woodcrafters’ replica conscription barrel on Tuesday, June 29.
The ‘Woodies’ donated the replica barrel to the National Vietnam Veterans Museum in front of an amazed crowd, including Liberal Senator for Victoria Jane Hume, Monash MP Russell Broadbent, Bass Coast councillors and the museum’s board of directors.
The barrel is a significant symbol for Vietnam War veterans, as national service was introduced under the National Service Act of 1964.
Conscripts were selected by their birthdates based on numbers on wooden marbles drawn from a wooden barrel.
Those selected then had two years of continuous full-time service, followed by three years on the active reserve list.
And the museum has the actual barrel on loan, which was made in 1915 from fiddleback Australian Red Cedar.
It was used to draw barrier positions for the Melbourne Cup before its use for National Service conscription.
The museum needed a replica ‘barrel’ to show visitors and school groups how conscripts were selected, which was built by Woodies’ Neil Lenne, Lex Van Saane and John Di Stefano.
“If they have big groups of people, they (museum) can use it to show them, that’s the whole idea of it,” president of Wonthaggi Woodcrafters, Neil Lenne, said.
“They can do the demonstration and show them exactly how it works with the balls and numbers.
“So, they’ll probably use the kids’ birth dates and draw them out.”
General manager of National Vietnam Veterans Museum Phil Dressing was chuffed about the quality of the barrel and the brilliant work the men did.
The Woodies were allowed to measure the dimensions of the original barrel wearing medical grade gloves before it was put back behind its protective perspex covers.
As Red Cedar is no longer available, the woodies built the replica barrel with Radiata Pine.
The National Vietnam Veterans Museum is at 25 Veterans Drive, Newhaven. For more information, visit vietnamvetsmuseum.org.