Australian Soldiers Lament The Passing Of Fred.

Discussion in 'Australia' started by IrishGuard, Oct 24, 2005.

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  1. Monday October 24, 2005.

    Australian Soldiers lament the passing of Fred.

    Old soldiers and their younger colleagues are teary-eyed at the demise of a trusty old friend known as Fred, a comrade since the days of Vietnam.

    Fred is the army-issue can opener, bottle opener and spoon, a shiny all-in-one implement manufactured in the hundreds of thousands and included in every one-man ration pack issued to Australian soldiers since the 1960s and maybe much earlier.

    But in an age of ring-pull cans and heat-in-the-bag main meals, the Fred is no longer needed.

    His retirement prompted a ventilation of sorrow in recent letters to the Army newspaper.

    "From opening tin cans to cleaning fingernails or personal assault weapons to a makeshift screwdriver, the humble Fred has served well," wrote Captain Brian Tuohy of the Townsville-based 3 Brigade.

    "It has never been decorated, mentioned in dispatches or given a Commanding Officer's Commendation. It has gone about its business, serving the Australian soldier, sailor and airman in every conceivable country and operation in the world without the recognition it so rightly deserves."

    Major Justin Bayley, defence logistics manager and senior food inspector, replied in the newspaper that the Fred was being dropped so funds could be diverted to new and better items, including an expanded menu range, sports drink powder and tuna with crackers.

    "We are trialling much sought-after items such as beef jerky and self-saucing puddings. Sadly, these products don't come cheap and with essentially a fixed budget, I have to introduce changes so that we can re-invest money we save for things I know our soldiers want."

    Lieutenant Colonel Sean Ryan said it wasn't just a money issue.

    "The fact is the Fred is redundant in the modern ration pack," he said.

    "Modern technology has meant that the army can take advantage of more innovative packaging solutions such as the ring-pull cans to give the soldier in the field greater culinary delights and simpler preparation."

    Not all soldiers were convinced.

    Major K T Cook of Bandiana, Victoria, said he was moved to solemnly inter his Fred in his backyard.

    "A few words were said and tears glistened in my eyes as Fred had been my faithful companion for more than 30 years," he said, querying whether a ring-pull could ever serve as a screwdriver, for fingernail cleaning or for scraping mud off boots.

    Similarly, Private Raymond Khoo of the defence languages school said his Fred had always been a important tool in the field.

    "It was used widely, including the opening of cans to importantly the cleaning of weapons and other things limited (only) by ones own imagination or needs," he said.
  2. Don't worry. He'll probably find a new opening.....
  3. RIP old many soldiers of my vintage carried a compo can-opener on their dog-tags? How many of us have neat little triangular scars where it stabbed us whilst we were reacting to effective enemy fire, commando rolling over a six foot wall or just falling flat on our mushes??
  4. Can't believe they're doing this. They reckon they're going to put ring-pulls onto what is still canned. What do I do if my ring gets loose and falls apart :p. Then I have to spend a day without pears and two fruits!!! Not happy Jan...

    I'll be holding onto every FRED I can from now on.
  5. Compo can opener classic Kit, as for Scars i have one one my hand from just such device. OH Happy days!!!!
  6. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I often wondered where that scar on my left hand came from, I just figured alcohol abuse, thats where most of the others came from. I have kept mine from nearly 20 years ago and when I was showing my oldest son the new cadet how to cook compo I was dumbfounded by the lack of suitable targets for my compo can opener!
  7. Yep, gotta laugh. Keep mine on a bit of string attached to the Trangia pot handle thing, oh the times , the times (ouch). Classic Kit is the word. I wonder who designed it?
  8. Got my opener in the kitchen drawer
    Mother darthspud asked what was it, told her
    silly woman challenged me to opening competition,she was still trying to attach her leccy thingy opener, my can open and contents on a plate.
    Brilliant piece of kit
    and good for toe jambs too :wink:
  9. Resurrection of thread time: it was originally designed by the septics, I believe pre-WWII, as otherwise they'd've busted their gnashers trying to get their tucker out of the new-fangled tin things, and into their gobs!

    Its' official designation: P-38, on account of that's how many times you could avoid slicing your own finger off to open the "cans, food, GI, for the shovelling, of". And the bottle-opener thing [aka church key] was to allow access to the ever-present CocaCola, and of course, the spoon bit stopped 'em cutting themselves on the jagged edges of the tins.

    Pretty good, eh? I've still got a few, and I don't leave home without it, as it's the duck's guts for all the afore-mentioned reasons.
  10. Went though four packs on boil in the bag looking for a tin opener to open a cake my mother had sent me before I twigged. :oops: I had been drinking and it was late. :(
  11. Fred:

  12. Good tale, but the US P-38 didnt have the spoon or Bottle opener, t'was strictly a can opener for C-Rations & 10 in 1's. K-Rations didnt need them as they had the "Key" like on the old spam cans.
  13. Bugger! There I was blithely blundering thru' life in the belief that my DI at rookies was telling us the truth - another one of life's mysteries shattered. Aah, well ...

    Where's the Doctor?

    edited to add NSN, 'coz you never know there may still be one somewhere in a warehouse long, long way ... 7330-66-010-0933 [Oz NSN]
  14. I realise this is late, I only just saw this post. We have 2 daughter aged 48 and 41, they have no idea how to use any other can opener than "Fred". Their children do not know how to use any other can opener other than Fred - neither of them have ever had any other type of can opener in their kitchen, their children learned to use it from an earlier age. They each have at least a dozen of the Fred openers in their kitchen draw, and we have a good stock of them still in my old army trunk out in the shed. Both of them had to teach their husbands how to use the easiest can opener in the world that never wears out, and we even carry a couple in our car, always have done, just in case we need to open a can when we travel anywhere, and our 2 daughters do the same. I think the first one of those openers I ever saw was given to me by a Korea War vet in about my first week of service, as he had just joined up again and still had some left from his earlier service in 51 - what a sad day to loose it, but until I read this thread I was not even aware he was called Fred, we (that is, my wife and I and our kids and grandkids have always called it "a can opener" - cos they have never had any other sort to use.
  15. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    RIP Fred, you will not be forgotten :skull: :heart:

    Now, over to e-bay.