ANZAC DAY 2011 -Leslie Farren 5RAR

ANZAC DAY 2011 – This year will mark the 45th anniversary of the first National Serviceman / conscript from the state of Victoria, Australia to be killed in the Vietnam War on 10 June 1966…His name is Leslie Thomas Farren of Reservoir. Read his story.

He was killed 19 days short of his 21st Birthday by a Viet Cong mortar barrage.

A memorial plaque was unveiled in 2006, honouring Private Farren’s sacrifice. The story was covered by the Herald Sun newspaper, the Preston Leader newspaper and Channel 9 news Melbourne (17 August 2006 by reporter Wayne Dyer) and Channel 7 news Melbourne (28 August 2006).

His 86 year old mother Lillian Farren was on hand to unveil the plaque. Sadly she passed away a few years ago.

Dr Frank Donovan, a well respected psychologist, author, former Western Australian Member of Parliament (ALP) was an Army medic in Vietnam and he nursed Private Farren during his last moments.

Mr Frank Donovan, 10 Platoon, D Coy Corporal Medic, the man who held Pte Les Farren as he died and uttered his last words…

“Don’t let me die doc, don’t let me die,”
he (Les) whispered.

source: 5RAR Association website:


A First Angry Shot Remembered

(The Melbourne Herald Sun, page 20)

by Sasha Uzunov
August 24, 2006 12:00am

Bank teller Les Farren did not live to hear Prime Minister John Howard’s apology for the reception his mates received from a disillusioned public when they returned home from Vietnam.

This little-known soldier from the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir was the first Victorian National Serviceman to die in that controversial war.
But he will be remembered when his 86-year-old mother, Lillian Farren, unveils a plaque on Monday at the Reservoir Cenotaph.

Forty years after his death, Mrs Farren still grieves for her son. “It was awful to see Les go and never see him again”, said Mrs Farren. This way he will be remembered.”

Les was always in the shadow of another Melbourne suburbs boy when he went to Vietnam. The 1960s Australian pop legend, Normie Rowe, was one of his schoolmates at the Northcote High School before they were called up for Vietnam.

Les, two years older than Normie, was quietly spoken and looking forward to being an accountant in the suburbs. Normie, in the era of Beatlemania, was being mobbed by screaming hysterical teenage girls and had the music world at his feet.

But Vietnam changed their lives. Pte Leslie Thomas Farren was conscripted in 1965 and posted to 10 Platoon, Delta Company, 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Infantry Corps.

He was also a keen amateur photographer and the only son of Thomas and Lillian Farren.

On June 10, 1966, while on patrol in South Vietnam, Pte Farren was severely wounded by Viet Cong mortar fire. He was 19 days short of his 21st birthday. Cpl Frank Donovan was the army medic who tried to help Les.

“Les Farren actually died in my arms from massive lower body wounds,” said Cpl Donovan. The extent of his wounds and loss of blood made survival impossible.

Trooper Norman J. Rowe got the call up in 1968 and went to Vietnam in 1969 with A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Armoured Corps.
He survived but it almost ended his musical career.

I took an interest in Les Farren after reading about him in a newspaper more than 15 years ago. I was surprised no one had acknowledged his service. Les was one of the unsung people who do their duty without fuss or fanfare.

Len Barlow, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia helped me to lobby Darebin Council for the commemorative plaque that will be unveiled by his mother.
To its credit, the council quickly approved the proposal.

Les Farren has not been forgotten but it has taken too long to acknowledge his service.

Following the Prime Minister’s words on Vietnam Veterans Day last Friday, the sacrifice of these veterans’ might now be better remembered.

Memorial Plaque Ceremony for Private Leslie Farren (10 Platoon, D Company, 5 RAR) First Victorian National Serviceman to be killed in Vietnam War on 10 June 1966.

MONDAY 28 August 2006, Reservoir Cenotaph, Reservoir, City of Darebin, Victoria.


Mr Bob Elworthy, President of the Victorian Branch, Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, speaking at the commemorative plaque ceremony for the first Victorian National Serviceman to be killed in Vietnam, Private Leslie T. Farren, D Company, 5 RAR. Date: 28 August 2006, marking the 40th anniversary of his death on 10 June 1966. Reservoir (City of Darebin), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Part of Mr Elworthy’s moving speech:

Leslie Farren … for he was young once and he was a soldier. Vietnam was his time and he did his duty …

Lest We Forget.

(View the video clip Here 1.2Mb).

Mr Frank Donovan, 10 Platoon, D Coy Corporal Medic, the man who held Pte Les Farren as he died and uttered his last words…

“Don’t let me die doc, don’t let me die,” he (Les) whispered.
(View the video clip Here 920Kb).

Bob Elworth President of the VVAA-Vic talking to 5RAR veterans'

Mr Frank Donovan who was the medic assisting Pte Farren

Pte Leslie Farren's mother at the dedication ceremony
Councillor Stanly Chiang Lays a wreath at the ceremony
The commemoration plaque to Private Leslie Farren

Sasha Usinov with the Plaque