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The True Origion of the Vampire
The bat logo was originally conceived by a RAASC Corporal named Ken Smythe. Ken and Mal Hatwell used to work together doing unit signs in the mezzanine floor of the workshop at the 2 Fd Amb Workshop when I was located in Woodside.
Ken was known as “Batman” and used to do the Don R work with cookie, Des Ford and a Staff Sergeant whose name cannot be recalled.
This crew was mucking around with drawings of bats one day when Ken knocked up a cardboard stencil like the batman sign from the comic books. For a laugh he started to stencil damn near everything in the transport yard and then throughout the Unit. The stencils were always in the last place you expected to find them, under seats, inside air cleaners, on the bottom of your enamel mug, inside trunks and there was i=even one under the toilet seat in the Administration Building.
Bats were everywhere at Woodside, usually painted in red or white gloss paint. This episode would probably be the earliest relationship the Unit had with bats. This is an example of the original bat stencil form Woodside (the original was about 60 mm wide.)
As far as the term “Vampire” goes, RAASC Members referred to the medics in the Unit as Vampires because they were always taking blood or doing blood tests. The terminology carried over into Vietnam and as a consequence we had a “Dustoff” heli-pad located at 2 Fd Amb with the call sign Vampire. 8th Field Ambulance continued to use the “Vampire” call-sign after the 2 Fd Amb returned to Australia in 1967. When the 1st Australian Field Hospital relieved the 8th Field Ambulance of their duties in Vung Tau in 1968 they continued to use the name.
Debate about the origin and design of the new “Vampire” Logo were not raised until about 1986. But the exact details are unclear, however, the earliest use of the current “Vampire Bat” symbol is the cover of the July 1989 2 Fd Amb 2nd Field Ambulance Newsletter which is a hand drawn “Vampire Bat” that is almost identical to its current form. The logo has continued to appear on newsletter from that date.