Collector’s note:

Lieutenant Colonel Don Woodland is a legend in the Salvation Army and the first person to devise a trauma counselling service for the armed forces, police force and ambulance workers. He has served in the Vietnam War and was on site ‘next day’ at the majority of Australia’s worst disasters including Bali, Cyclone Tracey, Papua New Guinea’s tsumani, Childer’s Backpackers, Kings Cross Backpacker’s fire, Granville Rail disaster, Strathfield massacre and port Arthur. He learnt the English concertina as a child from his father who also played the instrument in the Salvation Army. He retired from fulltime pastoral work in 2004 and continues to work as a lecturer.


Recorded Minnamurra Road Earlwood. 8 September 2004

Don talks about his childhood. Born in China where his family were missionaries. 1937 Central China and the last SA officers to escape before WW2 commenced. Last boat from China at aged 4 years old.
Back to Sydney and eventually to Brisbane. Bombed by Japanese as they past sailed Singapore. Don is a 5 th generation Salvationist.

Discusses SA international and local history.

Grandfather came from Uk to Bundaberg circa late 1870s.
Sailed direct Uk to Bundaberg.

Discusses West End Brisbane SA.

Discusses SA ranking system and how he became Lieutenant Colonel.

Discusses family in SA, living at Duringa with aunty and uncle from aged 11 after his mother died. How he got married at 21 years and went to SA College at 22 years old.

Trained as a surgical footwear maker. “I gave up mending souls to try and save them”.

How married in 1959 to Bernice a fellow graduate of West End. How both enrolled in College. Discusses couples in SA and how they became SA Officers.

First posting Mullumbimby and then to Bowen and then to Brisbane then to Laidley (Lockyer Valley).

Talks about Byron Bay in the 1960s.

Discusses living conditions, payments, travel etc. Lived on Three pound three shillings a week in the 1960s.

Discusses going around to hotels with War Cry

No band, organ or any other instruments so Don played concertina.

Discusses using radiograms of UK SA music.

Discusses local problems of their ministry. Missing persons etc
Unprepared by training for the problems.

Discusses how he befriended the local policeman.

Relocated to Kingaroy where he was appointed to Vietnam as SA Chaplain. Given 5 weeks notice. Sailed on the ‘Sydney’ 1969 out of Brisbane. Away for 13 months on service. Bernice and family left at Kingaroy and then moved to Brisbane.

Discusses return to Brisbane and a new appointment at Sandgate, Brisbane.

Criticises Army’s approach and his first conflict over leave allowances.
Talks about his duties in Vietnam as representative of Red Shield, Ran a drop in centre with TV, library, interflora agency etc.

(tape volume lowers)
resumes after a minute.

Discusses how army did not have a trauma division so how Don developed his practice. Discusses trauma and combat reaction.

Discusses how he dealt with the ‘other side’ ie the Vietnamese casualties. Talks about the nature of man – inhumanity of war.

Discusses the damage to Vietnam veterans and why it was different from other wars. Political pollution.

Discusses his role as the first Police Trauma chaplain.

Discusses his role as first Fire Brigade Chaplain.
1985 became the first fulltime trauma chaplain in Australia.


(Tape starts at relatively low level and improves after a minute)

Talks about 21 year old boy who was involved in a horrendous accident as a rigger. Hit by crane and hit on back of neck – crushed brain stem and smashed all bones. He was literally brain dead and put on life support. Don Woodland had to be the bridge for the family.

Describes situation as organ donor and family knew nothing of this and how the medical procedure rolled out. Don was there for 13 hours counselling family through various stages.

Talks about searching for biological mother to get permission for transplants. As a very healthy young man most parts were urgently required by various recipients. Goes into graphic detail about this particular situation.

Discusses his involvement in Port Arthur massacre.
He flew into Port Arthur the day after tragedy.

Discusses trauma and how he developed approach.

Discusses power of the Salvation Army uniform in such events.
Discusses his first position as police Trauma Counsellor in Canberra.

Discusses SA uniforms through the decades.

Continues about Port Arthur and community response.

Discusses involvement in counselling
Kempsey Bush Crash
Newcastle Earthquake
Brooklyn Train Crash
Strathfield massacre
Childers Back Packers
Kings Cross

Continues to discusses his career as trauma consultant

Talks about two little boys burning to death in Sydney the same night as Kings Cross backpackers. Plus another family fire disaster – eleven people died in the one night.

Talks about migrant family having their Christmas Eve tradition involving candles – and house burnt down. He went in to restore family’s spirits. Discusses donations from Martin Place and how it works with media etc

Discusses how he was ‘set up’ for ‘This Is Your Life’ – he was National Secretary of the SA at the time. Talks about his surprise as Mike Munro tapped him on the shoulder. Talks about the show’s guests.

Talks about another tragedy when he was Police Chaplain. Family of five children drowned.

Discusses his Order of Australia

“The true story of Port Arthur will some day be revealed. The story we know is not the truth.” There is a D-Notice on the report “A threat to national security” – 30-year embargo.

Discusses own musical history. First brass instrument at 6 years with cornet.

Returns to talk about trauma work and especially Papua New Guinea and his relationship with the Seventh Day Adventists – he counsels their missionaries. Talks about one of their pastors flying his plane into a mountain and Don was called to counsel the local church members.
“I’m the spare tyre when one goes flat.”

Talks about visiting the Solomon Islands after their uprising.

Talks about religion and spirituality. Talks about ‘churches’

Has been a Salvation Army trauma coordinator for 42 years.
Never had a drink of alcohol or cigarette in his life.

Grew up in a Salvation Army house.

Don discusses his religious approach to his work as a Salvationist and especially as someone working in trauma support and recovery programs.

Discusses role of music in SA homes.

Discusses role of music in general life.

Discusses value of music to old and sick.

Relates story about his own cousin and how music penetrated as he was dying.

Discusses young people and their music.

Discusses William Booth quote ‘Why should the devil have all the good tunes.’

Discusses son who went to Sydney Conservatorium of Music and is now Music Master of Canberra Grammar.

Discusses his visit to Papua New Guinea when hit by Tsumani “They didn’t want any children’s clothing because there were no children”


Discusses Salvation Army musical instrumentation.

Discusses how Concertina became popular.

Discusses portability. Wife played accordion.
Don first came across it as his Dad played and took it to China for 21 years. He then came across it again at Salvation Army College.

“Concertina is simplistic in style.”
“In about 1975 I inquired about buying a concertina. It was over $3000 then – brand new.”

Has Brigadeer Wal Turner’s semi baritone concertina. Don played and sang at his funeral.

Don still plays concertina at gravesides because of its portability.

Learnt basics from Dad and taught himself how to play in Key of C and F and that’s how he has played for 42 years.

Discusses concertina history in bush and city.
Discusses playing and singing at same time. Usually played melody line and sang adding some chords.

Talks about tuning concertina.

He plays Wheatstone and discusses how Dad tuned the reeds and how his concertina has steel reeds rather than brass.
Continues about brass band tuning.

Plays (standing up) and swinging about.
(volume lowers……….)

Tune. Sounds like an organ with so many chordal runs.)

Tune: You Are My Sunshine. (with occasional vamping)
Tune: slow tune (church) Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley

Identified tune names

Tune: another faster version of Tom Dooley.

Tune: Bells – concertina sounding like church bell peel and into tune Bells of St Mary’s

(wife enters…….

Sings and Plays –

Don plays an English system concertina.

Very chordal approach.

Plays a melody of tunes including
The Bells of St Mary’s
Tom Dooley


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