Allan ‘Aldy’ Aldenhoven was born on Australia’s most significant anniversary, Anzac Day. His fighting spirit as a soldier in Vietnam with 7 RAR is legendary.
His mother was of the “Stolen Generations” and his father descended from German settlers. They married in Darwin post Second World War and after Allan’s arrival on 25th April 1948 they lived at Parap camp, an old army barracks, often described as the birthplace of multi-culturalism in Australia.
His world turned upside down at the age of four when his mother, Dorothy suddenly died and he was resettled in Adelaide. He grew up to be a gun surfer and because of the Vietnam War became a ‘nasho’ after being conscripted.
This ‘cradle to the grave’ biographical narrative is a “baby boomer” Anzac story covering a period of dynamic social and cultural change.
The Vietnam War was unpopular on several fronts. Half of the Aussie diggers who served there were conscripted. Too young to vote they were sent into a brutal conflict that divided a nation and led to massive moratoriums and street protests. For the first time in Australia’s history soldiers returning home bore the brunt of a hostile anti war sentiment. They were called “baby killers” and falsely branded as unworthy combatants by sections of the Returned Services League. It was a shameful period that threatened the fabric of Anzac. On the centenary of the storming of Gallipoli “Born on Anzac Day” is the life story of a “nasho” with indigenous bloodlines who typified an Anzac warrior.
After his discharge ‘Aldy ‘got into professional boxing quite by accident and became a star of TV Ringside and the Australian Welterweight Boxing Champion.
He was a loveable larrikin with a beaming smile who men envied and women chased. Among his best friends were seventies Aussie rock and music stars Bon Scott, Russell Morris, Jim Keays, Broderick Smith and Evan Jones. He was a great mate of the first Adelaide Crows coach Graham Cornes who is included in the Vietnam War chapters.
Being born on Anzac Day was special to him. However the abhorrent treatment dealt to Vietnam veterans made him angry. Like so many he struggled with his war demons and the psychological scars they inflicted.
His endless quest for adventure led to a world of drug dealers, gangsters and crooked cops. He became a part of Adelaide’s underbelly and was involved in the kidnapping of a heroin dealer in a plan hatched by rogue South Australia police. Shortly after he died under mysterious circumstances, aged 30.
Author: Ric Teague, Newspaper and Television Journalist/ documentary maker. He's worked for:
Ten Network; Australian Broadcasting Corporation;
The Australian; The Age and News Ltd.