University of New South Wales Regiment Association
Please use the buttons below to review past UNSWR Association Newsletters.
This page gives a summary chosen by the UNSWR Association Newsletter editor Major Ken MaKay of articles that have appeared during the time of his stewardship.
ACTION FOR A NATIONAL BOER WAR MEMORIAL
(By Lieutenant Colonel David Deasey)
On the 31 May 1902 the Treaty of Vereeniging brought to an end the South African War 1899-1902, commonly referred to as the Boer War. During the course of this war approximately 23,000 Australians served in South Africa of whom nearly 1,000 were killed.
It was the first war that Australia was involved in as a nation as the new national government inherited the conflict as part of its responsibilities and chose to continue active support for the war by raising eight new national regiments for service. This war thus represents the first active foreign involvement for Australia.
Since that time many more veterans of the South African War or their descendants have migrated to Australia. Whilst the war has been very much overshadowed by subsequent military operations, it deserves to be remembered not only for the sacrifice that Australia made then but also for the following events that had much longer term implications:
- It was our first significant foreign affairs initiative.
- Six Australians won the Victoria Cross.
- Many Australians such as Harry Chauvel learnt the art of war fighting which stood them in good stead in World War One.
- Led to the policy in World War One that Australians must be brigaded into Australian formations, not split up at the convenience of British commanders and, where practicable, would be commanded by Australians.
- The Australian Government and Parliament would determine all policy relating to Australian soldiers.
The National Boer War Memorial Association (NBWMA) has been formed with branches in all states and the ACT as well as a national steering committee.
The Patron-in-Chief of the Association is Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce, AC, Governor-General of Australia and the National Patron is Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, AC, AFC, Chief of the Defence Force.
The steering committee’s role is to oversee the development of a national memorial to the South African War in Anzac Parade, Canberra at a cost expected to be between $2-3 million to be met by public subscription.
A National Design competition was launched at the Royal Military College, Duntroon by Lieutenant General David Hurley, AC, DSC, Vice Chief of the Defence Force on 7th April 2010.
The prime mission of all the state committees is to publicise the memorial and raise funds for its construction. The secondary mission is to raise awareness of the historical importance of the war, to locate and document memorials to the war (at least ten previously unknown examples have been located so far in NSW), to identify descendants of the South African war veterans and to encourage them to publicly document their ancestors’ histories.
To commemorate the war, services will be held annually beginning this year in all capital cities and many other locations. The Sydney service this year will be held at the ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park on Sunday 30 May at 11:00 am (i.e. the Sunday nearest 31st May) and all UNSWR Association members are welcome to participate.
Three UNSWR Association members are heavily involved in this organisation. They are:
- Lieutenant Colonel John Howells - National webmaster and a member of the National Steering Committee.
- Col Bill Molloy - RAAMC representative and chief recorder of memorials for NSW.
- Lieutenant Colonel David Deasey - RA Inf representative, historian and genealogist for NSW and Memorial Service Coordinator for NSW.
- Association members will surely enjoy exploring the memorial website at www.bwm.org.au.
Personal and corporate donations towards this most worthy cause can be made to the National Boer War Memorial Association, Building 96, Victoria Barracks., Paddington NSW 2021 or through the Memorial website by means of PayPal, a credit card (VISA or MasterCard) or by a direct funds transfer to the NBWMA bank account.
THE FROMELLES PROJECT
The Battle of Fromelles in Northern France cost 5,533 Australian casualties in a 24-hour period in July 1916 as a result of what was a failed attack by the 5th Division AIF and the British 61st Division.
Until last year, the remains of 250 of the soldiers who died during the battle had laid in mass graves dug nearby by the Germany Army next to Pheasant Wood on the outskirts Fromelles village.
The graves were not evident to British and Australian authorities until 2008 when the Glasgow University Archaeological Research Department (GUARD) provided the necessary evidence which resulted in re-interment of the soldiers’ remains in a specially built cemetery at Fromelles. The last of the lost soldiers was re-interred on 19th July 2010; the 94th anniversary of the battle.
The GUARD findings proved conclusions that had been reached earlier by a determined small group of Australians led by Mr Lambis Englezos of Melbourne. One of those in the group was Association member Lieutenant Colonel John Fielding RFD, Commanding Officer of UNSWR 2000 - 2002.
Part of Colonel Fielding’s work on the team included landscape photography that validated a theory by Mr Englezos that Royal Flying Corps aerial photographs showing the ground before the battle, shortly afterwards and again in 1918 strongly suggested that there were mass graves just outside Pheasant Wood.
We take off our hats and thank Colonel Fielding for his part in enabling a last and dignified resting place for many of our war dead, over 90 of which have been identified so now have known graves.
A 2010 MILITARY HISTORY TOUR IN TURKEY
(By Lieutenant Colonel John Howells)
By an amazing coincidence two former members of UNSWR found themselves at Gallipoli in August 2010. I had joined UNSWR in 1964, and was to serve in the Regiment until 1974 when I was posted to the armoured corps and learned about real fighting. George Webster had joined two years earlier and was the platoon sergeant at my recruit course. Later we were to serve as instructors on another recruits course, by May 1966 George was a warrant officer, and I was a sergeant.
E (Recruit) Company staff May 1966.
Front row: SGT McDonald –Stewart, 2LTs Edwards, O’Brien, LT Tulloch, WO2 Webster, CAPT Hough, 2LT Stait-Gardiner, CPLs Wilson, Hamilton, Kesteven, Munn.
Second Row: CPLs Lilly, Bonnet, Stevenson, Lewington, Parer, Khal.
Top Row: SGTs Howells, Brennen, Hilder, Sutherland, Tee.
George was not a public servant so soon after being commissioned left the army; I served on, moving to the inactive list when I too left the public service and spent the last years of my working career working for a succession of banks. We lost contact; George is an active member of the UNSWR Association, I whilst remaining a member have not been active.
As I moved into retirement, I began to use the web design skills I gained to support the bank computer systems I managed for defence related activities. I manage the Lancers, Reserve Forces Day, National Boer War Memorial and RUSI of NSW sites. I was asked by our association vice president Colonel Graham Fleeton whom I had served under as intelligence sergeant when he was IO, and with who I was posted from the Regiment on the same night in September 1974, to design a site for the business he was running with Paul Murphy, another former colleague with whom I had sat TAC 5.
Graham and Paul run Military History Tours, I soon became a tour guide as well as the Webmaster.
I guided a tour of Gallipoli in August this year. The tour was for those swimming the Dardanelles as part of the annual Turkish victory day celebrations. The tour precedes the swim with a visit to the battlefields and a sweep through Istanbul. When I checked the list of tour participants, I noticed the names George and Robyn Webster; I asked Graham if this was “the” George Webster, and was told it was. I was guiding and not intending to take part in the actual swim, George was there to swim.
The tour group arrived on the 26 August and spent the night at the rather prestigious Titanic Hotel in the Taksim district in Istanbul. Next day we headed out for a tour of the city, in the morning visiting the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topaki Palace. The Hippodrome was where Ben Hur would have ridden to victory. The Hagia Sofia, is the church turned mosque, turned museum still standing strong after 1,500 years in an earthquake prone area. The Blue Mosque, built opposite in the 15th century is one of the magnificent examples of Islamic architecture. Built in the same style as the Sophia on the basis that if a building can stand 900 years of earthquakes there must be something effective about the design, it is again a great tribute to those who laboured to design and construct it.
The Topaki Palace gatehouse George and Robyn Webster at lunch
The Topaki Palace was the home of the Sultan and his family. Its architecture is beautiful and there are many stories of intrigue. Luncheon was taken at the Topaki Palace Restaurant. In the evening we had dinner in a seafood restaurant by the Bosphorus.
Next day we headed to the Gallipoli peninsula, a 400 kilometre journey by coach. Lunch was at another seafood restaurant, this time at the picturesque village of Gelibolu, by the Sea of Marmara, after which the peninsula is named.
Our next stop was at Chunuk Bair. Here you are standing on the vital ground for the Gallipoli campaign, and are able to gain an understanding of the ebb and flow of the conflict from the initial attempts at naval penetration, the ANZAC landings, the Turkish counter-attacks, the abortive Suvla landing and the supporting operations to the ultimate withdrawal. From there we headed to the Gaba Tepe Museum, and on to our hotel at Kum where our swimmers could get some last minute training in the Aegean Sea.
At Kum, our tour came across another tour being run by Paul and Graham’s company. A sponsored tour by surf club members to develop an interest and to train local crews to take part in a surf boat race around the Gallipoli peninsula in 2015 as part of the ANZAC centenary celebrations. More information can be found at www.gallipoli100.com.au for those interested.
The 29th was the day for our tour of the battlefields. A tad truncated, our swimmers were anxious to return to Kum, witness the second only surf carnival in Turkey and get in that vital training swim in the Aegean Sea. We were only able to visit the most important sites: ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine and The Nek.
Surf boats passing Ariburnu with its war graves.
Ariburnu is the promontory between ANZAC Cove and North Beach.
From Ariburnu you can look north toward North Beach and the ceremonial site where ANZAC Day is commemorated, west to Walker’s Ridge and Plugge’s Plateaux, and south to ANZAC Cove.
Military History Tours ensure that every tour participant is able to visit the site where their ancestors fought and/or died. This time I was the only one who had such a descendant. When I guide at Gallipoli, it is special for me. I have two strong connections.
One is that my great uncle, my grandmother’s favourite brother, Max Horwitz (who served under the name Howitz), was with 15 Bn when he died whilst on patrol soon after the victory at Lone Pine. The other is B Squadron 1st Light Horse, the squadron in a later incarnation as B Squadron 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers I was to command in the 1970s. The squadron attacked from Pope’s Post on 7 August 1915; and ceased to exist.
To the B Squadron tragedy, we can add the personal tragedies of the Green and Nettleton families. SGT Green, a carrier from Mosman had served in the Boer War as a medical orderly, then trained with the Lancers. He left a wife and two children. 2LT Nettleton had been a Lancer before the war.
All three have no known grave, just names on the wall at Lone Pine.
Max Horwitz name on the wall at Lone Pine, and Max with his sisters
We then proceeded to the Nek and pondered the loss of the 8th and 10th Light Horse in support of the Suvla Bay landings. Even with the victory by the infantry at Lone Pine, the effort was to no avail, the Suvla action was poorly executed, and the sacrifice was in vain.
If you miss the exit point at Çanakkale, then you are carried on toward the Aegean (there are boats to pick you up). When we crossed the Dardanelles on the evening of the 29th for the swimmers’ briefing it was like a millpond, but on the day, there was also a strong wind from the north, whipping up a chop to make it very difficult to swim.
All of the swimmers on our tour swam well. Don Rowland and Jack Kingsley came second and third overall. George swam well, 55th overall, second in the 66 – 70 age group. Murray Rose also on our tour came first in the 71+ age group; another medal to add to gold in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics.
The tour ended with a bus ride to Istanbul on 31st; George and Robyn then proceeded to London to visit family.
Every year Military History Tours runs the Swim the Dardanelles tour. So if you feel up to the swim … even if the swim is not your bag, still come, visit the Gallipoli Battlefields at the height of summer, at the time of the year when the Suvla Landings, the Australian attacks at Lone Pine, Pope’s and the Nek took place, a profound experience.
Military History Tours also have a Gallipoli tour in May each year, away from the ANZAC Day crush, and a Tour/Cruise in 2015 where the Gallipoli 100 Surf Boat Race will be followed, the battlefields traversed in detail and you can be at an ANZAC Centenary ceremony. Military History Tours also run battlefield tours to France, Greece, the UK and South Africa CLICK HERE for details..
MILITARY MAP REFERENCING SYSTEM USED DURING THE FIRST WORD WAR.
(By Major Ken McKay)
Association members may be aware that Brigade and Unit war diaries of the AIF can be accessed through the Australian War Memorial website at http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/war_diaries/
Regarding the First World War diaries, the example below may assist to understand the now unfamiliar (and complicated) military map referencing system used when the diaries were written. The example map reference is 28.J.15.a.9.8:
'28' is the France and Belgium sheet number.
'J' appears in the centre of a 6,000 x 6,000 yard heavily marked grid square on the sheet. (Note. In other examples, a capital letter may appear in each corner of the square instead of the centre).
'15' appears in the centre of a 1,000 x 1,000 yard grid square within square 'J'.
'a' represents the top left of four 500 x 500 yard grid squares within square 15. ('b' being top right, c. being the bottom left and 'd' being bottom right).
'9.8' represents a point found by measuring 9/10ths (450 yards) across square 'a' from its left boundary line then 8/10ths (400 yards) up the square from its bottom (dotted) boundary line.
The above map reference example was for a fortified concrete blockhouse known as Black Watch Corner seized in Western Flanders on 20 September 1917 from German Army soldiers by soldiers of the 5th Battalion, AIF. The location was named after the Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch) which defended the area in November 1914.
You can have fun at finding map positions yourself by looking at a comprehensive set of military maps for First World War Western Front on the McMaster University (Canada) website at http://library.mcmaster.ca/maps/ww1/ndx5to40.htm . The particular map showing Black Watch Corner is at http://lt1.mcmaster.ca/ww1/wrz4mp.php?grid=28&map_id=371&view (sometimes there is a problem with this website).
At first, the image will be too small to read but you will succeed after some computer mouse zooming and dragging on the map. The trick is to centre the target area generally by map dragging as allowed before each zoom click.
Vale LIEUTENANT R.K. MCGREGOR (c.1939-2007)
UNSWR member 1960s
Late of Kellyville, NSW Lieutenant Bob McGregor sadly passed away on 10 September 2007, aged 68. A long-time member of the Association, Bob was commissioned through the Regiment in January 1959.
The condolences of the Association were extended to Bob’s family when news of his passing was received in October 2007.
ANOTHER VIETNAM WAR MISSING SOLDIER LAID TO REST
An article in the Association’s October 2007 newsletter referred to the sterling work by the Operation Aussies Home team in recovering the remains of two Australian soldiers who had been posted as missing in action in Vietnam for 42 years.
Two of the OAH members, including Major David Thomas who is also a member of the UNSWR Association, joined an Army History Unit team in November 2007 to search for the remains of another soldier killed in Vietnam. The soldier was Lance Corporal John Gillespie, a Medical Assistant of the 8th Field Ambulance whose “dustoff” helicopter was shot down over the Long Hai Hills (now the Minh Dam Mountains in Baria/Vung Tau Province),Vietnam during 1971. Due to the intensity of the fighting at the time, Corporal Gillespie’s remains could not then be recovered.
The Army History Unit team was successful in the recovery operation and on 18th December 2007 the remains of Lance Corporal Gillespie were repatriated to Australia.
Well done the Army History Unit, Major Thomas and OAH!
(An article received from Captain Ian Cameron)
When a panel of doctors was asked to vote on adding a new wing to their hospital, the Allergists voted to scratch it and the Dermatologists advised no rash moves.
The Gastroenterologists had a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the administration had a lot of nerve, and the Obstetricians stated they were all labouring under a misconception.
The Ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted; the Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body", while the Paediatricians said, "Grow up!"
The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, the Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing and the Radiologists could see right through it!
The Physicians thought it was a bitter pill to swallow; and the Plastic Surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter.
The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water.
The Anaesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas and the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.
In the end, the Proctologists left the decision up to some asshole in administration.
VIEWS OF A MODERN CHINESE PHILOSOPHER
(From a paper published during the War Administration Course at the Jungle Training Centre, Canungra in the 1970s)
Logisticians are a sad and embittered race very much in demand in war and who sink resentfully into obscurity in peace. They deal only in facts, but must work for those who merchant in theories. They emerge during war because war is very much fact. They disappear in peace because, in peace, war is mostly theory. The people who merchant in theories and who employ logisticians in war and ignore them in peace are generals.
Generals are a happily blessed race who radiate confidence and power. They feed only on ambrosia and drink only nectar. In peace they strike confidently and can invade a world simply by sweeping their hands grandly over a map, pointing their fingers decisively up terrain corridors and blocking defiles and obstacles with the sides of their hands. In war, they must stride more slowly because each general has a logistician riding on his back and he knows that at any moment the logistician may lean forward and whisper: “No, you can’t do that”. Generals fear logisticians in war and in peace try to forget them.
Romping along beside generals are strategists and tacticians. Logisticians despise strategists and tacticians. Strategists and tacticians do not know about logisticians until they grow up to be generals – which they usually do.
Sometimes logisticians become generals and, if they do, must associate with generals whom he hates as well as a retinue of strategists and tacticians whom he despises; and on his back is a logistician whom he fears. This is why logisticians who become generals always have ulcers and cannot eat their ambrosia.
Vale MRS J. MURCHISON (1918-2008)
It is with regret that we record the passing on 21st March 2008 of Mrs Joan Murchison, wife of the late Major General Allan Murchison, AO, MC, ED who was the Honorary Colonel of UNSWR from 1969 to 1975.
Colonel Bill Molloy who attended the funeral has reflected that both he and his wife very much enjoyed Mrs Murchison’s company and was very sorry to hear of her passing.
THE TALKING DOG
(Submitted by WO1 Bob Bettany)
A bloke is driving around Tasmania and he sees a sign in front of a house.*_"e;Talking Dog For Sale."e;_*
He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The bloke goes into the backyard and sees a Labrador Retriever sitting there. "You talk?" he asks. "Yep," the Lab replies.
"e;So, what's your story?"e; The Lab looks up and says, "e;Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told ASIO about my gift, and in no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running.
But the jetting around really tired me out, and knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."e;
The bloke is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog. "e;Ten dollars"e;, The owner says "e;Ten dollars? This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"e;
"e;Because he's a liar. He never did any of that stuff."e;
UW COMPANY 40TH BIRTHDAY
UNSWR will be training in the Wollongong area on the weekend 2/3 June 2007 so an opportunity is being taken by the Regiment to celebrate the 40th Birthday of UW Coy on the Saturday evening.
The celebration will take the form of an all ranks Regimental Dinner to which members of the Association will be invited once costs for catering arrangements have been finalised. It is understood that the venue will be the North Wollongong Surf Club.
UW Coy was formed as an UNSWR Detachment under the command of Captain Peter Morton in 1967 in the historic Harbour Street Depot, Wollongong and later moved into shared accommodation with B Company 4 RNSWR at B Company’s Gipps Street Depot. The Detachment went into “mothballs” for three years at the end of 1971 but was re-activated in November 1974, again at the Harbour Street Depot where it remained until August 1976 then moved into the 4 RNSWR Port Kembla Depot as a “tenant”.
The Port Kemba Depot was placed under the control of UNSWR in April 1977 which paved the way for the Wollongong Detachment to reach Company status. Earlier, the University of Wollongong Council had given its approval to use of the title University of Wollongong Company once Company status had been achieved. By early 1978, the Detachment was being referred to within the Regiment as UW Company.
UW Coy occupied the Port Kembla Depot for the next nineteen and a half years and moved back to the Gipps Street Depot in February 1996 following a general rationalisation of Army Depots.
A number of UNSWR Association members have served in one or more of the Wollongong Army Depots occupied by UW Coy and many have had contact with those who have. The Dinner will accordingly be a great opportunity to share in this celebration with currently serving members of the Regiment.
SOME ALTERNATIVE ROLES FOR INFANTRY
(Submitted by Major David Shepherd)
The role of the infantry is to seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize and hold ground and repel attack, by day and night, regardless of season, weather and terrain, but only if it is within the guidelines of the Wet Bulb and OH&S and fair go and 1800 waaaaa and the padre and other religious beliefs and the RSM and the code of conduct and standing orders and the individuals beliefs and the moon state and the CO and the CDF and whatever investigations that are running at the moment and range standing orders and fire orders and base standing orders and unit standing orders and unit SOPs and suicide awareness, and duty of care, and discrimination and security awareness and fraud awareness and ..............the list goes on..........can anyone remember what our role is again.........
OR (abridged version – Ed)
No - this is the role of the infantry. The role of the infantry is to seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize and hold ground and repel attack, by day and night, regardless of season, weather and terrain, as long as the following conditions have been met:
- All participants are AIRN compliant.
- There is a Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer present as well as a qualified operator.
- A full risk management plan has been completed and signed off by the CO.
- An Environment Compliance Certificate has been submitted and the Environmental Officer has signed it off.
- The padre is present, and has been appointed the Suicide Awareness Officer.
- A safety briefing has been conducted and all participants have been made aware of their responsibilities under the OH&S Act.
- Ammunition has been issued IAW Range Regulations 2-9-2.
- A letter drop has been conducted.
- It is not held on a religious birthday.
- All participants know the equity hotline number.
- All participants have watched the Steyr Safety video sometime in the preceding 24 hours.
- All participants have been drug tested and are clear.
- All weapons being used are FF and have had three non-techs and a technical inspection in the last 3 months.
- All GRes participants have had their ARTS extensions approved by the CA.
- The moon is under the influence of Uranus.
- The inflation rate is below 3.2%.
- Someone has been appointed as the OIC, and
- There is a Safety Supervisor for every 3 soldiers.
OPERATION 'AUSSIES HOME'
Association members would surely have been moved by the return home earlier this year from Vietnam of the remains of two Australian soldiers who for the previous 42 years had been posted as Missing in Action. They were Private Peter Gillson and Lance Corporal Richard Parker who were killed during Operation Hump involving 1 RAR in the Bien Hoa area in 1965. The sterling work by the Operation Aussies Home Team formed by Lieutenant Colonel Jim Bourke to find and recover the bodies of Peter Gillson and Richard Parker has been widely reported by the media, most recently in the ABC in the television programme “Australian Story”. What is not widely known is that two of the team members are Major David Thomas of the UNSWR Association and Ray Latimer who is now a Staff Cadet of UNSWR.
We congratulate the team generally for the wonderful work that has been done to honour the memory of the two soldiers and to bring a measure of peace for their families and former Army mates.
Dave Thomas has been involved for some years in forensic excavation and his expertise in this field can be said to have been critical to the success of the operation. After considerable frustration for the team, it was he who suggested in April this year that sites previously searched be re-examined. The suggestion was agreed to and this led to the graves being found. Dave has served in a number of postings both as a soldier and as an officer in UNSWR. In addition to postings outside of the Regiment, he has been a Platoon Commander, Company 2IC and OC in UN Company and the Unit Operations Officer. His service with the Regiment ranged from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s.
Ray Latimer is a Solicitor who, in addition to providing his professional services free to Operation Aussies Home, was engaged in much of the strenuous work of the team. Both he and Dave Thomas were the team members who actually found the remains.
Vale WARRANT OFFICER CLASS TWO N.A. SPRUCE (c.1943-2007)
UNSWR Training Warrant Officer 1970s
Lieutenant Tony Hogan has advised of the passing of Warrant Officer Class Two Norm ('Blue') Spruce on Saturday 25th August 2007 after a very long illness.
Blue was a Training WO at UNSWR (mid to late 1970’s) who Tony recalls as quite the larrikin but who always had the best interests of the 'Diggers' at heart.
ARMISTICE DAY 2008
(By Colonel Graham Fleeton)
At 11am on the 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. Germany had signed an Armistice. As soon as the news was known, cities and towns around Australia erupted into celebrations.
However, the troops still on active service in France found the cause for celebration hard to enjoy. It took several days for the Armistice to sink in meaning the end of the War and that they had survived. They found that they now had time to reflect on the past and all that they had been through and most importantly of those who would not be returning home with them.
The AIF had been on active service in France and Belgium from 28 March 1916 until the war ended. It was during those 31 months that the Australian soldiers had established a very high military and personal reputation. This reputation was hard won indeed. Of the 313,814 men and women who volunteered for service and proceeded overseas, over 59,000 lost their lives and over 152,000 were wounded, many were wounded more than once. These casualties were a total of 65% of those who had embarked from Australia with the majority being suffered on the Western Front.
All who served were volunteers and they fought with such purpose that towards the end of the war their opponents were ill at ease facing them. Fromelles was their only setback and even though casualties were high they were never defeated. The most successful period was from the 27th March 1918 until 5th October 1918. Although the five Australian Divisions constituted less than 10% of the whole British Forces on the Western Front, their achievements in this period were huge. They captured 23% of the prisoners taken, 23.5% of the enemy guns taken and 21.5% of all ground gained.
As the last Division left the field after the Battle of Montbrehein, they did so knowing that they had done much more than could have been expected of any force. It was small wonder that Australians on leave in London were dancing in the streets when on 11th November 1918 the end of the bloodiest war the world had seen came to an end, “The war to end all wars”.
On the 11 November 2008 I will be at the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux to stand in silence and to remember those who, 90 years before, gave their lives in the pursuit of freedom. Standing there we will realize that there is no more vivid and dramatic example of service, courage, endurance and sacrifice than the graves around us.
This will be the 90th Anniversary to the day that The Great War concluded and I intend taking quite a large group of Australians to the Western Front to take part in that Ceremony.
For further information on the Tour please visit www.militaryhistorytours.com.au.
The 90th Anniversary tour to Villers-Bretonneux for ANZAC Day has many ex-UNSWR members travelling with me and it would be very good indeed if we could have an UNSWR group travelling the Western Front together.
I hope you can be with me at that time.
CLICK HERE to see what happened on that tour.
THE FINAL INSPECTION (author unknown)
(A poem received from Captain Ian Cameron)
The Soldier stood and faced his God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, you Soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"
The Soldier squared his shoulders and said,
"No, my Lord, I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a dollar,
That wasn't mine to keep
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the Soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you Soldier,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell.
Vale MAJOR GENERAL A.C. MURCHISON, AO, MC, ED (1917-2005)
UNSWR Honorary Colonel 1969-1975
Major General Murchison enlisted in the Militia in 1934 with the 30th Infantry Battalion (New South Wales Scottish Regiment) and was a Lance Sergeant when the Second World War broke out. Commissioned in the 30th Battalion in September 1939, General Murchison was transferred to the 2/3rd Infantry Battalion AIF in November of that year. Promoted to Captain in March 1941 he was awarded the Military Cross for actions at Bardia during the Western Desert Campaign. The citation for his MC reads as follows:
During the attack on BARDIA 3 Jan 41 the Coy to which Lt MURCHISON belongs was held up in front of a very strongly defended enemy post by artillery and M.G. fire. Lt Murchison led his Pl, across very open ground under heavy artillery fire and point-blank M.G. and rifle fire, capturing a section of the enemy defensive position thus enabling the rest of the Coy to advance and capture the whole post with 500 prisoners. This officer showed outstanding gallantry and leadership throughout the whole of the fighting and was an inspiration and outstanding example to his troops.
General Murchison remained with the 2/3rd Battalion until November 1942 when he was posted to the 2/6th Infantry Battalion. Subsequently he was promoted to Major in January 1943. In December 1944 he was posted to the Pacific Islands Depot Battalion. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on the 1st January 1945 he commanded the Depot Battalion until March 1945. On 28th March 1945 he was given command of the 2nd New Guinea Infantry Battalion (the first native unit to fight as an entity), and held that post until demobilization in April 1946.
On the reorganisation of the Citizen Military Forces in 1948, General Murchison returned to the 30th Battalion as its Second in Command. He then commanded the Battalion from August 1949 until August 1952 when he was then attached to the 2nd Division Staff Group, remaining there until 1956.
Promoted to Colonel (Temporary Brigadier) in July 1956 he was given command of the 8th Infantry Brigade. From September 1960 until November 1963 he commanded the Command and Staff Group, Eastern Command from September 1965 until November 1966.
On the 1 December 1966 he was promoted to major general and given command of the 2nd Division, a post he held until 30th November, 1968. After a period on the Unattached List, Eastern Command, he was appointed to the Military Board as CMF member on the 1st January 1971. At the time this posting terminated on 27th October 1974 General Murchison was CMF member of the Military Board and Inspector General, Army Reserve. He had one of the longest tours of duty in the post for senior reserve officers.
He was Honorary Colonel of UNSWR from March 1969 until October 1975 and has been Representative Honorary Colonel of the Australian Cadet Corps (now titled the Australian Army Cadets) and President of the National Council of the CMF (Now Defence Reserves) Association.
He was a director of several companies including Cleveland Engineering and Welding Coy Pty Ltd and a director of Budget Plant Hire Pty Ltd and associated companies. He was Mayor of Woollahra for three terms, 1960-61, 1962-63, 1966-67 and President of the Imperial Service Club from 1966-1971.
General Murchison was named as an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 1977 Australia Day Honours List for his service to local government.
Sadly, General Murchison passed away on 31 October 2005 and a Service in celebration of his life was held at the Garrison Church, Millers Point, Sydney on 8 November 2005. As the Service was part of a military funeral, the casket was carried into and out the church by six Warrant Officers Class One with Pipers and Drummers playing a tune (Road to the Isles) and a Captain carried General Murchison’s medals and decorations on a cushion.
Many of General Murchison’s former comrades attended the Service and the Eulogies were led by the Commander 2nd Division, Major General R.P. Irving, AM, RFD.
Before departure from the church precinct, the casket was placed on gun carriage and three Rifle Volleys were fired by a Guard to honour General Murchison’s passing.
Vale LIEUTENENANT COLONEL I.A. LALAS, RFD (1956-2006)
UNSWR Commanding Officer 1998-2000
Born on 4 July 1956 in Sydney, Ian Arthur Lalas was the third son of Mary and Milton Lalas.
The date was one that led Ian to often sing I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy as a small child and his father has recalled that being a miniature imitation of James Cagney in his film role of G.M. Cohan, writer of that song, Ian was six or seven years of age before he realised that the song was not written especially for him.
Ian was educated at Coogee South Primary School and Randwick Boys High School and during this period proved himself to be a fine athlete. He honed his prowess in Rugby Union and later played for Randwick and the University of Sydney.
As a young boy, Ian became a Scout, following his two older brothers. He enjoyed Cubs, Scouts and Seniors and at the age of 18, in 1974, he joined the Army Reserve with which he remained thereafter.
Ian met Helen Maxwell while they were both serving in the University of New South Wales Regiment (UNSWR) and they married on 19th March 1983. The couple had three talented and wonderful children, Christopher now 19, William 17 and Joanna 13.
His children joined the Scouts and Ian was drawn in as a Scout leader over 10 years ago and, as in the Army, Ian led his troop excellently and made many firm and lasting friendships. He attended a number of Jamborees as Scout leader, with both Christopher and William at different times, and had great enjoyment from his involvement with the scouting movement. Christopher is now a trainee leader, William is a Venturer and Joanna is a Scout preparing for her first Jamboree in 2007.
His father has remarked that Ian’s 31 years in the Army Reserve was a glorious and exhilarating experience, though not without frustrations. Many of his ambitions were achieved and there were many events which brought him pleasure. One of these events was in 1987 while posted to the 4th Battalion, The Royal New South Wales Regiment, Ian participated in the linking parade with 3RNSWR. Although CO UNSWR was undoubtedly the pinnacle of his career, his posting as OC Delta Company 4/3 RNSWR at Merrylands would have to have been a highlight – a D Coy banner brought in by WO2 Paul Mitrovich hung in his room at Calvary Hospital in his last days.
In November 1997 Ian was advised that he would command UNSWR, his old Regiment for two years and was 'over the Moon' and in 1998 he experienced what he has described as his greatest military honour – to command a regimental parade at Victoria Barracks in Sydney to accept new Colours from the Governor General.
His last posting was as Staff Officer Grade 1 (Projects) at Headquarters 2nd Division and while there he worked for over a year on the organisation of celebrations for the Division’s 90th anniversary in 2005. Because of the illness that finally took him, Ian was unable to participate in two of the Division’s major celebrations. They were the anniversary parade at Victoria Barracks on 3oth July 2005 and the 2nd Division Battlefield Tour of the World War One Western Front and of Gallipoli in September 2005. The tour involved 150 Army personnel, relatives and friends, including Ian’s son Christopher and father, Milton.
Even though he could not participate in the tour, a break in Ian’s treatment allowed him a surprise trip to Paris where he commanded the Australian contingent of 60 serving and retired Army personnel during a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of France.
Helen has commented that Ian’s surprise trip to Paris last year should not really have been so surprising as when he was CO, he received an invitation to attend the Colours parade in September 1999 in England for UNSWR’s sister unit, 3rd Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. He read the invitation to Helen and said, “shall we go?” to which she replied, somewhat facetiously she has said, “jolly good show, do let’s” (as one would) but not taking it seriously
But sure enough, Ian and Helen went, children in tow, attended the parade at the South of Kent Showground, where they were introduced to the Regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. On the same trip, Ian was given the privilege of “Turning the Page” at Canterbury Cathedral where the pages of the Honour Roll books are turned each day.
In October 2005 the Commander 2nd Division, Major General Paul Irving visited Ian in hospital and presented him with a Commander’s Commendation for his tireless and exemplary performance in carrying out his responsibilities as Staff Officer Grade 1 Projects with particular responsibility for the 2nd Division’s 90th Anniversary activities. In his Commendation, the Commander pointed to Ian’s contributions to the planning of the program of activities in 2004 and the execution of the plan in 2005 as playing a crucial role in the success of the anniversary activities.
After intense treatment, Ian was told in November 2005 that nothing more could be done and he was admitted into final care. However, through determination Ian awoke from his lethargic state in late December 2005 and using his strong powers of persuasion, recommenced treatment and insisted upon physiotherapy. By mid-February, Ian was so improved that he was allowed to return home in the care of his father, Milton. This was not to last as Ian later suffered a relapse to his previous condition and he passed away in hospital on 9th May 2006.
BRUCE YORK MAKES A PILGRIMAGE
(By Captain Bruce York)
In 2005 Captain Bruce York who went by his stepfather’s name of Hartenstein when serving to the rank of Lieutenant in the Regiment in the early 1960s has kindly provided the attached article titled Mysteries at Rehborn.
The article relates Bruce’s very special experience in finding out more about how his father was killed as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force during World War Two.
Mysteries at Rehborn
I do not remember my father as I was almost one year old when George York joined the RAAF in Sydney and through the Empire Air Training Scheme was sent to Bomber Command via Canada. He served in the “odd bods” unit of 102 Ceylon Squadron which flew out of Pocklington in Yorkshire as a bomb aimer in Halifax bombers and was killed over Germany on 13th August 1944.
Early this year a friend phoned out of the blue and said did I know that I could obtain a copy of my father’s war record from the Australian Archives Office which of course I did through their internet site. I also obtained copies of files of the three other Australians in the crew who were killed to see what I could learn.
The first interesting fact was that two of the others John G. Gordon and Alfred H. Harvey had a daughter Adrienne Caroline Gordon and a son Errington Alfred Harvey respectively.
I did not know that the one crash left so many Australian children fatherless. I have a vague memory of meeting Errington when I was young but our paths have never since crossed. I wonder where they are today.
The second interesting document was a report from a British investigating officer who went to the site of the crash after the war on 12th December 1946 and who described in his report the crash site as 300m north of the Rehborn railway station and provided a vivid description of a fight between the bomber and a German fighter as witnessed by the local parson’s wife about 1am in the morning.
As I was planning to visit my eldest son in Europe in August we decided it would be interesting to visit the site of the crash to see what we could find out and this turned out to be a very special journey.
Rehborn is a small country town of about 800 people about 50km south west of Frankfurt in a lovely valley area. The railway station was still standing although now a house, and the railway line was being used by recreational locals on their special rail bikes. Armed with a compass we took a bearing north from the station and it pointed up a rather steep hill with a vineyard dominating the slope and 300m appeared to be just beyond the end of the vineyard. After a lengthy walk around we almost gave up until we stumbled upon a most interesting site in the middle of some scrub.
The grass was rather sparse and very brown but down the middle strip running down the hill for about 20 metres were planted four spindly staked trees in a row about three meters apart but in a clear line and at the top was a wooden cross and at the bottom tree another similar cross.
Why would this man made structure have been made, who built it and why did the surrounding ground look so devastated and sparse? Could this have been the site of the crash still recognisable after 61 years?
The RAAF records show this was the only allied plane crash in the area. It must have had a substantial impact on the town at the time. As the crash was on the reverse slope, if the plane had missed the hill by a few metres it well could have crashed in the middle of the town.
I would love to go back some day and ask around the town to find some answers although I fear there would not be too many alive today who would remember that night on 13th August 1944.
Vale MAJOR H.F. HARDMAN (1916-2006)
UTR Adjutant/Quartermaster 1952-1954
Lieutenant Colonel Joe Southwell advised of the passing on 16 June 2006 of the second Adjutant/Quartermaster of the Regiment, Major H.F. (Bert) Hardman.
Born on 15 December 1916 Bert Hardman was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Australian Imperial Force in 1943 and served in infantry and commando units. In 1945 he moved into the Army Services field which included three years at Headquarters Services Training Centre concluding in 1949 when he transferred to the Reserve of Officers.
Bert Hardman returned to the Army in 1951 as a member of the Australian Staff Corps in RAEME. In 1952 he was Quartermaster at the RAEME Training Depot before being appointed in July the same year as the Adjutant/ Quartermaster of the University of Technology Regiment, now UNSWR. His posting to UTR meant promotion to captain with responsibility for personnel and logistics administration of the Regiment in its formative years.
Lieutenant Colonel Wilf McGilvray recalled recently that Bert Hardman led a Regular Army cadre including the RSM, RQMS, Orderly Room Sergeant and a General Duties member. As the then Commanding Officer, Colonel McGilvray said that Bert was his ‘leaning post’. However, Colonel McGilvray did say there was one problem that Bert needed to have resolved for him and that was what to do about an Army audit visitor who didn’t like the idea of rifles being stored in the same place as rifle bolts. Colonel McGilvray solved the problem by taking Bert Hardman and the audit team visitor to a nearby hotel in Broadway.
Bert remained as Adjutant/Quartermaster of the Regiment until May 1954, transferring at that time to the 19th National Service Training Battalion where he spent two years before moving into staff postings at Headquarters Eastern Command. In April 1959 he was promoted Major upon a posting to the RAEME Training Centre at Bandiana in north east Victoria.
In November 1961 Major Hardman was posted to the staff of CRAEME at Headquarters 1 Corps before moving back to an EME posting staff at Headquarters Eastern Command in September 1962. He transferred to the Australian Regular Army Supplement in December 1969.
Major Hardman kept contact with the Regiment as a member of the UNSWR Association for many years.
His life was celebrated at a funeral service in Beverly Hills on 20 June 2006.
Lest We Forget
LIEUTENANT T.N.H. STRETCH - THE MAN BEHIND THE SWORD
(By Major Ken McKay)
The Association in cooperation with the RSM of UNSWR, Warrant Officer Class One Peter Sly, is providing a display case, photographs and documents in connection with a sword now used for presentation annually to the Staff Cadet of the Regiment who has displayed exemplary conduct and performance of duty in Second Class of the First Appointment Course.
The sword was provided to the Regiment several years ago by the Royal Military College of Australia and the documents and photographs for use with the display have been provided by courtesy of the present Commandant of the RMC, Brigadier Chris Appleton, as well as relatives of the late Lieutenant T.N.H. (Noel) Stretch, MC* who was the original owner of the sword.
Noel Stretch was born in Brighton, Victoria on 23rd December 1893 and was the sixth of seven children born to John Francis Stretch and Amelia Margaret Stretch.
Noel was educated under the auspices of the Church of England at Brighton Grammar School then Geelong Grammar School in Victoria then at “TAS” (The Armidale School) in Armidale, New South Wales. His tertiary education was at Trinity College of the University of Melbourne where he completed first year in Arts and represented the College in rowing cricket and football.
He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 17 August 1914 with service number 534 as a sergeant in 'F' Company of the 5th Infantry Battalion and embarked at Port Melbourne on 21st October 1914 on HMAT Orvieto headed for Alexandria, Egypt.
He was discharged from the AIF on 5 April 1915 upon being commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the British Army Service Corps in April 1915 and in October 1916 he was attached to the Regular Forces Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).On 1st November 1916 he was promoted to temporary lieutenant.
Lieutenant Stretch was twice awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. For security reasons, wartime public records did not provide unit details or locations of the actions for which an award was made. However, the British War Office documents concerned contained the following statements about Lieutenant Stretch:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Awarded the Military Cross
Lieutenant Thomas Noel Heath Stretch,
16th Company, Machine Gun Corps.
For conspicuously gallant leadership and skilful handling of his section of machine guns in the operations in the Ypres salient on the 31st July, 1917.
He successfully brought his four guns with the assaulting infantry up to the second objective and when there found that the right flank of the Brigade was exposed to attack from a party of the enemy still in the Pommern Redoubt. He pushed two of his guns well forward on the flanks of the Brigade and was thereby enabled to bring covering machine gun fire to bear while the rest of the Brigade was advancing to take the final objective. He took two prisoners with the assistance of one of his gun teams, and then obtained an Infantry bombing party to clear the trench of the remainder of the enemy.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Awarded a Bar to the Military Cross
T/2nd. Lieut. (T/Lieut.) Thomas Noel Heath Stretch, MC.
A.S.C., attd. M.G. Corps.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty from 20 to 22nd September, 1917, East of Ypres. He advanced with three machine guns to the first objective and got them into position. He then returned to the advanced company headquarters, and, despite heaving shelling, did splendid work in keeping up communication. On hearing that the officers of the forward sections had become casualties he supervised the working of those sections in addition to his own. His cheerful and courageous example greatly inspired his men.
Abbreviated citations later appeared in the 25th September 1917 and 23rd November 1917 appeared in the London Gazette.
Lieutenant Stretch was killed in action on 25th March 1918 during the Western Front German offensive of that year. He was a tall man and is believed to have been hit by an enemy sniper when momentarily exposed at a low point in a trench system that his unit was occupying at the time.
Lieutenant Stretch was aged 24 when he died and is buried in the Peronne Road British War Cemetery, Maricourt which is in the area of the Somme battlefields of World War One in northern France.
Related to the Stretch family, Major J.M.E. Highfield, MC, Royal Artillery (Retired) of Hambrook, West Sussex in the United Kingdom donated Lieutenant Stretch’s sword to the Australian Army in 2002 after being the owner of the sword for some 60 years. As Lieutenant Stretch was associated with the Newcastle area through his father, John Francis Stretch who was the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle, the sword was passed to UNSWR for use as an award for a Staff Cadet who excels in the early stages of officer training.
Lieutenant Noel Stretch was a clearly a gallant officer and the use of his sword as a perpetual award by the Regiment is a most worthy commemoration of him.
The first recipient of the award was Second Lieutenant Katherine Andrews, formerly Under Officer Andrews who graduated from the Royal Military College in February 2006.
Lieutenant Noel Stretch (with officer’s walking stick and wearing shorts and puttees - 6th from the left in the front row) with his section of the 165th Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps before the First World War Western Front Allied Offensive that commenced on 31 July 1917 east of Ypres, Flanders. (Photo by courtesy of Mr John Stretch, April 2006).
Vale BRIGDIER R.S.P. AMOS, RFD, ED (1927-2003)
UNSWR Honorary Colonel 1985-1991
Brigadier Philip Amos, RFD, ED died on 18 August 2003. Brig Amos originally enlisted in The Sydney University Regiment in 1948 and after a posting in 103 Field Workshop as a Corporal then as a Sergeant, was commissioned in 1951. After continued service in RAEME units and a period on the Reserve of Officers, he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel and appointed CRAEME Communications Zone in 1964. In 1972 he was promoted Colonel as Commander Special Duties List and subsequently Chief Instructor on the Logistics Staff Course. Promoted Brigadier in 1974, he filled a number of postings including Commander Communications Zone, Brigadier (Plans) Headquarters Force Command and PAC, retiring in 1984. He and Brigadier Phillip Parsonage were the only two reservists from the Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to reach the rank of Brigadier in New South Wales.
His Honorary appointments included Hon ADC to the Queen 1977-1979; Colonel Commandant RAEME 2nd Military District 1983-88; Representative Colonel Commandant RAEME (Australia) 1986-88; Honorary Colonel UNSWR 1985-1989.
As Honorary Colonel of the Regiment he made a special effort to attend Regimental functions and to forge closer links with the Regiment’s associated universities and their leaders.
At his specific request before passing away, there was only a small family funeral.
COLONEL W.R. BLUNDEN (1916-2003)
UTR Commanding Officer 1952-1953
Colonel Ross Blunden died on 2 December 2003. As the first CO of the Regiment, Ross was a strong supporter of the Regiment and its Association. Whenever possible, he showed his support in person and it was only in recent years that he was unable to attend all unit and Association functions. In civilian life, he was at one time Scientific Advisor to the Military Board and later a foundation Professor of University of New South Wales for many years.
Colonel Blunden’s funeral was attended by his close friend Lieutenant Colonel Wilf McGilvray together with Lieutenant Colonel Colin Dunston and Lieutenant Colonel Joe Southwell who represented the Regiment and the Association.
Vale CAPTAIN P.A. CONWAY (?-2003)
UTR/UNSWR member 1950s-1960s
Captain Patrick Conway died on 25 July 2003 after a long struggle against mesothelioma. Pat, one of the founding Association members, is remembered as a very respected company officer.
He was commissioned in UTR in 1957. Pat is survived by his wife Mary and large family, including 13 grandchildren.
Lieutenant Colonel Joe Southwell attended his funeral on behalf of the Association.
Vale MAJOR C.G. LAMBERT (1934-2005)
UTR/UNSWR member 1950s-1980s
Colin Godfrey Lambert enlisted in the University of Technology Regiment (UTR) at Ultimo, Sydney in 1953 and while serving as a soldier saw the Regiment renamed UNSWR.
After reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class Two, he was commissioned through the Regiment on 3 March 1960 and for most of the next 21 years served in a number of regimental officer postings. During his many years with the Regiment he moved with it, firstly from its Ultimo Depot in the year that he enlisted to the old ‘Tote’ building in High Street, Kensington and then to the current Day Street Depot in 1959.
Early last year when Colin was talking to Ken McKay he recalled that one of the highlights of his service was as an Acting Platoon Sergeant under the then Lieutenant Phil Parsonage in 1956 when the entire Regiment went to the Jungle Training Centre in south east Queensland. He also recalled that he was involved with the making of the first recording by the Regimental Band. That recording included the Band marching on ANZAC Day 1979 as well as a number of tunes with the Pipes and Drums of SUR and of 17 RNSWR.
He retired from the Army Reserve in 1981 after having been posted for some three years as the Officer Commanding Headquarter Company and having also commanded all other Kensington based companies of the Regiment.
He commenced his civilian employment with CSR Chemicals in 1953 and graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science Degree (Chem). In 1966/67 he obtained a Master’s Degree in Science at Eni Corporate University, Italy and received an award for topping the course. Remaining with CSR Chemicals in engineering management until 1971 he then worked in management roles with other organisations including Noyes Bros, Envirotech and Statewide Roads.
Before completely retiring from the civilian work force in 1999, Colin developed an interest in bush regeneration. He became an expert in that field and started volunteer regeneration groups in a number of Sydney and Regional locations including Lord Howe Island. He was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001 for service to the community through bush regeneration and conservation.
He was a very strong supporter of the Regiment through the UNSWR Association, spending many years as Treasurer until his untimely passing on 25th July 2005. Many of Colin’s friends including a large contingent from the UNSWR Association joined his wife, Mary and her family at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium for a funeral service to commemorate Colin’s life.
Vale BRIGADIER P.C PARSONAGE, RFD ED (1933-2001)
UNSWR Commanding Officer 1965-1968
UNSWR Honorary Colonel 1991-1997
It was reported as the last newsletter was about to go to print that Brigadier P.C. Parsonage had passed away on 26 October 2001.
Brigadier Parsonage was born in Sydney on 5 May 1933 and was educated at Sydney Boys High school. After working as a Cadet Engineer with the Department of Railways he enlisted in the University of Technology Regiment in 1952, later renamed UNSWR, as the Regiment’s 10th enlistee. His long military Career then commenced.
He was awarded the Blamey Award for top marks in the TAC 5 course for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel and was the first officer commissioned in UNSWR to become its Commanding Officer. His period of command was from 1965 to 1968. He was also the first member of the Regiment to become its Honorary Colonel and served as such for six years until 1998.
A funeral service for Brigadier Parsonage was held at St Philip’s Anglican Church, Caringbah on 1st November 2001. There was large congregation, including many of Brigadier Parsonage’s former comrades from UNSWR and other units of the Australian Army.
Brig R.S.P Amos gave a moving eulogy, which commenced with a note that Phil Parsonage was the 8th Commanding Officer of UNSWR, having commanded the Regiment 1965 – 1968. Excerpts from the eulogy continue… “He was the first [CO] to have received all his training in the Citizen Military Forces since it reformed in 1948.
"He topped his qualifying course for Lieutenant Colonel at Canungra and was awarded the Sword of Honour."
"I had not met him in his earlier career, and my first encounter with him was on a grassy hill outside Camden during a Tactical Exercise Without Troops which I think was conducted by Headquarters 2nd Division in the late 1960s.”
"At some later date he transferred to the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and became the Commanding Officer of 2 EME Services Unit at Homebush."
"e;In 1972 Phil, Jan [the late Jan Parsonage] and I attended the Army Sailing course at HMAS Rushcutter – we all qualified as coxswains."e;
"e;Later still, Phil and I were both involved on Headquarters Communication Zone, particularly in relation to the conduct of the Logistic Staff Course from about 1974 onwards. In those days we were frequently tasked by Major General Dunstan when he was Commander Field Force Command (and later when as Lieutenant General Dunstan he was Chief of the General staff) to produce all sorts of papers discussing matters concerning logistic support of forces in the field. It was during this period that Phil gained his reputation as a deep thinker, and probably ensured his later promotion to Brigadier, and appointment as Brigadier (Plans) at Headquarters Field Force Command."e;
The eulogy concluded accurately….. "e;Well done that man!"e;
50TH ANNIVERSARY CHURCH PARADE
A feature of celebrations in the 50th year of the Regiment was the conduct of a church parade at St Spyridon’s Greek Orthodox Church, Kingsford on Sunday 24 February 2002. The parade immediately followed the normal church service which enabled members of the Congregation to participate in a welcome to the Regiment by Father Steven Scoutas.
The congregation, soldiers of the Regiment and members of the Association were addressed by the outgoing Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Fielding, who expressed thanks for the generous opportunity to conduct the church parade. He noted that the choice of St Spyridon’s for the parade was a simple one, given its status as a War Memorial Church and its long and close association with UNSWR.
Of particular note by the CO was that the old Colours proudly hang in the church, thus further cementing ties between the community of South-East Sydney and the Regiment.
The CO drew to attention that the major intent of the church parade was to acknowledge the highly significant milestone that the Regiment was raised 50 years ago as a RAEME unit. Mentioned was that the Regiment’s role has since undergone considerable change and that it remains effective and flexible, thus providing an opportunity for part time voluntary service for countless young Australians in the best traditions of the Australian Army.
Also, the CO drew attention to the remarks of a former Honorary Colonel, Lieutenant General Sir Mervyn Brogan, who wrote at the time of the Regiment’s 25th Anniversary …. “The history of the Regiment is a story of the people who have played their part in the continuous evolvement of a unit of which the University from which it springs, can be justifiably proud, as can those who serve or who have served in it. The Regiment has been and will remain a splendid training ground for those individual soldiers in it who seek to develop their potential to the full and simultaneously demonstrate their earnest in serving their country”.
Vale LIEUTENANT COLONEL K.W. BROMHAM, ED (1923-2001)
UNSWR Commanding Officer 1962-1965
It is with great sadness that we record the passing of a former Commanding Officer of UNSWR, Lieutenant Colonel Ken Bromham on 7th March 2001 after a long illness.
Kenneth William Bromham was born in Sydney on 11 October 1923 and was educated at Tamworth High School, NSW. He enlisted in the AIF in December 1941. During the war, he served with 'M' Heavy Battery, RAA, and later with the 3rd New Guinea Infantry Battalion, reaching the rank of Sergeant before demobilisation in 1946.
He enlisted in Sydney University Regiment in 1949 and was commissioned in September 1951. He was promoted to Captain in 1954, followed by promotion to Major in 1958.
Following a period as Second-in-Command of UNSWR, he assumed command of the Regiment on 1st December 1962. Always and imposing and dignified figure, Colonel Bromham trained and commanded the Regiment for the Presentation of its first set of Sovereign’s and Regimental Colours, an event which was held on 27 October 1963 on the UNSW Oval.
Notable during his period of command was Colonel’s Bromham’s work which secured for the Regiment the maroon lanyard worn by its members to this day. The regimental history records that his support for the maroon lanyard took into account that:
- UNSWR was seventh in the list of Infantry Regiments in NSW at that time, and maroon was the seventh colour of the HQ list;
- maroon was one of the dominant colours in the tie of the Middlesex Regiment with which UNSWR was affiliated; and
- a similar colour to maroon was the dominant colour in the UNSWR Regimental Colour.
After relinquishing command of the Regiment on 1st December 1965, he was posted to the Officer Training Group, Eastern Command. His final posting was as GSO1, HQ 2nd Division, from 1st July 1968 until his transfer to the Reserve of Officers in 1971.
Like his father, Ken Bromham was a member of the teaching profession and positions he held included service as a teacher with the NSW Department of Education and Supervisor of Physical Education with that Department in 1953 until the end of 1966,when he took up the position as Master of Kensington Colleges of the University.
An active Rotarian, he was noted for his chairmanship of the Rotary Youth Exchange Committee.
Colonel Bromham’s funeral has been reported as a large one by Colonel Joe Southwell who attended as a long-standing friend of the family and brother officer.
Officer Cadets at RMC recently observed a minute of silence in remembrance of Colonel Bromham
The Commanding Officer of UNSWR and the President of the UNSWR Association extended condolences to his wife, Deidre Bromham and her family.
Vale COLONEL J.S. WHITTLE, MBE ED (1918-2001)
UNSWR Commanding Officer 1960-1962
It is with great sadness that we record for the second time this year the passing of a former Commanding Officer of UNSWR.
Colonel John Whittle passed away on 9 May 2001 and a funeral service for him was held at St John’s Anglican Church, Ashfield on 11th May. Included amongst the mourners were a number of comrades from 2/1st Infantry Battalion AIF, 45th Bn (The St George Regiment) and UNSWR.
Two of Colonel Whittle’s comrades spoke at the funeral of his enthusiasm for service in the Army – how he had joined the 30th Bn of the CMF in the 1930s and later 2/1 Bn once war had been declared. During the war, 2/1 Bn trained first in Egypt and then took Bardia and Tobruk before being sent to Greece and Crete. As a Lieutenant, he took part in the Battle of Retimo (Rethymno, Crete).
His battalion was ordered to surrender after the fall of Crete in May 1941 and he was sent to Germany as a POW until liberated in 1945.
He resumed service in the CMF upon its re-establishment in 1948. He served in the ranks of LT, CAPT and MAJ in 45 Bn and became its Commanding Officer upon promotion to Lieutenant Colonel on 1 August 1959.
He became Commanding Officer of UNSWR on 1 September 1960 and during his period of command was responsible for the formation of the Regimental Band. Also, it is believed that Colonel Whittle was the first Commanding Officer of the Regiment to vigorously press UNSWR to produce officers for other units of the CMF.
He concluded as CO UNSWR in November 1962 upon his posting to the Officer Training Group (Eastern Command) where he was promoted Colonel in November 1967 to command the Command and Staff Training Unit. His final posting was with the Staff Training Wing of OTG from which he retired in 1972.
For his services to the CMF, John Whittle was awarded an MBE while serving in the rank of CAPT.
Colonel Whittle was to have toured Greece and Crete in May 2001 but his passing prevented this. Of great significance is that his medals and uniform were presented to the War Museum at Rethymno in accordance with his wishes.
Vale MAJOR K.M. SKINNER, RFD, ED (1929-2001)
UTR/UNSWR member 1950s,1960s and 1970s
We sadly record the passing of yet another strong supporter and former member of the Regiment.
Major Kevin Skinner passed away on 21 September 2001 after a number of years of illness. His funeral was held at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium on 26 September and present amongst the mourners were a good number of his former comrades of UNSWR as well as several serving members.
Having enlisted into the CMF in April 1956, he was commissioned through UNSWR on 21st May 1959. He was promoted Captain while posted to the Regiment and in 1963 was posted to 3RNSWR.
One interesting note while MAJ Skinner was posted to UNSWR is that he was Best Man at the wedding of Lieutenant Colonel Eric and Pat Ralphs in April 1963. Also, he was awarded a University Blue for shooting in 1956 and he represented the Army in the Queen’s Medal shoot in 1957.
Upon the Army re-organisation on 1 July 1965, he became one of the original officers of 4RNSWR where he was posted as a Company Commander. He was promoted Major on 28 July 1967 and during his later years of service was regularly posted as an Instructor on TAC 3 Courses for promotion to major. He retired from the Army Reserve in July 1976.
He was always been a very strong supporter of UNSWR and through his generosity in 1999 the Regiment was presented with a fine sword for use by the Band Master.
He was also a very respected member of the Army Museum NSW Foundation. Its Chairman, Colonel Graham Fleeton, recorded at a Foundation Board meeting that MAJ Skinner was a very active Board member and that his touch of humour and wise counsel will be sorely missed.
His son, Stephen, has made it known that it was through the influence of his father’s sense of duty that he also enlisted and was commissioned through UNSWR.
LAYING UP OF THE OLD COLOURS OF UNSWR
UNSWR Association Newsletter, November 2001
Having been replaced by new Queen’s and Regimental Colours in 1998, the old Colours of UNSWR were laid up in the Greek Orthodox Church of St Spyridon, Kingsford on Saturday 3rd March 2001.
The old Colours were marched to the church by the Regiment, Band leading. The UNSWR Honorary Colonel, Major General Brian McGrath, RFD hosted the parade which was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Fielding, RFD.
Representing the community at the Laying Up Service were the Hon John Johnson, MLC (representing the Premier of New South Wales), the Hon Laurie Brereton, MP (Federal member for Kingsford Smith), the Hon Deirdre Grusovin, MP (State member for Heffron), Cr Dominic Sullivan (Mayor of the City of Randwick) and Cr George Glynatsis (Deputy Mayor of the City of Botany Bay).
Father Steven Scoutas of the Church of St Spyridon officiated at the Service. The church was filled to capacity by Parishioners, members of the local community as well as families, former members and friends of the Regiment, including a number of UNSWR Association members.
General McGrath and the immediate former Commanding Officer of UNSWR, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Lalas, RFD, respectively accepted the Commanding Officer’s invitation to hand the Sovereign’s Colour and Regimental Colour to Fr Scoutas for Laying Up.
Fr Scoutas gave a most inspiring sermon in which he recalled that four young Greek boys, newly arrived in Australia just after the turn of the previous century, lied about their age to join the Australian Army and eventually died bravely at Gallipoli in the First World War. He also recalled that hundreds of Greek Australians served with the Australian forces in the Second World War and over 180 Greek Australians went to Vietnam.
Fr Scoutas expressed that it was a privilege and an honour to receive the Colours of an Australian Army Regiment and that they would be positioned immediately after the Service. He concluded that as Australians, the people of St Spyridon’s will respect the Old Colours, will defend them as Greeks and honour them.
After the sermon, Colonel Fielding addressed the Congregation and noted that as Colours reach the end of their serviceable life, it is customary for them to be laid up, or retired, with the preference being for them to be placed nearby in a Place of Worship.
He added that the Colours laid up had been carried proudly for many years by soldiers of the Regiment and that its members were extremely honoured to be afforded the privilege of the laying up in the Church of St Spyridon.
Colonel Fielding concluded that the Regiment entrusted to the St Spyridon community the honour of the Regiment and that of all past and serving members.
The Regimental Band played a fanfare as each Colour was handed to Fr Scoutas and the Service concluded with the playing of both the Australian and Greek National Anthems.
The Parish provided a splendid afternoon tea in the church hall and all participants had the opportunity to view the Colours mounted high in the Church of St Spyridon. This magnificent display of the old Colours of UNSWR in a Sacred Place impresses all that see them of the great respect with which they are held.
(By Major Ken McKay)
The Reserve Forces Day March on Sunday 2 July 2000 started out in Sydney’s Hyde Park where opportunities were taken to meet up with as many friends as possible before stepping off towards the Opera House via Macquarie Street.
A friend well known to many was Colonel Graham Fleeton, who extended invitations to join him in a tour of Turkey including the Gallipoli Peninsular in April 2001. Majors Bob Eaglesham, John Hitchen and Ken McKay of the UNSWR Association were among those who accepted.
Ken McKay was hesitant about going overseas but as soon as his wife, Ronda saw invitation she said, “we are going!
Preparation for the trip by Colonel Fleeton included the publication of several newsletters, firstly indicating the outline plan and finally giving detailed timings. There was also a briefing at Oatley RSL Club on a Saturday in March.
The “7ps” were followed carefully as the planning led to completion of a successful mission. ………. To have made a pilgrimage to a place where, having been there, you know you have done something very worthwhile.
The tour was titled “Gallipoli Remembered 2001” and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was the RV for all 29 members of the group who came from NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. The tour group landed at Istanbul having flown Malaysia Airlines via Dubai.
Our Turkish guide Emin Dicker, who Colonel Fleeton had also engaged for his first tour in 1999, met the tour group at Istanbul International Airport. After a journey that passed through the outskirts of the Old City, the group took up residence at the Hotel Richmond, which provided excellent Four-Star accommodation in Istikal Cadessi, about one km from Taksim Square. The only catch was having to run the gauntlet of the shoeshine boys who charged outrageously to polish suede shoes with black polish whenever the group was leaving or returning to the hotel. One slower member of the group still has a pair of brown shoes with a black tinge.
Day 1 visits in Istanbul included an afternoon cruise on the Bosphorus which provided views from the water of two major bridges linking the European side of Turkey to the Asian side, the Dolmabahçe Palace (built 1843-1856) where Kemal Ataturk died in1938, other picturesque palaces and a 5th Century fort.
Day 2 visits, also in Istanbul, included the magnificent 17th Century Ottoman built Blue Mosque, the 6th Century Aya Sofya (Hagia Sofia) notable for its Madonna and Child just inside the entrance to what was a church which later became a Mosque. Also visited was the vast 15th Century Topkapi Palace of the Ottoman Sultans. It was here that the group lunched in a restaurant overlooking Istanbul’s Golden Horn Harbour and the Bosphorus.
The day concluded with the obligatory carpet warehouse visit with apple tea and magic carpets provided you have plenty of US dollars. It was there that Ken McKay found one member of the group, Major Graeme Davis, was none other than the Second-in-Command of SUR. His son, Andrew Davis, joined the tour group after a trip from the UK.
On Day 3 after again running the gauntlet of the shoeshine boys, the tour group left Istanbul for a half-day drive to the Gallipoli Peninsular. After lunching at a sardine café in Gelibolu (pop. 17,000) the group went directly to Chunuk Bair where Colonel Fleeton gave an overview of the campaign. This piece of ground was significant, being key terrain for the Turkish 19th Division opposing the ANZAC troops. While there, a Turkish gentleman joined the group and presented a viewpoint that the Allies successfully withdrew from the Peninsular, not through secrecy and deception, but because they had become respected by the Turkish forces who would not shoot those who had become friends. An interesting viewpoint 86 years on!
Of note while there was that the main New Zealand Memorial is located at Chunuk Bair as is a very large statue of Colonel Mustafa Kemal, Commander of the Turkish 19th Division and later the first President of the Republic of Turkey.
One poignant memorial seen by the group on Day 3 was that depicting a Turkish soldier carrying a wounded enemy soldier back from “No Man’s Land” to the Allied lines. The caption read …
⊃At Chunuk Bair on 25 April there was heavy trench fighting between the Turks and the Allies. The distance between the trenches was between eight and ten metres. A cease-fire was called after a bayonet attack and the soldiers returned to their trenches. There were heavy casualties on both sides and each collected their dead and wounded. From between the trench lines there came a cry for help from an English captain who was very badly wounded in the leg. Unfortunately no one could leave their trenches to help because the lightest movement resulted in the firing of hundreds of bullets. At that moment an incredible event occurred. A piece of white underwear was raised from one of the Turkish trenches and a well built, unarmed soldier appeared. Everyone was stunned and we stared in amazement. The Turk walked slowly towards the wounded British soldier, gently lifted him, took him in his arms and started to walk towards our trenches. He placed him down gently in the ground near us then straight away returned to his trench. We couldn’t even thank him. This courageous and beautiful act of the Turkish soldier has been spoken about many times on battlefields. Our love and deepest respect to this brave and heroic soldier. First Lieutenant Casey (later to become Australian Governor-General 1967-71)"
Day 3 concluded with a 30minute ferry trip from Eceabat on the Gallipoli Peninsular to Canakkale via the Dardanelles. This trip reminded the group that the seizure this waterway was the primary British objective of the Gallipoli Campaign.
During the evening of Day 3, a number of members of the group enjoyed a Turkish Bath in Canakkale. One member was heard to scream during his session “…. get off me you b…..!”. Another screamed “……I will only tell my regimental number!”
Day 4 commenced with a ferry trip from Canakkale to Eceabat then on to Walker’s Ridge, which provided excellent observation of the coastline and hinterland. While in that area, the Nek was visited where the disastrous assault by the Victorian 8th and the Western Australian 10th Light Horse Regiments occurred on 7th August 1915. One look to the opposite ridge on the half right from the attack line of departure quickly demonstrates that Turkish machine gun fire easily caught our soldiers in enfilading fire.
Other visits on Day 4 included Quinn’s Post at the northern end of the Second Ridge and Lone Pine where the main Australian Memorial is located. Noted by the group was that Quinn’s Post overlooks Monash Valley, was taken by a company of the 15th Battalion on 29th April 1915 and was held for the remainder of the campaign. The very short distances between the opposing trenches (only 25 metres in some places) was noted as was the difficult to penetrate gorse bush that typified the terrain generally in the whole area of ANZAC operations.
Also noted as remarkable was that the ANZAC area frontage was no more than approximately 3 km and the depth of sustained penetration over the eight months involved was no more than approximately 1.3 km (uphill).
On Day 4 the tour group continued visits to major battle sites and to points for an overview from Australian held positions in the area of operations. Cemeteries were visited at positions on and above the beachfront. At each cemetery Colonel Fleeton led the group in a short prayer of remembrance.
Plugge’s Plateau above Anzac Cove was on the first of two ridge ridges taken by the ANZACS. Views from the plateau enabled a very good ground appreciation, highlighting the difficulty of movement and exposure of our troops to enemy sniper and artillery fire.
One of the group was Mr Garry Barnsley, OAM, of Bowral NSW who made it his task to locate the memorials of 23 soldiers from the NSW Southern Highlands who lost their lives during the campaign. All members of the tour group joined in to help locate the names and all were found. In each case, a sprig depicting wattle and eucalypt leaves was placed on the soldier’s Memorial and a carbon rubbing was taken for presentation to a Southern Highlands Historical Society. This was a kind and thoughtful thing to do.
Lieutenant Colonel John Petteit and wife Joy were seen at Anzac Cove on Day 4 and when speaking with Ken McKay recently, he said that they found the experience on Gallipoli both unforgettable and extremely moving.
Day 5 was ANZAC Day which commenced for the tour group at 0030 hrs with a further ferry trip across the Dardanelles from Canakkale to Eceabat. Memorable and touching scenes from the bus while moving from Eceabat to North Beach on the Peninsular were numerous groups of young Australian and New Zealand ‘Back Packers’ walking for many kilometres with their torches to be in time for the Dawn Service.
As to be expected, the Dawn Service was the major event for all visitors (said to be 15,000) and never to be forgotten for all who were there was the gradual shaping of the ridges dotted with people as the morning light gathered.
After the Dawn Service, a number of the tour group walked from North Beach south about 2km to Shell Green then climbed to the Lone Pine feature via an easy track which extended over about 1.5km.At noon, the group attended the Lone Pine service.
Later all four of the UNSWR Association members went with others of or formerly of 4/3 RNSWR to the 4th Battalion Parade Ground Cemetery nearby for a short ceremony and a toast to fallen comrades with a long aged commemorative port brought specially from Australia for the occasion.
After a brief visit to the British War Memorial and ‘V’ Beach at Cape Helles at the southern end of the Gallipoli Peninsular the group then returned to Cannakkale.
Day 6 day saw visits to the ancient ruins of Troy on the Asian side of the Dardenelles. After leaving there, one member of the group realised he had left a movie camera behind and it is a tribute to the Turkish people that a complete stranger drove the member some kilometres back to Troy where the camera was found in safe hands at the tourist shop. The day concluded with a visit to a market in Bursa. Yes, the ladies shopped well!
Day 7, the last for the tour for Colonel Fleeton’s group, saw a return to Istanbul where most went to the Spice Market near the New Mosque.
One interesting note for Majors John Hitchen, Bob Eaglesham and Ken McKay was a visit to the Military Museum on the recommendation of another member of the group, Major John Partridge. Witnessed at the Museum was a performance by Mehter, a Janissary Band claimed to be the world’s oldest military band dating from the 8th Century. (Imagine six base drums instead of one as found in a Brass Band). To hear and see this band is very worthwhile.
On Day 8 the group made their farewells with some staying in Turkey to explore further and some went on to Europe and the UK while some returned home.
Major John Hitchen recently summed up his feelings on the tour by saying that it affected him very emotionally.
Major Bob Eaglesham has said that the experience was one every military person should have during their career ……. particularly recommended for junior officers to appreciate the waste of human lives through poor leadership, poor communication and uncoordinated fire support.
Vale MRS J.L. PARSONAGE (1940-2000)
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Janette Louise (Jan) Parsonage, wife of Brigadier Phil Parsonage, following an illness.
Jan was a good friend to a number of Association members, having participated with her husband in many activities the Regiment.
The present and two former Honorary Colonels and the Commanding Officer of the Regiment joined the Parsonage family at the funeral service.
Vale BRIGADIER THE HON S.L.M. ESKELL, ED, psc, fsc(US) (1918-2000)
UTR Commanding Officer 1955-1958
We report with great sadness that Brigadier Stan Eskell passed away in London earlier this year at the age of 82. Brigadier Eskell was the third Commanding Officer of the Regiment, having commanded from September 1955 until July 1958.
In his civilian career, Brigadier Eskell was a businessman and between 1958 and 1978 was a member of the NSW Legislative Council.
KOKODA TRAIL – JAN 2000
(By Lieutenant Alex Struve)
A mix of UNSWR members and friends walked the Kokoda Trail in early January this year. WO2 Col Lantry, who has previously trekked the Owen Stanley Ranges on 3 different occasions, instrumented this exercise. It was going to take us 10 days to walk from Kokoda to Owers’ Corner. With Col Lantry acting as our guide, the selected group comprised of LTs Shane Strohfeldt and Alex Struve, SGT Larry Burridge, OCDTs Angus Anderson, Carmen Buchanan, Lindall Duffy, Joe Potts, Jodie Rays, Mark Reid, Charlie Slinger, PTEs Phil Beaver and Lee Seddon, and Mr Phil James. Shane Strohfeldt and Phil Beaver were back again for their second time across the Ranges with Col, having completed the Trail only a year before. According to that group of 3, we were far more fortunate with the weather conditions this year. For the next 12 days in Papua New Guinea, affairs were conducted on a first name, informal basis. For those of you who recognise the familiar ring of ‘WO2 Col Lantry’, you will be able to place him as UNSWRs TRG WO from 1997 – 1999. The man who guided many OCDTs and always believes that the best way is the hardest way.
That being the nature of our guide, porters were not contemplated, and 10 days of fun lay ahead of us. Being the thorough man that Col is, we were encouraged to read books detailing the operations in the area during WWII. This background knowledge, combined with tales from the locals and experiencing the terrain ourselves, made the trip not only educational, but one of humility as to try and grasp what, for some of us, was the environment our ancestors survived in for so long. Along the Track, presentations were given by various members of the group at the sites of major battles (e.g. Isurava, Brigade Hill) and at various landmarks (eg. the grave of Private Kingsley, VC).
We trekked from North to South, flying in to Kokoda and walking back to Owers’ Corner. On arrival at Kokoda, we were greeted by the locals and headed straight for the Kokoda War Museum. Here, the Australian Government has donated pictures and artefacts depicting the Battle of Kokoda in particular. Australia has also contributed funding for the local hospital in the area. After signing the visitor’s book, visiting the Kokoda memorial and examining the trees which are still clearly scarred from Japanese machine gun rounds, we began our journey for Owers’ Corner. The plan was to reach the village of Isurava by nightfall, however due to a delay with our flight (the locals are very relaxed when it comes to timings), it was decided to spend the night beside the ‘Women’s Dam’. The Dam is named as such because the natives built it so that the women would have somewhere to do the washing. Although the water at the Dam was freezing, a swim was thoroughly enjoyed by all and we were inducted into a typical PNG night with the rain. Stopping here meant an early 0400hrs start to reach our intended destination.
Our lack of distance covered the day before meant a rather fast pace as we still had to make up some ground. It was this morning that we received our first taste of what lay ahead – the endless, endless climbing of hills. No, these were not hills, they were mountains and did we know that. Our bodies were adjusting to the changes that we thrust upon them, and walking further each day was a continuation of discovering unknown muscles. The natives that sometimes joined us on the trail were like mountain goats, bounding ahead and constantly waiting for us to catch up. The trail, this second day, winded up through a maze of choko vines, a staple part of the local diet. We learnt at dinner that evening that both the choko itself and the vine are favoured foods of the natives.
For those who remember UNSWR's Training Major (1996 - 1998), Major Peter Smith, you will be interested to know that as a young LT, a posting to PNG meant many years training along the Kokoda Trail. Here, he was instrumental in the production of the cross section map of the Trail, a map that we were most thankful for.
We reached Isurava just before lunch and the views were amazing. We were already above the clouds. The majority of the Trail, I am pleased to report, was able to afford us spectacular views like the one at Isurava. Also, the villagers along the track were extremely friendly and the children especially enjoyed our gifts of balloons, stickers etc. The gift that fascinated the natives the most, was a photo of themselves from Charlie Slinger’s polaroid camera. As you can imagine, life is rather simple in the Owen Stanley Ranges. Families tend to live together in one room/hut, pens and paper are scarce, so the novelty of having a group of Australians pass through and a photo of themselves was quite enough to cause excitement to last for months. I believe approximately 300 people attempt to walk the Kokoda Trail each year, however only 100 will make the complete distance. At approximately each third of the trail, there is an airstrip to deliver supplies to the locals, and return tourists who have had enough to Port Moresby. For us, the villagers often shared their fruit (passionfruit, bananas etc) and left over vegetables from dinner, which was a delicious supplement to our dehydrated rations.
From Isurava, we walked for 12 hours until we reached Templeton’s Crossing 1 for the night. The portion of the trail covered that day was the only time we were to come across leeches. After Templeton’s Crossing, we decided to detour Kagi Village in order to discover Myola. We had just crossed the highest point of the Ranges (Mount Bellamy), followed the jungle path to Myola for an hour, to be greeted with the sight of muddy grass flats. During WWII, this area was used as a dumping ground for supplies and the flats are still littered with old crates, the odd helmet, and both Australian and Japanese rounds. Myola is to the Owen Stanley Ranges, what Hayman Island is to the Whitsundays. It was heaven. Here we had a bucket shower with warm water, mattresses to sleep on in the guest hut and pillows – what luxury. Dinner was delicious and in huge abundance. The locals here are also rather well off as they own sheep, not previously seen to us along the trail.
The walk from Myola to Efogi 2 Village was the first time our path had seriously taken us up a waterfall. It was hard work but the scenery was spectacular. Efogi 2 lies at the top of this waterfall and we were to find virtually the whole village at church when we arrived. Along the trail most villagers are Seventh Day Adventists thus attend church regularly, often 6am every morning. At Efogi 2 we were caught in the usual afternoon rains. Staying here for the night, two families were kind enough to give us their huts and share their dinner with us for, say, the meagre price of $5. For no added charge, we were treated to sing-along by the campfire as well.
After climbing Brigade Hill the next day, we had a steep decent to Menari Village. Here things were rather civilised with an airstrip and a hospital. This evening we treated the locals to the wonders of cylume sticks, which proved to be a big hit. The next morning before heading to Nauro Village, the weekly plane arrived with supplied. This proved to be quite an event, which attracted all the natives, Shane and myself. Being tourists and not used to the ritual surrounding the plane, we were taken by surprise when the engines started, caused us to nearly loose our footing and more importantly, our superbrew. Shane’s superbrew consists of plenty of sugar, coffee and chocolate flavoured sustagen. That’s right, Shane carried a large tin of sustagen and other ‘extras’ for our journey.
After leaving Nauro, the day ahead was big. We were to tackle an endless slope with hundreds of false crests. I am aware the map stipulates there are 9 false peaks, however I can assure you there are many, many more. Along the way, the discerning eye will see the mortar round that is literally embedded in the branches of a tree.
Nauro was the last village we were to see so the next night was spent beside the path. The journey to Owers’ Corner from here covered areas full of creek beds, and the usually climbs through fairly dense forest areas. The Golden Stairs exist no longer, but the path is pretty much the same. Other highlights from our trip include the river crossings we had to make every few days. These were often conducted on a very slippery, rotten log as the rivers were often too deep to wade across. After crossing we’d often enjoying a swim and the chance to briefly wash our clothes and ourselves. In the humidity up north, this freshness only lasted briefly, say 10 minutes. Another thing I would definitely recommend is a tent. Even tough Col Lantry will back me up on that one.
You may recall the unrest and dangers of PNG were brought to the public’s attention earlier in January. There was an incident between some Australian tourists and the ‘rascals’ at Owers’ Corner. This event occurred soon after we had landed at Kokoda. However, Col Lantry’s understanding of the culture and demographics of the area meant that our group was always aware of this situation and no real threat was ever faced. Thanks to the media, we were however afforded a police escort back to Port Moresby.
This is a trip I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who’s up for the challenge. The terrain may not be inviting, but it is the satisfaction, experience and fun that makes it worthwhile. It was a cultural and historical experience, and an opportunity to further our personal development. It also provided an environment where the Army values of teamwork, mateship and so on were exercised. Thus, making the journey over the Owen Stanley Ranges was the most memorable of exercises we have participated in with UNSWR. Thank you to Col Lantry for organising and conducting such a rewarding exercise.
The 3rd Battalion, the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment in the United Kingdom was presented with new Queen’s and Regimental Colours on 11 September 1999. To mark the occasion, the CO UNSWR re-affirmed the alliance of the two regiments with the presentation of a 300 mm high statue of an Australian soldier, to be known as "Digger".
A battalion standing order has been issued that “Digger” is to be on display at every regimental dinner and is to take pride of place with the Officers’ Mess silver collection at Howe Barracks, Canterbury.
Vale MAJOR W.J. GILBERT (c.1913-1998)
UTR Regimental Sergeant Major 1952-1955
It is sad to record that the first RSM of the Regiment passed away in April. He was Major W.J. (Jack) Gilbert who has been recorded in the unit’s early history thus…..
"Much of the success of the Regiment both socially and administratively in these years was due to the ARA staff of Captain Bert Hardman (Adjutant/Quartermaster), WOI W.J. Gilbert (Regimental Sergeant Major), and WO2 Eric Stonehouse (Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (affectionately known as 'Digger'), who worked hard to ensure that the Unit succeeded".
PRESENTATION OF COLOURS PARADE
The Regiment has been given a ‘Well Done!’ by the Association for a wonderful parade executed on 22 August 1998. The parade was carried out under trying conditions, in particular wet grass in the grounds of Victoria Barracks, Paddington. Heavy rain during the morning was threatening but the sky cleared as time for the parade drew near, to provide a glorious setting in what have to be one of the most delightful and impressive places in Australia.
The marvellous result produced by those participating in the parade would no doubt have made all visitors proud to be with the Regiment that day.
The Governor-General’s address to the Regiment was most complimentary and included a message of support which we hope will be heeded by the decision makers to ensure the long term future of the Regimental Band.
Also impressive was the esprit de corps displayed at the Ball held at the Maroubra RSL Club during the evening. Everyone within the regimental family was reported as quite intent on enjoying themselves. The numbers which attended and the ranks from which they came show clearly the representation from all levels within the Regiment.
Vale LIEUTENANT COLONEL A.A. PARTRIDGE, ED (c.1931-1996)
UTR member 1950s
It is recorded with sadness that soon after the last newsletter was issued, the Association became aware of the death on 13th June 1996 of Lieutenant Colonel Alan Partridge after a long fight with bronchial problems.
Colonel Partridge was one of the initial group of four officers commissioned into the Regiment as RAEME officers, his date of commissioning being 15 December 1954. He went on to a long and varied CMF/Army Reserve career, with both RAEME and RA Inf postings in various country and city locations in NSW.
After graduating from the then NSW University of Technology in Electrical Engineering, Colonel Partridge spent his civilian working life with the Electricity Commission of NSW, mostly in country areas including many years as District Engineer at Tamworth, but also in Newcastle and Sydney. His Army postings followed his civilian moves and included that of CO 2 RNSWR and CREME 2 Div and SO1 (Projects) Logistics Planning Group at Headquarters Field Force Command.
The funeral service for Colonel Partridge was held at Tamworth City Uniting Church and it has been reported by Captain Neil Walker who attended that representatives included those from Rotary and the Uniting Church to which Colonel Partridge had much contributed. He is survived by his wife Margaret, three children and grandchildren to whom the association’s sympathy has been extended.
(A pilgrimage by Lieutenant Colonel John de Teliga to Papua New Guinea)
Association members may be interested to know that one member, Lieutenant Colonel JL de Teliga, was in the pilgrimage to Papua New Guinea in 1995 as part of the ‘Australia Remembers’ commemoration of the end of WWII.
Sometime ‘down the track’ the UNSWR Association has been able to obtain from Lieutenant Colonel de Teliga a copy of his reminiscences of the pilgrimage and the following is a summary.
Colonel de Teliga was nominated by the 2 RAR Association for the pilgrimage, he having been a member of 2/2nd Infantry Battalion AIF during the war.
In his reminiscences, Colonel de Teliga noted that as a Private soldier of 505 days active service, he was one of many in a guard when Japanese General Adachi surrendered his sword and his 40,000 strong 18th Army to Australian 6th Division (8,000) Commander, General ‘Red Robbie’ Robertson at Wewak, New Guinea on 13 September 1945.
In his reminiscences, Colonel de Teliga noted that he boarded a ship in Brisbane on 1 July 1995 with 22 others from Queensland and that the ship stopped the next day for a church service in the Coral Sea and a casting of wreaths to honour the Americans and Australians who fought and died there. Specially mentioned were the men and women who died when the Australian hospital ship Centaur was torpedoed by a submarine.
The pilgrimage included four one day stops, the first being the Bomana War Cemetery where thousands of Australians are buried. Colonel de Teliga has noted details of the 2/2 Bn members who died and expressed emotion as he tried to take photographs.
The second day saw the pilgrimage at Milne Bay, that place being the furthest south Japanese land forces got to and where it was said they their first reversal was experienced during the war. All veterans attended a church service in the sacred Heart Cathedral at Alotau where veterans of 2/12 Bn donated two stained-glass windows. Visited by veterans were the memorials to Peter Turnbull, VC and John French, VC.
The third day saw the pilgrimage at Oro Bay where a service was held among thousands of PNG people, with choirs in school uniform and men and women in fantastic attire, with many men wearing bird-of-paradise head dress. From there a small group of veterans flew to Kokoda while others went to Buna, Gona and Sanananda.
Colonel de Teliga recorded that at Sanananda elderly PNG men remembered ‘The sea was red with blood’. One group attended the opening of the 2/12 Bn Medical Aid Post Memorial and another had a ceremony at the 39th Bn Memorial and the Carriers Memorial. Also, a group flew to Rabaul by a C130 Hercules aircraft for ceremonies at the Bia Paka War Cemetery and at the Lark Force Memorial.
The fourth and last day started at Lae. Some veterans stayed there and some flew to Madang, and as Wewak loomed large in the history of 2/2 Bn, Colonel de Teliga flew to Wewak with 20 others for a touching ceremony on Boram airfield, on the spot where ‘Red Robbie’ took the Japanese surrender.
Colonel de Teliga noted that the spot was so green with grass and trees that it was unrecognisable where he and about 100 others Stood at Ease with fixed bayonets.
The Wewak group of veterans next moved on to nearby Mission Hill where Edward Kenna won the Victoria Cross. ‘Ned’ and his wife Marj were with the veterans and Colonel de Teliga recorded ‘it was great to have this good man still with us.’
Later on the fourth day, Colonel de Teliga found his visit to Bomana Cemetery, Lae a harrowing experience where he found the graves of men he knew, worked, trained and lived with. He also recorded it was a sad time especially as when escorting Daphne Dunne, widow of Bert Chowne, VC.
Colonel de Teliga’s reminiscences acknowledged that the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Con Sciacca was present at many of the functions and spoke well. Also acknowledged was Admiral Neil Ralph, RAN, the leader and organiser of the pilgrimage.
Vale MAJOR GENERAL J.M.L. MACDONALD, AO, MBE, RFD, ED (1919-1996)
UNSWR Honorary Colonel 1979-1985
It is with a deep sense of loss that we write of the passing on 29 January 1996 of Major General J M L Macdonald, AO, MBE, RFD, ED, MA (Oxon)
General Macdonald was well known to many Association members, especially as the Honorary Colonel of UNSWR from 1979 to 1985. “Wallabadah”, as he was affectionately known, was a strong supporter and good friend of the Regiment.
Born in the United Kingdom on 13 October 1920 General Macdonald joined the British Army from Oxford University on the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. He served with distinction during the war, firstly as a Second Lieutenant with the Black Watch and was wounded when leading a fighting patrol in France during the German Offensive of 1940. He completed his war service with the rank of Major.
In addition to the award of Member of the Order of the British Empire for his war service, General Macdonald was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star (French) and King Haakon’s Royal Norwegian Liberation Cross.
General Macdonald served continuously in the British Army until 1948 when he was repatriated to Australia. He firstly became Overseer then Manager of his family’s farming property at Wallabadah, NSW where he resided for the remainder of his life. He continued his military pursuits from 1949 as an officer in the New South Wales Scottish Regiment until 1957 when he transferred to the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers.
Senior postings held while active in the Army Reserve were CO of 12/16 HRL (1957 - 60), then CI of OCTU (to 1966), Comd CSTU (to 1968), Comd 8 TF (to 1971), Comd ECTG (to 1973), Comd 2 Div (to 1974) and finally CMF Member of the Military Board. He retired from active duty in 1977.
In addition to his honorary Colonelship of the Regiment, he was Honorary Colonel of the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers.
The Regiment was represented at General Macdonald's funeral by its Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel David Deasey.
General Macdonald is survived by his wife, Jean as well as his four daughters and two sons to whom the Association has extended our sincere sympathy.
Vale LIEUTENANT COLONEL K. L. KESTEVEN, MC, ED (1915-1995)
UNSWR Commanding Officer 1959-1960
Lieutenant Colonel Ken Kesteven passed away on 9 April 1995 and it is noteworthy that the Association was well represented at Ken's funeral service held in the Garrison Church, Millers Point.
The respect and affection for Colonel Kesteven was evidenced by the presence at the funeral of no less than the Honorary Colonel and former Honorary Colonel of the Regiment together with the present and five former Commanding Officers, as well as a number of serving and retired officers.
A former Commanding Officer of the Regiment, Colonel Kesteven was known as a man who gave much more than he ever received. The publication of Regimental History from 1952 to 1977 provides a profile on his military career.
Colonel Kesteven was born in Belmore NSW on 22nd July 1915, and educated at Canterbury Boys High School. Colonel Kesteven's military career began prior to World War II when he enlisted in the Garrison Artillery (Militia) in 1938, and was attached to the Middle Head Battery. In March 1939, he transferred to the 4th Infantry Battalion (Militia) at Homebush, NSW. He enlisted in the 2/4 Battalion AIF on 3 November 1939, and was commissioned on 2 January 1940. After training with other units of the 6th Division in Palestine during 1940, 2/4 Battalion, as part of 19 Brigade, took part in battles at Bardia, Tobruk, Derna and Benghazi in 1941. The 6th Division then moved to Greece and it was here that Lieutenant Kesteven was awarded the Military Cross during the allied withdrawal. His citation reads as follows:
On 12/13 April 1941 during actions at VEVE and SOTER (GREECE), Lieutenant Kesteven showed great courage and determination. After holding a defensive position south-west of VEVE for three days against strong enemy action, the battalion was ordered to withdraw. During the withdrawal operations and while still under enemy fire, the battalion received fresh orders to occupy a delaying position west of SOTER to cover the withdrawal of the Brigade. Lieutenant Kesteven's platoon was attacked strongly throughout the operations but under his courageous leadership fought back strongly, and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. When his company commander and second-in-command became casualties, he led the company with cool judgment and determination...............”.
"While serving in Crete, he was wounded and taken prisoner, spending the remainder of the war until his repatriation in April 1944 from Germany."
From 1949 until his retirement in 1960 Colonel Kesteven served in a number of CMF postings including OC Headquarter Company of UNSWR, then Regimental 2IC. He commanded the Regiment from July 1959 until his retirement in September 1960.
After his retirement from the Army, Colonel Kesteven maintained his interest in the Regiment as a member and sometime President of the Association.
The deep sympathy of Association members has been extended to Colonel Kesteven’s family.
Vale MAJOR B.G. JORDAN, RFD (c.1943-1995)
UNSWR member 1960s
Major Bede Jordan passed away on the afternoon of 28 August last at the Mercy Hospice of the Mater Hospital Newcastle. His fight against cancer was even shorter than was feared at the time of our last newsletter, but he was most appreciative of the visits, phone calls and support from the Association, service and academic colleagues.
His large funeral was attended by many army and service officers including UNSWR Association members Majors John Digby, Dave Robertson, and also John Barron who spoke at the Service.
Bede had enlisted in UN Coy UNSWR in March 1961 and was commissioned in August 1966. Following his corps transfer to Engineers he held a wide range of command and training appointments including that of OC 14th Field Squadron RAE.
On the twenty seventh of December 1989 Bede went to the Newcastle City Centre to offer his skills and training to assist in dealing with the disaster of the Newcastle earthquake. Initially, he worked as a volunteer at Hamilton Police Station and at the Newcastle Workers’ Club. Shortly after 2 pm that day he was appointed by the City of Newcastle to command and control all emergency operations.
For this and for his subsequent service as Senior Engineer Advisor, Bede was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Service. Bede had previously been awarded the Reserve Force Decoration and the National Medal as an army officer.
Bede Gerard Jordan will be remembered as a direct, honest, loyal and a valued member of the community and the armed services.