Lancers' Despatch 5
Website of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Lancer Barracks and Museum
Editorial The Museum Balikpapan Filling the Gaps Serving with Staghounds The Flagpole Epic The Governor's Quiet Time Armour at Puckapunyal Regtl Anzac Wreathlaying RAACA Anzac Eve Anzac Day March Anzac Day Res Contingent Anzac Day Reunion Ron Pile's A Squadron Canberra Fires Snippets Bombaderry Reunion Reserve Forces Day March Departed Comrades Alfred Green Stubby Holders Coming Events Please Help RAACA
It has been an interesting six months. A six months that has seen our nation at war in Iraq, and now involved in law and order re-establishment missions in Iraq and the Solomon Islands. These are difficult tasks, no-one particularly likes being policed, even by their own people, when foreigners are involved, for any reason regardless of how altruistic, the situation is exacerbated. Our thoughts must be with our troops on these difficult assignments. Let us hope that they can hand over to the locals and return home as soon as possible.
Thanks to your generous donations last year, our Museum has been able to prosper in spite of another period of closure. We are working on a number of restoration projects; and our internet site just becomes more popular.
The Regimental Association continues to grow with WWII members gradually handing responsibility over to those with more recent Regimental service, and all events well attended.
A generous thank you to those who contributed to this Lancers' Despatch, we have had contributions from John Blackberry, Bert Castellari (a joint effort with his wife Gloria), Les Chipperfield, Hugh Clark, David Donald, Bob Gay, Jack Hannah, John Morris, Doug Pollard, Brian Walters; along with major input from the editor emeritus David Craven including a joint effort with his wife Helen. The contributions this time are of a very high standard, they cover WWII to the present day, every one with a bit more information about our Regiment. Please keep the contributions coming in - there are a lot more stories out there that must be told and recorded for posterity.
The Museum and Association would like to give special thanks to the Regiment's current Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Higgins RFD, Second in Command, Major Mark Gibson and Honorary Colonel, Major General Warren Glenny AO, RFD, ED for their unstinting support.
Due to the security situation resulting from the War in Iraq, we found the museum closed from March to May this year. We re-opened on International Museums' Day, Sunday 18 April. We had a great roll-up. The Parramatta Advertiser had run a feature about the Museum, and there was a great public response. The guides on that Len Koles and John Howells were hard pressed. Since then, attendance has been steady, we are open on the second Sunday of each month 10:00 - 16:00.
Our website is proving almost too popular, we are now experiencing 6,500 visits (20,000 hits) a month, with draw downs of over 500 MB per month, 60% of interest is from the USA, 20% from Australia, and 20% from the rest of the world. We currently suffer a surcharge for draw downs over 500 MB per month, the newsletter editor, and webmaster for the site will need to find the time to re-design the site reducing page weight (if you do not know what I have just written - do not be concerned, you are not Robinson Crusoe - we are just getting a lot of visitors, including a few mongrel hackers that our web hoster is keeping at bay). We have also been trading memorabilia regularly on the web site, with the buy site upgraded to assemble your order for you. A separate internet based trading initiative has also been launched; this has the potential to not only cover all web site related costs, but feed income back to the museum as well. The web site also generates approximately 30 active inquiries per month where members of the public all over the world ask about the Regiment, service of individual members and our Museum collection.
Ross Brown and his team have finished the South African room, are working on the World War II room, they would appreciate the assistance of anyone prepared to help.
The Covanter Bridgelayer restoration project is also proceeding with Bill Prosser and Athol Sansom driving it. The Covanter will never be able to be restored to operating condition, however, it will be possible to halt deterioration, and make the vehicle safe for visitors to inspect.
The Staghound and Matilda restorations are also proceeding slowly. We hope to be able to report the Staghound as fully restored by next February.
The Museum Committee would also like to thank the new State Member for Parramatta Tanya Gadiel for using her good offices for the benefit of the Museum. Over the past two years, the Museum has had to pay late fees when submitting our annual statement to the Department of Fair Trading. Our submission was late due to the time necessary to arrange insurance cover in these difficult times. Ms Gadiel wrote to the Museum during her campaign asking for an approach to be made if there was anything she could do for us. The approach was made, and she came good. The money was not a lot, a total of $32, but every little bit helps, thank you. We would also like to thank the Royal Australian Historical Society for securing our Public Liability and Volunteer Workers Compensation insurances for us at reasonable cost. A strong vote of thanks to our volunteer workers who do every job vehicle maintenance, exhibit and exhibition preparation, exhibit repair and preservation, guiding, administration etc, all in their own time, and all on a volunteer basis.
It was intended that in this journal we would be reporting on the proposed visit by the Regimental and Association party to the battlefield site. It was a visit, that did not take place. At the time when people had to pay their deposits, it was soon after Bali, and Iraq was looming. Not enough people were prepared to go. The visit was deferred until a later time. Nonetheless, the proposed visit created a lot of interest in the Regiment's Balikpapan Campaign.
John Blackberry Reports
On 25th February, 2003, Captain David Brown, 2IC C Squadron, gave a further presentation at Parramatta Barracks about the 1st Aust. Armoured Regiment's landing at Balikpapan, Borneo on 1st July, 1945, and it's ongoing operations until the cease-fire on 15th August.
This presentation followed the Sattelberg story last November and was again very well done and well received by veterans and a large gathering of serving members of the Regiment. Veterans present were Ted Martin, Harry Bailey, Neville Kincott, Geoff James, Bill Lynch, Peter Teague and John Blackberry.
Museum Committee members Len Koles and David Crisp also attended. Serving members. Sergeant Church, Sergeant Overton, and Corporal Hooper demonstrated weapons and equipment in use today after which a friendly get-together took place in the Sergeant's mess.
Congratulations David Brown, and thank you from the veterans.
Hugh Clark Reports
Reg Gunn was the B Squadron orderly room corporal at Balikpapan, he kept the records and has not been in touch for several years. Many B squadron members thought wrongly that it was a land mine that caused the casualties on landing at Red Beach. Reg's letter below gives us the true facts and clears up any doubt about what happened.
Jack Rolfe mentioned that you thought the casualties to our squadron members at Red Beach, Balikpapan on 2 July 1945 may have been caused by a land mine. I had heard this before. It is totally incorrect. This is my recollection of the events; it is as clear as if it happened yesterday.
The time was 0750, B Squadron headquarters had just landed at Red Beach, Balikpapan, 2 July 1945.
Several simultaneous explosions occurred, one right in our group, others on the sand near the waters edge and in the water. I heard Bill Howard say "Reg has been hit," then, "a lot have been hit". Blood flowed from a wound on the left side of my forehead into my eye and my head was vibrating. Keith Broome lay dead at my feet; Athol Playford, Ray Richardson and Wilf Burton were critically injured. Jeeps with stretchers attached and paramedics from a field hospital about 800 metres down the road arrived within minutes, the explosions had alerted them. Three small craft moored at the water's edge hastily departed towards the awaiting LST in the bay. I am sure at least six, possibly eight shells landed. No doubt in my mind they were mortars.
I was only a walking wounded. Got a lift to the field hospital in a jeep passenger seat - once there I discovered a very shell-shocked pair of mates Tom Edwards and Lee Kerz, both had been wounded the previous afternoon by US Air Force rockets. Owing to loss of blood I was evacuated to LST 1017 out in the bay.
For the second time on this day I was fortunate to miss being Killed. Two men I had been talking to on the bow of the ship but a few minutes earlier were killed when a solitary shell landed near them.
I retuned to land the next morning. Got a lift to our camp site by CO Glasgow and Adjutant Pulver who had been to the hospital checking on our wounded. They informed me that Ray and Wilf did not survive and Athol was dangerously ill. He too did not survive.
Trust the above info clears up what really happened at Red Beach Balikpapan on 2 July 1945 shortly after we landed."
You will recall the article submitted by Hugh Clark last (February 2003) Newsletter. It was about the photo above taken on the USS Carter Hall, a liberty ship bound for Moratai after the Millen Griffith another liberty ship ran aground at Finschaffen.
Standing at the rear is Eric McGuire, next line down is ?, Bill Carey, Craig Wilson, Les Chipperfield, Pat O'Toole, John Hollis, Les Laverty, Hugh Clark, ?, Jack Mitchell, the two in front are Neil McDonald and Ben Bullen.
Les Chipperfield wrote:
"I am standing next to Eric McGuire, I remember this photo being taken. I was in the front of the Millen Griffith when we ran aground. Hope this will be remembered by others in the photo.
Regrets re departed comrades, do give everyone my regards. Thanks for the Journal."
In reading the newsletter from the Lancers I was particularly interested in the article "My Time with the Regiment" by Bruce McKnight. I served with HQ Squadron, from July 1950 to July 1954 and can relate to the majority of comments made by Bruce, in particular "The Governor General's Escort".
I am proud to say that I was the driver of the "Stag" that led the escort for that special day. My crew Commander was an officer from Merrylands. I can't recall his name. The following is my recollection of the exercise 50 years ago.
The week leading to our departure on that Friday am was a wet one and the weather for the entire week of the exercise was wet except for approximately 4 hours on the morning of the actual event. From what I remember we were to travel through to Canberra but for some reason it was decided to stay over night at the drill hall at Goulburn where we were very well received and entertained. We reached Canberra after dark the next evening and we were not directed to our tents so we slept in a US type marquee on top of hundreds of mattresses, we moved into the tents the next morning. I can remember the Stags being taken to the airfields, the only worry that we the drivers had was that it was very difficult under the conditions to keep the vehicles clean for escort, bearing in mind that it was still raining.
On the morning of the big day we drove out to Yarralumla, the bitumen road was fairly narrow and from memory the Stags were 2.59 metres wide and weighed approximately 12 tonnes, so there was not a great deal of road space. My vehicle was placed first in line then the other Stags and Doodlebugs were called up in turn. Apparently one of the Stags ended up in trouble owing to the wet conditions and the Standby Stag was called up. My very good friend, the late Alan Lawford, drove this unit his crew commander was Sgt. Freddy Walker. I believe also that he too is now deceased. Anyhow I could see the Stag in the distance round a bend and headed our way, a few metres in front of us I saw Fred duck, the turret took an over hanging branch of a tree and zoomed past us at a fair turn of speed. I was told later that if Captain (Fitz) Fitzsimmonds could have pulled the drivers hatch open he would have, poor Alan was grounded and close friends referred to him as "Flying Officer Lawford". The escort was carried out without any hitch and we returned to Yarralumla, were inspected by the Governor General and returned to camp preparing to leave the following morning.
The rain fell again, the only way to keep the water from continually seeping onto the driver and gunner was to have the periscope wells filled with grease. We stopped overnight at Moss Vale as two of our troopers needed a check at the hospital. The majority of us lined up at the local Cinema that evening, we were booked into two hotels for the night and left the following morning for Parramatta. From memory we were away about 10 days.
Volunteering for this exercise we were told that we would be the first troops to be issued with the English Style Battle Dress. At that time we had been issued with the new issue Double Breasted Greatcoats.
I can remember most names mentioned by Bruce and it brings back some great memories. Some of my good friends were Sgt Bruce Winter, Troopers Jack Daly, Ralph Johnson, Johnny Walker, Jimmy Grunsell. Jim Denholm, Cpl. Freddie Gardoll and may others.
I also remember Sgt Ted Ballard as he was a stickler for requesting your Leave Pass.
Terry Hennessy OAM
Several diggers have asked me why Matildas were not used in the Milne Bay and Buna campaigns.
The answer is simple, at the time there were no cranes available that could unload them. The Tillies were loaded onto and unloaded from ships by heavy lift cranes. The only port in Australia which could load and unload them was Sydney where a couple of privately owned floating cranes were able to do the job. There was no capacity to unload Matildas in New Guinea until the Americans mounted some 50 ton cranes on Liberty ships; but this was after Milne Bay and Buna.
Things are quite different now. I recently saw a 400 tonne mobile crane lifting huge tanks at the Bombaderry ethanol plant.
Serving in the Regimental LAD from 1995 to 1958 and then 1963 to 1980, this is just one of those things that I recall happened to me.
We were in the Tin City area at Singleton. I was chosen as Piquet Commander.
Piquet was a full Regimental affair with Band and Guard. We all formed up at one end of our block. The Guard Commander, after gave the order: "Guard by the Right, Band by the Centre Piquet by the LEFT QUICK!!" and after three beats from the drum, we were off down the centre of the road. I called out "Piquet Change step", and as if by some miracle we were all in step (I never could work out how these miracles happened).
We reached the Orderly Room where the flag was flying high, and discovered that as piquet commander it was my job to take the flag down (nobody ever briefed the LAD on anything, being technical we were just expected to know - and of course usually did).
The Guard presented Arms. I took a one pace left front and marched to the flagpole. There to my horror I found that someone or other, to make sure no one could steal the flag, had knotted every centimetre of the available rope. The knots would not budge, despite every effort I made. The Guard was at the present, and I could hear their muttering. The Guard commander whispered "If it had been some Ladies' Pantyhose you would have had it off by now ". He then offered his knife. Using the spike I worked and one by one the knots gave way.
As I worked I noticed from the corner of my eye that a couple of spectators whom I had seen snigger and pass knowing looks between them drift off. I presumed these layabouts were there see the results of their work.
The last knot parted and the flag was lowered with due ceremony. The Guard unfroze, and the ceremony continued.
The Guard Commander after 20 minutes holding his sword at the present had a stiff right hand for the rest of the camp.
The layabouts found themselves with some very dirty jobs.
You will recall the article in last February's Lancers' Despatch, where Aub Wheeler described his encounter with the then Honorary Colonel and Governor of New South Wales when Orderly Officer. It would appear Aub was not the only one to encounter His Excellency in such circumstances. Jack Hannah writes:
"As an ex-Lancer I read the Despatch with great interest.
I served as a Nasho from 1952 to 54 with "C" Squadron driving Matilda tanks, the squadron OC at the time was Captain Scoefields, the Regiment's CO was Lieutenant Colonel Rhys-Jones, our track Driving and Maintenance instructors were Sergeants Simms and Gates.
I am also a member of the National Servicemen's Association Central Coast Sub-branch and I know of six other ex-Lancers who are members there. In the February 2003 issue of our Sub-branch newsletter I had an article published re my meeting with Sir John Northcott in the officers' latrine at Singleton and to my astonishment your Dispatch told of a similar meeting by Aubrey Wheeler, I couldn't credit the co-incidence. I thought that I was the only one who had met the Governor in these circumstances. Now I wonder how many others may have made Sir John's acquaintance in similar fashion, maybe we could form an exclusive club,
I have enclosed ay article for your perusal."
Here is Jack's article as published in the National Servicemen's Association Central Coast Sub-Branch Journal:
"Me and the Gov
Singleton 1953 and I had just been promoted to the august rank of Lance Corporal, (a field promotion I might add). My first command, as befitted my newly acquired rank, was to lead a party of four men and clean the officers' latrine. Armed with mops, buckets and brooms, I halted the detail at the door of the objective and decided to inspect the place prior to our invasion.
As I inspected the open cubicles I was surprised to find one of them occupied by an elderly gentleman, seated surprised and embarrassed, for the gentleman was wearing a red hat band and the insignia of a Lieutenant General on his shoulders. I recognised him immediately; he was none other than Lieutenant General Sir John Northcott, Governor of New South Wales.
I didn't know quite what to do so I flashed him the best salute I had ever made and said, "sorry Sir, I didn't know you were here". "Come to clean the place have you?" he asked, "Just go ahead don't mind me".
Discretion being the better part of valour; I decided to wait outside for him to appear. Eventually he did, and he stopped to have a talk with us. He was a nice old bloke!
The clean up finished I decided to inspect our work. When I came to the recently vacated cubicle I noticed that some card had neatly printed the following on the wall -
"His Excellency the Governor of NSW sat here" - unfortunately he misspelt the word "sat".
P.S. His Excellency did return my salute, after all he was wearing his cap, but I'll bet that it was the only time that he did salute under those circumstances!"
THIS MAY MAKE ME UNIQUE - THIS IS A TRUE STORY."
As of course we now know neither Aub nor Jack's experiences were unique.
As indicated in the last issue, last year an invitation was received from the School of Armour (CO Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Devine) for wartime Armoured Corps members to attend a celebration weekend at Puckapunyal, marking the 62nd birthday of the School of Armour. It took place on Saturday and Sunday 22/23 February 2003 and was a great success, interesting and enjoyable for the 250 or so members of Armoured Units and their wives and family who attended. Organiser Major John Baines, supported by Major Paul Handel, Manager of the Tank Museum and others, did a great job in planning, welcoming and conducting the weekend. 15 Armoured Units were represented. Despite limited opportunity to promote it we had a party of 20, comprising John Blackberry, David and Helen Craven, Allan Chanter, Harry Britten, George and Helen McLean, Ted and Esma Fallowfield, Norman and Jean Pentland, Ray and Brenda Stone, Fred Wilkins, Tracey Hatch, Snow Beswick, Paul Handel, Norman Bice, Bill Cross and Horrie Cross. 5 Victorians, 1 from SA, 14 from NSW, so pretty good support. Very good accommodation was in Hopkins and Tobruk Barracks, and a few stayed in Seymour. The Officers' and Sergeants' Messes provided excellent meals, hospitality and service.
The activities for Saturday were Tank Museum inspections during the morning, AFV gunnery and mobility demonstrations at the firing range in the afternoon. Featured were a Leopard tank, wheeled ASLAV, and M113 carrier with turret - all three quite impressive. The Leopard's gun remained trained on its target while going over undulating ground - a far cry from the Matilda and other wartime tanks which had to stop to aim accurately. In the evening a memorable Celebration Regimental Dinner in a large decorated hangar with around 300 or more attending. Various armoured vehicles, including Peter Ray's Matilda, surrounded the dining tables, a band played nostalgic music and serving members mixed in with the Veterans. Quite a high noise level and hard to hear conversation, but a memorable and great atmosphere. On Sunday morning it was good to see a drive past of three restored wartime tanks, a Grant, a Stuart and especially the Matilda of old friend Peter Ray, which the Army had transported from Bilpin. Then followed a Memorial Service with wreaths laid by all the units represented, and words from former CGS Lieutenant General Laurie O'Donnell, School of Armour CO Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Devine, and Major Paul Handel at the launch of his new publication "Dust, Sand' and Jungle". A BBQ lunch followed as a final get-together of old friends before going homewards. As said, a highly successful event and a credit to all who planned and conducted it.
The traditional Anzac ceremony usually held at Lancer Barracks was again held on Tuesday, April 22. This is an opportunity for the Regiment and the regimental family to celebrate the most important occasion on the military calendar.
A contingent made up from the Lancers' Association and the Museum took part in the ceremonies. The contingent was joined by members of the 41st Regimental Association. The World War II veterans were represented by Neville Kingcott.
As part of the ceremony, wreaths were laid for and by:
Regiment: Major General Warren Glenny AO, RFD, ED,
Once again, special thanks go to Mrs Newton for her part in the ceremony.
This event which was resumed last year after a lapse for some time was again held at the Gallipoli Club on 24th April. The short ceremony followed the same pattern, with wreaths laid on behalf of the nine unite of Armour. The Lancers Association was represented by Bill Cross.
A spinal and leg problem ruled me out of Anzac Day happenings in Sydney or Canberra. It was only my second one missed in 57 years. Let us hear from any who have missed none so it can be reported. Watching live TV for the first time was interesting, and I thought the ABC coverage was good. The crowd was estimated as 300,000, and good to see lots of kids with Australian flags. I heard they were issued free this year. Surviving WW1 member 104 years old Marcel Caux was in the leading land rover, and looked good. Governor Marie Bashir led the March on foot, also good to see. The massed group of Australian flags carried by young people followed, as has been done sine 1992. Major General Sandy Pearson marched at the head of the Armoured Corps. Our 1st Armoured Regt (AIF) party, led by Ted Martin, seemed to have a good roll up of around 60.
After several video replays I identified David Donald, Sorlie O'Brien, Bill Halliday, Bill Lynch, Ken Lowe, Peter Teague, Geoff Morris, Jack Lamb, John Roseby. In the rear ranks Len Koles, Brian Walters and other post war members I couldn't put names to. The camera didn't cover the left flank of marchers. The 2/4th Armoured following was led by Joe Dent, who joined the Lancers post war. The 2/6th was led by Alan Banham, and couldn't miss Bully Hayes, laden with medals, his own and no doubt family. It was noticed that our Lancers Band was Closer this year, which must have helped the marching. The local TV switched to the Canberra March at the War Memorial at 10:30. It was well planned and carried out, more formal and regimental, and looked good. Quite a contrast to the Sydney March, with its informality, loud cheering and waving flags. Mike Fitzgerald, leader of our K Troop, led on foot the horse with reversed boots, representing the Boer War. Both Marches were good to watch. Needless to say I was disappointed to have to miss either.
As in previous years, the Reserve Forces took part in the Sydney Anzac Day March. The crowds were large and appreciative, with Dick Smith (the promoter of all things Australian) prominent among them.
There seems to be a group of marchers turning up each year for this part of the march and that's great. Once again, the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, Major General Warren Glenny, lead the whole reserve contingent.
Those present included the following: John Anderson, Helen Clarke, Dave Crisp, Don Deakin-Bell, Rod Dixon, Bob Gay, Wayne Kendrick, Marina Laverty, John Palmer, Joe Tabone and Dave Wood. The contingent was lead by Major Len Koles and assisted by the Association Secretary, Brian Walters.
A special thank you to the serving members of the Regiment who carried the banner. These included Sergeant Paul Overton, Corporals Chris Jones and Dean Scott, Troopers Steven Brien, Chris Easton, Hubert Herliczko, Brian Marriott, Jie Tan and Greg Taylor.
The group stepped off around 12 noon and proceeded along the usual route down George Street. With fine weather and a mild day, it was all too easy! The dispersal point was in Elizabeth Street with people heading off to various meeting places including the Civic Hotel and the Balmain Bowling Club.
Thanks to those who marched on the day but it would be great to see more of the post World War II people.
John Blackberry, David Donald and David Craven
At Balmain Bowling Club the troops soon sorted themselves out into this usual groups and tables. At 12:45 the bowlers wreath laying ceremony took place under Club veteran Harry Martin. With members lining the green, along with the bowlers wreath ours was laid by Sorlie O'Brien, accompanied by Chris Hall, grandson of late Mick Wilson. Corporal Dunn of 1/15th attended to the flagpole where the wreaths were laid. Lancers Association President welcomed all and thanked those responsible for the function, including a round of applause for Wendy and her catering staff, and other staff of the Club who were most supportive. Toasts were to "The Queen" by our March leader Ted Martin, and "The Regiment" by Major General Warren Glenny AO, RFD, ED. In responding, the CO of Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Higgins RFD said the Regiment is progressing well with its training and is gaining numbers.
Secretary Brian Walters read the names of 19 Departed Comrades reported since last year's reunion, after which "The Ode" was given by Sorlie O'Brien. Names of the 55 apologies received were on lists at the tables for all to see.
At the brief Annual Meeting, Treasurer David Donald gave a short report on finances, with detailed copies available for any member to take. A copy will be posted to a member who requests one. He said that finances are in good shape, thanks to the generous support from members. WO1 Shayne Burley, RSM of 1/15th, was returning officer for the election of office bearers, with the following elected:- President Len Koles, Vice-Presidents: Noel O'Brien and Ron Cable, Secretary Brian Walters, Treasurer David Donald, Committee John Blackberry, David Craven, Jim Forsyth, John Howells, Neville Kingcott, John McManus, Geoff Morris, John Palmer, and David Wood. Of the total of 14, 7 of each are wartime and post-war members.
Our guests were:- Patron, Major General Warren Glenny AO, RFD, ED. Current serving members: Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Higgins RFD, Warrant Officer Class 1 Shayne Burley, Corporal Dunn. It was good to welcome some family and friends of members, among the following attenders:- Bill Armstrong, Philip Bridie, Doug Beardmore, John Blackberry, Harry Britten, Arthur Bulgin, Stan Butler, Graeme Butler, David Butler, Rod Button, David Brown, Ron Cable, Alien Chanter, Happy dark, David Crisp, Doug Clift, Dennis Comber, David Donald, Geoff Francis, Ron Grover, Chris Hall, Geoff Haynes, Tony Haynes, Bill Halliday, Terry Hennessy, Vernon Holcombe, John Howells, Bob Iverach with friends Mike Deburgh, Rory McAviney, Noel McMahon and Frank Johnson, John Kearney, Adrian Kenny, Len Koles, Neville Kingcott, Jack Lamb, Lee Long, Ken Lowe, John Lowe, Bill Lynch, Bill Matthews, Ted Martin, George McLean, John McManus, Geoff Morris, Pat O'Toole, Paul O'Toole, John O'Toole- Frank O'Toole, Sorlie O'Brien, John Palmer, Bert Roughley, John Roseby, Ern Syratt, Joe Tabone, Dan Tesoriero. Total attending was 65 same as last year.
Four of the club's directors were present, and in conversation were interested to learn that this was our 12th year for our reunion there, and would continue as long as we could, hopefully with increasing numbers of the younger successors in the Regiment. The directors were most co-operative and welcoming, and even came around the dining room and shouted scotch and rum, and offered to cover any excess of our grog bill if required, which wasn't needed. All agreed it was again a good reunion.
NEW GUINEA OPERATIONS 1943-44 of A Squadron, 1st Aust Tank Bn AIF, by Ron Pile.
When Ron Pile, Intelligence Sergeant of A Squadron died in 1997, after time and work in preparing for publication his report on the Squadron's New Guinea operations, I undertook to complete his project. To gain some indication of what interest there might be in it, it was asked in the Lancers newsletters of 1998 and 1999, with around 80 replies - enough to Warrant publication. When able I prepared his material, and in Lancers Despatch, newsletter of Feb 03, we sought orders at $10 per copy posted, by 1st April 03. We expected around 70, but by deadline received only 37.
A mail out went to all those interested who hadn't ordered, sent in case forgotten. We didn't ask for orders if not wanted. 33 more requests came. Allowing for gratis copies to museums, libraries, some families, widows and others, and some spares, it was printed and issued during May. It was financially around break even. Apologies for some spelling errors - my fault in that I received the word processed material in January, just before the bushfire which took all of my attention in the time following. When ready for printing around four months later, I wrongly thought I had Proof read it for errors. Sorry about that. Judging from feed back from readers, it seems to have been well received.
When I first undertook to complete Ron Pile's project, I only expected interested replies from wartime members of A Squadron, and wondered if there would be enough requests to warrant publishing, since there aren't a lot of survivors now. So it has been gratifying to find that over half of the 70 paid copies issued went to non A Squadron or post War members, or widows. If any reader now wants a copy, please send $10 with cheque payable to Lancers Association to me at 5 Burrendong Street, Duffy ACT 2611. Don't forget name and address for mailing. Deadline is 30th September. Any spares still held then will be passed on to the Lancers Museum and the Tank Museum Puckapunyal for sale by them.
How We Fared in Duffy
We are very fortunate that our house escaped the wall of fire which the strong hot wind swept along from the forest and burnt so many houses in its path, 530 or so in Canberra, half of them in Duffy. In our short street of 41 houses, 21 were lost. All the affected blocks were efficiently cleared and re-building is now under way.
Radio reported the approaching fire in the forest, and we watched the darkening sky and prepared, like so many others. No one expected the speed and intensity when the firestorm hit, preceded by a shower of fire embers. The sky went black with a bright red glow. Power went off, smoke alarms started - an eerie and alarming feeling. We saw a nearby house on both sides and two houses opposite burst into fierce fire in minutes. No one was about, just the lady next door with a hose and the two of us. Our house and the one each side were passed by the fire storm.
The fire embers set alight the shrubs and trees along the front, which burned fiercely, the flames swirling over the front verandah while we watched through the family room window. When able we came out, got the hose going and sprayed fires in the garden, bark chips burning and on the house corner where burning trees had set fire to facia boards and roof bearers. We were able to put it out and save it from spreading under the tiles. The hose was going for many hours until it all looked safe, around midnight. Amazingly, the back of the house wasn't damaged, nor did the embers set fire to shrubs beside our gazebo. Had it done so the house would surely have been lost. So, a fortunate outcome. Thankfully, John arrived to help us with hosing, since their house was lost in the fire.
Insurance covered the roof repairs, cracked windows, painting and the watering system. It didn't cover cost of removing or hard pruning of trees, bark chips clearing and replacing, and starting new gardens and also a new lawn - a lot of work which took time and cost quite a bit. Despite that, we are thankful to be spared the loss of our home, and especially the many things inside it which couldn't be replaced.
Our Close Call at Curtin
Remembering Christmas Eve 2001, I had checked the jet nozzles on the hoses, turned them on full to get an idea of the water pressure and aimed them across the house and up those big trees to see how to take advantage of the wind direction. I have two long hoses at the back so I stood with one in each hand and was able to pour water on our roof and into the gutters, on to the garage roof and even on to one end of Leann's house next door. During the afternoon a staff cadet from Duntroon, Tim Robinson, came in to see if he could help, l gave him one of the hoses and he poured water into the shrubs and trees along our back fence (most of them were on our neighbour's side) he soaked them thoroughly which was crucial when the blaze reached us, they did not burn. About 5 p.m. when the wind had died down and things appeared to be quietening I made a total misjudgement and told Tim I thought we'd be OK and he went off (later I learned he helped to save houses in the upper part of Curtin).
Not long after the choppers started passing over us on their way to that area, if the fire had not been held up there Curtin would have been in danger of being wiped out. About 6.45 p.m. the fire suddenly came roaring up from those stands of trees bordering the horse paddock and Cotter Road (just as I'd been expecting for years). I still don't know who some of them are but a whole lot of people helped us to put it out. Two young blokes who had come down to see how things were took the hoses and fought the flames as they bore down on the shrubs and trees along the fence on the reserve side of the house, others were using broken branches and towels (ours) to beat out flames along the fence and outside. Similarly next door where they had a bucket brigade of neighbours at work.
The water bombers began homing in on our area and just as well, especially the Erikson, which was making very fast trips to the dam and back, it was all tree top flying and very dangerous but they certainly helped to save us. We now have a clear view to the range to the north-west, which we have not been able see from here for years.
GOSFORD MONTHLY LUNCHES on second Wednesdays, at Gosford RSL Club, for informal get-togethers of Armour veterans. Usually a few from the 1st and 2/6th are there, including John Blackberry. Ted Martin, Geoff Morris, Doug Beardmore, Ron McKenzie, and some ladies. Anyone interested in going should phone John on 9534 8353, for info re travel etc.
BEERSHEBA COMMEMORATION For some years a good ceremony has taken -place on 31st October, the anniversary of that famous charge of light horse, at the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial in Anzac Parade Canberra. Last year, due to an insurance problem, there was no formal ceremony, but a group gathered informally. Thankfully that problem has been fixed and the ceremony will again be held at 2pm on Friday 31st October. John Munns, of the Light Horse Association, says there will again be a group of mounted lighthorsemen, school children and some VIPs present, so it will be an event well worth attending. Anyone interested in knowing more should phone John on (02) 6297 1864.
19 veterans and 8 Ladies attended the Bomaderry reunion. Lancers present were John Blackberry, Bill Halliday, Terry Hennessy and Ray Rutledge from the 1st Armoured Regiment plus Peter Aldous, Jack McDonald and Harry Murphy from the 1/21st Light Horse [Absent was 90 years old George Me Millan from the 1/21st].
Other units represented were the 7th L.H. which was formed when the Lancers lost their horses in 1936, and 2/4th Armoured Regt led by Gordon Yabsley. As usual some of the 2/4th travelled from Yass to catch up with old mates.
Everyone enjoyed a hearty meal a few drinks and a good yam before promising to meet in the same place at the same time next year.
The Sydney Reserve Forces Day March took place on Sunday, July 6. It was a perfect day to hold a march with brilliant sunshine and just a little wind blowing. While the crowds are nothing like Anzac Day, there were a number of people around who had obviously came out to watch the procession and cheer on the marchers.
Those present included the following:
Brian Algie, Dave Blackman, Nick Brewer, John Burlison, Dave Crisp, Merv Cummings, Chris Dawson, Jeff Darke, Don Deakin-Bell, Jim Forde, Bob Gay, John Haines, Bernie Hill, Alan Hitchell, Ron Hodgson, John Howells, Bob Iverach, Wayne Kendrick, Bruce Kilgour, Tom Larkin, Lee Long, Mike Lewins, Harris Pearson, Doug Pollard, Arthur Standring, Ken Studderas, Michael Phillips (4/19 PWLH), Andrew Phillips (4/19 PWLH), Kevin Newman (15 LH), Charlie Clasper (12/16 HRL) and Ted Hornby-Howell (12/16 HRL)
The contingent was lead by Len Koles and assisted by the Association Secretary, Brian Walters. My apologies in advance for any names that were missed or misspelt.
There were two mounted soldiers, presumably from K Troop, in front of the Lancers' contingent. Thanks go to them for their participation but unfortunately their names are not available. Thanks also go to the members of the Lancers' Band who literally played an important role on the day.
All the marchers formed up College Street prior to the commencement of the march. The Medical Corp and the Nursing Corp were both celebrating their centenaries and headed up the whole march. The formal part of the proceedings started just after 1115 hours with speeches by the Governor, Professor Marie Bashir and the head of the NSW Reserve Forces Day Council, Sir Laurence Street. At around 1200, the march moved off down Macquarie Street, past the official party outside Parliament House and finally right turned into the Domain for dispersal.
The NSW Leagues' Club was the venue for the reunion after the march. This has been the unofficial venue for a number of years and thanks go to the club as they opened their first floor bar area especially for the day. As a result, the attendances were pretty good, due mainly to the many members of the National Servicemen's' Association. It was good to see so many of these people wearing their National Service Medals - including quite a few ex-Lancers.
Thanks to everybody who took part in the day. This day is slowly becoming an accepted part of the life of Sydney as indicated by the estimated 5,000 marchers and the interested spectators.
David Craven (unless otherwise noted)Since last issue of February 2003. we heard of the deaths of the following:-
J M ROACH - was listed in RSL Reveille issue of Jan-Feb 03. Our service file shows him as James, probably known as Jim. He was 79, Joined with the intake at Rutherford on 19.1.42, served in New Guinea and Borneo with C Squadron, probably as tank driver. While not on our roll or in contact, some members will no doubt remember him.
RICHARD BRETT (known as BILL) - Listed in RSL "Reveille" of May/June 05. Was not on our roll, but our service file shows he was 85, came to us from 9th Aust Field Regt on 5.9.42 and served in New Guinea and Borneo. B^rt Castellari says Bill served with him in the RHQ tank troop, as did his brother Kevin, who died in 1986. There has been no contact since the war ended.
R M SIMPSON - also listed in that "Reveille". (Is not our former member of committee Bob Simpson, who died in March 02). R M Simpson wasn't on our roll, but the service file shows he joined us in Borneo on 7th July 45 as a reinforcement from Aust RD, so his service was only a few months. There has been no post war contact.
JACK BRAMSTON of Bateau Bay, died about 15th May 03. Jack was a tank crew member of C Squadron, and is one of those in the photo in our history on page 242 working on recovering the tank "Calamity Jane" in New Guinea. He left us before Borneo. He attended reunions until a few years ago, but apparently has been out of contact in recent times.
JIM HOOPER - died in March 03, aged 85. Vice President and former Regimental Medical Officer Ron Cable said Jim Hooper was his predecessor as RMO of the Regiment from 1960 to 65 moving then to HQ 2nd Division until 1975, retiring from the Reserve Army as Major, RFD ED. During WW2 he served in 9th Division with 2/5th Anti-Tank Regt in Palestine, Syria and Egypt, and at El Alamein, and then New Guinea. Post war he turned to medicine and a career with hospitals, becoming Superintendent at Parramatta, Bankstown and Mater Hospitals, and then in Head Office, NSW Dept of Health. He was devoted to the welfare of ex-servicemen, working voluntarily with Veterans, and the TPI Assocn as Chairman. Also with the NSW Branch of RSL, Legacy and the Legal Aid Appeals Tribunal. Indeed a truly remarkable man who will be sorely missed by many.
JAMES FORSYTH of Turramurra, on 18.6.05, aged 70. Jim was a self employed insurance broker and served in the post-war Regiment in the 1950s. Around 1990 he was added to our roll through Les Betts, with whom he had a business association. Thanks to Jim and his staff, our roll and mailing list got on to computer. He then joined committee as my assistant secretary in 1991. He was involved in the planning of our 50th wartime anniversary events in 92, and has been an enthusiastic member in most of the years since, including good support to Les Belts after he took over as secretary, Jim has been in poor health in recent times. At his funeral at St James Church, Turramurra, we were represented by John Blackberry and Brian Walters. From his son's eulogy it was learnt that Jim was at times a scout leader, keen on sailing and fishing, played rugby league with St George (grade not known), and was a member of Rotary. He was very well regarded and will be missed by members who knew him, especially those on committee.
CARL TURNER He apparently had been treated for cancer in a kidney, which had spread. I'm afraid I don't know the exact date. He was living in Queensland at the time. Carl was a Sergeant in the early 60's, and I think he attained commissioned rank after I left the Regiment. (Bob Gay reports.)
GEORGE BRUNKER of Tregear, passed away on the 27th March 2003. He had been assaulted in his home in February and has died as a result of that. George served with the Regiment in the 1980s and '90s. Wayne Clark wrote with his condolences, remembering George as one of his soldiers when he was Troop Leader, Transport Troop a real character - a bit of a larrikin. His Funeral on 2nd April 2003 at Pine Grove Cemetery Minchinbury was well attended by those who served with him. Len Koles, David Crisp, Pru Brown (nee Grimley), and Alan McDonald represented the Association, Major Mark Gibson represented the serving members of the Regiment. Thanks very much to Carolyn Brunker, George's Daughter in Law for letting us know. (John Howells reports.)
JOCK McINTYRE of Douglas Park. Jock served with the LAD during the 1970s and 1980s. He was a real character and a very competent soldier, I personally recall the advice and assistance he gave to me, and I am certain that many others have similar memories. Jock also worked with Barry Hodgson setting up the Mounted Troop, and after leaving the Reserve, served as an officer of cadets. He was a man who had a positive influence on many lives. Many members of the LAD who served with Jock attended his funeral on 31 March 2003. We in the Regimental Association, I am afraid heard too late to be there. (John Howells reports.)
GEOFF JAMES of Clovelly, on 27.6.03, aged 80. Geoff was a tank driver of FHQ Troop, 'A' Squadron, serving in New Guinea and Borneo. All of his post war years were with the NSW Transport Dept. He was a likeable bloke with a ready smile and a good sense of humour, and also with several nicknames, known by his mates.
Geoff was well known in the Eastern Suburbs, especially with the Surf Lifesaving fraternity at Clovelly, which he joined in 1938 at age 15, becoming Club Captain and a Life Member. Two years ago the Randwick City Council constructed a new swimming pool at Clovelly and named it, with a brass plate, "The Geoff James Pool" in recognition of his long Community service. He was a good supportive Lancer through the years.
A capacity congregation of around 500 attended hie funeral service at St Anthony's Church Clovelly, where moving eulogies were given by son Geoffrey and daughter Jenny, followed by more humorous ones by Bill Halliday and Bill Lynch. An RSL Service followed with over 50 members laying poppies. Lancers present were; Bill Halliday, Bill Lynch, Doug Beardmore, Graham dark, Arthur Bulgin, John Blackberry, John Roseby, Adrian Kenny, Peter Teague, Qeoff Francis and Hilda Corbett. Maybe more not seen in the huge attendance. A private family cremation followed While mourners were invited to gather at the Clovelly Surf Club. Our sympathy to Claire and family. "It won't be the same without Shucks" (John Blackberry reports.)
JIM CHIDGEY of Wahroonga, on 28.6.03, aged 81. Jim was a Militia member of our 1st Machine Gun Regt at Walgrove Camp in early 41. Later at the Regiment's training cadre at Cowra a good recruiting team sought volunteers for the AIF and around 25 stepped forward, including Jim. He and most others went with 19th Battalion, 8th Division to Singapore and became POWs. Some readers from 1941 Walgrove and Cowra will no doubt remember him.
As reported in newsletter 24 of March 2000, he lost his leg and an artificial one was made in Changi from bits of car tyre, fire hose, leg of a table and telephone wire - and it became quite famous, being shown in a museum after return to Australia and a proper artificial one being fitted. So far as known, only about six of the volunteers survived the war and with Jim's passing only one is now left.
Each year in recent times he sent an apology and generous donation for our Anzac Day Reunion and kept contact with me, although his prime loyalty would be to the 19th Battalion and POW Association. His post war occupation was a qualified accountant with one of our biggest firms of Chartered Accountants. He sadly lost his wife some years ago. Our sympathy and thanks to his daughter Anne for the advice.
Colin Bailey is tracing the details of his grandfather's service, and asks if anyone who remembers him. Colin Writes:
"His Regt details were NX103282 TPR Alfred Manning Green. He was born near Wingham, NSW and joined the militia on 11 September 1941 and was allocated to 102 AGH. I presume he was either a medic or a driver. On 4 August 1942 he transferred to the AIF and was remustered to 1 A A Tk Bn (A Sqn as far as I can tell). He deployed to Milne Bay aboard the "Westralia" on 7 August 1943. He subsequently contracted malaria and was evacuated to Queesnland L of C Area GDD. On 20 October 1944 he was transferred to 1 Aust Armd Regt Wksp and on 21 October 1944 he embarked on "Millen Griffen" and deployed to Finschaffen. From here he re-deployed to Morotai in June 1945.
On 29 October 1945 he was transferred to 2/3 Inf Tps Wksp (I think this is the correct unit name as it is not a very good copy of his service records) and subsequently he marched into the NSW L of C Area GDD via 7 Div Rec Camp on 13 December 1945 for a compassionate discharge. On 31 December 1945 he embarked on "River Murchison" at Balikpapan for passage to Sydney. He was discharged on 25 March 1946. His family Nickname was "Bluey".
Colin can be contacted at:
W: (02) 6055 4544
Or you can write to him care of the Museum, and the message will be onforwarded.
The Museum is open on the second Sunday of each month 10:00 - 16:00. Working bees take place on these days, all are welcome, it is free to work; tours cost ($5 per adult, $2.50 per concession, $10 per family).
Museum vehicles will take part in the Convoy for Kids celebration at Sydney Olympic Park, and the Daimler Car Club Concourse d'Elegance at Fox Studios on Sunday 31 August 2003.
Museum vehicles and the mobile Museum will be on display at Brittfest (a celebration of antipodal Pommy-ness), Blacktown Showground Sunday 2 November 2003.
CAMBRAI CELEBRATION - Sunday, November 23, 2003. This event is usually held at the Garrison Church at the Rocks. As at the time of printing details need to be confirmed. More details will be available in October, 2003. This is a combined armoured celebration comprising both World War II and post-war associations. Attendances have been falling in recent years so everybody is encouraged to attend the "birthday" of armour.
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"A regiment is not solely the men who presently comprise its strength. It is an entity stretching back in time to its beginnings. It is all the men who have served in its ranks, with their traditions and achievements. The serving unit, like the tip of an iceberg, may be the only part you see, but underneath, supporting it, there is a great deal more." (These words, often quoted, were introduced by our Patron, Major General Warren Glenny, AO RFD ED, during his term as 2IC of 1st/15th Royal NSW Lancers in the 1960s)
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