Lancers' Despatch 23
Website of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Lancer Barracks and Museum
Photos and text by the editor unless otherwise noted.
The past six months have been ones of getting there with the Museum. All of the financial support we have been generously offered has meant Project ACE under the close management of Joe Tabone has been able to get somewhere. The National Trust and Boer War Day special events have drawn good attendances and the mid-week visits are very popular; all generating much-needed income. The Association membership and increasing participation in activities increases are also good to see; especially the participation by a new generation of Lancers.
There are difficulties with how budget restrictions are applying to the Regiment. The Band is under threat (see later article) and there are few training days. I would contend that there are not enough training days to prepare soldiers for the harm’s way peacekeeping duties required of them. We the members of the Regimental Association, and otherwise friends of the Regiment may well find ourselves called upon to work to ensure the Regiment’s traditions are; just like other ecological systems preserved for future generations.
Thanks very much to Bert Castellari, Steve Day, Terry Hennessey, Len Koles; Jack Rolfe, and Joe Tabone, for their contributions, Rosemary Howells and Brian Walters for proof reading.
As we start the second part of the year and after the rush of activities such as Anzac Day and Reserve Forces Day, I would like to make several observations. Firstly I was very pleased to again see the resolute contingent of Regimental WW11 veterans leading the Army part of the Anzac Day March in Sydney. There may be fewer each year but, their pride in wearing the black beret is obvious. They are a beacon for the post war members. I was also great heartened by the number of post war Lancers who marched in the Regimental Reserve contingent in the parade. There were many old friends and faces that brought back many memories. Most significant was the large number of current serving members who marched. They not only filled out the size of our contingent to about 60 but they also added that spring and swagger that Lancers tend to have. They will ensure the Regiment and the Lancer Association will continue well into the future.
Secondly I would like to thank the various members of the Lancer Association and the Museum committees who spend much of their time and energy in ensuring that the history and the traditions of the Regiment are continued. It reminds me of an excerpt from a poem "We also serve who stand and wait".
Finally, I would like to encourage all Lancers to attend the Lancer Reunion at the Barracks on Sunday 4 November this year, it would be great opportunity to relive our friendships and adventures. TENAX IN FIDE
Len Koles (Lancer)
In March our state endured extensive rainfall and the town of Wagga flooded - the Regiment despatched a team to assist with the clean-up. Dean Scott posted the photo below to the Regiment's Facebook page showing 'The boys on the way home after doing flood relief in NORTH WAGGA. Interesting work.'
The Museum has had a very successful past six months. When the weather has been good, we have had quite a number of Sunday visitors, and we have had four booked tours of 10+ during the week. National Trust Day on 29 April 2012, was a great success as was our Boer War Day exhibition.
Project ACE - Joe Tabone
Thanks very much to all those individuals and organisations who have contributed to Project ACE. The work is proceeding. The engines were removed on 28 January, and are now being refurbished. With the engines out, it was possible to start painting the interior.
When we have the hull complete, we will need a turret, so if anyone knows of one going cheap (preferably at transport cost only; let us know.
As Honorary Secretary of the Royal New South Wales Lancers’ Association, I was passed a copy of the minute (CLICK HERE to view - note the Band is referred to as the 1/15 RNSWR Band – this is incompetent staff duties on the part of the staff officer who drafted the notice) indicating that support in terms of replacement/repair of instruments and ceremonial uniforms would be withdrawn from most Regimental bands, including the Band of the Royal New South Wales Lancers in expectation the Regimental Associations would cover these costs.
I thus wrote to local (to Parramatta where the Regiment is based) Federal Members, The Hon Julie Owens MP for Parramatta, The Hon Alex Hawke MP for Mitchell and The Hon Philip Ruddock MP for Berowra. Mr Ruddock received a reply from the Minister for Defence, and passed it on to me (CLICK HERE to view). This confirmed the position that effective immediately all support excluding Band members pay and other soldier entitlements would be withdrawn, and Regimental Associations would be required to cover the shortfall. Sid Lewis also wrote to his Federal MP, The Hon Janelle Saffin and I wrote to my local MP Mr David Bradbury. All parliamentarians replied Mr Bradbury responding in person with a very positive 'phone call.
The Lancers’ Band has been part of the local community since it moved to Parramatta from its former base in Maitland in 1897 (a history of the Band can be found at: http://www.lancers.org.au/site/Band_History.asp). Our Band is not just a band that supports the Regiment and military occasions throughout New South Wales, the Band is part of the local community playing at community events when authorised by the Department of Defence.
All band members are also trained soldiers, able to serve as vehicle crewmen, assault troopers, clerks etc. It is the fact that along with their musical talent they are equipped with instruments and able to be decked out in distinctive uniforms that makes them a Band; and quite a formidable one. The Lancers' Band is very well sought after.
Now by hook or by crook, the Royal New South Wales Lancers Association will find the money to support the Lancers’ Band, however, as Association funds come mostly from the pockets of retirees whose superannuation is dwindling with the share market so badly impacted by the current international financial situation, the impost will be difficult to withstand. Spending Association money on the Band will also diminish the support we can give to our Regimental Museum.
A list of recent Band engagements is available CLICK HERE to view.
Regimental Bands, service communities large and small across the nation, are a glue that binds the military and the community. Very important in times where our armed forces are deployed defending and promoting freedom in many theatres (Afghanistan, Timor and the Solomon Islands where the Lancers regularly have a squadron (-) deployed). They are of particular importance considering the need to provide musical support ANZAC Centenary activities over the next few years.
The Projected Savings
My understanding is that the figure considered by Defence when making this decision was $4,000,000 per annum across the 17 bands. Feedback from informal discussions, indicate the figure is more like $1,000 per year for instrument and uniform repair/replacement. There can be spikes, recently our band was issued with Boer War style pith helmets (previously they had worn berets contrary to the Army’s now sun-smart policy), and an OH&S directive required all drums to be replaced as the old drums were too heavy (interesting the issue was for twice as many drums as they will ever need). I can only assume the $4M figure was based on a year where there was a spike event and included salaries, in particular those for regular soldiers in the regular unit bands. When working in the IT industry (I was a Reserve soldier, who retired in 2010 from a Bank where I had been a Computer Systems manager) I do recall seeing business cases for computer system upgrades etc where irrelevant figures had been included or relevant ones excluded to make the case deliver a desired result. I suspect that a grab by supporters of central bands for what is seen as a dwindling pool of resources is the circumstance here.
Funding the Shortfall
Coming up with the $1,000 per year would not be beyond our Association resources; however, if we have to buy a replacement tuba at $15,000, we would find it hard to come up with the money.
One of the main issues is of course band morale. If a young band member knows their Government and the Defence Department does not support them; and finds their instruments and uniforms are old and damaged, their morale will suffer; unit bands will fade away.
Research by the Reserve Forces Day Council has given us the table CLICK HERE to view detailing the cost to initially equip a band; I do not have a detailed break-up of repair/replacement, and I do not think the IT industry figure of 20% would be appropriate.
Post Script added 22 August 2012. The Parliament has passed Mr Ruddock's motion CLICK HERE for details. This does not mean that band funding will be restored, but if the Chief of Army does not, then he is not following the wishes of the Parliament.
The Parliamentary Debate
Following our submission to Mr Ruddock, he kindly raised the issue in Parliament in the form of a private members motion. The situation was thus discussed in the highest forum in the land, CLICK HERE to view the Hansard. As you will see politicians from both sides of the political divide showed a less than full understanding of the issue they were discussing (and if they can’t understand something as simple as this … bit of a worry). Our local politicians were very supportive of the community service rendered by our band, and others of their local unit bands. The government members sadly hid behind an excuse that this decision was made by the Chief of Army, and thus could not be questioned. As a citizen and former soldier, I find this difficult to comprehend. It is my understanding that it is the Parliament and People who are Australia who command the defence force, not the other way ‘round.
Thanks again to Mr Ruddock who has always been a staunch friend of the Regiment and continues to be so.
Please note that the above submission was made by John Howells - Honorary Secretary, Royal New South Wales Lancers' Association; it reflects his personal views.
This year the dinner was a combined officers’ and senior NCOs’ function. A great evening, interesting speeches, and a great show of support by our local politicians.
The Dinner was the last time most of us saw the late Bernie Hill.
The WW2 contingent managed to maintain our representation in the Anzac Day march in Sydney this year. Once again we had a straight line of six marching at a steady pace before the regimental banner. The band was placed behind us this year, probably as required by the marshalls, and the availability of bands for the army's contingent. We would have preferred it leading as in 2011, but we're ready to share. The half dozen from 1 Aust Corps ahead of us would have benefitted too.
The same resolute six Lancers (from 2011) coped well with the uneven surface of George Street. They were Geoff Francis, Arthur Bulgin, Rod Button, Alan Howitt, Ernie Syratt and Bert Castellari. All attended the reunion at the traditional meeting place, the Leagues Club. Also in attendance were Margeurite Francis, Chris Hall, Doug Beardmore and Chris Castellari.
The post WW2 ANZAC Day contingent consisted of around 30 of those who served in the hiatus period where the Regiment was not deployed overseas, and only a few can display combat medals bolstered by an equal number of current soldiers most of whom have seen service in the Solomon Islands. It was great to see that there will be another generation of veterans to carry on the traditions of Australia’s most decorated unit, one that would have even more honours if we were able to seek those Boer War honours we was robbed of.
I find that writing out to all a couple of weeks before Reserve Forces Day ensures a good roll-up. An email goes out to all post WW2 Lancers as well as a letter to those who are cybernetically inept, or have just not got around to updating the email address we have on file. Remember, if you have an email address, make certain you let the association secretary know; it saves the regimental association money.
This year we had 61 on parade with the association fulfilling other duties; all have been nominated for a Governor General’s certificate; note that the actual despatch may take some time, I will be in Turkey late August guiding yet another tour: John Anderson, John Arnott, Ross Baker, Jack Best, Dave Blackman, Terry Boardman, Nick Brewer, Joseph Camilleri, Graham Cartwright, Helen Clarke, Christopher Dawson, Sue Day, Constantinos Dionis, Brian Dudley, William Falzon, Michael Fitzgerald, Jim Ford, John Gallacher, Bob Gay, Jim Gellett, Warren Glenny, Owen Graham, Chris Guest, Phillip Hastings, Paul Heginbotham, John Howells, Ray Jones, Bruce Kilgour, Peter Knowland, Len Koles, Tom Larkin, Dennis Lees, Steve Leslie, Peter Leslie, Lee Long, Rob Lording, Peter Luke, Mark Luke, Richard Luke, Gary Martin, Michael McGraw, Don Morris, Brian O’Donavan, Shane Parker, Owen Patterson, Peter Philipson, Doug Pollard, Ron Roberts, George Saros, Walter Smith, Ross Spencer, Arthur Standring, Brian Staniland, Joe Tabone, John Taylor, John Van Gelderen, John Vincent, Brian Walters, Graham B. Ware, Bob White, Charles Zarb.
The Regiment’s Honorary Colonel emeritus Major General Warren Glenny AO, RFD, ED representing Sir Laurence Street congratulated those organising the Sydney Reserve Forces Day Council for being able to react to the weather situation, and the quagmire the usual venue, the Sydney Domain, had become in moving the parade to the Sydney Town Hall with such efficiency. He and Professor Marie Bashir AC, CVO both spoke of the sacrifice of young Australian Reservists in the Second Boer War 110 years ago, emphasising the service of the Regiment, and congratulated the Reservists present on their service to the nation.
Magersfontein was one of the three battles Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso that were fought in what was called the ‘Black Week’, all defeats by the Boers on their British attackers. The Regiment’s ‘Fighting 29’ and members of the NSW Medical Team were the only Australians involved in this dark period; they were at Magersfontein.
The New South Wales Lancers were employed protecting the Artillery under the 9th Lancers. They were very fortunate that they did not suffer any casualties in the battle, the 9th Lancers did. The Artillery the Lancers were guarding were directed by a balloon deployed by an Engineer section.
The force opposing Boer Generals Cronje and De la Rey was the cream of the British armed forces including the Highland Brigade, Grenadier Guards, Scots Guards, Coldstream Guards to name a few, all regular units. General Methuen commanded the British, De la Rey anticipated where he believed Methuen would attack, and he was not disappointed.
The Boers were in trenches at the base of the hills where the straight trajectory of their Mauser rifle fire could cover the open ground. The Highland brigade moved-up in the dark on 10 December 1899, in a thunderstorm that covered their move. As they were forming-up, in the open as you would have done at Waterloo, the Boers opened fire and chaos struck the British, catching the Highland brigade at its greatest disadvantage, halted and partly deployed.
The brigade suffered greatly, those who made it close to the Boer trenches had to stay out in the open under fire until dark. The Gordons were thrown in to alleviate the situation but they also were decimated. The artillery firing on the Boers kept them occupied otherwise casualties would have been greater. G Battery RHA fired more shots on this day than in any other day in the war. De la Rey moved to Colesberg, Cronje stayed on this position until French by-passed them and relieved Kimberley on 15 February 1900. Cronje moved to Paardeberg where he was defeated on 10 May 1900 and surrendered with 4,000 of his troops.
Sergeant-Major Robson with the Fighting 29 wrote described the situation in these extracts from a letter written at the Modder River on 22 December 1899.
"Most of the boys here think that we are forgotten out in Australia and I think so too. We have been four days without tobacco and have had no matches for over a week and been camping on the veldt now three weeks. ... We now wear helmets and khaki jackets. We like our own better, but thought it best to wear them as our own British troops say they fired on us at different times thinking we were Boers. A local farmer runs milk into the camp now and we get some for sixpence (approx $50 in 2012 Australian Dollars based on comparing the wage of a trooper in 1899 with one in 2012) a pint (600 ml). We are glad to get it for it is a change from the hard tucker you get on active service.
11 December: we turned out at 02:00 and mounted, the horses being saddled all night. Moved off at 02:30 and flanked our right battery. We only went about 100 metres when the enemy opened a heavy fire. We trotted on about a kilometre and the Highland Brigade was in front of us under a fearful fire. Our gun opened fire and we dismounted and opened fire on the right. At this time most of the Highland Brigade had retired past us and we were on the firing line. The fire was very heavy and we lay down on the wet sand while the Boers were 'plinking' thousands of bullets at us... Rifle fire continued all night and the bullets fell amongst us. We had a nice time I can assure you but none of the fighting 29 got hit. Only two horses of ours got killed during the day.
December 12th: Turned out at 02:00 The battlefield of yesterday is called Magersfontein ... We lost a great many of the Highland Brigade, including Major-General Wauchope ... The loss on the enemy's side must have been heavy for our shells do great work. It is reported that 3,000 of the enemy fell. We are now back in our old camp.
We heard today that the other Australians down the line are very anxious to get up here. We only wish they would come and relieve us. Lieutenant Osborne just received a telegram from Major Lee (the first word we have had from him) asking when we would be able to join them at Naauwpoort. We, the 'fighting 29' wish to remain here."
Forwarding a photo which could be of some interest to families of fallen comrades and surviving soldiers of the 4th Armoured Brigade who took part in the "Learn to swim" course in the Tweed River prior to going overseas· The dedicated plaque is situated at the entrance of Tweed Heads Council Chambers built on land reclaimed from the river.
I was a member of B Squadron. 1st Armoured regiment.that completed the course. The Button brothers from C Squadron were our instructors. I am in regular contact with 'Snowy' Alf McEwan and Reg Gunn of B Squadron who also lives on the Gold Coast. They too have memories of the course. Having resided in the area for 23 years it is strange to walk passed this plaque to pay my rates and think 70 years ago that I learned to swim in the river below.
Many World War Two Lancers will remember Morobe, a pleasant beach area where big George Luck won all the swimming events and Japanese planes bombed on moonlight nights. We called those moonlit nights “bomber’s moons”.
I recently attended a meeting where the guest speaker, John Bennett from Worrige House in the Shoalhaven District spoke about the Morobe Show.
The indigenous people were still rather primitive and knew nothing about ploughing on hilly ground. They planted their crops then watched the rain wash them away. Some government bureaucrats in Australia decided help was needed. They supplied the Papuans with donkeys and rope; but no training. When John Bennett led his party of junior farmers to Morobe, they found the frustrated locals who had never seen donkeys; trying to lead them by pulling on a rope attached to the bewildered animals’ legs.
The young Shoalhaven farmers quickly made halters from the rope and explained the value of ploughing across a slope. They achieved more in an hour than the Australian Bureaucrats had achieved in 50 years.
Unfortunately bureaucrats are alive and well in all three tiers of government in Australia.
Shortly after the outbreak of the war in 1939 the Royal NSW Lancers 1st Machine Gun Regiment was encamped at Wallgrove Army camp in January 1940. We found the place to be both hot and dusty, a foretaste of what many of us would experience in overseas theatres of war in the near future. Besides the Lancers, other Light Horse Regiments were also in camp at Wallgrove. However, during this period, we were the only mechanised regiment present, even though we were only equipped with trucks and utilities, with no sign of even a light tank on our establishment.
The 7 Light Horse still had their mounts and what a sight it was to see the long horse lines nearby, saddles, bridles and their cavalry equipment glinting in the hot sunlight during the period of that three months in camp. I think we can safely assume that the occasion was the very last time that such a large body of mounted Australian Light Horsemen would be assembled in one place. This was a familiar site however two decades before when the Australian Light Horse won everlasting glory at Beersheba, Gallipoli and other places of renown.
It would be an understatement to say that we were very proud of our Regiment, especially when the RSM on the parade ground, one George King, reminded us that we were the Royal NSW Lancers and that the 'Royal' meant something. Our CO at the time was Lieutenant Colonel D.A. Whitehead, known far and wide as 'Torpy', who was soon to command the 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion, AIF in the Middle East. Still later he was to show outstanding leadership when he commanded the 26 Brigade in the capture of Tarakan from the Japanese.
However all that was in the future, this was now, January 1940 in the hot dusty conditions we 'enjoyed' at Wallgrove. Our activities consisted of the usual daily parades and a lot of 'stunts' both by day and night during which time we all became very familiar with the ins and outs of the Vickers .303 MG.
The mounting of the gun on the tripod, the various positions of the crank handle when stoppages occurred and learning how to strip the gun when blindfolded. The latter exercises causing quite a few injured fingers and not a few expletives. There were multitudes of camp duties to be done and the SSM of A Squadron, learning that I was a fair to middling driver, lumbered me with the job of driving the regimental water cart. It was a heavy truck with a 600 gallon tank firmly attached to the truck bed. My assistant was one Tpr P. East, who, not having a driver's licence, was required to operate the flow of water by turning on or off the big tap at the back.
We performed this task from time to time, filling the tank at a water point some distance down the road before driving back to camp to water the parade ground, the tent lines, etc. in an effort to lay the dust. We apparently did the job reasonably well, at least to the satisfaction of the 'A' Sqn. SM. But one day disaster struck. It was quite accidental, for how were we to know that one of the officers had a portable radio in his tent with a thin aerial stretching across the line our vehicle would proceed along. In the sun it was well nigh invisible. Driving steadily down the tent lines I suddenly heard a shout from my companion, followed by the sound of something breaking, even above the noise of the engine. I instantly 'hit the anchors' and brought the truck to a sudden halt. On the ground were the remains of a portable radio, which had been dragged out of the tent by the aerial attaching itself to the top of the water tank. You can imagine our predicament, especially when a rapid inspection of the tent revealed that it was the one used by our CO 'Torpy' Whitehead. With visions of being shot at dawn or of facing a court-martial, we decided that like the Arabs of old we would decamp into the mist although there was precious little mist at Walgrove. So putting the ruined radio back into the tent and trying to remove signs of our ever having been near the area, we beat a hasty retreat. The next few days were somewhat anxious ones for Tpr East and I, but as more time passed without us being called to the orderly room, we relaxed and thanked our lucky stars.
Of course, we respected our CO, and would have liked to apologise for the mishap. Torpy was a fine man, but on due consideration at the time we thought such action unwise. We were both very young on that hot summer's day in 1940. To me the Regiment has many aspects: its physical entity with its position on the War Establishment; occupying the right of the line in the Divisional OOB; ruled by Standing Orders, Routine Orders and the chain of command; divided into troops and squadrons, which could be separated for periods of time by the exigencies of the situation, but the coalesced back into the one entity - the Regiment. The Regiment formed us into a single body, taught us the profession of arms, taught us our responsibilities for our fellow men, taught us to have control of ourselves and to subjugate ourselves as individuals for the good of the whole. We were lucky to have impetus of able and respected men and to guide and initiate us into the art of warfare and the cult of discipline. From the early days it was a self-perpetuating affair of each learning from the other and passing it on to new arrivals of all ranks who entered the Regiment over the ensuing years. This ensured that our standard of efficiency never deteriorated. So we went through the years of war, handling every task allotted to us with valour and efficiency, thereby gaining honours for the Regiment and ourselves. This built a comradeship and esprit de corps surpassed by none.
From the Middle East to New Guinea, with essential training periods in NT and Queensland we efficiently transferred our fighting role from Armour to Commando with almost no hiccups. From all this we developed an intense pride in our comrades our Regiment and ourselves. The other aspect is what I would call, for want of a better word, the spiritual Regiment , which today binds us together with ties as strong as those we had years ago. When the war finished we scattered far and wide to pick up our lives again. Some went to CRTS to learn the professions and trades, others to their pre-war avocations. Some went to the land, some got a job and some just drifted. But as the years passed we settled down and came together again. The ties of the Regiment expanded to include our wives and children and we became a tribe bound by a kinship embracing all, and it seems to me that it grows stronger every year even as our ranks thin out with the passage of time. The loyalty to each other and to the ideal of the Regiment has in turn made an impact on those who surround us in our daily lives. It has enriched our lives and I think has made us better able to contribute to the welfare of our community and our country. One generation is fast departing but I hope that some of the principles and our sense of comradeship will last through our children.....and theirs.
Robin finished the war as a Lieutenant in 2/6 Cavalry Regiment. Article taken from Cavalry News 61, June 1998
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, it is worthwhile looking back at what happened on the 75th in 1990. Steve Day sent this collection of photos of the Lancers all suitably attired in the Regiment’s original slouch hat with black cock’s plumes; stable belts and carrying lances. Perhaps there may be some money somewhere for the Regiment to be part of the display in 2015.
BE AT Gallipoli in 2015.
On behalf of the Canberra National Memorials Committee the Hon Simon Crean MP, Minister for Regional Development, Regional Australia and Local Government, has approved the Boer War Memorial design.
The memorial will be an inspired design of Australian troopers mounted on war horses breaking through the trees of ANZAC Parade Canberra.
The sculptures of a section of four horsemen are dynamic, bold and realistic; not impressionistic. The positioning and postures of the troopers create dynamism and tension. Each horse and soldier is portrayed with individual character and movement in the act of patrolling, searching and watching.
The history-capturing design will bring a new note to Australia’s national memorial precinct which leads to the Australian War Memorial. It will commemorate Australia’s first war as a federated nation.
The design embraces the horseman as the bushman folk hero of Australian culture; an independent and resourceful Australian acclimatised to a tough existence on the land. The significance of the four troopers is that they represent a four-man section, a formation for fighting and patrolling. When they went into combat, three men would dismount while the fourth would lead the horses to cover. This display of interaction and observation is reflected in the placement of the horses in the setting. Colonel John Haynes, National President of the Boer War Memorial Association, describes the design as "A magnificent and fitting memorial to the predecessors of today’s troopers serving in the Australian Defence Force."
The National Patron of the Boer War Memorial Association General David Hurley AC, DSC, Chief of Defence Force unveiled the design in Canberra on 1 March 2012 to an audience of Boer War Memorial Association members, the Press and Sculptor Louis Laumen whose task it will be to bring the design to life. Design was jointly by: Pod Landscape Architecture and Jane Cavanough.
This year, Reserve Forces Day not only helped to raise the profile of the Boer War, and the need to have a National Memorial by having the Boer War as theme; commemorative medallion sales yielded the largest single contribution ($38,000) to memorial funding. Medallions were bought by descendants and supporters and presentation ceremonies organised wherever there was a Reserve Forces Day parade, and at other locations; including Tshwane (Pretoria) South Africa where presentations were organised for a tour group of Australians to have theirs presented by the head of tourism for the Tshwane City Council. All presentations were made by a prominent person.
The photos above, show clockwise from top left: Colonel Bill Molloy receives his medallion on 31 May 2012 outside Melrose House where the peace treaty was signed 100 years ago to the day; Senator Matt Thistlethwaite presents medallions at the Reserve Forces Day parade Sydney 1 July 2012; Judith Higson receives her medallion at the Federal Parliamentary Offices, Sydney 16 July 2012; Major Frank Woodhams, Reserve Forces Day Council Treasurer looks on as Senator Matt Thistlethwaite on behalf of the Reserve Forces Day Council congratulates Colonel John Haynes president of the National Boer War Memorial Association after the presentation of the unprecedented donation.
The Reserve Forces Day Council has now formed a group consisting of Reserve Forces Day Council and National Boer War Memorial Association members to assist with continuing funding initiatives. The commemorative medallions will continue to be sold CLICK HERE for details, and the Military History Tour of the South African Boer War sites will again include medal presentations at Melrose House on 31 May 2013, CLICK HERE for details.
On my recent tour of the South African Boer War Battle Sites, I ensured we stopped at Tempe, a suburb of Bloemfontein. I knew the South African Armoured Corps museum was there, and that according to its website it should have been open, however, all attempts to make contact to confirm arrangements had proven fruitless. The guard on the gate indicated the museum was there, but closed. He said there were many outside exhibits and that it would be OK for us to look at them.
We drove in and started to look around. On the off-chance I marched into the guard room with due military precision (actually I sauntered in with all the inept precision of a 67 year old) and approached the guard corporal. He was most obliging and a credit to his uniform. He telephoned Warrant Officer Class One Sieg Marais, whom he knew was the museum curator. Mr Marais was with us in 10 minutes. He opened the Museum and gave us a detailed brief on the exhibits. As a soldier who served with a Regiment which fought in the Boer War on the British side, I have been brain-washed with the soldierly qualities of the Australians in this conflict. As a tour guide I do try to be balanced in my approach, however, I must expect that my background will shine through. It was enlightening to hear about the conflict from someone who had been trained to see things differently. Hearing Warrant Officer Marais was a great experience for the tour group.
The collection of armoured vehicle exhibits was of particular interest to Chris Stokes and myself. South Africa was isolated from world arms markets during the apartheid era so developed and manufactured its own designs, a tradition that continues today. As South African armour fought in Europe in World War II there was also an interesting historical collection, including all Sherman variants.
JIM DICK aged 73. He had Pancreatic Cancer. Jim served in the middle to late 50s in 2 Troop B SQN as a Gunner in 22B crew commander CPL Brian Breckenreg. I was the driver for 1958 Annual Camp. Jim attended most reunions and Reserve forces Day march . Jim was a Builder with his own Business. Bryan Algie
BILL HALLIDAY of Sanctuary Point NSW, on 7th March 2012, just two weeks before his 89th birthday. Bill was Troop Sergeant of No. 2 Troop A Squadron in WW2, and was in actions of the Squadron in New Guinea and Borneo. In the opposed landing at Balikpapan and actions following, he was acting Troop Leader, due to the absence of Lieutenant George McLean. All actions were successful. there are two references to him in our Regimental History. He had been for a time a gunnery instructor at Puckapunyal School of Armour.
Post war he worked in the insurance business as a loss assessor and was for some time self-employed. When he was living at Brighton-Ie-Sands he was for some years the President of Rockdale RSL Club. He regularly came to the Anzac Day March and Reunions, and before they began, went with his A Squadron mates to the old Maitland and Morpeth hotel on Anzac Day. He also attended various Lancers events, and was a loyal and supportive member of our Association.
The funeral was at Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park Crematorium, Matraville, and among the family and friends attending were his A Squadron mates Geoff Francis, Bill Lynch and Doug Beardmore. His wife Rose also sadly died not long before him on 31 July 2011. Bill will be remembered as a friendly and competent member, and will be sadly missed.
BERNIE HILL of Springfield, 26 June 2012, aged 75. The following Lancers and other former soldiers: Mick Algie; Jack Best, Terry Boardman; John Booth; Mick Butler; David Crisp; Geoff Copeland; Tony Fryer; Jim Gellet; Warren Glenny; John Haynes; John Hitchen; John Howells; Len Koles; Mick Lewins; Lee Long; John McPhee; Bill Meares; Mike Phillips; made the pilgrimage on a very cold Sydney day to Dover Heights to say goodbye to Bernie. Bernie had been battling cancer since 1997. As soldiers, we all knew Bernie to be a very competent officer who, an insurance executive by day, was prepared to contribute so much to the Army Reserve (including combat experience in Vietnam), then the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association. At the funeral we learned about another man. A religious person who had trained for the priesthood (though the thought of Bernie as a priest is, well … interesting to say the least). A great father, who for six years after the death of his first wife in a car accident was a single dad. A devoted grandpa; much loved by a large brood. And, someone who still found the time to devote himself to many charitable causes. Bernie is someone you can say lived life to the full and served his family, community and country. John Howells
GEOFF MORRIS of Gosford, died on 26 January 2012, aged 90. Following time in Militia, his wartime service was with LAD as an electrician, attached to our Regiment, with service in New Guinea and Borneo. He was discharged in January 1946 with the rank of Corporal. Post war he was in charge of a local power station at Gosford. On retirement he lived in the retirement units beside the Gosford RSL Club, of which he became Secretary for many years.
Geoff was very well known, and a good friend of many members. He well organised many annual October reunions of Lancers at Gosford RSL Club, which were well attended. Post war members Len Koles and Brian Walters were often there. Those who travelled by train were met by Geoff driving the club's bus, and most stayed at the nearby RSL Club's Galaxy Motel. Then next day, it was usually a coach tour or boat cruise on Hawkesbury River, also arranged by Geoff, and enjoyed by all. When the Gosford reunions ended in 2001, he organised monthly lunch get togethers for Armoured Corps members, mostly locals Ted Martin and Ron McKenzie, and John Blackberry and Doug Beardmore went by train. Most were from 2/6 Armoured Regiment. Geoff regularly came to the Lancers' Sydney Anzac Day March and Reunion and he served on the Association Committee for many years until 2008. In all of his organising activities, Geoff was ably assisted by his wife Elva, who made good friends with the ladies who attended. Sadly, she died in December 2009. At his funeral at Palmdale on 3 February 2012 was a big attendance of around 200, including Len Koles and some other post war members.
As a much involved, very capable and well liked and admired Lancers member, Geoff will be sadly missed.
WILLIAM THOMAS RICHARDSON was a tank driver in B Squadron. He was born on 1 October, 1923. Not long before he died Bill placed on record a soldier's story of his war.
The March 2012 issue of 'Armour' carries a two and a half pages of Bill's account covering his experiences in the Balikpapan campaign. It's lively and well written. It begins with the journey that had an unscheduled stop at Bonga when their transport, the Liberty ship 'Millen Griffith,' ran aground at Bonga in New Guinea. The Ist Tank Battalion had had tanks at this point just a year earlier. A few extracts of his time in the Balikpapan landing:
'Our objective was Parramatta Hill which was pretty high ... half way up the hill a sniper was holding things up. a tank was going to go first to eliminate him. He was tied to a tree. ... We were standing on a flat plateau .. an American fighter plane (was) flying below our level ...he fired four rockets ... I saw one flying straight at us ... there was a bunker protruding about one metre out of the ground which I ducked under.'
Aerial photos across the bay detected strong fortifications, gun emplacements still active ... Fighting HQ troop was selected to go and have a look. We loaded the tanks on LCMs and proceded across the bay. ... I proceded to drive off (the LCM) expecting only a 30 centimetres or so of water. The tank should have levelled off at the end of the ramp. Not so. It kept going down at the same angle. I realised it was mud and stopped ... I told the skipper we should reverse and find another spot ... he took no notice yelling "gotta go,gotta go" and eventually he did leaving us there like sitting ducks.'
'All the guns on the recon photos were dummies, coconut logs positioned to look like gun barrels ... my tank was a write off. The water had ruined everything.'
SAMUEL ALBERT ROUGHLEY. Bert Roughley joined the militia in May, 1940 at Randwick and transferred to the AIF when the unit became the AIF 1st Tank Battalion at Greta on 27 July 1942. He served in New Guinea and Borneo. He was gunner in troop leader Lieutenant George McLean's tank. Bert was discharged in October, 1945.
He was descended from an old ex-convict family who had a farm at Kenthurst. After a short spell in the police force after the war he went back to the farm and became a prominent participant in many local organisations which included the Fire Brigade, the School of Arts, the Farmers and Woolgrowers Association and the RSL. His wife June, predeceased him in December, 2011. Doug Beardmore and Geoff Francis represented the regiment at Bert's funeral.
COLIN JOHN TERRY. We have little information on Colin at the time of writing. He enlisted in May, 1942 and was discharged in May, 1946. He probably served in New Guinea and Borneo. Colin's army number was NX95950 which suggests he came from another unit or possibly was a specialist. If anyone can provide more information we'll include it next time.
GRAHAM WHYTE. Graham was a member of 209 LAD. He's shown as in the AWM's nominal roll as a member of Ist Armoured Regiment's work shop, which understates their much appreciated upfront service in keep the tanks going. Regardless of unit designation they have always been one of us. Graham died on 28 January. He lived at Riverwood.
Thank you all very much for your assistance in supporting the Museum and Association in the past year. Our records (and they may not be perfect, human data entry has been involved) show the following supported by donation, the Association:
Bryan Algie, Bill Balchin, Brian Bourke, Allan Brown, Arthur Bulgin, John Burlison, Ron Cable, Bert Castellari, Les Chipperfield, John Cook, David Craven, Jack Curtayne, Bob Gay, Glenn Gough, Richard Grant, Reg Gunn, Jon Laird, Jack Lamb, Jock Mackenzie, Alfred (Snow) McEwan, John McManus, Peter Philipson, Doug Pollard, John Roseby, Alan Stewart, Norma Swadling, Colin Williamson, Roy Young.
and the following the Museum:
Bryan Algie, Bill Balchin, Brian Bourke, Allan Brown, Arthur Bulgin, John Burlison, Rod Button, Joseph Camilleri, Bert Castellari, Les Chipperfield, John Cook, David Craven, Jack Curtayne, Bob Gay, Glenn Gough, Richard Grant, J Greenaway, Reg Gunn, Therese Holles, Bernie Kestel, Jon Laird, Jack Lamb, Jock Mackenzie, Albert Martin, B McEvilly, Alfred (Snow) McEwan, John McManus, Peter Philipson, Eddie Polley, Margaret Reid, John Rodwell, Jack Rolfe, John Roseby, Alan Stewart, Russell Townsend, Brian Walters, Roy Young.
Yes we really do need your financial assistance. No amount too large, no amount too small.
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Membership of the RAACA is free to all applicants over 75, and only $20 per annum or $50 for THREE years for those who are younger. The RAACA NSW newsletter complements Lancers' Despatch, providing news of events in the wider corps community. If you wish to join the RAACA and receive the newsletter, drop a line to the association at Building 96, Victoria Barracks, Paddington NSW 2071, or email email@example.com.
"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)
Lancers' Despatch is Published in February and August each year by the New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881 and the Royal New South Wales Lancers Association. All material is copyright. John Howells - Editor, New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated, Linden House, Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, PARRAMATTA NSW 2150, AUSTRALIA, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +61 (0)405 482 814, Fax: +61 (0)2 4733 3951.
© New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated
ABN 94 630 140 881 - - - Site Updated August 2017
Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, Parramatta NSW 2150, Australia
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