Lancers' Despatch 31
Website of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Lancer Barracks and Museum
Lancers in France
The Regiment 1916
Photos and text by the editor unless otherwise noted. Thanks very much to all contributers
Those of us who attended the Regimental Officers' and Senior NCOs' Dinner on 27 February 2016 had a rather delightful evening.
A highlight of the evening was a speech by the Honorary Colonel, Colonel Lee Long RFD (Ret'd) he gave an update on the Regiment and an insight into the role of Honorary Colonels.
"Dinning President, BRIG Phillip Bridie, Counsellor Paul Garrard (Lord Mayor of Parramatta), CO, members, former members of the Regiment, members of the Assn, Ladies and gentlemen.
Those of you who have heard me speak before will know that I like to keep my comments short and to the point, while tonight I will continue my practice of getting to the heart of an issue my comments will be just a little bit longer though I trust they will still be interesting.
There are two issues I wish to address tonight the first is the role that this Regiment is tasked to fulfil and by extension the role of the whole Reserve Armoured Corps.
In ancient history ie when I joined this Regiment, we were one of three tank regiments in Australia, the others were 1AR and 8/13 VMR. At that time we were training with the state of art MBT, the Centurion as were the other armoured regiments. There was one Centurion tank in the barracks, which we used to train drivers, there was also a mark 1 simulator known as the Crewmans Instructional Model which was used to train tank gunners, loaders and crew commanders. While this was a full scale model it actually fired .22 ammunition at static and moving targets. For annual training the Regiment would embark at Central station by Sqns and travel to Puckapunyal once a year there we would draw a full sqn of Centurion tanks and their Complete Equipment Schedule (which was very painful) train with the tanks for two weeks concluding with a sqn exercise usually against the Armoured School instructors though sometimes against 1AR during which I can recall we actually beat under the command of the then Maj Warren Glenny.
As a troop leader I commanded a Recon troop and an APC Troop, as a Sqn Ldr and CO I commanded Cav. We were equipped with the full series of the M113A1 family as were the ARA units, though we had fewer vehicles.
Let us now move to the last few years and hasn’t there been a significant change.
The Regt is now tasked to provide light Cav scouts or dismounts for the ARA ACRs and train with the Bushmaster PMV. The difficulty I have with this task is that the Army considers the Bushmaster to be nothing more than a truck and trains operators accordingly. The ARA RAAC does not use the Bushmaster except in a logistical role. Thus while the Reserve does provide a very limited amount of capability by providing well trained light Cav scouts it does not have the ability to provide armoured crewmen (or should I say crewpeople). Thus the Reserve is unable to supplement the ARA ACRs by providing replacement, reinforcement or round out crews.
Historically every time Australia has had to commit larger forces to combat we have found that it is necessary to rely on Reserve forces to supplement the forces we deploy. In the early days when we deployed forces to the Maori wars, the Boxer Rebellion, Boer War, WW1, WWII – we depended principally on Militia forces as the core of the force. In Korea we deployed the first of the professional army which incidentally comprised a solid core of WWII soldiers. In Malaya we used the ARA units in Vietnam we used ARA units heavily supported by conscripts.
When we were committed to East Timor we found that there were a large number of ARA who were not deployable and the Reserve were asked to fill the gaps. In the various Middle East conflicts and while the ARA have been the principal deployees, some Reservists have managed to get a guernsey to deploy. For example the current CO and Brig Philip Bridie.
While I accept that combat has become more complicated I do not accept that the reserve cannot cope with that complexity.
My principal concern is not with individuals deploying but with our ability to deploy large numbers of trained soldiers. I would advocate that the Reserve part of the Corps needs to be trained in a true RAAC role, maybe not on the same equipment but to develop the requisite mind set in the soldiers and NCOs. Technical conversion training in an emergency can be undertaken fairly swiftly but training the soldiers to think, act and deploy as armoured Corps soldiers requires a longer period.
My view is shared by a number of Hon Cols and former and serving RAAC officers and we have submitted a paper to MAJGEN Steve Porter along these lines.
In my humble opinion if the Army is unwilling to grasp the nettle, then perhaps our civilian leaders should do so after all to quote Sir Winston Churchill reservists are Twice the Citizen.
The second item that I would like to share with you is a reflection on the role of Honorary Colonel or as they have been recently renamed Colonel Commandants I will use the title interchangeably. Australia adopted the practice of appointing Hon Cols from the British tradition wherein Colonels of the Regiment were appointed; this practice dates back to the late 1700s. The Australian practice is in common with other Commonwealth forces such as Canada and even the US appoints Honorary Colonels.
Traditionally Hon Cols are conferred on either retired members of the Regiment who had reached senior rank (Col or above), former senior officers or distinguished local citizens. When researching the subject I was surprised to learn that this Regiment has only had eight Hon Cols before me.
Then the mantle fell to me, I think you will agree after those I have listed I am a bit of a come down.
The common factor in the choice of Hon Cols is that the decision of whom to invite is made by the Regiment in conjunction with the outgoing Hon Col and the Regimental association. An important point to note that all previous appointees were essentially local, even Gen Mcdonald maintained a local residence. However this practice would seem to be the subject of an objective decision of the previous Chief of Army LTGEN Morrison who has arbitrarily decided that the RAAC will maintain a maximum of six Colonels Commandant and as there are eight RAAC units some will have to share a Colonel Commandant. Under that directive four Reserve units will share a Col Comdt, this unit is one of those. However at this stage the decision to implement that policy has been placed on hold and it is likely that an appeal is to be made to the current Chief of Army to permit the RAAC units to each have their own Hon Col.
I am all for modernisation however I struggle to understand the logic behind the direction. Hon Cols or Cols Commandant cost the Army very little the decision to reduce the number of Hon Cols will in fact increase the T&S cost to Army as well as place the Hon Col in a difficult position should it be decided to reduce one of "his" units in size or remove it from the ORBAT, in this case does the Hon Col go to bat for the effected unit at the risk that their other unit may suffer or will their "tribal" loyalties come to the fore?
The role of the Hon Col is fairly complex and can be demanding though much depends on the attitude of the respective Hon Col and the unit CO. While the most obvious function of the Hon Col is ceremonial they are also responsible for advising and mentoring the CO, representing the unit within and without the chain of Command. For example due to geography I am the only Hon Col in a position to visit Forces Comd and 2 Div to put cases or concerns directly. I have also been able to communicate, on a face to face basis with the Federal Member Julie Owens and other parliamentarians.
My strong view is that each RAAC unit should have their own Hon Col/Col Comdt, this is not about me, like all Regimental appointments we are all transitory this issue is about having someone who the CO can turn to, to gain advice and support and whose attention can be fully on the Regt and not complicated by other considerations.
I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as Hon Col and trust that the various COs I have served consider that I have fulfilled my duties to the Regt.
Whatever the future brings I thank the Regt for the honour of being your ninth Hon Col.
In conclusion it is appropriate to note the Regtl motto is Tenex in Fide steadfast in faith which is something we must all strive to be.
This has been six months of hard work for all Museum volunteers.
In the Museum building, the displays have all been refreshed, all the dreaded Masonite removed from remaining timber display cabinets, security enhanced and new exhibits added. Visitor numbers are quite good, it was particularly pleasing to host a visit by the ARES NSW newest officer recruits, all seemed to have their heads screwed on, the Army appears to be in good future hands. We have also been involved in community parades, the one illustrated is where we support the National Servicemans' Association in Penrith.
Thanks very much to the team.
Outside the vehicles have had a lot of work done to keep them in good condition.
Ace is fully mobile except for a small problem with the compressor, the compressor allows steering controls to be operated. The unit, original, has wear problems that preclude it reaching and maintaining the pressure required. The vehicle team are working on this and I trust we will be able to give you the news that all problems are solved by the next edition of Lancers’ Despatch.
Our vehicle collection has been added to with the acquisition of an M113, pity it is not fully operational, nonetheless it looks the part.
We are faced with a couple of major problems.
The really well maintained vehicle collection has no protection from ravages of the elements. We do cover them with tarpaulins, but the tarps do not provide adequate protection and when visitors come they have to be removed. To remove the tarps and replace them without damage requires an hour of work by at least three agile people. Such resources are not always available.
Ideally a closed hangar would be desirable to display the vehicles, or alternatively a set of car ports (or single linked structure) would provide reasonable protection. The illustration shows the car port type structure at the National Military Museum in Johannesburg, we could put these in for a not unreasonable cost, with the ground surface being gravel rather than a concrete slab. All we really need is permission from the Department of Defence to raise the structure/s on their land, or extend our lease at Lancer Barracks beyond the current 50 m2 which only covers the Museum Building and Annex.
An area to work on our vehicles and administer the Museum is also necessary. By the grace and favour of the Regimental CO we are able to use a room in the Regiment’s vehicle compound hangar, however, permission to use this can of course be withdrawn at any time. For the major work on Ace, we have been able to use a property at Cecil Park. With the Ace project all-but complete, we will be able to withdraw from Cecil Park in the short term, however we have other such projects, in particular finishing restoration of the Staghound Armoured Car that will also require such an area. It is currently a dilemma without a solution.
One thing we have not got is a museum bar. At the South African Army Tank Museum, Tempe there is such a facility. Made from ubiquitous corrugated iron, with a Ferret Scout Car Braai (BBQ), they have a cap collection strung on wires near the roof. They now have a Lancers' cap on the wire. I have bought myself a new one.
Our Association works well. Our WW2 forebears many years ago decided that there would be no fees to be a member. Anyone who has served in the Regiment is automatically a member. To receive Lancers’ Despatch and notices, all that is required is that a member contacts the secretary and passes on their contact details. This can best be done via the Museum and Association website CLICK HERE. Members are of course asked to donate to the Association, this too can be done online CLICK HERE.
In 2016, we made a great showing at the Officers’ and Senior NCOs’ Regimental Dinner, ANZAC Day, and Reserve Forces Day. Many of the executive positions on the Reserve Forces Day Council when it comes to running the National Parade in Sydney being filled by Lancer Association members.
ANZAC Day was particularly well patronised. Only a couple of WW2 veterans, the post war contingent was a different story, one of the largest in the march.
Reserve Forces Day this year was a different format. We paraded around the refurbished pool of remembrance in Hyde Park. Quite spectacular and in brilliant sunshine. Our contingent was one of the largest for a unit, and the parade simply would not function without Lancers in senior positions: Parade Commander, Parade RSM, Commander 2 Div, RSM 5 Bde and the list goes on.
A number of Lancers made the pilgrimage to France and Belgium in July 2016 for the commemoration of the Battles of Fromelles and Pozičres. Dave Wood assisted by John Scott led a tour of the Combined RSL Pipes and Drums, Tony Fryer laid a wreath at Pozičres representing St Marys RSL Sub-Branch and John Howells was there as a tour guide.
The photos show Tony, Dave and John, the videos show the Pipers at Pozičres and taking part in the Menin Gate Ceremony
Don't forget the ANZAC Centenary continues in 2017, the event to be at is the opening of the new National Boer Memorial in Canberra on 31 May 2017 CLICK HERE to stay abreast of developments; the tour to be on is the one to BEERSHEBA in October 2017 CLICK HERE for details.
Lets look at where tank development is going. This article from globalsecurity.org sets out where the French and Germans are heading.
Leopard 3 MBT Advanced Technology Demonstrator Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)
Creating a next-generation main battle tank that has sometimes been called the Leopard 3 will be a difficult task that will certainly take plenty of time. In the short- to medium-term, Germany will have to upgrade the already-existing Leopard 2A7(+) so as to counter Russia's next-generation T-14 Armata main battle tank.
By 2015 Germany and France were reported preparing to jointly develop a new main battle tank, the Leopard 3, to replace its ageing Leopard 2 military vehicle by around 2030, which would be able to compete with Russia's next-generation Armata tank, showcased at the 2015 Victory Day parade commemorating the end of World War Two in Moscow.
In December 2014 the German Parliament approved a proposal to develop a new generation of tanks, a program to be included in the medium-term planning of the German Ministry of Defence. The decision came amid the Ukrainian crisis, where the 225/7 Leopard 2A6 tanks that the Bundeswehr aimed to maintain operational seemed rather inadequate.
The German Defence Ministry announced its plans for the "Leo 3" (as it's may be nicknamed in Germany) to replace its main battle tank, the Leopard 2. The German Defence Ministry announced its plans in a report on 22 May 2015 to the Bundestag. "Technologies and concepts will be investigated between 2015 and 2018 in joint studies also involving German industry," Markus Grübel, a deputy minister in the German Defence Ministry told his parliamentary colleagues. He cited the Leopard 2's long years of service as the reason that a new battle tank was required.
The main reason for the modernisation was believed to be the Leopard 2 service life, which was set to expire by 2030. The Leopard 2's 50-year service life is set to expire in 2030. The tank, which came into service in 1979, was conceived as part of a plan for Cold War-era land defence. Germany commissioned more than 2,000 of them at the peak of the arms race of the early 1980s. Currently, however, only about 240 are in active service; but last month, citing the security situation in Ukraine, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen annnounced plans to reactivate 100 mothballed Leopard 2 tanks. In November 2014, von der Leyen also announced a move to add more than 100 aditional "Boxer" armoured personnel carriers to the Bundeswehr's ranks.
The German media, however, suggest that another reason was the recently-presented analysis by Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) on Russia’s reinforced combat strength and its recently showcased T-14 Armata tanks, which were presented during the country's Victory Parade in Moscow on 09 May 2015.
A column of Armata tanks, equipped with 125mm cannons, rolled through Moscow's historic Red Square on May 9 as Russian President Vladimir Putin and a number of foreign heads of state, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping, watched on. The BND analysis suggestrf that even though the combat vehicles unveiled at the parade erre still somewhat pre-production models, when completed, it would be a tank with the highest levels of armaments.
According to Deutsche Welle, the manufacturer of the current Leopard 2, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, was scheduled to merge with the French firm Nexter Systems over the course of the year. This prompted the German media to report that the new Franco-German firm, with more than 6,000 staff and a combined turnover of around 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion), could be a strong candidate to win the contract to develop a new battle tank for the German Bundeswehr. For KMW, joining with the Paris-based maker of the Leclerc battle tank will add new products, technology and markets.
Germany initially developed a strategy of always having two versions of tanks in service. One that was just fielded, and one to be replaced. The Leopard 1 was the replacement for the M47, and the Leopard 2 for the M48. The name was Halbgenerationenwechsel, which translates to “Mid-generation replacement”. And during the 1980s, the German Army started with plans for the replacement of the Leopard 1. This was the only time Leopard 3 was really set up, and requirements were slowly collected. The problem was that there was not enough technology available to justify a new family of tanks. Costs would increase massively if there should be a true improvement over the Leopard 2.
The MBT Revolution is a modular upgrade package to the Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks first revealed in 2010. It is also referred as Leopard 2A4 Evolution. The Revolution main battle tank is better suited for urban warfare and low-intensity conflicts. Since 2011 a broadly similar upgrade program is offered by the Aselsan of Turkey. These are referred as the Leopard 2 Next Generation.
The MBT Evolution is another step in the line of Leopard 2A4 Evolution and MBT Revolution. The MBT Evolution among other things features modified force protection elements. While the first one demonstrated the new armour package and the second one introduced the new fire control system for the commander, MBT Evolution aimed for the practical demonstration of the armour package. The tank was presented at the Eurosatory 2014 and covers add on armour, as well as ROSY demonstrators.
The 62 ton-MBT Leopard Evolution was displayed during the 2012 Indodefence expo in Jakarta. Unlike Armata, MBT Revolution manufactured by Rheinmetall is not a new platform but an update to the Leopard 2A4 main battle tank. The comprehensive modular upgrade package offers improved protection, an upgraded digital fire control system and increased firepower. Overall the Revolution MBT is less vulnerable to ambushes, RPG rounds, anti-tank missiles, improvised explosive devices and mines.
One of the Leopard's key disadvantages stems from the fact that it uses tungsten instead of depleted uranium for tank rounds. The choice of material affects performance. Because of the limitations of tungsten ammunition, the Bundeswehr has some doubts as to the ability of its penetrator rounds to punch through the armour of the latest Russian tanks. Specifically, there might be instances where German ammunition might not have enough kinetic energy to ensure a kill against the T-80, T-90 and obviously the Armata.
The solution to this problem might seem obvious – replace tungsten with depleted uranium but the Leopard is unlikely to receive rounds made out of depleted uranium since the Germans are largely against the move. Using US-made ammunition could have been an option but it is said to be incompatible with the Leopard's improved L55 tank gun.
Germany has decided to upgrade over a hundred Leopard 2's with the MBT Revolution kit while the new yet-to-be-designed main battle tank is expected to enter mass production in 2030 at the earliest.
Berlin has already started developing the next-generation Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) in cooperation with France, and that "the concept development phase should be completed by 2017. The MGCS's main focus on increased firepower was directly driven by Russia's Armata program. The Armata series armoured vehicles — particularly with their focus on active protection systems (APS) — are forcing Western designers to focus on more direct fire weapons.
MBT (Main Battle Tank) technology support
The name of the research project: MBT (Main Battle Tank) technology support. While the chassis and turrent are from the Leopard 2A4, the entire interior concept, optronicks, fire control, communications and management technology as well as main and secondary armament were renewed, including self-defence systems. In sum, the whole of the old art of the 1980s are out of the tank.
New smoke grenade launcher systems include cartridges in the calibre of 40 mm can be manually or use up over the fire control system. Likewise, the new launcher contribute to bring the smoke grenades without costly tower or movements to the finish and also build a more dense and larger fog cloud that should distract the enemy and his weapons from the tanks.
The MBT technology platform is equipped with the AMAP (Advanced Modular Armour Protection) ADS (Active Defence System) in defence against armour-piercing projectiles. AMAP-ADS is manufactured by a joint venture between IBD Deisenroth and Rheinmetall Defence. The idea behind the "Active Defence System" (ADS) technology is as easy as it is spectacular - recoilless munitions, missiles and armour-piercing projectiles, approaching the tank are detected by the ADS and at intervals of five to ten metres they are destroyed with directed energy. What is meant by "directed energy", the manufacturer of the system does not explain exactly. Put very simply: Sensors detect the missiles and blow it shortly before the vehicle by means of a pressure wave from the sky. More precisely: a compressed air gun directs the missile into the ground, thus minimising the risk of injury to civilians and adjacent units.
At the rear left on the turret is the heavy 12.7-millimeter-board machine gun is mounted, which is served in the tank from the gun loader. Also new are several optronic structures. That camera systems with night vision and laser-based distance measuring devices for reconnaissance and target data determination.
While the main weapon the Russian T-14 Armata may be a 152mm smoothbore gun, Rheinmetall settled for the time being on the 120mm cannon. This is now one meter longer, thereby increasing the speed of ammunition increases, with a corresponding increase in penetration. Rheinmetall is looking to new ammunition. Moreover, the defence contractor is working on a new 130mm cannon.
The new tank has a crew of four soldiers, and the turret is still manned. Otherwise, the design of a completely new tank would be necessary. The successor to the Leopard 2, the so-called MGCS (Main Ground Combat System), could have such an unmanned turret.
How Ruskis Drive Tanks
The 1st Light Horse Regiment was withdrawn from Gallipoli in late 1915 and returned to Egypt. It was deployed to the Saini Peninsula in early 1916. The task was to prevent the Ottoman Empire taking the Suez Canal, lifeline of supplies and men to the war in Europe. We pick up the story in July 2016 from the last edition of Lancers’ Despatch.
On 6 July 1916 C Squadron sent a party to Kantara for remounts; it returned with 24 on the 11 July.
At 2300 on 8 July, the regiment left Romani on a brigade reconnaissance to Salmana, the enemy’s advanced guard being found by C Squadron. The 1st Brigade after passing Ogratina was in support of the 2nd Brigade. When the unit returned to Romani it was found that an enemy aeroplane had again been over the camp.
On 12 July another reconnaissance and drive were ordered to clean up all Bedouin sympathisers with the enemy in the neighbourhood. The regiment camped at Ogratina until 0200 on the 13th. It then marched to Debabis, arriving at 0424, A and C Squadrons carried out the drive; no natives or animals were found but good fresh water was discovered at Hod Abu Gharrab at a depth of 1.2 metres, and brackish water was found at Unmaish and at Hannam; all native dwellings were burned in the buffer area between the enemy and Romani, which was reached at 1915. The health of the troops was generally good, one case of scarlet fever had to be evacuated. Another consignment of 60 cases of gifts and extra rations from comforts funds was distributed on 16 July.
Work was continued day and night by squadrons alternately improving the defences and doing outpost or patrols to Hill 110. On 19 July the machine gun section (12 other ranks) was transferred to the brigade machine gun squadron then being formed, with an establishment of eight officers and 221 other ranks and 12 Maxim guns, which were replaced by Vickers guns later in the campaign. At the same time, each regiment was given three Lewis guns, and Lewis gun schools for the instruction of the men were commenced. Enemy aeroplanes continued their reconnaissance over the camp every second day and were fired at by the machine gun squadron and anti-aircraft guns. British 'planes, having to come from Kantara or Port Said, had little chance to stop them. Patrols of the 1st Light Horse Regiment reported 16 Turks on camels at Ogratina and large parties were reported at Bir el Abd and Bayoud.
On 21 July the regiment, with the brigade, marched out at 0300 for Katia, en-route to Ogratina. The Turks occupied the same position as the Yeomanry had when they were captured during the early part of the year, and were being shelled by the artillery. The Turkish forces were gradually approaching Romani on a front of about 16 kilometres from Bayoud westward. Two days later there was another reconnaissance, the regiment leaving Romani at midnight for Katia and being met by enemy 'planes. Further shelling of Ogratina checked the enemy's advance, and the regiment returned to Katia at 1900, reaching Romani at midnight. From this date the light horse never lost touch, day or night, with the approaching enemy. The night patrols were officers' patrols, generally two officers together, and much information was gained in this way.
Twenty-three reinforcements as well as 17 horses were received from the remount depot on 23 July; the horses were badly needed and were put to work at once.
Patrols now reported the enemy strongly entrenched in the high sand dunes at Farwa and Badieh, and frequent reconnaissances were carried out by the regiment. During one of these, a scout, Corporal Courtean, was reported missing, and four other ranks were wounded. The work was very strenuous for both men and horses, but casualties were light as it was not the job of the unit to get heavily engaged. At this time the rank and file thought that the Turks would never attack Romani.
On 30 July the navy co-operated by shelling Ogratina with the guns of the monitors in the Mediterranean; next day the enemy had pushed his flanks closer to Romani and three aeroplanes bombed the camp and dropped steel darts, one of which was found to have gone nearly through a camel.
On the night of 2-3 August the enemy occupied Katia, a palm oasis about eight kilometres from Romani. Next night the brigade took up a new line of outposts from Hod el Enna to No 1 Post, covering what had been left as an open approach for the enemy. The 1st Light Horse Regiment was in reserve, and about midnight the unit was ordered out as the Turks had made a forced march and were attacking the outpost lines. At 0130 on 3 August 1916, A Squadron reinforced the line held by the 3rd Light Horse Regiment on the southern slope of Mount Meredith, a prominent sandhill named after Brigadier General Meredith, who was commanding 1st Light Horse Brigade at the time. At 0145 B Squadron took up a line on either side of Mount Meredith. The night was dark but starlit, and the flashes of rifle fire showed up well against the sand hills. One troop of C Squadron was detailed to escort the Leicester Battery, Royal Horse Artillery. The remainder of the regiment struck a line covering the two re-entrants on the north of Mount Meredith.
The enemy was in force and the regiment came under heavy rifle and machine gun fire, also shrapnel from a mountain battery which the Turks brought well up on camels. At 1000 the regiment fell back to Bir el Maler, the infantry having by this time come up. Remaining in reserve until 1700, it then took up an outpost line on the south-east of the hods near Bir Abu Diyuk, casualties up to this time being Lieutenant McQuiggan and nine other ranks killed, Captains Weir (adjutant), Fitzpatrick (QM), G H L Harris, 2nd Lieutenant W M Nelson (signal officer) and 26 other ranks wounded. During the action enemy aircraft "spotted" for their guns, and dropped bombs, grenades, and a few darts, without doing much damage.
Next day (4 August 2016), the 1st Light Horse Regiment at 0400 started to drive towards Hod el Enna, with the 6th Light Horse Regiment on the left and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade on the right. Twenty prisoners were taken, with one machine gun and four boxes of 15-pounder ammunition. The enemy had withdrawn under pressure to Katia. At 1430 on 5 August an attack was made on Katia by the 1st and 2nd Light Horse Brigades, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and the British 5th Mounted Brigade. The regiment dismounted on the western edge of the Katia swamp, occupying a frontage of 250 metres. An advance of 300 to 600 metres into the swamp was made, the enemy holding all the high ground east of Katia by machine gun and rifle fire. The dismounted strength of the regiment was only 150 all ranks, 41 horses had been killed or were missing, so at 1830 the line commenced to withdraw and the regiment returned to Romani, both men and horses being badly off for water. During the day the camp was again bombed and shelled by the enemy.
Fatigues were sent out next day to bury the dead, and Lieutenant Max E Wright and 20 men were sent to escort camels loaded with water and rations for divisional headquarters, which were now at Katia, since the place had been evacuated by the Turks.
At 1415 on 8 August the regiment, now 236 strong, with A Squadron of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, left Romani for Katia as advanced guard to the Ist and 2nd Brigades which were both under Brigadier General J R Royston, CMG, DSO, the object being to cut off the Turks at Bir el Abd. The force moved along the caravan route to Hod el Khibba, thence in a night march, swinging off at a bearing of 22 degrees as far as the recently swollen marsh, thence on a bearing of 80 degrees to Hod Hamada and from there on a bearing of 129 degrees in order to reach a point north-east of Bir el Abd. On reaching the edge of the sand dunes north-east of Bir el Abd, the unit came under heavy fire, and was forced to deploy on a line running eastward into the dunes from the edge of a marsh, el Huag, lying north-east of Hod el Risha. At 1100, an attempt was made to straighten out the line - the Wellington Mounted Rifles, attached to the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, moved forward and occupied a hill south-west of Hod el Asal. The 1st Light Horse Regiment moved forward supporting this attack, one troop reaching the hill. As the enemy appeared to be making some advance across the fiat to the east, two troops of the regiment were moved up to Hod el Risha, and were heavily fired on, at which time the Wellingtons were being heavily shelled on the hill occupied by them south-west of Hod el Asal. The enemy made a general advance, and orders were received at 1530 to withdraw to the north-west towards Hod Hamada, thence via Hod el Khibba to Ogratina, where the regiment bivouacked for the night. Lieutenant RAL McDonald and two men had been killed, and Major DWA Smith and 13 men wounded.
At Romani, on 4 August 1916, the British had routed the Turks and destroyed half their force. It was a decisive battle in the campaign. After the actions at Katia on 5 August, and at Bir el Abd on 9 to 12 August, the main enemy force was withdrawn across the 80 kilometres of practically waterless country to el Arish, but with a strong outpost left at Mazar, 38 kilometres east of Abd. The Romani operations had stressed the need for the railway line and pipeline which were gradually being constructed in the wake of the army, and the GOC now made a determined effort to get these completed.
For the next few days the regiment took its turn at outpost around Hod el Hegilat, returning to Romani at midnight, 13-14 August. On the 15th all ranks were inoculated against cholera, and gift stores of clothing, chocolate, etc., were distributed. The weather was very hot during the ensuing week and men and horses were sent in squadrons by turn to Mahamdiya on the coast, where the horses could be washed and the men could bathe. On 21 August inoculation for glanders (an infectious disease in horses) was commenced, and the men were again inoculated against cholera.
In spite of the oppressive heat, the usual patrols and fatigues were carried out. Colonel Meredith returned to command of the regiment on 26 August, as Brigadier General Cox had again taken over the brigade. On the same day, 13 reinforcements arrived, and on the 29th Major-General HG Chauvel, commanding the Anzac Mounted Division, inspected the regiment and thanked all ranks for the hard work they had done in the extreme heat. At the end of the month a leave camp was in running order at Port Said and 22 men were sent down every day. Colonel Meredith was given three months' leave to Australia.
The first half of September was spent in recuperating and training at Romani. On the 15 September 2016 the regiment, consisting of 12 officers and 305 other ranks, left camp at night and moved to Bir el Abd via Bir Salmana, reaching their destination on the morning of the 17th. No enemy were seen. On the return journey to Romani, the regiment was halted and inspected by General Butler, the senior remount officer in Egypt, who praised the endurance of the Australian horses.
Major General Chauvel again made an inspection and told the men that they were going to Kantara for a well-earned rest. On 8 September the regiment, 14 officers and 268 other ranks, left Romani. They arrived at Hill 70 at midday and took over the camp of the Royal Gloucester Hussars (Yeomanry). One officer and 67 other ranks, having no horses, were left at Romani to clean up the camp and to follow by train.
On September 30 the regiment left Hill 70 and proceeded via Hill 40 to the camp site on the west side of the Canal at Kantara. This was reached on 2 October. Plenty of leave was given and everything was done to build up the men after their hard time in the desert. Lieutenants SM Moore and WM Edwards with 55 other ranks were sent on leave to Sidi Biser rest camp at Alexandria. Equipment was overhauled, and 90 remounts arrived on 22 October with an additional 31 at the end of the. month. Surplus kit was bagged up and sent to the Base Kit Store at Cairo, as on the 26th orders were received to be prepared to move out at short notice. During this period a Cavalry School was being conducted at Zeitoun, and also a Senior Officers' School as a refresher course for such officers as could be spared.
On 1 November the regiment was ordered to move out on the following day for Ge'eila, five and a half kilometres south-east of Bir el Abd. Camel transport was provided. Marching via Duiedar, Negeliat was reached on 4 November. The next day the unit moved, as part of the lst Brigade, and Hod el Ge'eila was reached at 1530 A Squadron under Captain AA White was sent out two and a half kilometres south-east to Willegha on outpost duty, and two patrols of one NCO and four men were sent out at various hours during the day and night to patrol to Hod Unweih el Hilu and establish contact with a squadron of the yeomanry brigade. Another troop under Lieutenant W Rogers was sent out to gain touch with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles at Bir el Kessieba. Fairly good grazing was obtained, and on the 8th the horses were inspected by General Chaytor. Enemy aeroplanes were active, but good anti-aircraft work at Salmana prevented them having all their own way. Occasional enemy patrols were seen and one party of 12 Bedouins, camel mounted, came very close to No 2 Cossack Post; a troop under Lieutenant Moore tried unsuccessfully to cut them off, but killed only one camel. On 13 November, Major Lawry, Captain Donovan, the Roman Catholic padre, 2nd Lieutenant WH Gray and 36 other ranks arrived from Kantara with 63 riding and five pack-horses. Two days later Major Lawry was seconded to command the 1st Light Horse Training Camp at Moascar.
Grazing parades and patrols were carried on until 17 November when the regiment moved to Willegha. Next day the strength of the unit was increased by the attachment for training of 2nd Lieutenant Martin and 21 others from the Anzac Mechanical Transport Police. All ranks were again inoculated against cholera. The death from meningitis of Lieutenant GP Edwards at the 14th Australian General Hospital was reported on 20 November. Lieutenant WFM Ross and 33 other ranks from Moascar reinforced the unit on the 23 November 1916. The health of the regiment was good and the horses were improving with the grazing and light work. Arrangements were made for the delousing of men, clothing and blankets, and this was carried out by squadrons.
A section of the Imperial Camel Corps took over Willegha Camp on 24 November, while the regiment re-joined the brigade at Bir el Moseifig. The next camp was formed at Arnussi, where an outpost line was taken up. Patrols were sent to Bir el Geraret, and reported all clear; Hill 255 and Hill 160 were also kept under observation. On December 4 the regiment moved to New Wells, two miles north-west of Geraret. Communication was kept up by telephone and heliograph, and outposts with Lewis guns were mounted for protection against aircraft.
Working parties were sent ahead to help in water conservation at Abu Artaa, while officers' patrols gained a knowledge of the surrounding country and recorded bearings of tactical points. During a particularly good reconnaissance on 13 December Major DWA Smith, Lieutenant ME Wright and an engineer officer with a Norton Tube to probe for water located four wells with a fair supply of water at Wady el Arish. Many hostile Bedouins were reported in this vicinity, but Major Smith's party cut the enemy's telegraph and took two Turkish and five Bedouin prisoners.
Ghorfan el Gimal was reached on the 15 December and the regiment stood to arms at 0500 every morning: patrols were sent out along the el Arish road. Captain GHL Harris re-joined from England and Lieutenants FM Mack and SM Moore and 30 other ranks were taken on strength. On 20 December the Regiment less A Squadron moved to Geraret, A Squadron joining later. The brigade moved on to el Arish at 1830, C Squadron being the advanced guard. After marching all night up and down dunes in a sweeping movement, it was found at dawn that el Arish had been evacuated. The town was picqueted and an outpost line taken up. On December 21, Squadron Sergeant Major GE Shepherd and Lance-Corporal J Struthers, both of A Squadron, were killed instantly by a floating mine which had been washed up on the beach.
On the evening of 22 December the regiment moved out for Magdhaba, a fortified military post 37 kilometres east of el Arish. Captain Weir was now adjutant again. A Squadron was detached as escort to the Ayrshire Battery, B was in reserve and C in the main body, being used in the later part of the fight to reinforce the right flank. The position was attacked at 0630 after a long night march, rations for horse and man being drawn on the march about six and a half kilometres from the el Arish waddy. The enemy held out nearly all day, being sited in a number of redoubts, but by a few minutes after 1600 the last redoubt had fallen to Chauvel's force, which in this fight consisted of the 1st and 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigades, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and Imperial Camel Brigades, Inverness and Somerset Batteries and the Hong Kong and Singapore Battery. The enemy surrendered four mountain guns, hundreds of rifles and much ammunition and other material.
Headquarters and C Squadron remained all night to clear the battlefield; bury the dead and destroy all material not transportable. Two of the Turkish doctors helped with the wounded, and before the squadron left the fire stick was put into all the buildings.
Christmas Day 1916 was spent in resting after the scrap, and the next day General Sir Philip Chetwode, commanding the Desert Column, paraded the Anzac Division and thanked all ranks for their work. It was bitterly cold at this time and rain fell nearly every day. The men had not yet been issued with bivvy sheets, so the Turks' bivvy sheets proved very useful. A patrol in Wady el Arish under Lieutenant Gray, sent to bring back a sand cart left by the medical corps, took six Turks prisoner, evidently stragglers from Magdhaba. The usual patrols and outposts were carried on until 29 December, rather a memorable day as the unit then commenced to live on the local brackish water which made very bad tea. Next day the 1st Light Horse Brigade left on a reconnaissance to Sheikh Zowaiid, known to the men as "six by eight". Here a small enemy camel patrol was seen to leave the village as the advanced guard entered. A and C Squadrons held the outpost line. Plenty of good water and a big stack of wood, two of the essentials for an army, were found. New Year's Day was ushered in by high winds and driving rain, so that shelters of blankets and palm leaves were soon blown down. The sea was too rough for stores to be landed and a trawler was blown up on the beach. Beyond a few colds, however, the health of the men was good, thanks to extras from the Comforts Fund and an issue of fresh meat and vegetables.
To be continued in February 2017.
If you find yourself needing to do something in Parramatta on any day ‘round lunchtime, wander down to St John’s Cathedral in Church Street and take in a piece of Regimental History. A couple of links, the towers were designed and the construction supervised by Lieutenant John Watts, the same Aide to Governor Macquarie who designed and supervised the construction of Lancer Barracks. And, if you walk in (the roof did not fall in on me, nor was I struck by lightning for being irreligious, so it should be a safe expedition for others) and wander down the aisle and check-out the alcove on the right hand side. There you will find hanging the first Guidon presented to the Regiment. The Regiment was presented with a King’s Banner in 1904 for its work in the Second Boer War, and another in 1924 for its work in the First World War, these were union flags (our national flag at the time) with a golden fringe. A change of policy followed soon after the second Banner was presented; with Australian infantry units to carry colours, light hose having the status of light cavalry to carry Guidons, other units to carry banners etc in accord with British tradition. The infantry King’s Banners were designated sovereign’s colours, and in addition they got a gold fringed green Regimental Colour. The Regimental Colour featuring a gilt embodied representation of the Unit Badge, and the unit’s battle honours, also gilt embroidered. The light cavalry Guidon was able to be presented to Light Horse units following the issue of swords and the dual rolling after Beersheba. The Regimental guidon was presented in 1926, and the 1924 King’s Banner laid up in St Johns. Guidons, are singular, noble maroon in colour, of a fish tail shape, again featuring a gilt embodied representation of the Regiment’s Badge, and the Regiment’s battle honours, also gilt embroidered. In 1958, the original guidon was replaced with one emblazoned with the World War 2 Battle Honours and the original Guidon laid up at St John’s where it hangs today. The two King’s Banners are in the Regimental Museum, the original 15th Guidon at St Andrews Lismore and the Regiment’s current Guidons hang cased in the Officers’ Mess when not being paraded.
DOUG BEARDMORE Douglas McDonald Beardmore (NX101255): Doug died in April aged 93. He was a cheerful, good humoured, amiable member of 1AR, the last surviving crew member of “Ace,” the now fully restored Matilda which was part of A Squadron in its service overseas. The chapel at the Eastern Suburbs Crematorium was crowded at his funeral service on 21 April. Those present included Geoff and Marguerite Francis (Geoff was in A Squadron), Lieutenant Colonel Lee Long and the writer. Also representing the Coogee Randwick Clovelly RSL sub-branch were the president, Kevin “Barry” Collins, who gave the RSL service, and the secretary/treasurer, David Cohen.
The other speakers were Doug’s niece, Dr Megan Le Masurier, and Peter Johnson, whose family were Doug’s neighbours for 30 years. Early in his military career Doug was given the nickname ‘Keeneye.” Everyone who knew this remembers it but no one can recall how he got it. Perhaps there is still a reader who can enlighten us.
Doug contributed two very detailed pages about his time in A Squadron to “Memories of A Squadron,” published in 2000. He recalls a training run at Morobe with “David Craven’s and my head” sticking out of “Ace’s” turret. A Department of Information cameraman filmed them as they went past. “No big deal. We didn’t stop. Later on Dave found out his dad and mum happened to see it on a newsreel. It was about the time of the Sattelberg operation … they got concerned for our safety… little did they know we were far from that action in an idyllic tropical location …” (Maybe this film clip is still in the records – somewhere.)
Peter Johnson opened his speech with a heartfelt tribute: “The strongest impression that emerges from the last 30 years with Doug is that he was a Good Man. He eschewed institutional religion and I couldn’t say if he was spiritual, but what I can say is … he was true to his wife, he was true to his country, and he was true to his fellow man and woman."
Peter continued: "Those who knew Betty (Doug’s wife) would know that she was a lovely lady but of fragile health and disposition… Doug supported Betty in this difficulty and its consequences all through their married life. We never heard Doug complain about the constraints it placed on them."
Peter quoted from military history on the South West Pacific campaign adding: "Despite the horrors of war Doug formed some life long friendships with his crew… (after demobilisation) one of the crew was showing signs of post traumatic stress … he was having trouble getting his life going again. Doug and another member of the crew went up to the north coast and lived with him for a month working with him on repairing his house. After the war Doug again responded to his country’s need and to a great opportunity by going off to join the Snowy Mountains Scheme where he worked for a number of years. I believe he was a fitter and turner there."
Megan recalled Doug’s time in the Snowy Mountains: "He talked of camaraderie, living in a tent in Cooma and improvising body building equipment to stay fit. On his weekends off Doug travelled up to Sydney to dance at clubs like the Trocadero where the big bands played. “That was where he met Betty. After Doug died we found a bag of old letters that Doug had written to Betty from the Snowy. It felt like prying to read them but they contain the seeds of a love that lasted for 60 years. Doug was nature’s gentleman. I will miss his wisdom and how he made me laugh.”
A Squadron had a number of gifted entertainers and they were mobilised when the squadron was withdrawn from action before returning to Australia. They have been mentioned in these pages before - the squadron’s concert party in which Doug and Wal Kenaly composed new words to popular songs. Some of them are listed in "Memories." Philip Edwards recorded that "Doug ‘Keeneye’ Beardmore seemed able to compose lyrics like a butcher making sausages.
E.g. based on a 1939 hit tune: 'Thanks for the memory', of being on hygiene, of burning the latrine, of being hit by a clod of shit from exploding diesoline, how lovely it was."
Doug wrote in 'Memories' about the post war months as a member of the rearguard in Balikpapan and Morotai. "We stayed behind when the unit was split up - some went to Japan with the BCOF, most to peace keeping duties in the Celebese Islands, some went home.
We built a smaller camp down on the beach. Our main job was to take a truck to the big prison compound and pick up our Jap POWs who worked about the camp… we treated them better than they did our POWs. There was very little maintenance carried out on the tanks apart from starting them up occasionally… we built a ten foot sailing boat, “found” the sails on the beach and we had a lot of fun sailing in Balik Bay. We called her 'The Mistake.' We also built a motor boat which went really well. The motor came from an abandoned Packard car. Then the Indonesians fought for independence against Dutch rule.There was quite a bit of fighting but fortunately for us they left us alone. Then one morning a signal came from Australia to destroy the tanks. The tanks that were driveable were taken to a high ridge and as each one went over the top they were set on fire. Most ended at the bottom of the gully on top of each other but one tank must have been put into emergency low gear as it slithered about the bottom and then started to claw its way up the other side still burning until the fire hit the fuel line and it exploded. What an awesome sight. So that’s what happened to your tank that you had so lovingly looked after, sweated and cursed over yet worried about for so long. A sentimental time.”
Doug went from there to Morotai where Japanese were being tried for war crimes. "Those that were found guilty were executed by firing squad. I was detailed to the firing party … the firing squad was very hush hush and we were all sworn to secrecy. The procedure was there were six rifles, one or more had a bullet, the others blanks, and you chose one at random. The prisoner was brought into the compound, blindfolded and a marker was placed over his heart which you were to aim at. The officer was to use his revolver if necessary. On the day of execution I was thankfully taken off the squad and put on standby. I mention this as one of the unusual jobs the regiment was called to perform." Bert Castellari
With great sadness, I wish to report the death of Douglas Beardmore. Doug often spoke with great affection his social interaction with the Lancers and I feel certain that his comrades will feel his presence as they march on Anzac Day. He was a great neighbour and a wonderful part of our local community. Trudy Wiedeman (Doug's next door neighbour).
Michael McGraw attended the funeral at Eastern Suburbs Crematorium along with Lee Long.
Doug was a member of 1 troop A Sqn 1 Armoured Regiment AIF. He was a crewman of 'ACE'. In the photos below he is notated # 3 on top of the tank.
ROD BUTTON passing noted in Reveille; Rod served in the Regiment in World War 2, he was an active association member, took part in ANZAC Day marches and appeared at reunions until recently.
JOHN MCMANUS John served in the Regiment in World War 2, he was an active association member including some years on the committee, he took part in ANZAC Day marches and appeared at reunions until recently. When he died, John was living at the Narrabeen War veterans home where he had been visited many times by our Treasurer Brian Walters.
RH QUIST passing noted in Reveille where is reported as having served in the Regiment in World War 2, a Lance Corporal detached at the time he was demobilised. He was not an active Regimental Association member.
LEON SCHILL aged 92 years 6 months passed away on 15 June 2016. A WW2 Lancer of 1st Aust Army Tank Battalion and 1st Aust Armoured Regiment AIF.
Leon was a Matilda Tank Crew member in Lieutenant Allan Aynsley's No.2 Troop B Squadron.
He served in New Guinea for 10 months 1943/44 and in action at Balikpapan, Borneo from 1 July 1945 until after Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945.
Leon is survived by his wife Margaret, son Michael and daughter Karen. Leon and Margaret lived at Maroubra.
Reg Gunn, a good friend and frequent phone caller believes Leon was the youngest survivor of his few living B Squadron Comrades. Reg Gunn
JIM "SQUIZZY" SQUIRES of Cobham Victoria passed away 16 July 2016. Jim died suddenly in the home where he and his wife Judy have lived for the past few years, close to where his son Matthew and family live.
He served in the Regiment in various roled fron the 1950s. He did his full tome National Service, then marched into Recce Troop commanded by the then Captain Warren Glenny in 1958. He moved away from Sydney due to work commitments from time to time, but always managed to return to the Regiment whenever he moved back.
He was notably a substantive sergeant in three corps, RAAC, RAEME when in the Regiment and RAASC when living at Newcastle. He had a joke for every situation. Many contemporaries will remember when at a Sergeants’ Mess function, the musical accompaniment for singing ditties was lacking; Jim went outside and came back with two garbage-tin lids. The noise gained him another nickname "cymbals".
For some years the Sergeants’ Mess had a sporadic newsletter "Mess Mutterings" with items on various happenings real or imagined and bits of scandal. Jim seemed to feature in every issue.
Before he moved from Melbourne to Cobham, Jim had for some years been on the committee of the RAAC Association, Victorian Branch who held an annual Cambrai Dinner at the School of Armour Officers’ Mess, Puckapunyal. Bob Stenhouse recalls being there with him on a number of occasions. Bob Stenhouse
Sadly we have been given news that our friend and colleague Mick Lewins has not been well at all, having spent the last few weeks in Wollongong Hospital. A number of RAACA NSW members have spoken to him by 'phone, Michael Hough has visited him and the RAACA NSW sent a much appreciated hamper. Get well Michael.
Thank you all very much for your assistance in supporting the Museum and Association financially in the 2015/16 financial year. Our records (and they may not be perfect, human data entry has been involved) show the following supported by donation, the Association:
Michael Alexander, Bryan Algie, Cynthia Booth, John Burlison, Rod Button, Joseph Camilleri, John Carruthers, Bert Castellari, Alan Chanter, Jeffrey Darke, Paul Degiorgio, Glen Eaves, William Falzon, June Faunt, Ian Frost, Bob Gay, Reg Gunn, Alan Hitchell, Therese Holles, Jon Laird, Chris Lawley, Danny Marriott, B McEvilly, Todd Miklich, Don Morris, Brad Pearce, Kevin Regan, Joyce Sharpe, Margaret Sheppard, Richard Small, Alan Stenhouse, Norma Swadling, Rick Vincenti, William Wallington, Gloria Warham.
and the following the Museum:
Michael Alexander, Bryan Algie, Auburn RSL Sub Bch, JOHN Bartlett, Terry Boardman, Cynthia Booth, Valerie Boyton John Burlison, Stan Butler, Ray Butterfield, Rod Button, Joseph CAMILLERI, Joy Canham, John Carruthers, Castle Hill RSL Sub-Branch, Bert Castellari, Geoff Cuthbert, Jeffrey Darke, Paul Degiorgio, Robert Dickson, John Duncan, William Falzon, June Faunt, Graham Fleeton, Ian Frost, Bob Gay, Peter Giudes, John Gooch, June Greenaway, Reg Gunn, Jonathan Herps, Alan Hitchell, John Hitchen, Barrie Hodgson, Therese Holles, Anthony Huntley, Neil Jefferys, Kirribilli RSL Sub-Branch, Jonathan Laird, Mary Lamb, Chris Lawley, Neil Mangels, Danny Marriott, Brian McEvilly, Todd Miklich, Don Morris, Museum Appreciation Society, Doug Pollard, REAEME Association NSW Inc, Kevin Regan, Harold Roberson, Joyce Sharpe, Margaret Sheppard, Richard Small, St Marys RSL Sub-Branch, Alan Stenhouse, Norma Swadling, Thomas Urquhart, Rick Vincenti, Gloria Warham, Kel Warham.
Yes we really do need your financial assistance. No amount too large, no amount too small.
Donations to the Museum and Association are now possible securely using PayPal from your credit card (Visa, Mastercard, AMEX) or PayPal account:
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Membership of the RAACA NSW is free to all applicants over 75. 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 visit the website: www.raacansw.org.au.
"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.
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