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President's Report 2022

2/3rd Australian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment Association Inc.

2022 Annual General Meeting

President’ Report 

 In November last year we learnt of the passing of John Campbell (VX 38276, 8 Battery), at the age of 100. He was the last surviving member of the 2/3rd Australian Light Anti- Aircraft Regiment. John lived a full and wonderful life, and was a true gentleman. He was also was a great contributor to our Association as a committee member from 1994 to 2008, and the Secretary from 1995 to 2008. John regularly attended the Association’s Annual Reunion and AGM and with his partner Joyce, generously shared his memories of his war time experiences with us. We miss him greatly.

 2021 again saw disruptions to our activities due to COVID-19.  Members of the Association did not attend the annual Melbourne ANZAC Day March due to restrictions on numbers permitted to attend. However, the 2/3rdbanner accompanied John Campbell at the Mentone ANZAC Day march, carried by John’s family.

 We were able to successfully hold the 2021 AGM and reunion at the RACV. Over 50 people attended and enjoyed the comradeship and food, as well as learning a little more about the history, and remembering fathers, uncles, grandfathers and great-grandfathers who served in the Regiment. We assisted John in celebrating his 100th birthday with a cake, candle and a round of “Happy Birthday to You”.

 2021 saw the change-over of some of the committee. Thanks to both Matt Heddle (grandson of Charles Heddle, VX 35877, 9 Battery) - past Vice President and to Graeme Heddle (son of Charles Heddle) - past committee member, for their work on the committee since the original members asked us to take the reins of the Association as the Remembrance Group in 2008.  Both Graeme and Matt have been committed to supporting the men of the 2/3rd through attending the annual reunions for many years. I know that my late father really appreciated their involvement. In 2003 Graeme arranged for a plaque to be placed at the Werribee racecourse commemorating the 2/3rd ALAAR’s time in training there. He obtained sponsorship and organised the ceremony and reunion. The surviving men really treasured the opportunity to go to the racecourse with their mates, to remember those who were not so fortunate. It was a wonderful achievement by Graeme and a testament to his commitment to the men of the 2/3rd. Matt has also been very active in providing displays for the Association reunions each year, sourcing articles, film clips and items of interest and sharing his knowledge. Matt also donates his time to educating the next generations about the history, clothing and equipment used during World War 2.

This year’s Take Post commences with the story of Mario or Murray “Taka” Takasuka, VX 37123 (7 Battery), who was Australian-born of Japanese parents. He was rejected from enlisting several times due to his origin but eventually succeeded by coming to Melbourne where he was not known. Mario made a significant contribution to the Regiment, and, along with his parents, to the Australian way of life. A very “helpful” exposéfollows, which describes the different ranks of Officer and concludes with Commanding Officers: After the war they usually become members of exclusive clubs and are attacked by gout. Reprinted articles from earlier editions of Take Post, in A Walk Down Memory Lane, reveal the ingenuity and skill of the men in battle and also their resourcefulness at using whatever was at hand (and “sourcing” things from elsewhere) including recipes from Tobruk, the Tobruk Truth daily newspaper and useful items of clothing. George the magpie mascot even gets a mention. Graeme Hawkins’ request for information regarding his father’s service prompted information about the Commemorative Greek Campaign Medal and the story of Raleigh Hawkins, VX35192, 7 Battery.

Eighty years ago, in February 1942, most of the Regiment departed the Middle East for Australia. Approximately 130 men of the Regiment had been captured in Crete, Libya and Tobruk and were Prisoners of War in Europe.  In the same month the Japanese captured Singapore and also commenced air raids on Darwin. The Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin had insisted that the Australian troops come home due to the Japanese bombing of northern Australia. Regimental Head Quarters, Signals Section Head Quarters, 7 and 8 Batteries were then situated in Western Australia, 9 Battery went to Townsville, then to Port Moresby and Milne Bay.  Other members of Signals Section and Workshops Section provided detachments to each of the three gun batteries.

As I write, the situation in Ukraine is looking very dire. There are many parallels that can be drawn between this conflict and the commencement of World War II. Our fathers and grandfathers fought against tyranny and oppression, and for freedom.  I fervently hope that this current situation can be quickly resolved peacefully.