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President's Report 2001

 

The last twelve months have been very eventful times. In Australia we are lucky that the most significant local happening has been a happy celebration. Of course I refer to the Olympic Games. We were all impressed with our Millenium cele- brations but they were really just a practice for the big show - the Games!

For six weeks commencing in September, Australia proved to the world that it could stage an event of such size and complexity without major hitches. We did it well and we can be very proud of its success, particularly the atmosphere of happiness and friendliness that was evident.

Earlier in the year another reason for us to be proud was the effort of a small number of Army personnel who served overseas to help bring order and some stability in the chaos of East Timor during its struggle for independence.

Modern media coverage reminds us daily that other people are not as fortunate as Australians. When I see a film of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians I remember those very friendly but extremely poor families that lived in the villages surrounding our camp at Khassa.

Even when we “acquired” 'their oranges they did not get too angry with us. Probably those bright and happy children we saw then are now deeply involved in the politics of their homeland.

I am looking forward to catching up with old mates at our reunion on 24th April. I guess that many members, like me, are making more frequent use of the Gold Card to keep the old bones moving.

The year 2001 marks the 60th year since our Regiment participated in three important engagements of World War 2. On the 11lth April 1941, 8th Battery in Libya was cut off and isolated by the German Afrika Korps and spent the next five and a half months besieged in Tobruk in active resistance.

On 20th May 1941, the Germans commenced the first major "all air" operation in military history - the Battle for Crete. Our men of 7th Battery fought hard but were overwhelmed by superior forces.  On 15th June 1941, after weeks of activity in the Western Desert, our 9th Battery took part in Operation Battleaxe which was designed to relieve the Allied forces that were besieged in Tobruk.

Unexpected enemy mechanised strength was met and the operation failed. So in the Regiment's first year, each Battery had been in heavy actions, and had advanced from being raw beginners in warfare to being experienced soldiers, tested and now confident to meet further trials, together with the very welcome fresh troops who came to reinforce them. How fortunate we are to still be around sixty years later!

The Anzac Day march is always an extremely important and popular event with the people of Melbourne. If fit enough to make it that day, we want to see you march behind our banner.

I would like to say thank you from us all to our Honorary Secretary John Campbell, our Honorary Treasurer John Hepworth and our Editor Ron Bryant. All members appreciate the good job they have done during the year.

Jack Crittenden