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President's Report 2011

President’s Report  2011

This time last year we noted two important anniversaries for the 2/3rd – 2010 represented the 70th anniversary of the formation of the regiment in July 1940 and the 65th anniversary of the Unit Association, which was formed in July 1945.

2011 is significant for a further important anniversary in the proud history of the regiment. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Crete, Tobruk and Western Desert battles involving batteries of the 2/3rd. An extract from ‘On Target’ provides a snapshot of the record in these theatres of operation.

“On 1st August 1941, the first anniversary of the formation of the 2/3rd L.A.A Regiment, Colonel Rhoden, in a letter, marked the occasion by complementing all concerned on their efforts and record, summarising as follows:

7th Battery – Achievements: Action in Crete as static Battery. Bofors guns. Credited with 62 planes in six weeks. Loss in personnel, approximately 200.

8th Battery – Achievements: Action in Tobruk for six months. All types of captured guns. Credited with 30 planes. Loss in personnel, approximately 50.

9th Battery – Achievements: Action in Western Desert for three months as mobile Bofors unit. Credited with 9 planes. Loss in personnel, 1 killed.”

Unfortunately the Greece/Crete campaign has long been the subject of some controversy owing to the fact that it was never recognised by the Australian Government with a dedicated campaign medal. However there is growing pressure to have this situation righted. Dr Maria Hill author of the book Diggers and Greeks has established a petition at the book’s website with the aim of pushing the Government to retrospectively create such a medal. This would be most appropriate in 2011, the 70th anniversary of the campaign.

The Association supports such a move and would encourage members and others to add their names to the petition. For further information see the sidebar or go to ‘News & Events’ on the Association website.

Whilst on controversial issues most members would have received notification from the Association or seen in the media the changes proposed to this year’s Anzac Day March.

In essence the changes would see all WW2 veterans riding in vehicles, unit banners grouped together and descendants marching at the rear as a separate group. This would only apply to the Melbourne March.

At its February meeting the committee moved that a submission be put to the Victorian RSL stating our objections to several of the contentious proposals, namely the grouping of banners and the separation of descendants and requesting a period of consultation with associations with no change for 2011.

The response was quick and unambiguous – the changes as proposed would apply to this year’s March and are ‘non-negotiable’. It was also pointed out that a similar decision was taken in 1980 with respect to WW1 veterans.

Clearly in the light of this ‘directive’ individual veterans and descendants will have to consider their own attitude to participation in this year’s march and in all likelihood, future marches.

On a positive note there is good news concerning the 2/3rd commemorative tree and plaque. At the last AGM I reported that over 100 trees were being removed from the Shrine grounds and that some 200 more drought tolerant species would be planted as replacements. One of the trees removed was ours along with it’s accompanying plaque.

On a recent visit I was pleased to see that we now have a new tree and that our plaque is back in place. The location is virtually the original site - on the lower slope near St.Kilda Road – the section between Park and Dorcas Streets and opposite tram stop 19.

The creation of our own 2/3rd website was the big news at last year’s AGM. Despite the best intentions it has been a somewhat difficult gestation period but thanks to the wonderful efforts of our resident website midwives Secretary Colin Bragg ably assisted by Research Officer David McDonald we can proudly announce the arrival of a very healthy, good looking and intelligent website (www.antiaircraft.org.au). On behalf of the Association and the wider 2/3rd family I congratulate Colin and David for a first class effort and a great result.

In addition to his very full portfolio as Secretary, Colin went ‘back to school’ during the year - first learning the mysteries of website design and maintenance and then followed this up with a crash course in desktop publishing in order to produce this year’s Take Post. The results speak for themselves – like all that Colin does - totally professional. Colin and Ann are planning a major home extension this year, if this DIY trend continues Colin will be taking courses in architecture and building construction!

Another aim of the Association alluded to last year was to have our book ‘On Target’ digitised in order to preserve the regiment’s history and to expose it to a wider audience. The cost to digitise a book of 347 pages was always going to be the barrier, potentially running to thousands of dollars. Enter David McDonald. Thanks to David’s excellent contacts and the generous offer of datacomIT to do the job as a community service ‘On Target’ has been digitised and is in the process of being uploaded to our website.

Whilst Colin and David have been driving forces I must thank the other members of the committee for their involvement and contributions during the year – Vice President Matthew Heddle, Treasurer Ann Bragg, Anne Rae and Graeme Heddle. It is great group – enthusiastic and committed to the 2/3rd cause. As President I’m rather like the bulldog on the radiator grill of a Mack truck – it might be at the front, but the serious power and grunt is behind it.

In conclusion, to the original 2/3rd ‘boys’ - on behalf of the committee, thank you for your continuing support and valuable input. From that initial meeting of thirteen descendants and partners back in 2007 to flag the possible establishment of a ‘Younger Generations’ or ‘Remembrance’ group that would continue the work of the Association - to 2011 with membership of ninety and growing – you can be satisfied that your decision to form such a group was a good one. To quote John Lennon at the end of the Beatles’ last live performance ‘ I’d like to say thank you and on behalf of the group we hope we’ve passed the audition’.