President’s Report 2014
Because of our involvement with the 2/3rd our focus tends to be exclusively on WW2 and the proud role played by the regiment in that conflict.
However this year being the one hundreth anniversary of the commencement of WW1 I thought it appropriate to reflect briefly on the impact the ‘Great War’ as it was ironically named, had on our nation at that time.
This was prompted by a recent stopover in the NSW town of Gundagai. Like most country towns Gundagai has a war memorial – travellers see these memorials but rarely stop to take in their significance. In Gundagai the main war memorial is Anzac Grove near the Murrumbidgee River. The memorial sits at the centre of a grove of 52 Kurrajong trees representing the 52 Gundagai soldiers killed in WW1. Total Australian casualties were close to 60,000 – a number so great that it is hard to comprehend but often in life it is the little things that have the greatest impact. In this case 52 young men were killed from one small town when its population at that time was less than 2000 – it brings the loss back to a scale we can better grasp.
Returning to Melbourne I was motivated by this experience to look closely at another WW1 memorial which has been a familiar landmark since my childhood and one which I either drive or ride past nearly every day. It is the imposing war memorial overlooking the bay at Brighton Beach. Until now I had never properly examined the rows of names on the memorial. I was staggered to count the names of 614 soldiers from Bayside –(a small group of suburbs from Brighton to Beaumaris) who were killed in WW1. This at a time when Melbourne’s total population was just 670,000 and Australia’s was less than 5 million. With memorials such as these replicated all over the country we can better understand the devastating impact the loss of so many young lives was to such a young nation. At about 65% the Australian casualty rate was among the biggest of the war.
The ‘Great War’ was supposed to be the ‘war that ends all wars’ – sadly as we are all too aware, in just twenty one years the world was plunged into WW2.
In this edition of Take Post under the heading ‘A time to reflect’ Secretary Colin Bragg raises some pertinent issues for the Association to consider. Questions posed relate mainly to the future makeup of the Association in particular whether there will be sufficient interest and involvement from the membership to take up positions on the committee and/or as office bearers.
Since the current administration took over the running of the Association in 2008 much has been achieved and most if not all the objectives articulated by the ‘old guard’ at the handover have been met. In fact I believe what this administration has delivered has exceeded expectations. But in that time there has been no change to the committee or office bearers. The strength of any organization is its ability and willingness to regularly regenerate with new talent and new ideas. With that thought as a guiding principle I informed the committee at our recent meeting of my decision to stand down from the Presidency.
It has been an honour and a privilege to have served the Association over these past six years. Having been the first non service member to hold the office of President of the Association and being the first descendant to follow their father in that role are significant honours which I am very proud of and humbled by. However, I firmly believe having overseen the successful transition from the previous administration and with the Association in a good position that now it’s time for new leadership to take the organization to the next stage of its development.
This should not be seen as a daunting task as most of the ‘heavy lifting’ has been done.
In the same way that the ‘old guard’ appealed for descendants to step in and take over the running of the Association, the current administration would like to see some fresh faces including some of the younger generation inject new blood and take the Association forward, building on the solid foundation already in place.
In my 2012 President’s report I highlighted how other WW2 associations without a succession plan were being forced to cease operations. Our Association is in a stronger position than many others with initiatives such as the highly successful website together a significant descendants group aka ‘the Remembrance Group’. However the need for us to have a succession plan of our own and have the next group of members willing to continue the work is vitally importance to the future of the Association. I am confident that we have enough members within our ranks who will ‘answer the call’.
My sincere thanks to each member of the committee for their continued dedication and willingness to work for the good of the Association over the past six years. Ann Bragg, Anne Rae, Graeme and Matthew Heddle, Colin Bragg and David McDonald. Much has been achieved in that time and that should be a source of great pride for all involved.
But this has only been possible due to the tremendous drive and professionalism of Honorary Secretary Colin Bragg. He has been the real engine room of the Association and deserves enormous credit for the countless hours and commitment he has given to the task.
Research Officer, David McDonald, has ably supported Colin. David is an invaluable authority on all things military, and the 2/3rd history in particular. His extensive knowledge and wise counsel have made him a vital member of the committee and the Association more broadly.
Sadly with each passing year we lose a number of our 2/3rd service members. Last year among those we lost was Cec Rae – a man synonymous with the 2/3rd not just because of his enormous contribution to the Association over such a long period but because he embodied all the fine qualities for which the Regiment stood.
Cec was a man of the highest integrity, strength of character capped off with an irreverent sense of humour.
In this edition of Take Post Secretary Colin Bragg has included a fitting tribute to Cec, a snapshot of his life and his decades long work for the Association.
He will always be remembered whenever the story of the 2/3rd is told.
Ironically I concluded my report last year with the recollection that during a morning tea with Cec he had described the 2/3rd as a ‘brotherhood’. Well Cec, few have served that brotherhood better than you.