President’s Report 2018
75 years ago at this time the regiment had separated: Regimental Headquarters, Signals and Workshop Sections were at Berkshire Valley Camp WA, some Signals and Workshops attached to 7th, 8thand 9thBatteries. 7thBattery was providing AA defences at Geraldton RAAF station WA. Over 100 men of the Battery were POWs in Europe, having been captured in Crete. 8thBattery were providing AA defences in WA at Pearce Aerodrome near Perth; the Catalina bases on the Swan River; and at Geraldton, Onslow & Exmouth Gulf, while 9thBattery were at Milne Bay, then in the Australian Territory of Papua. In July 1943 the Regiment was disbanded and the batteries became independent.
Once again your Committee has been busy since the 2017 Reunion and Annual General meeting.
David McDonald has organised for the Regiment’s handwritten nominal rolls to be gifted to the Australian War Memorial (AWM), allowing access to a much wider audience and ensuring their preservation. This was organised by David (see From the Secretary’s desk…).
Several members of the committee have catalogued books relating to the Regiment, AA defence or WW2, either held by them personally or on behalf of the Association.
In August, my brother Ian and I were incredibly fortunate to be selected to travel to Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea to commemorate the 75thanniversary of Battle of Milne Bay. This battle was the first time the Japanese forces were defeated on land during their invasion of the Asia Pacific. Two troops of 9th Battery were involved in the defence of Milne Bay. Organised and financed by Thales Australia, with the support of the Australian War Memorial, we found the trip to be a very educational and emotional experience for both of us. I hope we have conveyed this in our report in this edition of Take Post. Peter Brune’s book A Bastard of a Place – Australians in Papua which attempts to “restore Milne Bay, Gona, Buna and Sanananda to their rightful place beside Kokoda” and describes how Blamey and MacArthur scapegoated many of the Australian field commanders to protect their own positions and lied about what actually happened. This then became legend and therefore only Kokoda is really known about.
During a visit to the 2/3rdALAAR’s memorial plaque and tree in the Shrine Reserve on Remembrance Day last year Research Officer David McDonald noticed that the base of the plaque has deteriorated. Upon our request the Shrine Trustees have organised for the plaqueto be reinstated in a new concrete base.This plaque,commemorating the theatrehonours of the Regiment, was unveiled beside an upright Simon Poplar Tree at the Shrine of Remembrance by members of the regiment and dedicated by the Staff Chaplain, Southern Region. The ceremony took place on May 4, 1997 on a very wet day. The ceremony was organised by John Campbell.
The committee commissioned the manufacture of a small lapel badge in response to strong support at last year’s AGM. It is based on the colour patch that the men of the Regiment wore. The colour patch is not unique to the regiment, being the colour patch of the Royal Australian Artillery, 1 Aust Corps, of which the 2/3rd LAA Regt was just one unit. In the first instance the badge will be available to members at the Reunion and AGM Lunch on 21stApril.
We have recently installedtechnology (a SSL Certificate) on our website to ensure that all data passed between the web server and users remain private and secure. This will provide confidence to legitimate users of the website and dissuade hacking. It is an additional cost to the Association but a necessary one.
Despite instructions to the contrary from the RSL,16 descendants marched behind the Regiment banner on ANZAC Day in Melbourne in 2017. The Kindred Organisations and Unit Associations of the RSL had requested that descendants march at the rear, well away from our banner. I note that in the 1998 President’s report in Take Post, Cec Rae wrote “The March (1997) was also well attended but as decreed by the unit associations only ex-service personnel were permitted to participate. In my opinion the younger generation should be welcomed to the March, as it is only through their interest the March will continue to remind people of the destructiveness of war.”
Some things don’t change – neither the opinion of the RSL, nor our resolve!
My thanks go to the Committee and office bearers for their work throughout the year, it is a real privilege and pleasure to work with them.
Colin Bragg has once again produced another excellent “Take Post” assisted by Malcolm Wrigglesworth. Their efforts are greatly appreciated and I trust you will enjoy reading Colin’s recent interviews with Dave Humphries (7thBattery) and Allen Martin (9thBattery) and be appalled as I was in reading John Purcell’s (7thBattery) description of the desperate situation during the bombing prior on Crete to the invasion.
If you haven’t before, consider coming to the Reunion and/or the March with your family. You will be made most welcome and by including families we will continue to “remind people of the destructiveness of war”