President’s Report 2019
In the wake of the devastating Christchurch shootings this year, it is timely to remember what it was that our fathers and grandfathers fought for. They understood that their very way of life was threatened.
My father, Cec Rae VX48132, explained to me that when Britain declared war on Germany following Germany’s invasion of Poland, and Australia followed suit, Dad made up his mind that he would be ‘in it’. So, after the fall of France, the loss of troops at Dunkirk and the possible invasion of Britain, he and a number of his friends enlisted. From his memoirs: “in June 1940 came the surrender of France with the desperate evacuation of most of the British forces at Dunkirk. If Britain should fall where would Australia be? We young, fit and able chaps felt we should do something about it.” I can recall on a number of occasions, Cec warning of the danger to democracy and our way of life posed by right wing extremists.
These men believed that it was their duty to fight against fascism, Nazism and (later) Japanese supremacy – extreme right wing ideology that lead to genocide, murder, torture and privation. They witnessed this and many succumbed in the name of war.
Whenever people, especially the young are alienated and disengaged, whenever we disregard the circumstances of others and fail to try to walk in their footsteps, whenever we look to simplistic, sloganistic ideology to explain our social and political situation, then we allow extremist views to perpetuate.
The Christchurch massacre reminds us that we each need to reach out to our neighbours and follow the example of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to ensure a peaceful, civil, inclusive and compassionate society for which our fathers and grandfathers fought.
75 years ago the Regiment had disbanded as an entity, with members of the Regimental Headquarters comprising part of the newly-created 102 Composite AA Regiment and based at Corunna Downs, W.A., Camp 319 Australia. 7thBattery were designated 2/7thLight Anti-aircraft Battery of the 2/2ndComposite AA Regiment, providing AA defences at Buna Beach and the nearby Cape Endaiadere in what is now the Oro (Northern) Province of PNG. Over 100 men of the Battery were POWs in Europe. 8thBattery was an independent airborne battery providing AA defences at Buna, Territory of Papua. 9thBattery was designated 2/9thLight Anti-aircraft Battery of the 2/3rdComposite AA Regiment, an independent battery providing AA defences at Milne Bay, Territory of Papua, while the Signals and the Workshop Sections were part of the newly-created 102 Composite AA Regiment, supporting the guns in NW WA.
This year’s edition of Take Post contains a number of fascinating stories ranging from the individual – those of John Campbell VX38276 and Bill Schack VX2541 both of 8thBattery, in A Tale of Two Rats who were interviewed by our editor Colin Bragg, also the memoirs of Cec Donelly, VX46836, 7thBattery including his time as a POW – to the more general –Remembrance Group member Russell Luckock’s recent trip to Crete following the footsteps of 7thBattery, a reproduction of the Tobruk Truth of September 1941, and Paul Keating’s speech on the 75thanniversary of Armistice Day. This speech is still as powerful now as it was then.
As mentioned in my mid-term report, Research Officer, David McDonald has recently uploaded information regarding the 2/3rdALAA Regiment plaque to the Australian War Memorialwebsite: Places of Pride, the National Register of War Memorials. This is an Australian War Memorial initiative to record the location and gather images of every publicly accessible war memorial in Australia. You can view the 2/3rdAustralian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment memorial plaque entry at https://placesofpride.awm.gov.au/ and enter anti-aircraft in the Search box. The plaque situated under a Simon poplar tree was dedicated to the regiment in 1997 and can be found on the Shrine Reserve, between the south east corner of the Shrine of Remembrance and St Kilda Road, near the Park Street intersection.
Thanks again to the committee for their hard work throughout the year and particular thanks to Colin Bragg our Treasurer who once again has brought us a fascinating edition of Take Post.