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President’s Report 2023

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President’s Report 2023

The current war in Ukraine reminds us of the extreme costs to those involved in conflict, as well as those left behind and the associated long-term trauma for many. We honour the memory the men of 2/3rd Australian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, their sacrifice and their mateship.

Each year this publication, Take Post, illustrates that sacrifice and mateship, and our Editor Colin Bragg has again done a wonderful job in collecting some very interesting material. These stories indicate the diverse personal and environmental situations in which the men found themselves.

This year’s cover story is an excerpt from the war diaries of Cec Rae which gives us a glimpse through a gunner’s eyes of the good times and the not so good times; of leaving Melbourne, of Egypt, Palestine, the Western Desert, New Guinea and of coming home.

“A Lorry by any other Name” on page 8 describes the dilemmas faced by the Australian War Memorial (AWM) to create an historically accurate display of 8 Battery 2/3rd ALAA Regiment use of Chevrolet lorries at Tobruk, balanced against the need to maintain the integrity of the Australian War Memorial’s existing collection.

“The Greek and Cretan Nominal Roll – An 18,000 Piece Jigsaw” on page 10  contains an interview with Dr Michael Bendon about his research and his book Dust and Shadows which includes letters, photos and stories of those Australians serving in the Greek and Cretan campaigns of 1941.

“Nino Bixio And A Chapel At Campo 57” on page 12 describes the events leading up to the arrival of Australian POWs, some from 7 Battery 2/3rd ALAAR, and the chapel built at the camp. The former Campo 57 site and the chapel is a place that all descendants of Campo 57 veterans can visit by arrangement.

Award of the Commander in Chief’s Card to VX25419 Gunner Maxwell Albert Ampt, on page 13, describes a previously overlooked award for one of our original members. It is important to acknowledge the extreme bravery of Gunner Ampt but also to learn about the relatively rare award of Commander in Chief’s Card.

It is heartening to see the pride with which the Prideaux family commemorate the service of their grandfather and great grandfather during Anzac Day, shown on page 14. By encouraging our younger generations to participate we can ensure that the Regimental banner continues to be carried on Anzac Day into the future by descendants of the members of the Regiment.

On page 15, Arthur Turner’s (RHQ) story illustrates the movements of individuals and the transfers that occurred between regiments that can make family research that bit more complex. Our Research Officer, David McDonald presents us with food for thought in describing the ineffectiveness of Bofors guns and heavy anti-aircraft guns between 7000 and 15000 feet resulting in the men operating Bofors, and indeed the personnel and infrastructure they were protecting, being unprotected from aircraft flying at this level.

Eighty years ago in April, the Regimental Headquarters was at Berkshire Valley Camp, Moora, WA. 7 Battery was providing AA defences at the Geraldton RAAF station, WA, while over 100 men of the Battery were POWs in Europe. 8 Battery was providing AA defences at Pearce Aerodrome near Perth, the Catalina bases on the Swan River, Geraldton, Onslow and the US Navy’s submarine base at Exmouth Gulf. 9 Battery was providing AA defences at Milne Bay, Territory of Papua.  On 12 July 1943, the Regiment was disbanded, with 2/7, 2/8 & 2/9 Australian Light Anti-Aircraft Batteries becoming Independent Batteries.  Much of RHQ, Signals Section and Workshop Section transferred to the newly-raised 102 Australian Composite Anti-Aircraft Regiment which was initially commanded by Lt Col J W Rhoden and based in WA.

Returning to the present – thanks to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for a “Saluting their Service” grant, we now have sufficient funds to upgrade our website software.  Congratulations to Colin Bragg for a well-crafted and successful grant application to secure the funding. Colin and Research Officer, David McDonald will continue to work with our software developer on the new functionality.

We have continued to email an occasional newsletter to members to keep abreast of current developments.

This year committee member Alasdair Crooke assumed the responsibility of the Keeper of the Regimental Banner. We welcomed a new committee member, John Macmillan who is representing the Regiment at the annual commemorative service held by the Rats of Tobruk Association in April. 2023 is the 82nd anniversary of the commencement of the siege of Tobruk. I thank the committee for their diligence and work throughout the year.

This year I am not renominating for the position of President of this wonderful organisation. It has been a great privilege and I have enjoyed the support, professionalism and hard work of an amazing group of office bearers and committee members. However, after 9 years I feel it is time for a change both for the Association and myself. I look forward to seeing the Association continue to prosper into the future.

Anne Rae