Secretary's Report 2014

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Category: History
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A Time To Reflect

The Annual General Meeting of the Association held in April 2008 was a significant day in the history of the Association.

The meeting approved amendments to the Constitution allowing descendants of the original service members of the Regiment to be-come full members of the Association.

This decision allowed the election of a brand new Committee at the 2008 AGM, comprised (with the exception of long serving Treasurer John Hepworth) of direct descend-ants of original service members.

When John Hepworth retired in 2009, the Committee became comprised entirely of descendants of original service members.

Since the early days of the Association, and in fact well into the 1990’s, it was not unusual for Committee members and Office Bearers to serve for twenty to thirty years.

Of course, over the period of those fifty years, there were many more original service members who made the annual pilgrimage to at-tend the AGM and to attend the Annual Reunion.

Over the past six years, and with a great deal of support from the former Committee and from many members of the Association, we have been able to deliver some significant achievements.

However, time continues to march on, and over the next year or so, the Committee and the Association needs to address some fundamental issues. Such as:

What will be the role of the Association after the last of the original service members (currently numbering 27) has passed on?

Will there be sufficient interest from descendants in continuing to attend an AGM and Annual Reunion?

Should we putting a Committee “succession” plan in place now?

What is the level of interest from members in assuming a Committee role?

Who will take on the responsibility of maintaining and updating the web site?

Who will assume the responsibility for responding to queries received through our web site?

These questions are posed for the purpose of generating discussion, soliciting suggestions, establishing criteria and/or guidelines and of providing direction for the current Committee.

Thoughts would be appreciated.

The Year In Review

As has been the case in recent years, most of the enquiries or notifications I receive arrive electronically through our web site or direct to my email address.

Occasionally, I receive a letter in the mail and invariably they advise of the passing of another original Service member. I learnt of the passing of Tom “Mac” McGill (9), Bob Phillips (9), and “Blue” Page (8) by letter and of the passing of Cec Rae (9), Ray Everlyn (9) and Bill Garrigan (7) by telephone.

These are sad and inevitable events but we should be grateful that these men were able to return home and lead long lives.

Association Research Officer David McDonald copied me with an email he had received from Mary Jordan regarding the Berkshire Valley HQ Sign.

“Dear David

Recently I came across a letter you had written to my mother in law, Robin Hamilton about the state of the Regiment’s sign that your father had been in at the Berkshire Valley entrance and other information of interest to her, along with a request for her to find someone to fix it up.

Robin had given her son (my husband) Fred the papers to read and that is how I got to learn of your re-quest.

Today I have painted the sign in time for Anzac Day this coming week and made it more respectable as you had asked her to have it done, she is far too old to be able to organize those things and finding handy men in the country is pretty much impossible.... so we have a handy woman on the farm instead.....me.

I hope you like the attached photo, I ought to have done a before and after! The museum will be open this weekend at Berkshire so hopefully we will have a few people coming out for a look at it and they notice the sign.

Kindest Regards

Mary Jordan

Donations

Once again the Association has been the recipient of donations, which help us to continue to do what we do. In particular, I would like to acknowledge donations received from Foster Crooke, Rosemary Weatherly, Alan “Bushy” Read, Esme Curtis and Dot Harris, but I would also like to thank all members who have made a contribution throughout the year.

Web Site

The web site is very much in maintenance mode now, although we have added a Donations section and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section to the site.

We have also added captions to the scrolling photos at the top of the web site.

Because of the interest in POW escapees during the year, we have added a list of all 2nd/3rd members who escaped to Switzerland from Italian POW camps (see under Regiment History).

Membership

Our descendants’ membership is holding steady but sadly only 27 of the original Service members survive at the date of this newsletter – which takes me back neatly to the questions raised at the beginning of my report.

During the year Dave Humphreys (7) and Alan “Bushy” Read (9) provided material for our records and/or for inclusion in future issues of “Take Post”.

“Bushy” spoke of his pride in his granddaughter when she gave a speech at her school about the Nursing Service and Sister Bullwinkle.

Dave provided additional information about his gun crew on Crete, and advised he had caught up with Dot Harris (daughter of Les Harris (7), now that Dot is a Bendigo girl.

I received a phone call from former Secretary John Campbell (8) in February, who was putting his new telephone and hearing aids through their “sea trials” – clear as a bell John – enjoy your holiday in Queensland later in the year.

On my behalf, David McDonald responded to an enquiry from Michael Williams regarding his grandfather, William Ernest Mason (7).

Hello Michael, thank you for your enquiry via our Association's web-site..

The Regiment's War Diaries are held at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. There is only one copy of each diary, the original, in existence. Information on the war diaries generally is online at http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm52/ .

Unfortunately the Regiment's war diaries have not been digitised. We - the Committee of the Regiment Association - have approached the War Memorial requesting them to digitise the diaries, and have offered to pay for this work, but they have declined. Apparently they have a policy of digitising certain diaries ahead of others, probably reflecting patterns of demand for access to those re-sources.

The Regiment's war diaries held at the War Memorial are reasonably complete - some gaps exist though. They are available for the public to inspect at the War Memorial's Re-search Centre. So far as I know, that can only be done in person so you would need to visit Canberra to peruse them.”

In May I was contacted by Marco Sogetto, an Italian researcher, researching Allied POW’s who escaped into Switzerland through Aosta Valley near the Monte Rosa Massif.

In particular, Marco was seeking information regarding three 2nd/3rd ALAA Regiment members – Thomas Russell, Ernest Preiser and Bill Waller, all of whom had been captured on Crete.

Marco was aware the Regiment history had been chronicled in “On Target”, and in his email, he stated ”I am trying to find a copy but it’ a rare and very expensive title”

You can imagine Marco’s delight when I advised him that “On Target” was on our web site and could be downloaded at no cost.

I had several telephone conversations and emails with Glen and Corinne Duggan regarding Australian POWs who escaped into Switzerland, including the three that Marco had enquired about earlier in the year. Glen is the grand nephew of Tom Russell.

Numerous enquiries asking why a father / grandfather was not on our Regimental Rolls, when their Service Certificates indicated they were Regiment members, led to a FAQ section being added to the web site.

Leonie Hannam emailed:

Hi, I'm thrilled to have discovered this website on Anzac Day last week. I'm one of two grand daughters of Ernest Edward Cassidy, listed on your web site. I've not been aware of this Association previously as my grandfather died when my mother was young, and my grandmother would never speak much about him or "the war", hence I've never known much about him. This site is giving me some new information about him and the men he served with. I'd love to know more about joining the Association.

Clint Mighell, in enquiring about his grandfather (Frederick Miller) concluded by stating:

PS ...it’s a great web site! A big well done preserving the memory of our soldiers.

As always, my thanks go to the members of the Association for your continuing support and your encouragement — it makes it all worthwhile.

Colin Bragg