Opinion – France on the Frontline

Disturbing images from Paris this week show French riot police firing on anarchic protesters, the so-called “yellow vests” protesting against their government’s economic policies.
Such confronting scenes would not be replicated here – or could they?

Australians tend to be more civil in their political disputation but there now exists a level of political dissatisfaction which has been becoming more aggressive in its expression.
Given the ability for social media to inflame resentment, perhaps it is not too far fetched to suggest some people are already attempting to mobilise global support for the “yellow vests”.

The Royal Australian Regiment 70 years Young – Happy Birthday Greetings

To the RAR Family of current and past serving soldiers and their families greetings from the RAR Colonel Commandant Major General Mark Kelly AO DSC  and the Regimental Colonel Brigadier Jason Blain DSC CSC  on our 70th Anniversary.

 

Read Mark Kelly’s Message    Download

Read Jason Blain’s Message   Download

Resting for an Eternity

IT RAINED at Villers Bretonneux on November 11 as if the leaden skies were weeping, remembering unimaginable horrors 100 years before.

Capture

The long rows of headstones at Australia’s World War I National Memorial are a stark reminder of those horrors and the huge price that a generation paid in the war that was supposed to end all wars.

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Royal Australian Regiment 70th Anniversary Events: 23rd November 2018

The Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) will celebrate its 70th anniversary with events in Canberra on 23 November 2018, including a parade open to the public to be conducted at the Australian War Memorial.
All serving and ex-serving members of the RAR, their family and friends, as well as ADF members and the public are warmly invited to attend these events :
70th Anniversary Parade.
A parade featuring the Queen’s and Regimental Colours of all Battalions of the RAR and a Guard from the 8/9th Battalion RAR supported by RAR Pipes and Drums and the RMC Band will be conducted on the Australian War Memorial parade ground commencing at 1530 h. His Excellency the Governor General of Australia, will be the Reviewing Officer for the Parade. For those wishing to attend in uniform, dress is Dress 1B (Ceremonial Service Dress)
Last Post Ceremony.
In acknowledging those members of the RAR who died during their service, the Last Post Ceremony will remember the life and sacrifice of Corporal Kevin Cooper from 2 RAR, who was Killed In Action on 26 July 1953 during the Battle of Samichon in the Korean War.

All serving and ex-serving members of the RAR and their families and friends are invited to attend the Ceremony commencing at 1700 h. Please be in place by 1650 h.

Jason Blain
Brigadier
Head of Corps
Royal Australian Infantry
Contact officer: BRIG Simon Gould
RAR 70th Lead Coordinator
Telephone: 0437 715 642
Email: [email protected]

Virtual Reality Brings Australian Remembrance Trail to Life

VIRTUAL reality technology and stunning 360-degree drone footage are bringing the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front to Australians across the world, through an Anzac 360 app featuring interactive videos.
download 16The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Darren Chester, today launched the new app at the Sir John Monash Centre in France.
“While Gallipoli will be forever etched in our nation’s history, it was right here on the Western Front that we suffered our greatest losses during the First World War,” Mr Chester said.
“This new app and videos, developed in partnership with News Corp Australia and produced by Grainger Films, will allow all Australians, including our next generation of school children, to experience these sites from their classroom or at home in their living room.
“Most importantly, it allows those who cannot visit these sites in person the opportunity to feel like a visitor, but at the same time inspiring others to travel over here to France, or across the border in Belgium.”
“The partnership with News Corp Australia will allow us to take viewers on a journey by exploring Australia’s story on the Western Front through a present day lens and technology.”
Eight key sites and battles are explained, highlighting the challenges our troops faced some 100 years ago, from the well positioned enemy to the tactical decisions that had to be made, or moments of bravery that resulted in a Victoria Cross.
The clips merge 360-degree aerial and ground footage from the present day with period imagery, graphics and more.
“This year we have seen our nation commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battles in Le Hamel and Villers-Bretonneux, and also mark the opening of the Sir John Monash Centre, which covers just some of the topics and sites featured in these videos,” Mr Chester said.
“I encourage all Australians to download the app and view the videos, learn more about the Australian Remembrance Trail and in doing so, never forgetting our troops and what they did right here on the Western Front,” Mr Chester said.
The app is free to download from the App Store and Google Play- search Anzac 360.

10th November 2018

Who Do You Remember During a Minute’s Silence?

IN the lead-up to Remembrance Day, Australians are being encouraged to take a moment to reflect on who they will be thinking about during the minute’s silence at 11am on 11 November and share it using the hashtag, #1MS (1 Minute’s Silence).

download 16As part of promoting #1MS, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC Darren Chester joined well-known Australians in expressing why they stop for a minute, including Cate and Bronte Campbell, Johnathan Thurston, Dan Sultan, Les Hill, Curtis McGrath and Bree Bailie, a current serving member of the Australian Defence Force.
“Remembrance Day is special to Australians, young and old, for many different reasons and sharing the stories is incredibly important,” Mr Chester said.
“I have been privileged in my role to attend several commemorative services and listen to the stories of veterans and family members, including who they are commemorating and what they think about during the minute’s silence.
“Many Australians have an ancestor or relative who has served or died in wars, conflicts and on peacekeeping operations and it is this deep personal connection that they remember.
“Others don’t have this personal connection, but stand in silent gratitude to those who sacrificed so much for our nation over the last century.”
This Remembrance Day marks the centenary of the First World War Armistice — the day the guns on the Western Front fell silent and the greatest war the modern world had ever seen was all but over.
“While this year marks this significant milestone, as a nation we need to ensure the custom of observing a minute of silence continues now and in to the future,” Mr Chester said.
“Remembrance Day is a time for us as a nation to unite in a minute of solemn respect and admiration for those who served and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
“I strongly encourage all Australians to really think about why they pause on Remembrance Day, to attend their local Remembrance Day services and to stop for a minute’s silence.”

Media note
The videos will be rolled out across social media channels, including the Anzac Centenary and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Facebook pages, in the lead-up to Remembrance Day and the centenary of the First World War Armistice.
Media outlets wishing to use these videos to complement their reporting can download them on the Anzac Centenary website.

Just Ask About Your Military History. You Might be Amazed

AUSTRALIANS are being encouraged to Just Ask questions within their families and make enquiries online to see if they have a lost family connection to one of the almost two million people who have served Australia in wars, conflicts and on peacekeeping operations over the past century.

download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC Darren Chester said the Anzac Centenary period encouraged many Australians to research their family history, which had uncovered for some a lost connection to the First World War.
“As time moves forward Australia continues to lose more of the original living memories of our wartime history, but uncovering the story of military ancestors is a straightforward process that can yield amazing results,” Mr Chester said.
Start by asking your oldest relatives what they know or if anyone has letters, diaries, medals or other memorabilia from a war, conflict or peacekeeping mission that could provide some clues.
“From there, it’s as simple as searching the online database of the Australian War Memorial, the National Archives of Australia, the National Library of Australia and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
“Communities should also use the valuable local resources such as local libraries, RSL branches and historical societies, which do an amazing job at documenting and preserving our history.”
In addition, if your relative was from the UK or New Zealand, you can search sites such as the UK National Archives and the NZ National Archives.

As part of the launch of the Just Ask initiative, Ancestry.com is providing 100 hours’ free access to its database from 9–12 November 2018 for people to track their family story.

“Throughout the Anzac Centenary period 2014–18, many people have found long-lost connections to the First World War, giving them a broader understanding and respect for their family history,” Mr Chester said.
I have been privileged to hear first-hand the experiences of Australians reconnecting with their family history and what it has meant to them.
“With the additional access to Ancestry, Australians will be able to readily research their family’s history and start the search for a connection to our military history.
“As a nation we need to take collective responsibility for preserving our family history and acknowledge those who have served and who are currently serving our country.
“On Remembrance Day this year, the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice, I encourage all Australians to buy a poppy, attend their local commemorative service, and stop for a minute’s silence.”
For more information about how to research your family connection, visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website.

Chaplain Gary Stone Speaks out on Recognition of RCB Service 1970-1989

As a veteran of almost 48 yrs military service, the last 24 of which I served as a Chaplain , I must raise my grave concerns about the morality of the treatment of our veterans by ADF and Government officials in their continuing rejection of the substantive evidence being presented by the RCB Review Group in their case for recognition of warlike service.

In my 4 years of training at RMC Duntroon, I was grounded in the need in public service, for uncompromising integrity, and the reality that sometimes oversights and mistakes are made because of inadequate or insufficient information, and the need for these to be corrected. There are plenty of precedents of recognition being granted belatedly, and the previously Secret evidence now available in relation to RCB, should provide scope for this case to be considered anew.

But it is not.
As this case goes on, what seems clear is that advisors and public servants are deliberately ignoring evidence and giving bad advice and recommendations to senior ADF officers and Ministers.
Some might construe this as a cover up of earlier mistakes. Nevertheless, we are now at a point where litigation may be required to correct the injustices felt by the members who served at RCB.
At the very least, a group of more than 10,000 veterans is experiencing unnecessary stress and dismay at the unjust way in which they are being treated.
Australians rightly expect to be given a fair go and fair hearing, and these veterans will not stop in their pleading until justice is granted them.
They have now seen The Defence Committee Minutes of 11 Jan 1973, and other official documents confirming irrefutably that this was an operational deployment to protect RAAF personnel and assets at Air Base Butterworth when a war was being fought from this base against communist insurgents.

We did no training with the Malaysians. We were totally focussed on defence of the airbase, and reacting to any communist incursions.
But of course the veterans already knew this, from briefings on the Air Base and from being “Warned for Active Service” before they deployed. Many were Vietnam or Borneo Veterans who have given testimony that their service in Butterworth met the requirements that saw them given Active Service recognition in earlier conflicts.

Others like me, an Infantry Platoon Commander at Butterworth in 1974-75 went on to serve in other conflicts ( in my case 6 other operational theatres) and subsequently got recognition for warlike service for similar service as at Butterworth.

But this case should stand or fall on evidence, rather than subjective opinions and the full evidence now needs to be considered, and the mistakes of the past need to be corrected.

What was a simple nature of service claim has now become also a case for ethical conduct or misconduct, which will have wider ramifications for Government and officials than recognising the faithful service of some patriotic veterans.
I would hope that those desiring an ethical consideration of this case will now act appropriately .
Yours Sincerely

Gary Stone
President Veterans Care Association

The Australian – Closure now closer for families of Australians lost in Korean War

A long-awaited agreement with the US to identify Australian war dead from the Korean conflict has finally been signed, boosting Canberra’s case to join the Americans in recovering the remains of missing soldiers and airmen.

Families of the 43 Australian servicemen still listed as missing in action in North Korea applauded the memorandum of understanding, which came as South Korean President Moon Jae-in ­arrived in Pyongyang for crucial talks with Kim Jong-un.

The MOU between the Australian Defence Department and the Pentagon was first mooted in 2011 to establish a framework to share DNA and other identifying information in case a repository of remains held by the US military in Hawaii contained those of Australians killed in the 1950-53 war.

Progress stalled 11 months ago after a draft of the agreement was settled, frustrating relatives of the Australian MIAs as the final text bounced back and forth between Canberra and Washington.

Ian Saunders, the point man for the families whose father is among the missing, said the agreement could provide a basis for Australian investigators to gain access to suspected burial sites should the North Koreans honour their word and let Americans in.

“There have been breakthroughs before but this is the ultimate to date in terms of getting identification of the remains,” said Mr Saunders, 70. His father, Private John Saunders, was reported missing, presumed killed, in January 1953 in a fierce clash between Australian troops and Chinese regulars on the North Korean side of what’s now the demilitarised zone that divides the peninsula.

Mr Saunders, who turned five the day after his dad went missing, said: “The MOU is a big step forward for us. It’s the green light to pursue things more actively.”

Korean Veterans Association of Australia president Tom Parkinson, who was in the line to the left of John Saunders’s battalion at the time he went missing, insisted the families of the MIAs deserved to bring them home. “It’s long overdue that there is some sort of … finality,” he said. “And none of us are getting any younger.”

The Australian government approached the US to piggyback on its deal with the North Koreans after Donald Trump tied the return of remains to his offer to ease crippling economic sanctions on the rogue state if Kim gave up his nuclear arsenal. Confirming the MOU, a Defence spokesman said last night it formalised long-standing arrangements between the US and Australia to share information on war dead.

Mr Moon’s three-day trip to the North Korean capital is the first by a South Korean leader in a decade but his third meeting with Kim this year, raising hopes they can revive a peace process that looks to have stalled after the hype of the June breakthrough with Mr Trump faded.

The Australian MIA families were advised by the Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties Unit this week that the MOU had been signed by the US Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency, cementing a close relationship over Korean War dead.

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Mr Parkinson, 85, still has raw memories of the night Mr Saunders’ father went missing at the foot of Maryang San, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting involving Australians. He was a young machinegunner in 1RAR, dug in alongside John Saunders’s battalion, 3RAR, when the 25-year-old private was killed on January 25, 1953. He was one of six who died when a 31-man patrol led by Lieutenant Geoff Smith ran into a concentration of Chinese troops. The officer was among the presumed dead; another seven Australians were taken prisoner.

Mr Parkinson lost friends at Maryang San, a bitter battle for a hill about 2km inside the North Korean DMZ. In July 1952, Lieutenant Laurie Ryan of 3RAR was reported killed alongside two his men, but Mr Parkinson heard conflicting accounts of what had actually happened.

Mr Saunders said he was con­fident his father’s grave would be found if investigators were ­allowed into North Korea.

Jamie Walker, Associate Editor
19 September 2018


Battle rages for Diggers – RCB veterans have not surrendered nor will they…

ON the night of December 7-8 1941, Japanese forces began invading Malaya, hours before the attack on US territory Pearl Harbour,
Australia’s first casualties on December 8 were the crews of two 1Sqn RAAF Hudson bombers from six aircraft dispatched to bomb Japan’s invasion fleet.
When Japanese aircraft attacked Butterworth, some RAAF Buffaloes were in the air and tried to intercept, but they were an inadequate match for the speedy Japanese fighters.
The ADF has maintained a long relationship with Butterworth, through the first Malayan Emergency 1950-1960, Confrontation, Vietnam and the second Malaysian Emergency (Counter Insurgency War 1969-1989) to the present day.
From 1958 to 1988 the airfield was an Australian military asset, known formally as RAAF Butterworth.
From 1970 an Australian Army infantry company has been deployed to Butterworth, though successive Australian governments have employed various subterfuges to camouflage their real role.
Although the deployment was officially described as training with Malaysian forces, its actual, formally denied role was to be a ready reaction force to defend, if required, the RAAF assets including Mirage fighters based there.
There is no doubt until 1989 there was a real threat to Australian personnel and assets based at Butterworth, nor that RCB was established and armed to react to that threat should it eventuate.
Yet successive Australian governments have consistently refused to recognise RCB service as warlike, and concede appropriate veteran benefits to those who served in that period.
The RCB veterans lobby group, have gathered a massive database of previously classified material which indubitably supports their claims for recognition.
They will not rest until they clear the fog of bureaucratic and political obfuscation which continues to deny their evidence.

READ  ROSS EASTGATE’S FULL ARTICLE

Note a correction to the article: Robert Cross is the RCB’s veterans lobby group (RCB Review Group) leader of which Ted Chitham (past CO 8/9 RAR 1974-1976) is a member.

“RCB veterans have not surrendered nor will they…” Ross Eastgate