This is an Update on activities reported in Update 2/2019

Legal Conference

Arising from the telephone conference meeting with our barrister it was decided that as there will likely be a new Minister after the election we need to put our case to that person afresh before taking the legal path. This is because the courts would not take kindly to suing somebody who has previously had nothing to do with the decisions against us. To that end our legal team is preparing a brief for the incoming Minister.

National Media Exposure

In the meantime we are continuing our preparations with a national media organisation to expose our claim to the Australian people. No action will commence until we have a decision on the legal advice

Defence Force Retirement & Death Benefit – Commutation issue – A Summary

We continue to monitor it because it is a good example of the power of national media to influence the Government and we can learn valuable lessons from this inquiry.  The timing for the independent inquiry is to be decided after the commencement of the 46th Parliament. The so called independent body is to be the Commonwealth Ombudsman: this decision has been criticised as not being independent of Government.

That Moment of Truth – The Meetings – Update 1/2019

In that Update we reported:

“A week after our return to Brisbane we sent an RCB Brief of the matter to the Minister and Ted Chitham wrote him a personal letter appealing to his decency in decision making and the need to act. We are still waiting for a response for continuation of the unfinished meeting or a decision.”

Today (15th May 2019) the RCBRG received a letter from the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral David Johnston AO, RAN in which he thanked us for our correspondence: Letter of 5th December 2018 to Minister Chester, Letter of 21st February 2019 to Minister Chester, Emails of 26th February 2019 to Minister Payne and Sen Fawcett, and Letter of 22nd March 2019 to Minister Chester; and counters our claims with reasons that are challengeable. Again he repeats this sentence: “In the absence of compelling new evidence the Department of Defence does not intend to examine this matter further.”

Faced with this continuing avoidance to meet with us (refer to the 26thNovember 2018 meeting fiasco) no wonder that we persist with our claim to obtain justice through other channels

Thanks all for your support, suggestions, comments and donations: they are greatly appreciated. I can assure you all of the outstanding dedication of the RCBRG that remains resolute in its determination to pursue our claim.

Prior Planning, Persistence, Patience and Perseverance Prevents Poor Performance

Robert Cross
RCB Service 1973, 1974/75, 1982
RCB Group Leader
Date: 17/05/2019

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Invitation – Boer War Commemoration Service

Boer War Commemoration Service, Sunday 26th May 2019 at 10:00am at The Boer War Memorial ‘The Scout’ ANZAC Square, Adelaide Street.  

This is the 120th Year, since war was declared 11th October, 1899.

Gordon Bold Chairman BWAQ
Email:    [email protected] Web:      www.bwm.org.au

‘Fathers of ANZACs’, the legacy – Their sacrifice, our encouragement. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

Long Tan – Seeking Recognition

On August 18, 1966, 108 Australian soldiers were ambushed by the Viet Cong in what would become known as the Vietnam War’s Battle of Long Tan. Against all odds, the Aussies won the fight.

Now, the man who led them to victory is fighting to have his troops recognised with the highest honour.

The Battle of Long Tan, in which Aussie troops were outnumbered 20 to one, has gained greater recognition in recent years, but it wasn’t always that way.

The story of that four-hour firefight in a muddy rubber plantation during a torrential downpour will be retold in a new Australian movie, Danger CloseThe Battle of Long Tan.  Directed by Kriv Stenders (best known for Red Dog), it will premiere on the battle’s 53rd anniversary,  August 18.


A path to recovery on missing soldiers

Relatives of the Australian servicemen who went missing in action in the Korean War almost 70 years ago are hopeful the mystery of what happened to them could soon be solved.

Authorities in the United States are testing human remains exhumed from a military cemetery in Hawaii, where they were buried without identification after being transferred from North and South Korea in the 1950s and ’60s.

It is the first sign of progress for Australian families on the identifications since Australia and the US signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Korean War remains identification in August 2018.

While experts believe the remains likely belong largely to American servicemen, the families of the 43 Australian servicemen still unaccounted for decades after fighting ended on the Korean peninsula hope the tests will identify their relatives among the buried.

These families have long been calling for the exhumations, and many have provided DNA samples for the tests.

“[The exhumations] are a great source of hope,” says Sydney lawyer Julie Dorrington whose uncle, Royal Australian Air Force pilot Donald Campbell Ellis, was among the first Australian servicemen reported missing in North Korea in December 1950, six months after the start of the Korean War.

Pilot Officer Ellis was just 23 years old when his Mustang plane was shot down east of the North Korean capital Pyongyang. He is not presumed to have survived, and like the other Australians officially recorded as missing in action during the Korean War, his remains have never been found.

“We believe there is a strong chance that some of those who are buried in Hawaii are Australian because, according to Australian Defence Force records, missing Australian servicemen were in some of the areas where the unidentified remains were originally found,” says Dorrington.

The US Defence Department agency that accounts for missing military personnel, known as DPAA, plans to exhume more than 650 sets of remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. The work, paid for by the US government, will happen in stages and is expected to take about six years to complete.

Individual remains have been removed from the cemetery before, but this is the first mass exhumation of so-called “unknowns” at the site atop the extinct volcanic Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu.“WE GET A LOT OF INFORMATION THROUGH DENTAL RESTORATION, BIOLOGICAL PROFILES – HEIGHT, AGE, ANCESTRY – OFTEN WE CAN GET INFORMATION ABOUT CAUSE OF DEATH.”

Exhumed remains are being sent to the DPAA’s Central Identification Laboratory, also in Honolulu, for testing. The laboratory’s director, Dr John Byrd, says many of the remains are well preserved, which bodes well for DNA identification.

Byrd says chemicals used to preserve the bodies on the Korean peninsula decades ago mean scientists now require sophisticated forensic processes to extract DNA data for identification – methods unavailable at the time of burial.

Confirming the identity of missing service personnel conclusively, and the circumstances in which they died, often requires more investigation beyond simply testing DNA.

“We get a lot of information through dental restoration, biological profiles – height, age, ancestry – often we can get information about cause of death such as gunshot wounds or blast trauma,” says Byrd. “Everything is systematically checked against reference samples from Australian families.”

Since October 2018, more than 30 sets of remains have been exhumed from the memorial cemetery. However, Byrd is at pains to temper the hopes of Australian families who believe their loved ones are buried in Hawaii.

“We don’t have any compelling reason to believe any of them are Australian at this point,” he says. “We won’t be surprised to occasionally find South Korean soldiers’ remains among those we are exhuming … Had there been information that suggested they were Australian back in the 1950s they would never have been buried in that cemetery.

“Australians and other allies are possible to find but you can’t point to any grave from the cemetery and say there’s good reason to believe they’re Aussie.”

Byrd says it may be possible to find Australian remains “co-mingled” with other unidentified remains in storage at the DPAA facility, which are already being compared with Australian relatives’ DNA samples on file.

The exhumations in Hawaii stand in contrast to the apparent lack of progress in Australia’s effort to investigate its Korean War missing inside North Korea.

Last year’s Singapore summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un saw North Korea agree to send thousands of remains to the US. For Australia’s part, former foreign minister Julie Bishop offered “expert and forensic assistance” to North Korea after “multiple representations” about investigating Australia’s wartime missing. Almost a year later, the Australian government is yet to make any public confirmation of a breakthrough.

“It’s taken so long to get to where we are today,” says Ian Saunders, OAM, who has spent years advocating Australia focus its search on the suspected Korean War remains located in the US.

He hopes to find his father, Private John Philip Saunders, who disappeared on the Korean peninsula in January 1953, a day before his 26th birthday, as well as other Australians.

The belief that Australian remains could be found at the Hawaiian cemetery, Saunders says, is based on information from the Australian Korean War diaries in Canberra and what he describes as “documented cogent and circumstantial evidence” in the Australian and US military materials he has researched for the past two decades.

Saunders’ findings have helped determine the last known locations of Australia’s Korean War missing and are being used in official Australian investigations.

In 2015, Saunders received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his work lobbying the federal government to boost efforts to locate missing Korean War servicemen, and for his contact with relevant US and South Korean government agencies to investigate their recovery processes.

Saunders questions whether DPAA scientists are using the supplied Australian DNA samples in all identifications.

“We are waiting on confirmation, proof – not a handwritten letter by these people – a spreadsheet that confirms the Australian DNA samples that exist in the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii have been compared,” he insists.

The Australian Defence Department won’t say whether it expects remains of missing Australian servicemen to be found during the exhumations.

“Some family members have speculated it is possible that missing Australian soldiers may have been misclassified as US unknown casualties and consequently buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,” a department statement said.

“Defence, in collaboration with the DPAA, have explored every possible route to support or dispel this speculation [including] dental, anthropological, historical and DNA analysis. At this time, no Australian soldier remains have been identified among those analysed by the US.”

The Korean War Missing in Action Working Group – Julie Dorrington and Ian Saunders are both members – connects Defence representatives with veterans’ organisations, relatives of the missing and the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties unit, which oversees the investigation and recovery of missing Australian service personnel.

The working group initiated and helped draft the MOU between Australia and the US on Korean War remains recovery and identification, which took about six years to complete. Although not legally binding, it encourages more information sharing and formalises existing co-operation.

The DPAA’s Byrd confirms that as a result of the agreement Australian defence authorities can expect to receive previously withheld information about the Hawaii laboratory’s identification work.

“We are very reluctant, if not prohibited, from sharing inside data and information and test results with just anybody,” he says. “The MOU gives us a basis for sharing information – it gives us reason to give authorisation to send information to counterparts in Australia if, for example, we find some compelling test results.

“It tells both sides what is fair use of that information because some of it can be sensitive.”

Saunders suggests the test of the memorandum of understanding’s success will be in the positive identifications of Australian missing servicemen that it facilitates – as happened, he argues, for the US after it signed a similar agreement with South Korea.

Meanwhile, the Australian and US defence departments have agreed to send some of the relatives of Australia’s Korean War missing to visit the DPAA laboratory in Hawaii later this year for a firsthand look at the work being done to identify exhumed remains from the Korean peninsula.

Julie Dorrington hopes to be among them. “There is now a much higher chance of certainty for the missing Australians’ families that we will get the information one way or another. Even if it is a negative result – it is still important to know.”

This article by Kristina Kukolja was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 27, 2019 as “A path to recovery”. Subscribe here.

Opinion – Pause for Thought. Time to consider the values that underline our Country

It has been a long time since Anzac Day punctuated a federal election campaign, and there could hardly be a greater contrast than that between the point-scoring, box-ticking, and vote-buying that characterises an election campaign and the patriotic unity that Anzac Day evokes.

Both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader sufficiently forgot party politics to make fine speeches at different commemorations; and, for a day, all our first world preoccupations, such as climate change and gender fluidity, faded against the contemplation of our forbears’ response to the struggle for life or death in a good cause.

So what moves us in our many hundreds of thousands, here and at services overseas, to get up early and brave the chill to honour the dead?

In a society that mostly shuns ritual and hardly ever goes to church, attending an Anzac Day service is about as close as we come these days to a religious observance. But what exactly are we remembering? Is it the grandparents and the great grandparents that fought in distant wars? Is it the friends of friends, currently serving in our military? Or is it the ideal of duty and service that they epitomise; and the values that made our country what it is — that we often fear might be slipping away from modern Australia?

When I was a child, when my grandfather’s World War II generation was still only middle-aged and when the Gallipoli generation was still alive to share its memories, Anzac Day was a day for old soldiers and mateship.

Now that the world wars have largely slipped into history, Anzac Day has become a day for us all; a day to honour those who’ve worn our country’s uniform; and a day, inwardly at least, to pledge ourselves to be worthy of the people who’ve taken great risks to keep our country safe.

This is why they deserve the special recognition they get; and why they are, in some way, a reproach to the rest of us. They call us to be more devoted to those around us, and to be more committed to our country, than perhaps we already are.

But then, so many are already committed. It is just that they are not often the voices we hear on our national broadcaster or agitating for the left’s latest cultural cause.

Instead they go to work each day, raise their family and pay their taxes, uncomfortable with the relentless push by some to change who we are, to apologise for Australia’s history and our success.

They’re often referred to as the silent majority and on Anzac Day they are out in force, because it was their sons who were the backbone of Australia’s military ranks and suffered the heavy losses.

Much more so than Australia Day — which has a lightness about it; smack bang in the middle of our idyllic summer, with flag waving, and big community barbecues — the sombreness of Anzac Day lies in its association with the sterner virtues of courage, self-sacrifice, duty and honour.

We remember the best and bravest of us, and in so doing, remind ourselves of their qualities and resolve to be more like them in our own, often very different struggles. Even if we wonder how today’s Australians would cope with horror — on the scale, say, of the Battle of Fromelles, with 1500 dead and nearly 4000 wounded in a single night — it is still a day to feel quiet pride in our country.

Thanks to our military men and women, and those of our allies, our country is free, fair and prosperous. There’s no doubt that our victories in war, plus our vigilance in peace, have made the world a better place.

But it’s the duty of all us, not just those who wear, or have worn a uniform, to preserve these hard-won gains, and to build on them wherever we can.

The values we commemorate in Anzac Day must be defended every other day of the year.

Let us hope the campaign interregnum of Anzac Day inspired our political leaders, and all the candidates, to think less of themselves and their political creeds and more for our country and our values.

For us voters, let us hope it has reminded us to treasure our vote, not to take our freedoms for granted and when we mark our ballot paper, to do so wisely.

Peta Credlin The Courier Mail April 27, 2019.  
Originally published as The Anzac message to remember on election day

Anzac Day 2019: Peter Cosgrove’s parting message to next generation

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove has sought to reintroduce the Anzac legend to a new generation in his last Anzac Day address as the Queen’s representative in Australia.

Sir Peter, who will retire from public life in June, used his commemorative address at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to explain why Australians gather every April to commemorate veterans and the fallen to young people and new arrivals.

“For some here attending this moment in the national capital, and others like this elsewhere around the nation, this will be your first Anzac Day service,” he said in Canberra.

“Some of you are youngsters, some are new to this nation. From all of those newly come to this national ritual, we expect that you will all be eager to understand what it is that draws us, as a nation, to gather so solemnly.

“For those who wonder why communities assemble on this day every year at dawn and later in the morning, as Governor-general I say that in the gamut of motives from the profoundly philosophical to simple curiosity, there is a fundamental reason.

“It is by our presence to say to the shades of those countless men and women who did not come home or who made it back but who have now passed and to say to their modern representatives, the ones around the nation who today march behind their banners ‘You matter. What you did matters. You are in our hearts. Let it be always thus’.”

The crowd in Canberra burst into applause when the National Anzac Ceremony’s master of ceremonies, journalist Scott Bevan, thanked Sir Peter for his service and wished him well for his upcoming retirement.

Sir Peter will leave public life after five years as Governor-general and previous service as the Chief of the Australian Defence Forces. He will be replaced later this year by NSW Governor David Hurley.

RICHARD FERGUSON – The Australian APRIL 25, 2019

Anzac Day 2019: Vietnam War through a young Digger’s eyes

THEY are the images of war never before made public: candid snaps of young men behind enemy lines, ­captured by one of their own… raw, intimate and devastating.

These photographs, taken by Vietnam War veteran Allan Beer, himself just 20 years old when he was conscripted into national service, offer a rare behind-the-scenes look at conflict told through a young man’s eyes.

They tell of mateship and youthful optimism, of sons and brothers doing their best. These are not the elite soldiers of today.

Just barely into their adult years, a ragtag group of six men pose outside a Vietnam War camp.

They’re snapped aboard a chopper flying low, taking a break atop a roadside convoy and shirtless watching a naval ship pass by.

There are cheeky shoeshine boys sneaking a cigarette and live performances for a sea of soldiers in green.

The pictures, detailing a group of Australian troop’s moments before their first operation, today made public for the first time will be celebrated at a special exhibition at Howard Smith Wharves as part of an Anzac Day service.

The commemoration coincides with Mr Beer’s 50th anniversary of service and the collection includes photographs of the artist himself, snapped by a friend, looking every bit of his youth, crouched beside a rifle and some ammunition.

Another photo captures him as he wades through mud and water, clutching a gun, while on patrol.

The 70-year-old said that from a young age he was passionate about photography, and carried a camera in his pack that would later capture roughly 300 photos during his time in Vietnam.

“It puts me back there, (the photos) because you can write a book about something, but one photograph can explain a lot to you – more than the written word can,” he said.

“It really captures the moment, and a lot of photos accidentally capture a mood and it’s a bit of a magical thing when you take photos that do that.”

Mr Beer said that he could ­remember every moment behind each picture he captured – and that he ­particularly remembers two ­mischievous Vietnamese shoeshiners.

“These little kids, they were opportunists of course, making a living and they were cheeky little kids, I think that photograph really captured them well,” he said.

He said the photos had been sitting in a box all these years, but would be exhibited for the first time, as he believes younger people are showing a greater interest of what life was like in the Vietnam War.

“I really wish I had of taken more, but of course, there was ­always something going on; there was never a dull moment really,” he said.

“It was all a bit of an adventure; we are all pretty young and it was a bit of an unreal situation.”

Mr Beer told The Courier-Mail that he was lucky to have the opportunity to capture candid shots in a surreal environment.

“A lot of the shots depended on where I was at the time, hanging out on the side of a helicopter – a lot of people never get to experience that, so when they see the photo it is a ‘wow’ moment,” he said.

Sophie Chirgwin, The Courier-Mail April 25, 2019


Opinion – When Australia Punched Above its Weight

ONE hundred years ago in Paris, the victorious allies were negotiating a treaty to formalise the armistice declared on November 11, 1918. The Little Digger, PM Billy Hughes defended our diggers’ sacrifice.

PM Billy Hughes with Aussie Diggers



Thank you Australia for keeping the spirit of Anzac alive

See the video presentation that will be shown on the big screen at the MCG  before the Anzac day clash between Essendon and Collingwood.

RCB Update 2/2019

A big shout out and thanks to our supporters for your generous donations to our RCB Legal Fighting Fund. The result is very encouraging – every little counts and as is said in the song from little things big things grow.

You all know that over 12 years our RCB Review Group’s representations to the Government of the day, via its Defence Department and its Ministers, have been rejected for reasons that we challenged as being false and misleading. We contend that our evidence reveals that a deception has been perpetrated to disguise the true nature of RCB’s deployment, thereby denying the troops access to eligible repatriation and other entitlements. Further, our numerous requests to meet with the Ministers’ decision recommending staff have been ignored until Minister Chester’s infamous 26th November 2018 “clayton’s meeting” in Canberra. See our Update 1/2019

Since then the Minister has greeted our requests for an independent of government judicial inquiry with SILENCE.

We have now contracted with a solicitor/barrister specialising in administrative law to give us a legal opinion on our evidence to: firstly, support an action against the Commonwealth in the matter of its non-recognition of RCB service as warlike; and secondly, support an action against breaches of ministerial, ministerial and defence staff advisors’ codes of ethics and conduct.

We expect to receive the legal opinions very soon and certainly before the Federal election. Those legal opinions will determine our future actions, either in a legal court and/or the court of public opinion. As an example of the latter action read the DFRDB Commutation Issue below and note our request to Minister Chester here

Defence Force Retirement & Death Benefit – Commutation issue – A Summary

 It is worth noting that  Minister Chester’s decision to appoint an independent examination of this matter was decided three days before the ABC TV 7.30 Report publicly “blew the whistle” on  a subject that  DFWA and ADSO have made numerous representations over many years to Governments without success. (Sounds familiar Guys?)

The Minister’s latest decision is an example of the power of the national media to influence the Government especially when an election is at hand.

What needs watching is the Minister’s determination of what is an independent body. If it is not external to Government then the issue remains within the Government’s “loop of self-protection” and cannot be acceptable.

RCB – Where to from Here?

We wait for the legal opinions before deciding further action.

In the meantime we prepare our chosen national media source and our own national social media campaign, and brief certain influential sitting party politicians and election candidates including the cross benchers in both Houses before the Election.

Encourage more donations from our supporters, friends and family: look upon the donation as an investment.

Thanks all for your support, suggestions, comments and donations: they are greatly appreciated. I can assure you all of the outstanding dedication of the RCBRG that remains resolute in it’s determination to pursue our claim beyond the Parliament.

Prior Planning, Persistence, Patience and Perseverance Prevents Poor Performance

Robert Cross
RCB Service 1973, 1974/75, 1982
RCB Group Leader
Date: 10/04/2019