Farewell Message – LtCol Damien Green

The following message of farewell was received from CO 31/42RQR LtCol Damien Green prior to moving on to his new posting. Many of us have had the pleasure of meeting Damien during his tenure as CO of the Battalion. Membersof the Associaion have been particularly grateful for Damien’s efforts to keep we old diggers across the activities of the Battalion via the “31st/42nd Battalion Newsletter”. Over to LtCol Green:

 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I hope this email finds you well and not too impacted by COVID and/or the High Risk Weather Season.

 

The purpose of this email is to pass on my thanks to everyone for your support to the 31st/42nd Battalion, The Royal Queensland Regiment during my tenure in command of the Battalion. We very much appreciate the time you have given to us when we have visited or participated in events throughout Central and North Queensland. Without the support of the community, the Army Reserve ceases to function as it should and I am pleased to say we have been well supported.

 

I will be handing over command of the Battalion to Lieutenant Colonel Dave Gandy as of 18 Jan 2020 when I depart on posting to the Combat Training Centre in Townsville. I have had a great time meeting all of you and I know Dave is very keen to get around and introduce himself to all of you during his tenure as Commanding Officer. I am extremely proud of the support 31/42 RQR has provided to the community and state over the last two years which has included deployments on OP TOWNSVILLE FLOOD ASSIST, OP BUSHFIRE ASSIST, OP COVID-19 ASSIST and now the Emergency Support Force for Central and North Queensland. We certainly hope that the requirement to deploy on domestic operations reduce and we can all start enjoying a relatively normal life free of pandemics and weather events.

 

The Battalion is very keen to visit the communities in our area of operations to raise awareness of the unit that is North and Central Queensland’s own and provide people an opportunity to join our ranks. Many of you already know of the qualities an Army Reserve soldier or officer brings to your community and workforce, so we are keen to ensure people know about the opportunities available in or around Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. We believe the more involvement we have with the community, the better our chances are of growing our numbers to ensure the Army Reserve remains a viable part of defence capability and a positive contributor to our region.

 

To keep you informed of what we have been up to in the last part of the year I have attached a copy of our newsletter for 2020 for your reading pleasure. Thank you once again for your support.

 

Finally, I would like to wish you all the best for 2021 and I look forward to seeing you at some stage in the future.

 

Best wishes,

 

Damien

 

Damien Green 
Lieutenant Colonel Commanding Officer 31/42 RQR

Welcome to 2021 – from Pierre at Fromelles

Members, The attached Tribute from our member in Fromelles, – Pierre Seillier, – His final for 2020, sums up the situation beautifully.

With reference below Pierre wishes us all a Happy New Year, in the Best Way he knows.  “Just Brilliant”   Tony  

 

 

Hello my friends, I wish you a happy New Year, and I hope that 2021 will be better than 2020.
All the best to you and all members of the 31st Infantry Battalion Association.
Cheers.
Pierre.

Dear Pierre,

On behalf of  all of us 31st Bn blokes in Australia, I thank you most sincerely for all the Tributes you have prepared, & help provided to our Members. You are indeed  – True Blue.

Unfortunately this past year has been a disaster for travelling and I can’t see any Australian Tourists departing Australia any time soon. They are talking late 2021, but that will depend on the Success of the “Covid-19 Vaccines”.  We do hope that things are going to improve for you all in France.

Pierre we all wish you & your family A very Merry Christmas & all the Best Wishes & Good Health for next year.  STAY SAFE PIERRE
Kindest Regards, from all of us – 31st Bn Assoc. (Brisbane)

-o-

Vale – Kyle Macleod

31st Bn Members We have received the sad news from President Greg Stokie that past member “Kyle Macleod” passed away Kyle was on the 31st BAttalion Association Committee for some years. 

Kyle has lived at Villa Vincent for some time. I will pass on best wishes from the Association at the Funeral

As an old Past Service member of 31st Bn – Kyle Macleod – Rest In Peace.

The following notice appeared in the Townsville Daily Bulletin:
https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/tributes/notice/funeral-notices/kyle-macleod/5609840/

Kyle MACLEOD

AGED 84 YEARS

Late of Villa Vincent Nursing Home, Townsville and formerly of 119 Queens Road, Hermit Park. Loving Husband of Thelma. Beloved Father, Father-in-Law and Grandfather of Heather, Wendy, Geoffrey, Jennifer, Ross (deceased) and their respective Families.

All Relatives and Friends are respectfully invited to attend a CELEBRATION of KYLE’S LIFE which will commence at 10.00 a.m TUESDAY MORNING 22nd DECEMBER, 2020 at the Lakes Chapel, Morleys Funeral Home, Cnr. Hugh Street and Martinez Avenue, Townsville.

NO CORTEGE

For those unable to attend due to COVID 19 restrictions, Kyle’s Service will be live streamed at morleys.net.au/upcoming-services

National Servicemen’s Association of Australia (Qld) Inc. Townsville

Branch Members of the above are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral Service of their late Comrade-in-Arms 1713902 / 119934 KYLE MACLEOD which will commence as above. Nasho uniform and medals to be worn.

Ian Kuhl Secretary.

Returned and Services League of Australia (Qld Branch) Townsville Sub Branch Inc.

Members of the above are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral Service of their late Comrade-In-Arms 1713902 / 119934 KYLE MACLEOD which will commence as above.

Val Clark Secretary.

31st Infantry Battalion Assoc. Inc. Townsville Branch

Members of the above are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral Service of their late Comrade-in-Arms 1713902 / 119934 KYLE MACLEOD which will commence as above. Medals may be worn. Dariel Walker Secretary.

 

Commemoration – “The Texas Terror” Crash –

From Felix Reitano and the Ingham Branch of the Association comes the news of the Commemoration of “The Texas Terror”  aircraft accident.

 The Ceremony commemorates “The Texas Terror” Crash during WW2. of a USAAF – B24 Liberator Bomber known as the “Texas Terror” which crashed onto the summit of Mt Straloch on Hinchinbrook Island 18th Dec 1942, during a fierce tropical Storm. It was on its way to Iron Range. It had just departed Garbutt Airbase Townsville after picking up passengers, & probably still climbing through the Storm when it hit the Mountain.

This Ceremony is organised each year by Felix & the Ingham Branch of the 31st Bn Assoc. often attracting relatives & friends from the USA of those who perished in the crash. Unfortunately with current restrictions on travel it was not possible to have visitors from the USA.   – Refer photos below.

  Thanks for your attendance yesterday at our “Texas Terror’ ceremony.

hope you all had a safe trip back home.

Stay safe,

Regards, Felix

“The Texas Terror” Commemoration

Sgt David Emmet Coyne – Albert Medal Gold

David Emmet Coyne (1896-1918), soldier and farmer, was born on 14 March 1896 at Ballinrush, near Mackay, Queensland, eighth child of David Emmet Coyne, farmer, and his wife Anne, née Hughes, both of whom were Irish-born. He was educated at Marian State School and then joined his father on the land.

Coyne enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force on 25 January 1916 and went into training at Fraser’s Hill Camp, Brisbane. While there he showed considerable athletic prowess and figured in an incident which was perhaps a portent of the selfless act which resulted in his death two years later. After the horses of an express wagon had bolted, endangering several soldiers’ lives, Coyne leapt on to the back of one of the horses and managed to bring the wagon to a halt. He embarked for France with reinforcements in May and on 24 December was taken on strength with the 31st Battalion. His unit spent the winter of 1916-17 on the Somme engaged in raiding and patrol work, then in March took part in the advance on Bapaume. On 21 April 1917 he was promoted lance corporal and for the next six months was absent from his unit qualifying as a bombing instructor and serving temporarily with the 67th Battalion. He was promoted sergeant in June and rejoined the 31st Battalion in October.

From November 1917 until March 1918 the battalion served in Flanders in the Messines-Wytschaete sector, then returned to the Somme. On the night of 15 May, while in the line at Vaire-sous-Corbie, Coyne was testing some Mills grenades which he believed had been affected by damp. He threw one of them but it rebounded off the parapet and fell into the trench in which he and several others were standing. Ordering his men out, he tried to find the grenade in the darkness; then, realizing that his companions were not clear, deliberately threw himself over the grenade’s approximate position and received over twenty wounds when it exploded. At first it was thought that Coyne would survive and it was typical of his courageous and genial nature that he joked about the incident as he received preliminary medical attention. His wounds proved worse than expected and he died within hours. He was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal in Gold, the highest class of that decoration: he was the only member of the A.I.F. to gain such a distinction. Sgt Coyne’s grave lies in the Vignacourt British cemetery near Amiens. He was unmarried.

Sgt David Emmet Coyne – Albert Medal Gold

Tribute to Sgt David Emmet Coyne – Albert Medal Gold done by Hon Member Pierre Seillier

Members may be interested to know that David’s father who was also David Emmet Coyne was a director of Marian Sugar Mill (near Mackay) during WW1.

The Albert Medal

The Albert Medal was instituted in 1866 and named after Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, who had died in 1861.

Until the institution of the George Cross in 1940 it was Britain’s premier decoration for civilian acts of gallantry in saving life at sea and on land. It became known as ‘the civilian’s Victoria Cross’, although awards were also made to servicemen in non-combatant situations.

There were two classes: the First Class in gold, and the Second Class in bronze.according to the perceived degree of gallantry. The medal was awarded only for the most exceptional bravery, and consequently was very sparingly given.

The medal was terminated in 1971. Subsequently the George Cross was awarded for acts of Gallantry in this category.

It is worth noting that only 45 gold and 290 Bronze Albert Medals were awarded from its inception until it was terminated. It is enlightening to read how many awards were made to military members relating to accidental grenade explosions.

 

Sgt Cyril Kirby MM and Pte JJ Goulding – Historic Links at Fromelles

This interesting piece of history which recently came to light, purely by member, Chris Hamilton, based in Longreach, reading an article in the “Barcoo Independant” . Chris followed up to make contact with the author – Ann Kirby who had mentioned about her Grand Father being a member of the 31st Battalion at the Battle of Fromelles. Chris then passed it on to Mick James who got to work with the help of Life Member Peter Nelson, & our French Life Member Pierre Seillier (Fromelles). The Team dug up a fascinating piece of 31st Battalion History. Thanks to Mick, Peter, & Pierre. Refer below, & read the website articles that Mick has provided.

Mick takes up the story:
It started a few days ago when Chris Hamilton forwarded to us an article about 31st Bn digger, No 555 Pte JJ Goulding and the sad letter his mother wrote seeking information about his whereabouts as he was missing and then noted as being in German custody following the Battle of Fromelles. The writer (Ann Kirby) noted that he was in the same Battalion & Company as her Grandfather, who was No 525 Sgt Cyril Kirby MM.
I attach Mrs Goulding’s letter to the Army seeking details of her son 3 years after the Battle.

The letter written by Mrs J Goulding seeking details of her Son Pte John Joseph Goulding

Below also is a photo of the statue that was conceived after discussions between Lambis Englezos ,Tim Whitford and sculptor Peter Corlett. Tim was an integral part of Lambis’ team to locate the missing bodies from the Battle of Fromelles. The bodies of our soldiers were buried in 1916, in a mass grave on the German side of the line. A Shire of Alberton badge given to Tim’s ancestor, Pte Harry Willis, was the first indication that there could be Australian bodies buried where Lambis’ group calculated that they were laying. In the past 20 years the bodies have been eventually exhumed and re-interred in the Pheasant Wood Cemetery near Fromelles. Quite a number have now been identified by DNA testing.  This is an article on the Statue – https://www.smh.com.au/national/a-mothers-grief-to-cross-the-generations-20120718-22anh.html

The statue of the “Grieving Mother” in Ballarat – L to R Garry Snowden Peter Nelson and Lambis Englezos

A closeup of the Statue of the Grieving Mother Holding Portrait of Her Son

Pte JJ Goulding

The recovery of the Shire of Alberton Badge was the clincher for the team led by Lambis Englazos

“The bodies in the gravesite at Fromelles were definitely Australian”

I was well aware of the JJ Goulding story and subsequent Statue of his mother. This is a link to photos and description of the Statue at the unveiling in 2017 by the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK –
http://lemnosgallipolicc.blogspot.com/2017/02/unveiling-of-grieving-mother-memorial.html . I phoned Chris Hamilton and advised him of these details and found that the writer of the article was a Ann Kirby. I suggested that Chris should invite her to join our Facebook page 31st Battalion AIF Memorial Association (set up by Tim Whitford in 2012). I also attach a photo of JJ Goulding’s grave at Fromelles with Pierre’s Tribute to him that I had laminated and took on my visit in Sept 2017.

Grave of Pte JJ Goulding at Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery – France

Tribute to Pte John Joseph Goulding by Hon Member Pierre Seillier

Ann Kirby subsequently joined the Facebook group and was welcomed and invited to post any photos of her Grandfather. I posted the story of Sgt Cyril Kirby MM below and Ann then posted the group photo (attached) There followed a discussion on Facebook on the details of the group photo between Pierre, Peter Nelson, myself and one other. Ann had stated that Cyril was front row 2nd from right. but there was some doubt as the shoulder flashes didn’t appear to be Gold & Brown and he had CSM badge on his sleeve. I confused the situation by initially stating the incorrect time he was an acting CSM.

Eventually, after I suggested that it may have been in the Summer of 1917 because some wearing shorts and before Cyril had been awarded his MM, Peter Nelson agreed and found in Battalion Routine Orders that A/CSM Cyril Kirby had returned from a 5th Army school course on 9th August 1917. This explained the British soldiers and others from 2nd Div AIF in the photo. It was commented that the photo was of high resolution more than once.

Pierre, after initially posting a Tribute, then used his skill to expand the image of Cyril and place it on a grey background (similar to a studio photo) and produced another Tribute with the enhanced photo (attached).

Tribute to Sgt Cyril Kirby MM done by Hon Member Pierre Seillier

The story I posted to Facebook –

He joined B Coy 31st Bn in
Brisbane in August 1915, trained at Enoggera then moved to Broadmeadows in
Melbourne where BHQ, A & B Coys joined C & D Coys there and the whole
Battalion shipped to the Suez Canal arriving in Dec 1915, where they underwent
further training and also guarded the Canal from the Turks.

In June 1916 they shipped to
Marseilles and entrained up to Northern France to the Nursery, a reserve area
behind the Front Line. They moved into the Front Line at Fleurbaix around the
12th July 1916 and attacked the German front line trenches in front of Fromelles
on the evening (6.00 pm when it was still light) of 19th July.

Cyril was a Pte during the Battle
but a week later (26/7) was promoted Sgt . He relieved as Coy Sgt Major from 8th
April 17, but reverted to Sgt on 23rd Aug 1917.

In the Battle of Polygon Wood in
Belgium on 26th-28th Sept 1917, he was subsequently awarded a Military Medal.
His Citation reads-

“At Polygon Wood on 25th-28th
Sept 1917, early in the operation, his platoon commander was wounded but Sgt
Kirby, displaying great leadership and pluck, restored the confidence of the men
to such an extent that the final objective was captured and consolidated and at
least one enemy MG and crew were put out of action. Heavy hostile shelling did
not prevent his reorganising his platoon nor his giving great assistance in
bandaging the wounded”.

He attended Musketry schools and
Training Battalions as an instructor both prior to Nov 18 and after. He returned
home in early 1919 and finally discharged in Oct 1919.

LEST WE FORGET

Sgt Kirby on the left of Picture

–000–

Keith Hearne

Keith is a prominent member of the 2/31st Battalion from Victoria. He has always been heavily involved in the Association and is now one of a diminishing band of old soldiers who served through WW2.

Keith was to have gone to Canberra this year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2. The ceremony which was to have taken place on 15th August 2020 had to be cancelled because of restrictions in place to prevent the transmission of the Covid19 virus. Keith has of late been beset by illness but he received a letter from the Governor of Victoria in recognition of the occasion.

He has been a constant presence in the Victorian RSL as well as a past president of the 2/25 & 2/31st Association. The two Battalion associations voted to merge when numbers started to thin out.

Keith is really proud that he was asked to lead the Anzac Day march in Melbourne three years in a row.

Keith enlisted as soon as possible in 1943 and after various training postings, joined the 2/31 Battalion training on the Atherton Tableland prior to embarkation for Morotai then Balikpapan on the Island of Borneo.

During the landing at Balikpapan Keith recalls that the  landing craft had difficulties getting onto the beach so he and his sergeant were the first to wade  ashore to reconnoitre the enemy situation. Keith was crouched on the beach reconditioning the Owen Gun ensuring that it was free of sea water whilst the Sergeant stood to take a look around. In an instant the Sergeant fell mortally wounded by a Japanese sniper. Keith has spent his much life wondering about the fortunes of war. Why him and not me.

Letter of Appreciation from the Governor of Victoria

Keith has continued his service to the local community in good times or in bad. Amongst other things he has coordinated the East Gippsland RSL Disaster Fund for the floods in 1998 and the East Gippsland RSL Disaster Fund in the bush fires of 2003. In 2005 he flew to Papua New Guinea as a member of the party to reinter the remains of 2/31st Battalion comrades who perished when the aircraft carrying wounded from the battles of Balikpapan and Morotai crashed in the mountains of West Papua on September 18 1945. The service and reinterment took place at Bomana war Cemetery Papua New Guinea. In June 2015 he also visited the Labuan War Cemetery to pay his respects to his mates from the the Borneo Campaign.

Keith at the Reinterment of old 2/31st Battalion mates – Victims of the aircraft Crash Mentioned above

Keith in Papua New Guinea with old “Comrades in Arms”

One of Keith’s good mates, Trevor Jorgensen – killed in the Air Crash 

An old Mate, Trevor Jorgensen, (One of those killed in the Air crash) Finally laid to rest at Bomana War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea

The Crash site in the mountains of West Papua 18th Sep 1945

the remains of the wounded soldiers and crew were recovered in May 2005

2/25th 2/31st/ Battalion Reunion including a visitor from WA Jim Gordon VC

The Battalion rightly honours Jim Gordon for his award of the Victoria Cross for his acts of courage in the battle for Jezzine during the Syrian campaign. At the same time Keith makes light of his own award (The Commander-In-Chief’s Card) for testing anti-Malarial therapies. No doubt it also took great courage to be on the receiving end of untried and unproven therapies for Malaria. This, the disease that had caused more casualties than enemy action for armies and for civilian populations for thousands of years past.

 

The battered old Hat with the colour patch of 2/31st Battalion- Keith calls it the “Real Thing” 

The Banner of the 2/31st Battalion being held in a stiff breeze by 31st Battalion Association Secretary Tony Wadeson.

The banner was held high at the recent Kokoda Day Commemoration Ceremony in Brisbane (9th August 2020). It was regularly used during the Anzac Day march and other commemorative occasions in Melbourne and has now been entrusted to our safe keeping by Keith on behalf of the , now, disbanded, 2/25th- 2/31st assn.
Keith, We Salute You.

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Kokoda Commemoration 2020

The Kokoda Commemoration Day was held at the Sherwood -Indooroopilly RSL on Sunday 9th August 2020. A large gathering was in attendance including a number of members of the 31st Battalion Association.  The 2/31st Bn Banner was on Display. A gallant effort was being sustained by our Brisbane Branch Secretary, Tony Wadeson, to hold the banner in place against the wild winds of the day. Guest Speaker for the occasion was Jay Hooper. 

Wreaths to be laid by:-

(1) Wreath to be Laid on Behalf of 2/31st Bn (Father – Veteran of 2/31st Bn)  – Mrs Elizabeth Timms

(2) Wreath to be laid on Behalf of 2/31st Bn (Father a Veteran of 2/31st Bn – Mr Tim Lewis 31st Bn Assoc.  Liaison Officer  for  2/31st Bn Veterans/Family/Friends

(3) Wreath to be laid on Behalf of the 31st Bn Assoc.  – Ray Fogg – President 31st Bn Assoc. (Brisbane)

(4) Wreath to be Laid on behalf of Her Father & Uncle both Veterans of 2/31st Bn. – Mrs Patricia Date 

 the 2/31st Bn Banner on Display, With your Approval of course. We will arrive about 10.15AM to erect it where you designate.

A number of photos of the day were posted on the Sherwood-Indooroopilly RSL Facebook Page some of which are included below.

Ray Fogg Laying the Association wreath

 

Tim Lewis Laying the Wreath in honour of his father Lt Aub Lewis 2/31st Battalion

Mick James Laying wreath – Battle For Australia Committee

Mick James

The Papua NewGuinea Flag in Central Position

Ladies Laying Wreaths in Memory of relatives.

A Section of the assembled gathering for the Kokoda Commemoration Day

Tony Wadeson – Doing a briliant job of holding down the Banner of the 2/31st Battalion

which threatened to take off in the windy conditions.

 

Speaker for the occasion – Jay Hooper

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Vale – Capt Don Page ED

It is with a heavy heart I regret to inform members of the Passing of Don Page.

Don Page was part of the heavy furniture of 31st Bn. – Always Solid & Reliable. Always steady as she goes – with that smile of his, no matter what chaos & panic was on.  – Always there to turn to, – AND Always there to offer help in any way.

Both Don & his wife Edna had been unwell for some time, & were both living in a Nursing Home in Townsville.  We also learned that Edna had also passed away a few weeks ago. This is so sad.

Don’s Funeral was on Friday 14th August 2020, making it almost impossible to get up to Townsville at this stage due to COVID-19.

DON PAGE will be remembered fondly by all who new him. – Rest in Peace Mate.  TONY

Emails of condolence and support were received from members who had served with Don or knew of his service to the Battalion.  Two well known members of the association who served with him were Chris Pyke and George Stanger whose messages are included below

—–

CAPT Don Page was my first Coy Comd (B Coy 31 RQR) when I enlisted in 1966. He was a good bloke. Very sad,

Regards

Chris Pyke

—–

Very sad news Tony.
I had a very close association with Don and a better bloke you would never find.Yes Tony, he certainly will be fondly remembered by all who knew him.
Rest in peace Mate.
George Stanger
—–
Messages were also received from:
Phil Ainsworth – NGVR/PNGVR ex Members Association
Mark Dillon – 51st Battalion Association
Steve Vokes – 9 Battalion Association
Patrick O’Keeffe – Battle for Australia Commemoration Committee
.
Members observed a 1 minute silence at the AGM held at the Sherwood RSL of Thursday 20th August 2020 in honour of Capt Don Page ED and Col Hugh Gaffney AM RFD ED both of whom have passed away since the previous AGM
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