Interesting News Item – Maj S.A. Nottingham V.D.

The following interesting news item was researched by Association member Mick James:

I’ve recently come across an Obituary of one of the earliest and long serving Kennedy Regiment soldiers. I also attach a photo of Kennedy Regiment Officers from 1905 that includes him. The photo is from Bob Burla’s book, “Crossed Boomerangs”.

(By One of the Old Brigade.)
Once again the call has come, and our old friend Major S. A. (Arthur) Nottingham has answered the roll call. He has gone to his rest leaving a great example to those who follow on an outstanding example In civil life as exemplified in his long service, some 40 years, with Messrs Burns, Philp and Co., Ltd., attentive, punctual loyal, obliging and straight forward with junior and senior alike, and during the many years he stood out as a distinctive personality in the execution of his duties.
The late Major Nottingham was born at Chiselhurst In Kent, England, on 23rd June, 1851. arriving in Australia and settling In Mackay in 1878, where he resided for some years, incidentally Madame Melba, contemporary with him, living next door.
He spared no time In joining the Kennedy Infantry Regiment, a company of which was established there under the command of Captain, later Lt-Col. W. G. Hodges, rising to the rank of Color Sergeant. He came to Townsville In 1889, transferring to ‘B’ Company in Townsville. Captain Caldersmith in command, Lt. Ben. Marsland and Lt. Fred. Willmett being the subalterns of the Company. He was promoted to Quarter Master Sergeant of the Regiment, headquarters at Charters Towers, 21st May. 1892. At the encampment held at Kissing Point in 1912, the deceased was presented, on parade, with the long service medal (Victoria Decoration) (Note; I think it was the Volunteer Decoration); he attended the camp In 1913 with the rank of Hon. Major on the unattached list.
The brief reference I desire to make to his memory is more particularly associated with his military services, with the old (Kennedy) 3rd Infantry Regiment of which he was Quarter Master and in which capacity I knew him for a great many years in the military camps held In those days at Kissing Point, consisting of the several units in training In North Queensland, Garrison Artillery, Light Horse, Infantry, A.M.C., etc., reaching in numbers over 1000 strong, the late Major Nottingham acting as Quarter Master for the whole camp, no light responsibility.
I think he was always the last to bed at night and the first up in the morning. When, as officer of the day, my duty taking me down in the early morning to the issue of supplies to the various units. I would find him active with his hurricane lamp in hand, it was before daylight arranging for the issue. Being Quarter Master of the stationary camp he did not always go out with the troops for drill and exercise, but for inspection or for a review and march past of those days he neglected nothing of his uniform, of which he was particularly; proud and, with his magnificent physique, he looked every inch a soldier and was much looked up to by everybody.
During the year it was a delight to him to attend at mess to which distinguished visitors were invited, to meet the officers and to indulge with the others in reminiscence. They were happy days officers and men were one, volunteers In the service of which we were proud, striving for efficiency and building up the nucleus of a force which, during the Great War, earned the reputation of being the best shock troops in the world. The younger ones are now called to take our place and the demands upon them will far exceed the threatenings of the past. May they use their opportunities and be ready when the occasion calls.
A military record of 33 years honorable service in Queensland as detailed as under: Col. Sgt. F. Coy; Mackay, from 1/1/’81 till 30/6/’89; Col. Sgt. B. Coy., Townsvllle, from, 30/10/’89 till 21/5/’92; Q.M.S. K.I.R Townsville. from 21/5/’92 till 24/9/1900; Lt. K.I.R., Townsvllle, from 24/9/1900 till 27/7/1908; Capt. K.I.R., Townsvllle; from 28/7/1908 till 30/10/1908; U.L.Q.M. and Captain, Townsvllle, from 30/10/ 1908 till 30/3/1912; Hon. Major from 30/6/1913.
A good swimmer, the late Major Nottingham saved at least half a dozen lives during his life.
Rest In Peace

Pte Harry Boughton MM – Greta NSW

Tim Lewis, who is our Liaison Officer for 2/31st Battalion matters has a particular interest in the town of Greta NSW. His great grandfather happened to be Mayor of the town of Greta covering two periods between 1915 and 1920. Tim, whose father was an Officer in the 2/31st Battalion, is in regular contact with a friend by the name of Ken Driscoll. Ken has compiled a book about all 300 (approximately) diggers named on the memorial in Greta.
Tim was anxious to know whether Ken had found any 31st Battalion diggers amongst them. Six were found one of whom was Pte Harry Boughton MM.
Tim adds “At the time that these diggers went to war, included in their number was one of my grandfathers and a great uncle; they were with the 18th and 54th Battalions respectively. The citizens of Greta bestowed upon them these medalions, pictured front and back, My grandfather’s is one of four known to be in existence today”.
Greta was a town of some few thousand people in 1915 but, like so many rural communities, by the census of 2016 had shrunk to 2,830.
The courageous action that saw Harry Boughton awarded the Military Medal (Award Document Below) was covered in the story of Lt Albert Hill which was posted on this website in December 2018. (Type the name Albert Hill in the Search Box on this website). –
Private Harry Boughton’s Military Medal citation reads:
For Conspicuous gallantry and bravery in the field. Near Bouzencourt on 10th May 1918, a British single-seat aeroplane (Lt Baker, 80th Squadron RAF) crashed out of control at about 7.10pm in full daylight inside the German outpost line. On his Platoon Commander calling for a volunteer to assist him to carry the pilot in, Private Boughton volunteered, though the enemy were heavily machine-gunning the plane and our trenches. He coolly walked across No Mans Land with Lieutenant Hill and assisted him to extricate and carry back to our trenches the pilot, who was badly dazed though unwounded. 
This act, coolly carried out in the face of enemy fire, required the greatest pluck, and the magnificent courage displayed, served as an excellent example for Private Boughton’s comrades. 
C.A.G. 15 dated 4.2.1919   
The Award Document
Medalions (Engraved and Obverse sides) Awarded by the Citizens of Greta
Mayors of Greta Including Tim’s Great Grandfather

Vale – Captain Merv Short

The Secretary of the Brisbane Branch of the Association, Tony Wadeson has passed on the following sad message:

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Merv Short, the optimum of an Officer & a Gentleman. A great Character and Entertainer, but above all a great mate & true friend to all who new him. Who could forget the Army CL Truck heading through the streets of Townsville on the way to a W/E Bivouac, with the sounds of a Piano being played from the covered back.

Merv passed away early Thursday morning (3rd September 2020) after a long Illness. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go to Merv’s devoted wife Wendy who nursed him at home, until the end.

Merv’s funeral will be a private Service to be held next week.

Farewell old friend – RIP


Merv continued to be involved with the 31st Battalion long after his family and business commitments restricted the amount of time he was able to devote to specific postings. His was a continuing effective presence as Chairman of the Committee For Employer Support Reserve Forces (CESRF). In this capacity he continually liaised with other employers to smooth the way for many of their employees to complete their army commitments to the Battalion. His emphasis was always on the value adding that Army Reserve service gave back to an employer in the long run.

As Honorary members of the Mess, Merv and Wendy were always great supporters of many social occasions. Members will attest that, with a small amount of encouragement, Merv would to sit down and tinkle the ivories on many of these occasions. Wonderful evenings of song, enjoyment, and camaraderie.

I am sure many others know of the generosity of Merv Short but I, as a past member of the board of the Endeavour Foundation, can attest that Merv always was the first to generously contribute, whenever we sponsored an outing for the disabled young people in the care of the Foundation in Townsville,

Thanks Mate

Martin O’Sullivan



A Young Merv with a Group of Officers of 31st Battalion (Circa 1950’s)


Vale – Pte Barry Renton

A message from Vic Nichol, Secretary/Treasurer of the Charters Towers Branch of the Association has advised us of the sad passing of Barry Renton. Barry enlisted as a private in 31st Battalion on 21 Jan 1958.

He was was a staunch member of the 31st Battalion Association Charters Towers Branch attending various functions. He was one of the first to offer help to whenever it was required. Much of his life was spent in the transport business.

He ran a successful business owning a fleet of trucks.

A email from Vic Nichol  describes the service held on the 1st September 2020 at 10am.

“It was a well planned funeral and Barry would have been proud of his family. His coffin was carried on the side-car of a Harley Davidson with his grandson riding Barry’s Harley escorted by five more Harley motorcycles followed by the vehicles of relatives and friends, accompanying Barry on his last ride down Gill Street. Following this was the grave side and poppy service at the Cemetery.  The wake was held at the RSL Club”.


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.