Appointment – Commander 2nd Division – Major General David Thomae AM

The former Commander 11th Brigade has recently been appointed to Command the 2nd Division

Major General David Thomae assumed command of the 2nd Division on 17 July 2021.

Major General Thomae joined the Army in 1985, graduating from the Royal Military College Duntroon in 1988 to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. His regimental service has been with the 2nd/4th Battalion and 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, 16th Battalion, The Royal Western Australian Regiment, 25th Battalion and 9th Battalion, The Royal Queensland Regiment, which he commanded in 2007-08.

Major General Thomae’s senior leadership roles have been as Commander Joint Task Group 629.3, Commander 11th Brigade and immediately prior as the Adjutant General – Army. As a Colonel, he served as Colonel Projects Headquarters 1st Division, Director of Studies (Reserves), Australian Command and Staff College and Assistant Commander Training, 11th Brigade.

His operational experience includes being a military observer with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation in Lebanon and Syria, rifle company commander in the 6th Battalion Battle Group with the United Nations Transitional Administration East Timor and as Senior Military Advisor to the Special Representative to the Secretary General, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq. Recently he was Commander Joint Task Group 629.3 as part of Operation COVID19 ASSIST, the task group supporting the Australian Defence Force’s response to the COVID19 pandemic.

In addition to his command and senior leadership roles, Major General Thomae gained broad experience across Army in a range of staff, training and representational duties, including as an instructor at the School of Infantry and the Queensland University Regiment, Aide de Camp to General Officer Commanding Training Command, as an operations and plans officer at Headquarters 1st Division and as a staff officer with the Directorate of Reserve Soldier Career Management.

Major General Thomae is a graduate of the Australian Command and Staff College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales, a Bachelor of Laws from the Queensland University of Technology, a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the Australian National University, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern Queensland, and a Master of International Relations from the University of Queensland. He has completed the Joint Task Force Commander Course conducted by Joint Operations Command.

In 2021 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his command and leadership in the senior appointments of Adjutant General – Army, Commander 11th Brigade and Commander Joint Task Group 629.3. Additionally, he was awarded a Chief of Defence Force Commendation for his leadership as a company commander in East Timor and a General Officer Commanding Commendation for his leadership as an instructor at the School of Infantry.

Since 2003, he has been a commercial barrister practicing at the Queensland Bar. He is a nationally accredited mediator and is a member of the Bar Association of Queensland’s, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee. In January 2018, he was appointed as a Senior Member (part time) to the Veterans’ Review Board, the statutory tribunal reviewing decisions of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Major General Thomae is married to Nicole, a global knowledge manager for EY. They have three children. He enjoys cycling, sailing and golf in his free time.


Message Re Afghanistan – CO 31st/42nd Battalion Royal Queensland Regiment

To the men and women of the Battalion,

No doubt our leadership will post something soon regarding the situation in Afghanistan, however in readiness for that message I would like to offer the following:

Whilst we are all shocked at the speed in which the ANA and the Afghan government capitulated as evidenced in the Taliban taking Kabul, we must not be down-heartened or entertain any thought that we have been defeated and that the sacrifice made by our mates was for nothing. We all went into that conflict under the hope that our efforts were in the best interest of the Afghani people. We all hoped that we would be creating a strong democratic government that would represent the best interests of the collective ethnic communities within Afghanistan that was supported by a strong and corrupt free ANP and ANA. We did it to stop the horrific acts of ethnic cleansing as well as provide opportunities to all Afghani people regardless of their gender. We did it to disrupt Islamic terrorism freedom of manoeuvre. We did it out of hope, and whilst we were there, I personally saw that ‘we were making a difference’. We also did it to demonstrate what the Australian people stand for… and that’s worth fighting for.

It was not for nothing!

Team – lets get around and support each other.

The thoughts of the RSM and I are with you all.

LTCOL Dave Gandy | Commanding Officer | 31st/42nd Royal Queensland Regiment

Semper Paratus Defendere / Cede Nulius

Vale – Ken Sellars

VALE, –  KEN SELLARS.  –  Members & Friends, George Stanger has advised us of the passing of his life long friend, Charters Towers stalwart , & renowned Country Cricketer, & passed member of the 31st Bn – Kennedy Regt. & later member of the the Association (Brisbane Branch) – Ken Sellars.  Ken passed away on the night of Saturday 17th July. A family funeral was held at Mudgeerebah on Friday 23rd July.  Please refer to the attached “Brief” written by his close Friend – George Stanger.

Ken Sellars – Rest in Peace.   Tony

Vale Ken Sellars

Ken Sellars was born in Charters Towers on 25th November 1932. He attended both the Charters Towers, State Primary and Secondary Schools. Ken was a good sportsman but was always keen on Cricket. His batting skills came to the fore early, at a very young age, scoring 104 runs in a match between Boys Central & Richmond Hill primary schools.

In 1949 Ken started work as a clerk at the State aged Care Facility, – Eventide Homes in Charters Towers. He progressed to Manager of this Institution and finished his working life as Manager of the Brighton State Aged Care facility Brisbane.

Ken joined the Army Reserve (Then CMF) – The 31st Bn – Kennedy Regiment in 1950. He received his call up for National service, and attended the first intake at Wacol in 1951. He completed his National Service obligation with the 31st Bn achieving the Rank of Sergeant.

Kens proficiency with the cricket bat continued, and indeed grew significantly. After he left school, although only very young, he was a member of the Charters Towers First Eleven and became a fixture. He was selected in the – North Queensland Colts Team to play in Brisbane and scored a century (another 104) against a Brisbane side. Ken held every position on the Charters Towers Cricket Association Executive. He had a big hand in the establishment and conduct of the “Goldfield Ashes” said to be the biggest of its type in the world. (Still going today). Of course he also starred as a player and attained many awards. He and his brother Neal wrote a book about this competition, which was widely read. Many notable players, State and International have taken part in the in the Ashes. I recall a visit by Dougy Walters, which Ken related to me in great detail. Let’s just say that Dougy enjoyed the visit very much

Ken married his wife Pam, and they had five sons, Glen, Geoffrey, Michael, Paul, and Nick. When Ken moved to Brisbane, he did a lot of volunteer work in the memorabilia section of the Queensland Cricket Association at Albion for quite a few years.

Ken joined the 31st Bn Association in Brisbane, but by then had moved to the Gold Coast to live, and this restricted his attendance to many of our functions.

Ken, had an enjoyable and fruitful life, and was well liked and respected by his friends.

Rest in Peace, my friend.

George Stanger.

(George and Ken, grew up and attended school together in Charters Towers, they did their National Service together in the first Intake 1951 & served in the 31st Bn in the early days. They were Life Long friends.)

Tribute Plaque to Ken Sellars by Pierre Seillier



Kennedy Regiment Commemorative Service – Townsville – 2021

The Annual Commemorative service of The 31st Battalion and The 42nd Battalion 
The Royal Queensland Regiment was held on the 26th July 2021. 
The Church Service was conducted in St James Cathedral in Townsville. Adedication ceremony 
was held at the grave site of William Edward McIlwaine and his wife Alice at the Townsville Cemetery. 
Edward McIlwaine was a soldier of WW1 and a well remembered North Queensland Identity.
The colours of both the 31st Battalion and the 42nd Battalion were in the  Cathedral for the Service.


Current Serving Members of 31st/42nd Battalion were well Represented

Association Members from Ingham were strongly represented at the Service 

Brigadier Bruce Scott at Dedication Service at Townsville Cemetery 

The above photo shows (left to Right) The pastor Dr Kenneth Lay, Mr Lux Foot
( Decendent of Alice McIlwaine), Brigadier Bruce Scott, and Mr Eric Christie (NQ Rifle Assn)

Bugler is Kevin Blackford formally one of our soldiers in C Coy 31 RQR Ingham


Grave site of Alice and Willian "Edward" McIlwaine

Plaque on Grave of Alice and Edward McIlwaine

Fromelles Commemoration 2021 – Ipswich – Address by Brigadier Bill Date

Introducing the address by Brigadier Bill Date is a report on the Fromelles Commemoration at Ipswich by Mick James:
The 31st Infantry Battalion Association (Brisbane Branch) in conjunction with Ipswich RSL sub branch and President Rob Wadley held a Commemoration on the 105th Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles at the Ipswich General Cemetery at 11.00 am  on the 19th July 2021.
This was our 3rd Commemoration and we planned it to be bigger than previous years, in part by inviting local schools to participate. Four schools agreed to participate and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that 16 Ipswich Grammar Old Boys had joined 31st Battalion in WW1, with 5 having fought at Fromelles, including Cpl ER Kent MM
Other schools to participate were Bremer High School and St Edmunds & St Marys Colleges. The Deputy Mayor of Ipswich, Cr Nicole Jonic and Federal Member for Blair & Shadow Minister for Vet Affairs, Hon Shayne Neumann MP were in attendance and laid Wreaths.
Brigadier Bill Date ADC gave the official address with an outline of the Battle and also detailed descriptions of the actions of a few of the 31st Battalion Officers, Lt Col Toll who was awarded a DSO for his role at Fromelles,   2IC Major Eckersley and Lt Still. A student from Ipswich Grammar also gave a short address on their Old Boy,  Cpl ER Kent MM, wounded at Fromelles , later awarded a MM in the Battle of Polygon Wood, and returned from the War and lived until 1951. He is buried adjacent to the Cenotaph where the Commemoration was held.
We again had the services of Padre Peter Woodward (a former Chief Padre of the Australian Army) and Bugler Brad Strong. Additionally this year we had a Piper Major Rolly McCartney from the National Service Pipes & Drums to play the Lament during the Wreath laying & our National Anthem . Also we had 2 representatives from the French Army Association.
I list the relatives of those diggers WIA or KIA in the Battle who attended and laid wreaths –
Jon & Lukas Kent – Grand and Great Grand nephews of Cpl ER Kent MM 31st Battalion
Ken & Tim Spreadborough – Grand & Great Grand nephews of Lt EW Spreadborough 31st Battalion KIA at Fromelles
Bettina Newham – Great Grand niece of Pte George Jones 60th Battalion KIA at Fromelles
We presented Tributes of these soldiers to their relatives. Also theTribute of Cpl Kent MM  was presented to Presidents of Ipswich & Rosewood RSL and Ipswich Grammar School. The other schools were presented with a poster of the “Cobbers” statue, the iconic image of the Battle of Fromelles.
We also had representatives from other Army Organisations including 2 serving members from the 31st/42nd Infantry Battalion. The CO, Lt Col Dave Gandy, sent his apologies as he is heavily involved in Exercise Talisman Sabre currently.
A very successful Commemoration and some of us adjourned to the CSI Club for lunch and fellowship.
Brigadier Bill Date’s Address:
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls
I am honoured to be invited by the 31 st Battalion Association
to offer today’s address.
This means a lot to me personally…
• My father-in-law – SGT Tex McGrath MM served in the
2 nd /31 st Battalion in WW2.
• The present day 31 st Battalion – known as 31/42 Royal
Queensland Regiment is a Battalion in the 11 th Brigade. I had
the honour to command 11 th Brigade in 2015/2016 – I
always saw hardworking men and women in 31/42 RQR
• Members of the 31/42 RQR are providing operational
service on OP Covid Assist, a large group in participating in
the upcoming Ex Talisman Sabre – still serving their country.
I know many friends and families gathered here today are
descendants of the officers and soldiers from 2 nd /31 st Battalion
and I applaud you for today important service here in Ipswich
Today (19 th July 2021) is the 105th Anniversary of the Battle of
Fromelles on the Western Front.
My address today will talk about the main attack but every
war is a human tragedy… I will also focus on several
officers / soldiers who fought at Fromelles.
Fromelles is in France near the Belgian Border just south of
Ypres and North of the Somme River Valley.
It was the First battle undertaken by Australian Troops on the
Western Front – WW1.
Fromelles was planned by the British High Command as a
Diversionary Attack to convince the Germans not to move
troops south to the Somme where the British & French had
started the disastrous Somme offensive on 1st July.
Fromelles was a military disaster – needless deaths of
thousands – casualties on a scale that characterised much of
WW1 and certainly the 1916 Somme offensive (July-Nov)
The main attack at Fromelles by the Australians and British
was undertaken by British 61 st Division and Australian 5 th
Division, the Australian effort is where I will focus my remarks

In terms of Army structures (for those less familiar with the Army)
• Division – approx. 20,000 men
• Infantry Brigade – approx. 4,000 men
• Infantry Battalion – approx. 800-900 men
Australian 5 th Division structure:
• 8 Brigade
• 14 Brigade
• 15 Brigade
(8 th Brigade is on the Aust Army ORBAT – is now a NSW Army Reserve
8 th Brigade comprised of four Infantry Battalions –
• 29 th , 30 th Battalion, 31 st Battalion and 32 nd Battalion
• 31 st and 32 nd would be the lead Battalions for 8 th Brigade
for the main attack on 19 July
Now a Focus on 31 st Battalion
Commanding Officer of the 31 st Battalion was LTCOL Fred Toll.
a Queenslander (born Bowen)
Boer War veteran
Son killed at Gallipoli
awarded DSO
later gassed at Polygon Wood in 1917
post-war life Toll served as Commissioner for War Service
Homes, Foundation member of the RSL
• died in 1955 aged 83yo at Greenslopes RGH
The Ground/Germans
• Ground had low water table
• In the days leading up to the main assault, there was wet
weather which made the ground very soft under foot.
• front line between the Aussies/Germans ranged from 100-
• Germans trenches and above ground fortifications were
zig-zagged not in straight-lines – reinforced with barb wire
 Defence in DEPTH
• 4-5 rows of fighting trenches to provide layer depth
• Supporting trenches – HQ and supplies
• Germans fortified their defences with concrete shelters,
tunnels that offered the defenders some overhead
protection from British Artillery.
• Clear view in places of the Australian Front line and an
observation of the battlefield from the Church Spire in the
Village of Fromelles.
• The Germans also had the Australian Front line & supporting
areas well ranged by their Artillery & Mortars – been in this
loc for some 15 months

19 th July – The Attack
• Artillery fire commenced at 1100hrs – 7hrs but there was
counter-fire by German heavy artillery.
• German artillery fire impacted the Australian and Brit
• H-hour for the Attack was 1800hrs or 6pm (in daylight as its
summertime in Europe) the troops climbed out their
trenches and commenced to advance.
• As the men advanced into No-Man’s land they were
attacked by German MG fire, artillery and rifle fire and in
many places the wire was undamaged by the artillery fire
• 8th Bde – 31st & 32nd Bn’s leading the attack on the left
with the infantry battalions of 14th Bde on their right.
• 14 th Brigade captured their objectives and advanced beyond
• However, 14 th Brigade forward elements were very much
isolated as Australian forces on their right flank were not
able to capture German trenches.
• uneven positioning of forces enabled the Germans to attack
the rear of 14 th Brigade forward elements.
• Let me focus on 8 th Brigade and the 31 st & 32nd Battalion –
although taking heavy casualties, over ran the German front
• LTCOL Toll CO 31 st BN proceeded forward Approx. 400 M
looking for the 3rd & 4th Line German Trenches, but found
only muddy ditches.
• The CO and his team (incl LT George Still) returned back to a
dry ditch about 200 m & started to dig in as their defensive
• They managed to hold it against German Artillery & Counter
Attacks until about 6.30 AM on the following morning when
they were forced to retire due to lack of ammunition &
• The main attack was over in 18 Hours but wounded were
still trying to crawl back & diggers going out to try to rescue
them for many hours after.
• By mid-morning on 20 th July – German estimates were of
approx. 2,000 corpses on no-man’s land across the Fromelles
• Refer to CO 31 st BN War Diary – EXTRACT
LT George Still MC
As the CO 31st Battalion mentions in his War Diary….“I wish to
mention for special consideration” LT G.Still……
• LT Still was a draftsmen in Lands Department
• Enlisted in May 1915
• Appointed as Intelligence Officer under LTCOL Toll
• Fought at Fromelles
• Toll wrote in his write up for Gallantry AWARD…
For gallantry in organising struggling troops and advancing
over open country in rear of the enemy’s position, for
keeping up communication with Brig HQ by means of pigeon
and later runners and in German main breastworks during
the night, assisted with consolidating positions won, and
generally devotion to duty”.
• LT Still suffered eye wound and was discharged in June 1917.
• Lived until 1968 passed away 85yo at Iona Retirement
Village Kenmore.
• George Still father was school-teacher Maryborough West
State School and lived in Ariadne St, Maryborough
• The Battle achieved nothing, and was a disaster. There were
no more attacks at Fromelles for the rest of the war.
• The awful casualty toll
  •  5 th Australian Division – over 5500 men
  •  31 st Battalion War Diary – 544 men (Killed, Wounded,
• This was the highest casualties sustained by any Div. within
a 24hr period in Australian Military History but this
disastrous AUS casualty figure was to be exceeded in other
actions as part of the Somme offensive.
• one the German Divisions opposing the Aussie attack was
the 16 th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Division, a runner in the
List Regiment of the 16 th Bavarian was a LCPL ADOLF HITLER
• The remains of these Aussie soldiers were buried by the
Germans in Mass Graves behind their Lines in Pheasant
Wood after the main attack
• This mass burials incl diggers from 31 st Battalion.
• Melbourne School Teacher, “Lambis Englezos” realized that
the Graves of Unidentified bodies from the Battle, fell far
short of the number of Missing.
• Lambis set out to find the whereabouts of these remains.
After years of research & then having to convince the govt
authorities that the bodies were buried by the Germans at
Pheasant Wood, 250 bodies were recovered in 2009.
• These Aust diggers were reburied with full military honours
at Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery.
• Modern DNA supplied by relatives approximately 166
Bodies have so far been identified.
• YouTube video project – St Clare’s College Sydney “Lost
Diggers of Fromelles” – fantastic overview
• In conclusion – I congratulate the 31 st Battalion Association
• This is very fitting tribute to commemorate the deeds of the
officers and diggers of 31 st Battalion at Fromelles…..the
tragedy, their bravery, their spirit and and mateship.