Vale – Wally Thomasson

Members, I refer you to the undermentioned Notice from Victor Nicol Charters Towers- re the Passing of Stalwart Member Wally Thomasson Friday evening 24rd Feb.
Tony
Vic subsequently informed us of the funeral arrangements for Wally:

The funeral for our past member Wally Thomasson will be held on Friday 1st March 2024 at 10.00 am at the Church of Christ, 25 Anne Street, Charters Towers, followed by internment at the Charters Towers cemetery.

Could you please advise your members.

A sad loss, R I P Wally. Regards,

Vic Nicol

The only information I have at this time is taken from his statement of service.

Walter James Thomasson, service no. 1701805,

National Service, 05 January 1952 to 11 April 1952.

Citizen Military Forces 12 April 1952 to 04 January 1957.

Rank Private.

I have been told he was in the Assault Pioneer Platoon, Support Coy.

RIP -Wally

Hearty Congratulations To Centenarian Member Norm Snell

The Secretary of the Charters Towers Branch of the  31st Inf. Bn. Assoc., Vic Nichol, had previously extended an invitation to all of our members to celebrate the Hundredth Birthday of fellow member Norm Snell (19th Jan 2024). The celebration was in the form of a Tree Planting Ceremony at the Walking Track area at the bottom of Charters Towers Hill in association with the Charters Towers Regional Council and the RSL Charters Towers Sub Branch. The ceremony to be followed by a cake and refreshments at the RSL.

Vic has sent us a brief description of the day and included the pictures below:

Re Norm's centenary, The Charters Towers Council organised a Tree Planting
Ceremony with a plaque. and a Guard of  Honour was provided by 10FSB 
Townsville.
The reception at the RSL was attended by approx. 75 people including
representatives from the 31st Assoc., State and District RSL. And the Cake
was provided by the Local council. 
Norm received congratulatory telegrams and well wishes from the King and Queen,
the Governor General, the Prime minister and Government Representatives. 
The 31st Bn Assoc. and the RSL presented Norm with Birthday Certificates. 
The event was well done and was most enjoyable.
Regards,
Vic  
-
The following email was sent by Association Brisbane Branch Secretary Tony Wadeson:
Attention to all our old Charters Towers Members, – NORM SNELL’S 100th Birthday Invitation. Please refer to the attached Invitation.  
The Brisbane Branch wishes Norm a very Happy Birthday in celebrating his 100th Year. 
Regards Tony


-

Norm with honour Guard at the Tree Planting

Norm With Honour Guard

Norm with Honour Guard

Norm’s Message from King Charles and Queen Camilla

Norm’s 100th Birthday Cake

Norm with Certificates of Congratulations, Family and Friends

LTCOL Frederick William Toll DSO and Bar

The following is a contribution located by Association member Mick James – “I don’t think I have posted this before. It is a report on the Battle of Fromelles (referred to as Fleurbaix which was the village on the Allied side.)
It was a letter to the Editor of the Brisbane Courier in 1919 by LtCol Fred Toll DSO &Bar. His initial DSO was awarded for his actions in this Battle. The reference to ”remembering Gallipoli” is remembering his only son who was KIA at Galipoli.”

Thanks to our Honorary Member in France Pierre Seillier for

His great Tribute to Fred & his son Vivian.

Brisbane Courier Fri 18 July 1919
THE BATTLE OF FLEURBAIX
LEST WE FORGET
TO THE EDITOR
Sir,- The 19th July is the anniversary of the era which marks one of the greatest tragedies of the past war affecting the Australian Army. Little has been given through the medium of the Press of the first battle in France in which Australian soldiers were engaged. I feel it is my duty, as the late commander of a battalion that was engaged and sorely depleted in this awful struggle, to write a brief account in memory of my comrades who died on that fateful day.
With the splendid traditions of Gallipoli to follow, do you wonder that every man of the newly-formed Fifth Division vied with each other in his training and preparation for big things. For six hard months on the desert sands of Egypt they toiled and trained, and studied the problems of the future. This six months of close association had another effect, and that was to effect a comradeship between all ranks, which created that feeling of confidence and loyalty necessary for the future success of great doings.
To this stage I can assure you the battalions of the Fifth Division, had attained, especially may I speak of the Eighth Brigade, comprising the 29th, 30th 31st and 32nd Battalions. To the 31st and 32nd Battalions was allotted the task of the assault on the enemies’ stronghold on the fateful day of July 19 1916, at Fleurbaix. The history of this terrible period may never be complete, but the memory of our beloved comrades who gave their lives and the presence of those who were maimed by that engagement should be as sacred to us as the memory of our own dead.
You who may read these cold lines will never realise what those men went though without the slightest thought of self. A great forlorn hope, in agony of despair in many cases, after being battered about all day, for the enemy had gained information about the intended attack, and tried to demoralise our men with intense artillery fire. During the whole of the day (July 19) our men had to stand through a veritable hell. It would be cruel to attempt to describe the horror of that day, for the feelings of those who mourn this day their beloved, I would refrain from details. Before the attack was launched (zero hour being at 6.00 pm) more than half the attacking battalions were casualties. From this shambles, at the given signal, the remaining heroes followed their officers who were left to them, over the now blasted and torn breastworks, only to meet a withering fire from the enemies guns and bombs, but this had no effect on those determined men. On and across the awful “No Man’s Land”, and into the enemies’ breastworks, with bayonet and bomb they destroyed those who resisted. Can you wonder that one saw red at such a time? Lucky are you who have been spared such sights, for strong men went mad, others wept at the sights.
The records of splendid deeds of this battle will compare with any of the history of the war. The writer was spared to come out of this alive, and to see many another battlefield, and many brave deeds, but nothing surpasses those that took place at Fleurbaix on July 19 and 20 1916. In penning these lines to the memory of my comrades who fell at Fleurbaix, it is with the hope that those who mourn for them might feel a little consolation in that, though the bells of peace and joy ring out, and merriment abound, there are still those who will remember their splendid comrades who made the world-famed reputation of the Australian Army what it is today. It is to those heroes, the cream of Australian manhood, who laid down their lives in the first great battles, that we owe our great traditions and examples.
So it appears to one who has reason to remember Gallipoli, that this time of rejoicing should be tempered with a little regard and thought for those whose hearts are sad. In conclusion, it may enlighten your readers to know the special reason of the attack at Fleurbaix on July 19, 1916, was to draw off the overwhelming reserves of the enemy, who at this time threatened to smash our lines in the southern area, in which some of our own countrymen were fighting for dear life, that the Fifth Division was thrown into the vortex, with the result that it stopped the enemy’s attacks, drew off his reserves, and caused considerable loss to his forces. With this knowledge in front of us at the beginning, also that little or no support would be available, and a very limited amount of reserve ammunition for our guns, can you appreciate why I place on record the Battle of Fleurbaix as being the finest exhibition of bravery of Australian troops in France or Belgium. All honour to our splendid dead. I salute your memory, my comrades. I am, sir, &c,
FRED W. TOLL Lt-Col
Late Commander 31st Battalion A.I.F.

End of Year Lunch 2023 – Townsville Branch

The following message was received from Paul Ellems, President of

Townsville Branch of 31st Battalion Association:

Greetings to all members and those interested in the 31st Bn Assoc., 

we have arranged for an End of Year Lunch for the 31st Battalion Assoc

(The Kennedy Regiment), Royal Queensland Regiment.

It will be on:

  • Saturday 16th December 2023 at 12:00 noon, 
  • in the Function room alcove in the Star Graze section,
  • at the Cowboys Club, 335 Flinders St., TOWNSVILLE CBD.

The Cowboys Club is a great supporter of our association by giving us

regular raffle nights during the year. and a venue for our celebrations.

The Club has won numerous prizes for the high quality and good value

of its meals and service. Because of that, the Club is a very popular venue.

We have made the timing as a lunch so that as many as possible can

attend with a minimum of crowd and ease of parking.

 

It would be fantastic if all could attend.

All are invited and welcome to attend.

 

Please pass this message on to any of our members I may have missed. 

If you wish to attend, please advise me asap, as I need to advise the numbers.

Paul.  

pellems@gmail.com 

 

Below are the important dates for 2024.

 

Commemorative Services and Important Dates for 2024  

(* marked – Assoc normally receives a formal invitation and requires formal association presence.)

(There is an open invitation to all Assoc. members to attend these services and our monthly meetings.)

Meetings are on the second Tues of each month in the Board Room at Townsville RSL.

·  Tues 13 Feb 2024. First meeting for Assoc in 2024.

Subsequent meetings are on the second Tues of each month.

·  Wed 14 Feb 2024. *National Serviceman Day
·  Thurs 15 Feb 2024. *Fall of Singapore
·  Fri 01 Mar 2024. Formation of Australian Army. Formation of Australian Navy. (1901)
·  Sat/Sun XXX Mar 2024. 31st Assoc. Townsville Branch Annual General Meeting and Assoc Lunch.  TBA. All are Welcome.
·  Sat/Sun XXX Mar 2024. Assoc BBQ at Museum.
·  Fri 29 Mar- 01 Apr 2024. Easter holidays
·  Sat/Sun XXX Mar 2024. Assoc BBQ at Burdekin
·  Mon 22 Apr 2024. Battle of Kapyong Commences (1951)
·  ????    ?????. Cowboys Raffle night
·  Thur 25 Apr 2024. *ANZAC DAY.
·  Wed 01 May 2024. Labour Day Holiday
·  Sun 12 May 2024. Mother’s Day
·  Sat/Sun xxx  Jun 2024. Assoc BBQ at Museum POSSIBLE
·  Sat 08-10 Jun 2024 *Battle of Porton – Possibly 31/42 Bn and 51st Bn Assoc and 35th Water Transport Transport Squadron.
·  ???    ????? 2024.  Cowboys Raffle night
·  Sun 30 Jun 2024. *National Servicemen’s Day.
·  Mon 01 Jul 2024. Reserve Forces Day
·  Sat 20 Jul 2024. *Fromelle’s Day.
·  TBA Jul 2024.  *31st Battalion Assoc BBQs at Burdekin.
·  Sun 18 Aug 2024. Vietnam Veterans’ Day
·  Sun 18 Aug 2024 *31st Battalion Association Commemorative Church Service
·  Dates TBA. 31st Battalion (Royal Queensland Regiment) Association Formal Dinner
·  Sun 01 Sept 2024. Father’s Day
·  Sat 14 Sept 2024. Australian Peacekeepers Day
·  TBA Sept/Oct 2024.  31st Battalion Assoc BBQs at Burdekin.
·  Mon 07 Oct 2024. King’s Birthday – QLD.
·  ???     ????? 2024. Cowboys Raffle night.
·  Thurs 31st Oct 2024. 31st Battalion Birthday 
·  Mon 11th Nov 2024. *Remembrance Day
·  Wed 18 Dec 2024. *Texas Terror Commemoration in Ingham.
·   Tues 11th Feb 2025. First Assoc Meeting for new year.
·    Tues 11th Mar 2025. Tentative date for 31 Bn Assoc Townsville Branch 2025 AGM for the 2025 year.

 

 

Remembrance Day – 2023 – Charters Towers –

The Charters Towers Cenotaph was the venue for Remembrance Day Commemoration. Members of the Charters Towers Branch of the 31st Battalion Association including Norm Snell who paid his respects to his comrades. Norm will celebrate his 100th birthday on the 19th January.

Towers Branch Association Secretary Victor Nicol reports that the Commemoration Service was attended by approximately one hundred people and refreshments were available at the RSL afterwards.

Norm Snell Paying His Respects to Comrades at the Cenotaph

31st Battalion Association Members at the 2023 Commemoration

 

WO1 Francis Law DCM

The following information was provided by Peter Nelson who has done a wonderful job of putting together an alphabetical list of members of the 31st Battalion who served in World War 1. Below is an extract of the service record of Francis Law including the citation for the award of his Distinguished Conduct Medal – DCM. In the citation the name of the place for the action in which he was awarded the DCM is shown as Petillon. Today the action is referred to as the Battle of Fromelles.

RSM Francis Law DCM survived  WW1, living until 11th Jun 1944. He was subsequently buried in Lutwyche Cemetery Brisbane and  now, due to the efforts of the Remembrance Army,  has a memorial plaque in Lutwyche Cemetery. See the story of the Remembrance Army. Search the “Australian Remembrance Army – Projects” on this website.

Service Number 246
Rank Sgt/RSM
Born 1872, Wentworth, NSW
NOK Friend, Albert Wolfenden, Union Hotel, Barcaldine, Queensland
Father Henry Law
Mother Elizabeth Arabella Barnett
Enlistment 15th Jul 1915 Barcaldine, Queensland
Age 44
Status and Religion Single, C. of E.
Occupation Labourer
Notes A Coy, 31st Bn

Embarked at Melbourne, on HMAT A62 “WANDILLA”, 9 Nov 1915
Arrived at Suez, Egypt on 6 th Dec 1915

Admitted 14 th Fld Amb (influenza), at Ferry Post, on 26 th Apr 1916
Rejoined Bn from hospital, at Ferry Post on 5 th May 1916

Embarked at Alexandria, Egypt to join B.E.F. per HMAT ‘Hororata’ on 16 th Jun 1916
Disembarked at Marseilles, France on 23 rd Jun 1916

Awarded DCM for actions: – “At PETILLON on the 19 th /20 th July 1916, this NCO acted with great gallantry and
coolness under a withering hail of artillery on the right flank. He with about 10 men, attacked an enemy Machine
Gun’s position and put it out of action and captured it; one of the party carried it back to the main position. This
NCO afterwards got most of his little band back to the main position and held on all night.

Awarded Medal of St George 1 st Class for actions:- “At PETILLON on the 19 th /20 th July 1916, this NCO acted with great gallantry and coolness under a withering hail of artillery on the right flank. He with about 10 men, attacked an enemy Machine Gun’s position and put it out of action and captured it; one of the party carried it back to the main position. This NCO afterwards got most of his little band back to the main position and held on all night.”

To be RSM WO Class 1 (vice Brodie commissioned) on 20 th Aug 1916

WIA

(GSW face, fractured R ulna) (GSW = Gun Shot Wounds, fractured ulna = fractured forearm)to hospital on 25 th Oct 1916
Admitted 36 th CCS (GSW face) on 25 th Oct 1916
To Amb Train on 28 th Oct 1916
Admitted St John’s Ambulance, Etaples, on 28 th Oct 1916

Embarked per HS “Stad Antwerpen” from Calais, ex St John’s Ambulance to England on 25 th Nov 1916
Admitted King George Hospital, Stamford, on 25 th Nov 1916
Transferred to 2 nd Aux Hospital, Southall, from King George Hospital, on 22 nd Aug 1917

Discharged to furlough from 11 th Sep 1917 to 25 th Sep 1917 and to report to Depot, Weymouth on 25 th Sep 1917

Marched in to CD, Weymouth on 25 th Sep 1917
RTA per A35 “Berrima”, due compound fracture of R lower jaw for discharge on 31 st Oct 1917

Disembarked at Melbourne for overland journey to Brisbane

Discharged at Brisbane on 7 th Feb 1918

Died 11 th Jun 1944

Buried Lutwyche Cemetery, Brisbane

Plaque created by Association Honorary Member in France – Pierre Seillier

Metal Plaque installed at Lutwyche Cemetery Brisbane by the Australian Remembrance Army

 

 

Australian Remembrance Army – Projects

This year as we commemorate Remembrance Day we highlight the work of the Australian Remembrance Army.  Following the 107th Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles Commemoration on 19th July 2023, the Official Party with relatives of those who fought in the Battle were invited to a light lunch at the Soldiers Hall. At the Lunch 31st Battalion Association’s Mick James made a special Presentation that tied in with the Battle of Fromelles Commemoration. Part of Mick’s presentation is recorded as follows:


“My name is Mick James and I’m on the 31st Battalion organizing Committee for this Battle of Fromelles Commemoration. I’d like to take a few moments to inform you of a similarity between this Commemoration and another occurrence in Brisbane.”

“Later today French time at Fromelles CWG Cemetery Pheasant Wood there will be another 7 graves that will now have named Headstones, bringing the total to 173 with named headstones. These men have lain in unmarked graves for at least 90 years.”

“Similarly in Brisbane and other Cemeteries throughout Australia, there are many WW1 Diggers who returned from the War and subsequently died and were buried in Military Sections of Cemeteries, almost all without a name plate on their grave. Such was the case in Lutwyche Cemetery in Brisbane until recently.”

“In 2019 the Australian Remembrance Army, led by Cate Walker & Katrina Trevethan applied for a Federal Govt Grant of $317,000, to research, produce & place metal Plaques on 709 graves of WW1 diggers who died in the 1940s,50s & 60s. The grant was approved and in April this year the 1st 247 name plaques were unveiled, including one for RSM Francis Law of 31st Bn. He is one of twenty 31st Battalion WW1 diggers who will have a named Plaque when the project is completed.”

“Francis Law was a Sgt during the Battle of Fromelles, where, for his gallant actions in enemy trenches he was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), and shortly after was promoted RSM.” For further information on RSM Francis Law DCM see the article – WO1 Francis Law – on this website.

Cate and Katrina were called forward to receive the presentation.

“On behalf of the 31st Battalion Association, I would like to present this Tribute to RSM Francis Law DCM to each of you in appreciation of the great work you are doing.”

For Further information on the Remembrance Army’s Project see Archives – April 2023 – on this website (Unveilling of Plaques at Lutwyche Cemetery). 

Presentation of Plaques to Remembrance Army’s Cate Walker and Katrina Trevethan

by Mick James on the Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles 2023.

The Plaque of WO1 Francis Law DCM presented to Remembrance Army Representitives

Cate Walker and Katrina Trevethan

(Plaque was Created by Association Honorary Member Pierre Seillier)

 

WO1 Ray “Dasher” Deed BEM

Gathering at the Sherwood Services Club, Brisbane on 19th October 2023 were a group of members of the 31st Battalion Association for the special occasion to present a Life Membership Award to retired WO1 Raymond “Dasher” Deed BEM. Committee Member Mick James reports on the occasion:   

Today at Sherwood Services Club the 31st Battalion Association presented retired WO1 Raymond ”Dasher” Deed BEM with Life Membership of the Association for his many years of devoted service to the Association. Present at the lunch function were Brisbane branch, President Ray Fogg (who made the presentation) , Vice President Col Jackson, Secretary Tony Wadeson, & Committee member Mick James.

Ray’s Army service began in the last days of WW2 and he joined 67th Bn which was part of the British Expeditionary Force to Japan . He was there for over 4 years as it became 3rd Battalion RAR on the 20th October 1945. When the Korean War broke out in 1950, 3rd Bn RAR ,after a period of intensive training in Japan was the first Australian Unit committed to the United Nations Force and landed in Korea in late September 1950 as part of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade.

While initially the Brigade, along with other United Nations forces, pushed north of the 38th Parallel, they were forced to withdraw against the numerous Chinese troops who had joined the conflict. The 27th C’wealth Brigade (3000 troops) defended their position at Kapyong against Chinese troops estimated between 10,000-20000. The 3 Battalions of the 27th Brigade were awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation for their efforts in stopping the Chinese from taking Seoul , approx. 50 Klms to the south west.

The Battle was fought from 22nd to 27th April 1951 and Dasher blames the Chinese for not allowing him to celebrate his 24th birthday on 25thApril that year. He has mixed feelings every Anzac Day, while celebrating his Birthday, he mourns the loss of 18 fellow 3 RAR members who died during that Battle.

Dasher was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the King’s Birthday Honours on 5/6/1952. It reads-

BEM: LG 5/6/1952, p3058; CAG 19/6/1952, p2832, to 1921 Sergeant Raymond Deed, 1RHU (1st Reinforcement Holding Unit).

Citation: Integrity & devotion in training reinforcements.

Recommendation: Sergeant Deed returned to Japan from Korea on 25 June 1951 after serving during the bitter winter campaigns. Quite frequently whilst in Korea this NCO commanded a platoon with distinction. On his return he elected to stay in Japan to train reinforcements for the battalion, although he was given the option of returning to his home in Australia. Sergeant Deed was aware of the urgent need for trained reinforcements.

This Unit has always been short of officers and Sergeant Deed has been entrusted with platoons on field firing exercises, bivouacs and such exercises. His integrity, devotion to duty and ability always of the highest, has on these occasions been proved by the fact that not one man of his platoon has ever suffered injury during training.

During the period of the October campaign, when Third Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment was in desperate need of reinforcements, Sergeant Deed worked continuously without rest for five weeks and to his credit must be attributed much of the credit that it was possible to send enough well trained reinforcements forward to bring the battalion to full strength within a few weeks.””

Dasher served as a WO2 Instructor with 31stBn RQR in the mid1960s before a posting to AATTV as a WO1. On his return from Vietnam , Dasher was attached to a Cadet Unit based at Lavarack Baracks before relieving the Adjutant at 51stBn RQR and a subsequent posting as RSM of the Battalion.

Members (L to R) Ray “Dasher” Deed BEM, Tony Wadeson, (Secretary Brisbane Branch)

Mick James, Ray Fogg (President Brisbane Branch), Col Jackson (Vice-President Brisbane Branch)

Plaque for Ray “Dasher” Deed

Produced by Honorary Member Pierre Seillier

LTCOL Jim Bourke MG AM PhD

31st Battalion Association Member Mick James shares his memories of the late LTCOL Jim Bourke:

Many members of 31stBattalion Association recall fondly the Late Jim Bourke who grew up in Ayr and later was the ARA Adjutant of 31st Battalion RQR in1969-71 . I understand he was Dux of Senior (Grade 12) at Ayr High School. He received a Commission through Portsea OTC and was a Platoon Commander with 1RAR during their tour of Sth Vietnam in1965-6. He was seriously wounded during that Tour, but returned to Vietnam in1968 with the AATTV in I Corp (Northern Sth Vietnam) as a Captain with a MIC Force Unit commanded by an American Colonel with many of the Company Commanders Australian Officers or Warrant Officers.

The story below by a former fellow Army Officer, describes Jim’s efforts after he had left the Army to recover the 6 bodies of Australian Servicemen left behind in Sth Vietnam including 2 from his own 1RAR Platoon. He led a multiple year Operation named Operation Aussies Home with private financing to recover the bodies and return them to their families in Australia for burial and closure for the families.

I can confirm part of the story about Jim opening a steel beer can on returning to their secure compound after an operaton. The shot put the Camp on “Stand To” and when he was found to be the culprit, he was referred to the senior Australian Officer in Vietnam, Maj Gen A. L. McDonald for discipline. Jim says he was admonished by the General.

In 1970 I was the IO of 31stBattalion & Jim was ARA Adjutant on our annual camp at High Range, when Jim received word that Gen McDonald (then GOC of Northern Command) was to visit us later that morning. Jim did not wish to meet up with him again, so organised for both of us to do a Recce for our Exercise the following week. We were away from Camp for over 2 hours which covered the General’s entire visit, much to the relief of Jim.

Jim was awarded an AM for his efforts in leading a team to recover the 6 servicemens bodies & returning them to their families. He became friends with Lambis Englezos (who found 250 bodies from the Battle of Fromelles), and Ted Graham (who led the team who discovered HMAS Sydney, sunk in WW2). All 3 were awarded AMs in the Australian Honours- see attached photo.

Jim was one of 19 awarded a Medal for Gallantry in the end of War list in1998.

Jim was encouraged to write a PHD Thesis titled “Living with Unresolved Grief and Uncompleted Tasks: Achieving Closure around Ambiguous Loss and Traumatic Events during Wartime”.You can access it here – Living with Unresolved Grief and Uncompleted Tasks : Achieving Closure around Ambiguous Loss and Traumatic Events during Wartime | VU Research Repository | Victoria University | Melbourne Australia

Jim’s Post Nominals are MG AM PHD, a very rare combination.

LEST WE FORGET THIS OUTSTANDING 31ST Battalion Soldier

Mick James

 

 

The following is a brief description of Jim’s life by fellow Officer – Ross Eastgate OAM.

Jim Bourke – Remembering a one-off, larger than life character as I recall him.

6 Oct 2015

JIM BOURKE marched off at 1400 precisely last Friday 1 October 2015
To give him his full title, Lt Col (Retired) Dr James Raymond Bourke, Member of the Order of Australia, Medal of Gallantry, Doctor of Philosophy (Victoria University) departed this life after a long illness, lung cancer actually, the legacy of an early life not always wisely spent.

Born in Ayr, Far North Queenslander Bourke, aka Bindi was a 1964 Portsea graduate.

His mates agree the mould was broken when he arrived. There was none other like him and there will unlikely be again. He had what was described in the army of that time as a “bit of a suntan”, not that it mattered.

He served two Vietnam tours, with 1RAR in 1965 and 1968-1969 with the training team and after the logistics support group at Vung Tau.
During his first tour he had to leave two of his diggers on the
battlefield, even knowing they were dead it was a burden he was determined not to carry to his grave.

Later in that tour he suffered a grievous head wound, the bullet passing through his mouth and exiting near his ear. He spent months in hospital as his face was reconstructed, needing dentures to replace his lost teeth. That was an easy loss to bear compared with his lost soldiers.

There are many no doubt apocryphal stories about Jim Bourke, but none unbelievable to those who knew him.
He allegedly once opened a steel beer can by firing a .45 pistol round through its top, which is possibly why his AATTV tour was cut short.

At his army farewell at Sydney’s Victoria Barracks in 1980, the dentists who had conducted his discharge examination had made, at the suggestion of one of his fellow officers who may now possibly be governor-general, new dentures of bright metal, fashioned after the teeth of a german shepherd, including prominent canine incisors.
Jim Bourke demonstrated their efficacy by tearing the flesh of a roast chicken from its bones. Those teeth were not unsuited to the personality of this larger than life character. They also typified a tenacity to pursue and devour things which bothered him. The loss of Lcpl “Tiny” Parker and Pte Peter Gillson was one.

After Vietnam there were six Australian soldiers whose remains had not been recovered. Jim Bourke’s persistence to discover and repatriate them drove his latter decades. He pleaded, bullied cajoled officials and bureaucrats here and in Vietnam until with reluctant Australian government support he located all their remains, bringing them home as he promised he would do to give their families closure.

It also gave closure to Jim Bourke’s anguish at having left two of his diggers behind.

He wrote a thesis on that wider anguish which resulted last week in the presentation of his PhD, sadly on his deathbed.

He had unfinished work he believed, to do the same for Australians missing in action in Korea.

Rest easy mate, for others will pursue that cause in your memory.

Ross Eastgate

https://www.adso.org.au/jim-bourke-remembering-a-one-off-larger-than-life-character-as-i-recall-him/

 

Keith Payne VC AM – 90th Birthday – Living Legend

On the 30th of August our oldest living VC winner Keith Payne VC AM reached an important milestone. On that day we were honoured to wish him a happy 90th Birthday. To mark the special occasion Keith laid a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony and later was the Guest of Honour at his birthday celebration at the Australian War Memorial (AWM).


Keith was an Honoured Guest at the Regimental Dinner of the 31st/42nd Battalion The Royal Queensland Regiment last December in Mackay. It was most appropriate as his first Unit was 31st Bn in 1951 & last 42nd Bn in 1974. Our Honorary Member, Pierre Seillier OAM, produced this Tribute to Keith especially for that Dinner (shown under the birthday function pictures below).

Some Ipswich RSL Sub Branch members were personally invited to attend Keith Payne VC AM 90th birthday at the Canberra War Memorial.
There were four VC recipients present, Keith Payne, Daniel Keighran, Mark Donaldson and Willie Apiate From New Zealand. The Governor General David Hurley , Sir Peter Cosgrove, Senator Jackie Lambie, Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton, Matt Keogh Minister for DVA and many other dignitaries were in attendance.

Other guests included the son of Kevin “Dasher” Wheatley VC, George Wheatley & the Great Grand daughter of WW1 Sgt Percy Statton VC MM, Kerri Statton.

Laying Wreath at Last Post Ceremony – Australian War Memorial (AWM)

L to R Willie Apiate VC, Keith Payne VC AM, Governor General David Hurley AC DSC FTSE 

Last Post Ceremony at the AWM

Celebratory Dinner at AWM to Mark Keith’s 90th.

Ipswich Representatives Deb Wadley and Mayor of Ipswich Teresa Harding

with Senator Jackie Lambie (centre)

Keith’s Birthday Cake

Ipswich Representatives with Ray Martin (centre)

Plaque presented to Keith on the Occasion of the 31/42 RQR Dinner – December 2022

See Archives – December 2022 – for the story of the 31/42 RQR Dinner

Created by our Honorary Member in France Pierre Seillier OAM