107 Battery RAA Association

43 years later.
Charlie Scott from Mitiwinn NQ (south of Cairns) passed through Darwin with his family on their way to Bali in September 2013. So Charlie contacted our Darwin Committee member, Jim Wright and they arranged to catch up with each other at the Darwin Airport. It was the first time they had seen each other since December 1970. Both served in the Battery Commanders Party at Townsville then Vietnam in 1969-1971. They were so busy catching with the intervening forty-three years that they forgot to take a happy snap for this webpage. Perhaps a photo next time, please fellows?

Anzac Day 2012 in Mildura.

The reunion at Mildura was, as always, a great success and many old friends came together to once again enjoy each others company as we did over 40 years ago in Malaysia, Townsville & South Vietnam.

Tuesday the 24th April we gathered at the Mildura RSL for the official welcome by the president of the Mildura RSL Mr. Alex Ouchirenko ( who attended all of our functions) and President Warren at 1900hrs followed by bar snacks and the odd ale or two. There were 34 members of the Battery and 20 partners that attended reunion 2012.
On Anzac Day most attended the Dawn Service at the war memorials in Henderson Park at 0600hrs and it was the largest turn out of people ever for the Dawn Service. It was estimated that nearly 1000 people were at the service. After the service it was back to the RSL for the traditional "Gun Fire" breakfast.
At 1015hrs we made our way to the FUP at Deakin Ave & Eighth St in preparation for the main march. Transport in Vintage Cars was organised for those that could not march. We were at the front of the march behind C Coy 3RAR (another reunion group) led by our president Warren. As we made our way to the saluting dais we were greeted by hundreds of locals that had lined the street. On the saluting dais was the guest of honour our own Brigadier George Salmon accompanied by the State Member for Mildura Mr. Peter Crisp MLA, the Mayor of Mildura Mr. John Arnold and the President of the RSL Mr. Alex Ouchirenko.
A large number of people attended the service and many were almost brought to tears as Mildura Primary School children sang their version of "Lest We Forget". George the guest speaker gave a great address (also one of the best for a long time) which was enjoyed by all in attendance. After that it was back to the RSL for the rest of the day where many an ale was consumed and a bit of reminiscing, bullshit and "Two UP".

Thursday was a pretty relaxed day we strolled down to the Mildura Wharf at 1000hrs for a two hour trip on the Murray River commencing at 1050hrs aboard the PS Melbourne the last steam driven paddle steamer plying the Murray around this area. There were a few grease monkey's on there that were fascinated and did not leave the engine room, we don't know if they were interested in the engine or they were out of the cold. Everyone on board enjoyed the trip especially going through Lock 11 and a highlight for those that had not experienced that before. After the trip it was up to "Stefano's Bakery" for a light lunch.
That evening we all regrouped at the RSL for our official dinner where we were served a 3 course meal in the Wirraway Bistro which was enjoyed by all that attended.
On Friday we departed the Mildura RSL for a bus trip to the Junction of the Murray & Darling Rivers at Wentworth, NSW, followed by a tour of the Old Wentworth Gaol and Perry Sand Hills. From there we were taken to Trentham Cliffs Winery on the banks of the Murray River for a self cooked lunch. Entertainment was supplied by the 2 topless ladies that floated by a couple of times on a paddle steamer, the wives were not impressed.

At 1830hrs on Friday we had our farewell function at the RSL with finger food once again supplied by the association and served by the Wirraway Bistro. It was a great night where we all enjoyed ourselves and stopped to pay tribute to the members of the battery that are no longer with us, a very poignant moment of the reunion.

We were then farewelled by both the President of the RSL and the General Manager Kim Archibald who also presented a cheque to the association for $170.00 being $5.00 per member that attended the reunion. Kim left us with one comment “Bloody Hell You Lot Can Drink" the bar profits must have been up that week.

Saturday morning saw the majority of the members and their partners depart for all points of Australia readying themselves for our 2014 reunion in Darwin NT which will be organised by a very capable Jim & Jenny Wright.

ANZAC Reunion Report Sydney 24-27 April 2008.

The 107 Fd Bty Assn contingent marching down Martin Place. The banner was acquired specially for the Reunion. Don Smith (far left and one of the Battery Commanders from Malaysia) leads the 60 Association members who marched plus another 26 other support troops in the ranks. Some members and very many family and friends supported the troops from the crowds along the March. Brian Tapp and Barry Pearce carry the Banner and Dave Gilmer is leading in the centre. Paul Gaff has the rope front right rope. The Banner was financed by all attending the reunion plus very generous donations by members Dave Gilmer and Paul Gaff.

Thursday  evening, at the Manly Warringah Leagues Club, Prez Warren "NODDY" Feakes rallied the troops with an inspiring orders group, in his original 1967 Malaysian 28 Cth Bgde shirt (pity the trouser had faded, mate). Don Smith tried the keep NODDY under control, but forty years on he was little more effective than before!

Then the 60 years claimed their position around the cake. All the rest I can believe. But Clogs, are you really just 60?
At North Fort on Saturday after ANZAC Day, 150 members, family and friends gathered in perfect conditions for the Reunion BBQ. Tours of the National Artillery Museum and the old 9.2 inch gun emplacements and tunnels followed, lead by member and North Fort Guide Don Smith. In the Pic above, Prez Noddy Feakes demonstrated lying Gun Drill to the enjoyment/and amusement of all the old Rampant Rammers.

The Reunion  toured the "Memorial Walk" at North Head and inspected the 107 Field Battery Paver surrounded by the individual pavers and the End of Mission pavers for those Association members who moved on to the Big Gun Park. Members who missed out on placing their own memorial brick, will shortly have the chance to be included in the expanded walk. The Association will also update the End of Mission pavers for recently departed members including Ann-Maree Opray.

The ANZAC Reunion also visited the old School of Artillery - Manly.
On the way to North Fort, many stopped off at the old School of Artillery site resulting in a formal parade of all in three ranks, almost similar to days of old, proudly wearing the Reunion Polo Shirt with the Rampart Ram and "Battle Honours" on the front, plus the reunion 28 Commonwealth Bde patch on one sleeve and the AMF patch on the other.
All good things come to an end. It was time to pack up the banner. Barry (right) given the nod by Prez, tracked down, designed and ordered the banner. Noel (left) collected and transported the banner to Sydney, just in time for Reunion 08. The banner is now safely stored and is available for future Association functions.

Meanwhile from Redcliff, Queensland, Neil Layton reports:
Redcliffe's population is around 50,000 and it not unusual to see 8 to 10 thousand spectators with up to 250 marches at the dawn service and about 350 veterans marching on the main service. I have had the honour of being parade marshal on a number of occasions but could not do it this year with the crook back. Right is Ron Haskard looking at camera with Jack Davidson just behind.
After the march, it was back in the Nui Dat Bar at the Redcliffe RSL where Ron, Bob Hartman, Ross Herbert, Jack and Neil Layton for a cleansing ale into the stop-butts. Bob & Ross fit into the honoury gunners. Bob was a truckie at FSB Coal and Ross a navy helicopter machine gunner. In just-about every town and even many small villages around Australia, the ANZAC Day tradition continues. The dawn service followed by the Gun-Fire breakfast then the morning march. Thanks for your contribution, Neil. There will be more in the Ram Ramblings, out soon.
Jim Wright reports after his return from the ex Rammers tour of Singapore and Malaysia in September 2007. The tour included Terendak Camp and the old 107 Fd Bty lines. After being welcomed by the officers of the Airborne Artillery, who occupy the same lines in Terendak as 107 Battery occupied in 1967-1969, the tour group was given free reign to wander through the old Battery lines. The BC's, BK's, BSM's officers, the Orderly Room and Q store are exactly the same.Two L5s were in place for our group photograph. Shown outside the old Battery Headquarters are Jim Wright, Jon Eaton, Col Hoad, Garry Medina, Trevor Jones, Noel Paterson, Cindy Jones, Jacob Eaton, Kate Parlour, Barbara Nation, Jenny Wright, Tracy Paterson, Gail Hoad, Teressa Medina, Margaret Jones, Bill Jones, graham Parlour and Les Nation. Geoff Grey was absent from the photo as he was trying to find to old "J Bar". No flag on the pole to "pinch" but Trevor Jones and Gary Medina found a trophy display and on the middle shelf was the 107 Fd Bty Ruby trophy. It looks as is has been polished regularly as the engraving is becoming a little faint. We left it where it belonged.
Noel Paterson provided this photo of Jim exchanging plaques with the Airborne Regiment while Bill Jones looks on. Both Noel and Jim report that Bill & Cindy Jones, as the tour organisers, did a magnificent job planning the tour. A token of the group's appreciation was presented to Bill & Cindy on the second last day.

The Secretary in WA
With the lack of interesting photos and stories from other members, the Secretary is forced to include the same from his traveling around WA.
Greg (Spook) Wilkinson at Merredin reports that when he settled there ten years ago, there were over twenty Vietnam vets. Now the number has dropped to just three. This photo shows your Secretary with Spook at the "Ba Ria Bar" at the Merredin RSL Club.
Then it was on to Esperance where Jeff Buckman was located. Bucko reports that when he left Malaysia in the late 1960's he stumbled on Esperance. Since then he has not been able to locate the road out.
Then it was on to Collie where Graeme (Smiley / Banjo) Burnett entertained your Secretary and his tireless assistant, Chris. Graeme was born and bred in Collie and has no intention of moving. However, he is planning to attend the 107 Bty get-to-gether at North Fort and ANZAC Day in Sydney next year.
At the Greenwood Tavern in northern Perth, your Secretary ran in to a suspect group of RAMMERS. From the left are Ken and Pam Beaman, Smiley Burnett and partner Leonie are in the front, behind are John and Marlene Duckworth and Hilton & Chris Lenard. John & Marlene were tracked down in Greenwood after repeated returned mail from the Karatha Tavern and is now in the fold of the Family of RAMMERS.

ANZAC Day 2007  The first report for 25 April 2007 follows.
At the Greenwood Tavern in northern Perth, your Secretary ran in to a suspect group of RAMMERS. From the left are Ken and Pam Beaman, Smiley Burnett and partner Leonie are in the front, behind are John and Marlene Duckworth and Hilton & Chris Lenard. John & Marlene were tracked down in Greenwood after repeated returned mail from the Karatha Tavern and is now in the fold of the Family of RAMMERS.
Sixty five years on and our Northern Territory Representative meets Frank Chattaway, who served on HMAS PERTH with Jims's father.
In the early hours of 1st March 1942 (Jim was about to turn three) HMAS PERTH, together with USS HOUSTON sailed into the middle of a Japanese fleet of warships in the Sunda Strait, south of Singapore. A long and costly battle ensured with a considerable number of Japanese war ships being sunk. Out of ammunition, both PERTH and HOUSTON were finally sunk. On board the PERTH was Frank Chattaway and T.K. (Roy) Wright.
Frank survived and spent the next thirtysix months as a guest of the Japanese in Java, Singapore, Burma and finally Japan before returning to Australia to resume his career as a school teacher. Jim Wright's father went down with HMAS PERTH as did almost half of the 680 crew members. Jim, for many years pondered the war time life and fate of his father. At a chance encounter in February this year, Frank and Jim met for the first time in Goulburn. Frank filled in much of the detail for which Jim had been searching. The previous day Jim had visited the Australian War Memorial and had confronted the ships bell from HMAS PERTH. Pictured above standing are Jim, Frank & Hilton with Jenny Wright and Chris Lenard seated.

RAMMERS at the Bay
A group of South Coast, ACT, Sydney and other RAMMERS gathered at Batemans Bay for a Friday BBQ. Saturday included a tour of Old Mogo Town then   dinner at the Bay Soldiers Club. The weekend was topped of with a hearty breakfast on Sunday. Pictured front row are Robin Tapp, Jenny Wright, Jean Shelley, Chris Lenard, Ann-Maree Opray and Margaret Jones. Doc Barclay, Jones 850 (Trevor) Peter (Baldy) Moat Geoff grey and Jim Wright make up the second row with Hilton Lenard, John Shelley, Brian Tapp and David Gilmer to the rear.
Eric & Helen Winn and Ian & Adele Hughes visit Lavarack Barracks.
Ian Hughes, right, made the photo this time with Paddy behind the lens. Lavarack Barracks had one large rock placed at the front gate, back when the barracks were first opened in 1968. Since then a large number of smaller rocks have grown up through out the barracks, as seen in the right of this photograph.

John Derbyshire is Chief Commissioner of Scouts in AS.
John reports, "I have recently assumed the appointment of Chief Commissioner of Scouts in AS. A busy but enjoyable role and a great honour to work with so many dedicated volunteers and fantastic young Australians."
Well done John. Your appointment is just another highlight in your fine career. John has been the "Chief Bird Gunner" (CO 16 Air Defence Regiment at Woodside), "Chief Gunner” (Colonel Commandant for AS), "Chief Fireman” (Commissioner of the AS Fire Services) and "Chief Postman” (Postmaster at Happy Valley Post Office Agency). But many will recall John as "Chief Seco" (Section Commander of 107 Field Battery in Vietnam) photographed above hard at work at FSPB GAIL around August 1970, if the Editor's memory is correct!
Neil Lunney weds at Wallsend at an (almost) all RAM RAMMERS affair
Mr and Mrs Mim and Neil Lunney, at their   wedding at the Wallsend church of Rev. Dr. Rick Burley. Mim, originally from Mackay and recently from Freemantle, met when they were witnesses in court proceedings, at Townsville several years earlier. We welcome Mim to the friendship of the RAMMERS.

From the left, the RAMMERS at the wedding were Hilton Lenard, Neil Lunney, Dave Gilmer best man, Terry Phillips who gave the bride away (actually Terry is ex 102 Bty and not really an ex-Rammer but we do not let this little detail get in the way of a good story) and the Rev Dr. Rick "Buzzard" Burley.

Jim Bray, of Miami (Qld) recalls his experience when wounded during a danger close training mission near Nui Dat at 15:05 hours on 8 July 1970.
Jim holds the piece of shrapnel that penetrated his steel mug and plastic water bottle to lodge in his buttock. A week after the removal of the shrapnel at 1 Aust Field Hospital, Jim returned to light duties on the gun line. But you cannot keep a good OF sig away from his radio for long and Jim returned to full duties at call sign 13 with C Coy 2 RAR/NZ. Jim reports, "The experience has been rewarding, besides, I enjoy the distinction of being one of the few to survive a close 105 mm shell burst and still be in good shape." Thanks also to the full water bottle! Jim's story will be published in the next edition of "The Black Sheep at War." Jim also plans to present the water bottle, shrapnel and other interesting documents to the History Collection at 107 Fd Bty.  Our Battery Commander, then Major George Salmon, was also wounded in the incident and as a result was medically downgraded and MEDVAC back to Australia.

While wandering around the Central Coast of NSW, your Assn Historian located a very old, circa 1967, RAMMERS T-Shirt, unworn and in mint condition. It was suggested that the proud owner, Dave Gilmer, should put on the shirt for the photo. But it appears that over the last forty years, the shirt may have shrunk somewhat. Thanks Dave.
Jon Eaton sent this more recent photo of himself (see photo of Jon in 1968 on the East coast of Malaysia on page one of this site). Jon claims that he has aged during the intervening 38 years. But perhaps if he shaved more frequently and not upset the BSM, he would still have that youthful appearance. Thanks for the photograph Jon.
Your Secretary, while strolling around Townsville (strolling as he has been medically downgraded and is no-longer capable of marching) stumbled upon a “Dip" full of "Black Sheep”. The "Sheep-Dip" is the place where Rampart RAMMERS and Black sheep have a quiet one on special occasions.

Pictured in the “Dip” with your Secretary are (L-R) Jarred, Daniel, Kurt, Mathew proudly wearing the "Bad Ram" helmet and Mitch.

Mathew, (AKA Johno),   just promoted LBbr, received the Bad Ram for impressing the Battery Sergeant Major with his superior arrangements for PT re-testing session for the next Monday. Johno had attended and passed the PT test that morning but forgot to have his name recorded. Johno, take it from a very old Gunner, the rank of “Lance-Jack” is not really all that it is cracked-up to be.

The previous Bad Ram awardee, the Battery Quartermaster Sergeant, reluctantly handed over the Bad Ram helmet and red hair. He expected to hold the award for several more weeks for his unselfish duties in providing his Q vehicle as a moving target across the impact area during the previous weeks live firing.

Such dedicated attention to duty brought a “flash back” to your Secretary. In October 1969, he was dispatched from the very same barracks to High Range with Sgt Bo Plenty, a transport Bombardier and around thirty gunners, to clear trees from gun positions for the Battery’s first live firing exercise. The trees were cut close to the ground with chainsaws, leaving short stumps. When the Transport Bombardier pointed out the potential damage to tyres when the gun tractors deployed onto the positions, your young Gun Position Officer promptly ordered the trucks push over the trees and pull them, roots and all, away. Today these trees would be described as mid-sized woody weeds. Unfortunately, one branch brushed against the left windscreen of one Mk5 truck resulting in a small crack, just four inches long. On return to Lavarack Barracks, the Staff Sergeant Transport Supervisor spotted the otherwise well disguised crack and reported to the Regimental Sergeant Major (God) Warrant Officer First Class Don Doncan, who advised the Commanding Officer (the one who sits above God) Lieutenant Colonel Brien “Brushy” Forward.
In re-telling, the woody weeds assumed the proportions of 500 ft high, 35 foot around the girth, 1,000 year-old Tasmanian Forest giants. Left is Sgt Wally Walford's  Bravo Gun Detachment at one of the positions, cleared of the Tasmanian forest giants, just prior to the Battery deploying to Vietnam in May 1970.
Your young GPO, after visiting and thanking the CO for the 14 days extra-duties, bumped into Sgt Bo leaving the RSM’s office, rubbing the seat of his trousers.
Each looked at the other in bemusement, but not a word was needed. Fortunately, a few days later the Battery deployed to High Range and the remainder of the “duties” lapsed. At High Range, the Battery Commander Major George (GT) Salmon when viewing the woody weeds that had been cleared was overheard to say, “Those trees are not that big, I would have used the trucks myself.” Your Secretary is pleased that yet another “Bad Ram” situation has been outed.

Barry (Dec) & Sandra Pearce release their book “Geelong to Nui Dat and return.”

Rev Dr Peter Hollingworth congratulates Sandra and Barry at the launch in Geelong. Barry reports that Robin & Denise Cook and lots of friends were present to wish them well. For a copy of the book, just $10 including p&p, contact Barry & Sandra Pearce.
107 Fd Bty returned from Rifle Company duties at Butterworth, Malaysia.

Your Assn Secretary caught up with the Battery at the Hostie's Club Georgetown, Penang. The BC, BK, BSM and members of the battery took a few hours off to make Chris & I most welcome. The two ladies, Miriam and Nat, are attached to the Battery as Driver and Medic.

While in Malaysia, the Battery visited Malacca and conducted a Memorial Service at Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Terendak, to remember those who died and are buried there from Malaya, Malaysia and Vietnam.
The Battery was hosted by the 1st Royal Malaysian Artillery Regiment. The Malaysian gunners put on a display followed by a BBQ and games night.

Ed: Our first Battery Commander, Major Peter Badcoe VC, killed in action in Vietnam, is one of the Gunners
buried there. Details of the other Gunners are at the bottom of this page.
Photos above kindly provided by BSM. Photos left and below are provided by (and include) Larry Smith, from his ANZUK Day visit to Malacca, see story below.

Ed: The term "ANZUK" is used the combined forces of Australia, New Zealand and the UK. 107 Fd Bty was part of 14 Lt Regt, 28 ANZUK Brigade at Terendak Barracks (Malacca) from 1967 to 1969.