G'day! My Amateur Radio Callsign is VK2GKX. The VK means I am an Australian Amateur Radio Operator, the 2 shows I am in NSW, and the GKX is the bit that identifies me to other Amateurs AND the Australian Communications and Media Authority, because they are the ones who are responsible for issuing my licence!
I've always had an interest in electronics and radio, so after my mid-life crisis, I decided to sit for the Government exams that would allow me to become a Amateur Radio Operator.
It is an interesting hobby, not only do I get to talk to people from all over the world, there is a feeling of belonging to a great big family that shares the same interests as me.
Now that the licencing authorities have had a rethink, young people can have access to Amateur Radio by sitting for a simple, and much easier exam, to get them in at a grass roots level.
Information may be found at your own area Amateur Radio Club, but for the Newcastle NSW area,
More information can be found at the Westlakes Amateur Radio Club in Teralba.
This would be a good staring point for anyone interested.
I've been an Amateur Radio Operator since 1988, my callsign then was VK2MHO. I sat for a further Government exam and upgraded to VK2KOX, and since then have upgraded again to VK2GKX!
My hobby came in very handy during the 1989 earthquake! During that time,
as most people would know, nearly all emergency services two-way radio
communication via repeater stations was virtually non-existant.
available Amateur Radio operators were called into Fort Scratchley, in the
East end of Newcastle, and by being positioned around the area, we were able,
by use of our handheld and mobile transceivers, to lay down a reasonable
I was assigned to an S.E.S. crew to go with a
huge mobile crane around the Newcastle area, and clean-up anything that
would prove hazardous to the residents, mostly chimneys that were dislodged
on houses, etc!
As things progressed, I took a turn in the welfare room,
answering phones, and giving out address's and phone numbers for residents
seeking help. I also did hospital visits with the Police and Emergency
Services, getting statements from people that had been injured during the
One dear lady had been in the Newcastle Workers Club, as it was
called in those days. She found herself lying in the rubble of the
underground carpark, with a Poker Machine handle buried in her
The ironic fact was, that she meant to walk to the Club, but as a
bus came along, she caught it and arrived at the Club early. Had she
continued her walk, she wouldn't have reached the club by the time the
After all the victims had been transported to
hospital, the clean-up of the Workers Club began. No member of the public
knows to this day, but thousands of dollars in coins from the damaged poker
machines were taken away with the rubble and buried at an undisclosed site.
A little later on, I was sent to the Stockton area to help assess damage
to houses in that district and report my findings by radio, back to the
Communications Centre that had been set up at Fort Scratchely.
time went by, and things started to normalise, the need for our help started
to grew less as each day passed, and the services of the Amateur Radio
fraternity weren't called upon again, until the horrific bushfires on the
Central Coast and the Gosford area in particular, in early 1994.
The start of 1994 saw the worst bushfire season in NSW memory.
While the Hunter region faired reasonably well, that was not to be the case on the Central Coast, and the City of Gosford in particular!
Gosford was almost completely surrounded by fires, and in the mountains, the Emergency Services communication towers had all but been destroyed. The bushfires surrounding Gosford were declared a 41F emergency under Section 41F of the Bushfire Legislation (1949).
The word quickly spread on the Amateur radio system, and Amateur radio operators from WICEN, the Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network, and other Amateur radio volunteers, swung into action and converged on Gosford City, to set up a vast communications network!
One of our main tasks, was to travel with SES teams in their vehicles and provide them with radio coverage back to the base that had been set up just outside of Gosford.
Other operators went on to provide assistance with the firefighting helicopters. If you can just picture a small parkland being used by helicopters taking off and landing on a regular basis, then you can see just how important a role these Ham operators played.
Not a job for the faint hearted, I can assure you!
A lot of hard work, not much sleep, but the job got done and a grateful Gosford was saved. This is just a sketchy picture of our time there and there are many, many more stories one could tell about that episode, but for now, this will surfice!
All Amateur radio operators were awarded certificates as a way of saying thank you, and here are some of my awards!
As I see it, the Malayan Emergency was the only war
that the West won against Communism. Loads of people remember failures
like Korea, (the silent war), and Vietnam, but few recall our victory in
It was a 12 year jungle war fought by the British,
Commonwealth and Malay Forces against the army of the Malayan Communist
Party, and their fanatical leader, Chin Peng!
The violence started
about June of 1948, when Chinese Communists murdered three British rubber
planters. The Communist Terrorists, or, CT's as they came to be
known, continued their terror campaign, murdering, maiming and torturing
British and native men, women and children.
Many of you may recall the
movie called, "The Planter's Wife", starring Jack Hawkins, which depicted
Malaya as it was in those days. The CT's would sabotage power, phone and
water installations, derail trains, burn buses and create civil unrest,
deliberately to cause fear in the civilian populace.
strikes against the British, Commonwealth and Malay Forces took the form of
ambushes. The CT military force numbered some 10,000 strong and were mainly
jungle based. They relied on a large network of Chinese spies, and relied
on supplies from fringe jungle dwellers.
They were a highly
experienced jungle fighting force and had originally helped the British
against the Japanese during WW2. Their main aim was to make Malaya a
Chinese Communist State.
The British organised a massive re-settlement
of almost 500,000 fringe jungle dwellers into new villages specially
built in other areas of the country. This in turn cut off supplies and
contacts to the CT's.
By the middle of 1960, the CT jungle army was
militarily defeated, and all that remained was a pocket of a few hundred
men near the Malay-Thai border. An overview of the situation was that now
the Chinese Communists lacked the support of the population. The huge
Chinese population in Malaya tended to sit quietly, especially now that the
war had turned against the CT's. The Muslim Malays didn't like the idea
of Communism and were very wary of being dominated by the
Another major factor was the honest and dignified manner in
which the British and Commonwealth forces conducted themselves during the
war.They were often ruthless in combat with the Communists, but had a good
friendly relationship with the general population, based on mutual
It is not clear why the British called the war an
"Emergency". Some say it was done to hide the seriousness of the situation
politically. Others say it was done so that insurance could be collected
on damaged or destroyed property and goods, because insurance policies would
not cover wartime activities.
Lasting almost 13 years, the Malayan
Emergency was the longest continuous military commitment in Australia's
history. Thirty-nine Australian servicemen were killed in Malaya, although
only 15 of these deaths occurred as a result of operations, and 27 were
wounded, most of whom were in the army!
And, Chin Peng! What of him? The
notorious CT leader eventually escaped from Malaya and fled to China. He
is now living free and safe in Bangkok, Thailand - uncaptured and unpunished,
yet publically admitting responsibility for all the death and misery he
I hope you are more enlightened than you were before you read
this far. But the fight for the freedom of the peoples of the Far East
doesn't end there!
But, that's another tale.....called the
Australian units which fought during the
Konfrontasi, as it was better known, did so as part of a larger British and
Commonwealth force under British command. Australia's commitment to
operations against Indonesia in Borneo and West Malaysia fell within the
context of it's membership in the Far East Strategic Reserve.
the Australian government kept its troops from becoming involved in the
Confrontation, not least because of fears that the conflict would spread to
the long and difficult to defend, border between Papua New Guinea and
Requests from both the British and Malaysian governments in
1963-64 for the deployment of Australian troops in Borneo met with
refusal, though the Australian government did agree that its troops could be
used for the defence of the Malay peninsula against external
Such attacks occurred twice, in September and October
1964, when Indonesia launched paratroop and amphibious raids against
Labis and Pontain, on the south-western side of the peninsula. Members of the
3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, (3RAR), were used in clean-up
operations against invading troops.
Although these attacks were easily
repelled, they did pose a serious risk of escalating the fighting. The
Australian government relented in January 1965 and agreed to the deployment
of a battalion in Borneo.
The military situation in Borneo thus far had
consisted of company bases located along the border between Indonesia
and Malaysia to protect centres of population from enemy
By 1965, the British government had given permission for
more aggressive action to be taken, and the security forces now mounted
cross-border operations with the purpose of obtaining intelligence, and
forcing the Indonesians to remain on the defencive on their own side of the
Uncertain where the Commonwealth forces might strike next, the
Indonesians increasingly devoted their resources to protecting their own
positions and correspondingly less on offensive operations, although, these
continued on a much reduced scale.
The first Australian battalion, 3RAR,
arrived in Borneo in March 1965 and served in Sarawak until the end of
July. During this time, the battalion conducted extensive operations on
both sides of the border, were engaged in four major contacts with
Indonesian units, and twice suffered casualties from land mines.
replacement, the 28th Brigade, 4RAR, also served in Sarawak, from April
until August 1966. Although it had a less active tour of duty, the 28th
Brigade also operated on the Indonesian side of the border and was involved
in clashes with Indonesian regular forces.
Altogether, two squadrons
of the Special Air Service, a troop of the Royal Australian Signals, one
battery and parties of the Royal Australian Engineers were involved in
Borneo, in addition to the two infantry battalions.
Ships of the Royal
Australian Navy served in the surrounding waters and several RAAF squadrons
were also involved in the Confrontation, Continuing negotiations between
Indonesia and Malaysia ended in conflict, and the two sides signed a
peace treaty in Bankok in August 1966.
Twenty three Australians were
killed during the Confrontation, 7 of them on operations, and 8 were wounded.
Because of the sensitivity of the cross border operations, which remained
secret at the time, the Confrontation received very little coverage in
the Australian press.
Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial and Mr. B.L. Nyman
3rd January 1952! The day
the dreaded marble game kicked in! AND MY NUMBER CAME UP. The only bloody
lottery prize I have ever won! And I didn't even have a ticket.
Anyhow, to shorten the tale, I was shipped off to
Ingleburn, D Company, 13 Battalion, can't remember the Platoon. I
didn't much care for the attitude of the Sergeant we were given, in fact,
I didn't much care for having to be there, let alone being in the Army! I
had better things to do with my life, or so I thought.
There I was, a
bit of a rebel, in a place where they don't abide rebels very much. ALL of
our instructing NCO's had just returned from a trip to Korea, and they were
determined to make a soldier out of me.
One, Sergeant Puttifoot, took
me behind a tree, not long after I called him, "pussyfoot", and, I might
add, it was right after that incident, I vowed I was going to be the best
soldier in the country!
It is absolutely amazing the change in
attitude that occurs after having your head ringbark a tree. After that
episode, not only did I call him Sergeant, I even called him "Sir"! We got
on so well after that, and I am sure he liked me, because every time an
important job came up, like guard duty or Dixie bashin', I was picked.
say, I made it through basic training OK! I actually made it to Lance
Corporal before I left Ingleburn. I completed my full time Nashos military training
on 9th April 1952 and was assigned to 34 Infantry Battalion in
I struggled on, the brave little trooper that I was, and finally finished my full time military commitment on the 21st August 1954!
There is a bit of a black hole around about this point in time. I know my old mate Harry had a hand in it, but I'm sure it will all be revealed on Judgement Day!
He was getting old and paunchy and his
hair was falling fast, and he sat around the Legion telling stories of the
past. Of the war he had fought in and the deeds that he had done. In his
exploits with his buddies they were heroes, everyone. And 'tho sometimes, to
his neighbors, his tales became a joke, all his buddies listened, for they
knew whereof he spoke. But we'll hear his tales no longer, for ol' Bob has
passed away, and the world's a little poorer for a veteran died today.
No, he won't be mourned by many, just his children and his wife. For he
lived an ordinary, very quiet sort of life. He held a job and raised a
family, quietly going on his way; and the world won't note his passing, 'tho
a veteran died today. When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in
state, while thousands note their passing and proclaim they were great.
Papers tell their life stories, from the time they were young, but the
passing of a veteran goes unnoticed and unsung. Is the greatest contribution
to the welfare of our land some jerk who breaks his promise and cons his
fellow man? Or the ordinary fellow, who in times of war and strife, goes
off to serve his country and offers up his life? The politician's stipend
and the style in which he lives are sometimes disproportionate to the
service that he gives. While the ordinary veteran, who has offered up his
all, is paid off with a medal and perhaps a pension, small. It's so easy
to forget them, for it is so long ago, that our Bobs and Jims and Johnnys
went to battle, but we know. It was not the politicians and their
compromises and ploys, who won for us the freedom that our country now
enjoys. Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
would you really want some cop-out, with his ever-waffling stand? Or,
would you want a veteran, who has sworn to defend his home, his kin and country,
and would fight until the end? He was just a common veteran and his ranks
are growing thin, but his presence should remind us we may need his likes
again. For when countries are in conflict, then we find the military's part
is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start. If we cannot
do him honor while he's here to hear the praise, then at least let's give
him homage, at the ending of his days. Perhaps just a simple headline in the
paper that might say Our country is in mourning, for a veteran died today.
Most Popular Bloke In The Pub
abattoir was closing, the management went broke
So redundancies were handed out to each and every bloke
So we chucked this massive party at the old top end hotel
We all went there to get blind drunk and bloody would as well
By nine o'clock the shelves were scant, we'd drank most everything
The beer was gone, the scotch, the stout, we'd even drunk the gin!
And every bloke in town was there, all sozzled, good and proper
The only bloke who wasn't there was the local bloody Copper
He was down the road, the cagey sod, his breatherliser set
The word spread quickly through the pub about this nasty threat
Hell, we could hardly walk, let alone drive, and we couldn't catch a cab
'Cause the local Taxi drivers were now on their sixteenth slab
What a dastardly dilemma, what a fearsome fix of fate
Our missuses would kill us if we staggered home too late
Then Jonesy said, "Hey see that bloke at the far end of the bar?
I haven't seen him have a beer at all, tonight, so far!"
So instantly the surge was on to meet this 'real top bloke'
He was suddenly everyone's 'old mate' and we bought him pots of coke
The most popular bloke in the pub he became, no longer drinking alone
Then at closing time, we slipped it in, "Ahh, could you drive us
"Sure," he said, "no problem." Hell, we carried him
out of the pub
Wondering why, for the whole of the night we'd given this stranger the
We cheered him out to the carpark, twenty eight drunks, at a guess
Then all stuffed into his flash four-wheel-drive, and it was pretty bloody
There were faces pressed up against windows, we were centimeters apart
Simmo's nose was up Bluey's bum, and he prayed he did not fart
Like a can of sardines, we headed off, home would be our next stop
We were all gonna give the one finger salute to that mongrel bloody Cop
But he charged on out of the carpark, like a wounded wild bush boar
With a shirk and a screech and a great bloody wheelie, he dropped his
foot flat to the floor
In ten seconds he'd reached a hundred clicks and was swerving all over
Our ruddy drunk faces turned ghostly white and our stomachs began to unload
Slow Down!" I shouted out, "Don't you know how to drive!"
"Na," said the bloke, "I ain't got a license," then
he chucked it to overdrive
"Then watch your bloody car," I screamed, "The way you're
driving you'll roll it"
"Doesn't matter" our driver said, "It's not my car, I stole
Well, us poor old drunks, we near on choked, Satan was driving the car
But you can't jump out at a hundred and ten, or you'll splatter all over
"At least he's not drunk!" whispered Jonesy, "I s'pose
that's one small blessing!"
But of all the shocks we'd had so far, there was one far more distressing
"And how come you don't drink grog?" I asked, he replied "I
have no need.
I'm more than content with L.S.D., heroin, pot and speed!"
Well, the screams from the back were awful, as we all tried to fight for
'Cause the fear of hitting the asphalt road didn't seem so bad anymore!
He was driving all over the bloody road, north then east then south
Playing a Jimi Hendrix cassette, with a joint hanging out of his mouth
He was sprouting some deranged theory, how we evolved from the albatross
While us poor old bastards squashed up in the back, tried making the sign
of the cross!
Then he started to fill his nostrils, with a handful of fine white powder
And screamed "I am invincible, I cannot die, for I am...Nicky Lauder!"
"Oh no, you're bloody not!" I roared "and you will die,
As soon as I get an inch to move, I'm gonna ring your bloody neck!"
And then in the distance, we saw the town cop; help was here at last!
But he yelled out "I'm glad you drunks got a ride home," then
waved us poor buggers on past
We were screaming and thumping the windows, our hopes of salvation were
As this unlicensed, drug-crazed car-thief, went madly motoring on
Then he veered from the tar of the highway, and headed through gullies
And as Lover's Leap loomed in the distance, he ate fifty Ecstasy Pills!
Well, we all found God within seconds, for we knew we were going to die
As this drug-crazed fool flew towards Lover's Leap, screaming "Man,
I think I can fly!!!"
realised then how it must have felt as a passenger on the Titanic
When the doors of the car burst open, under weight of sheer bloody panic
Then as the last drunk spilt from the cabin, the car shot off Lover's
And for a moment we thought that the mongrel could fly ,'till he fell
to a fiery heap.
thinking the worst was over, we staggered home at 3 A.M.
Where our wives were waiting in ambush, to try killing us buggers again
And they wondered why we were laughing, as they thrashed us and stuck
in the boot
For they did not know of our death drive to hell with that drug-crazed
now when we drink at the local; it's not the town Copper we fear
Nor excessive consumption, of whisky or rum or beer
We fear not the threat of a punch-up, or spending the night in the clink
For the thing that we fear most greatly, is a Bastard who does not drink!!!!
Neil McArthur from
the book 'Tragic Tales from the Thong Factory'
I'm Fine, Thank YOU
There is nothing the matter with me.
I'm as healthy as I can be.
I have arthritis in both my knees
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak, and my blood is thin
But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.
Arch supports I have for my feet
Or I wouldn't be able to be on the street.
Sleep is denied me night after night,
But every morning I find I'm all right.
My memory is failing, my head's in a spin
But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.
The moral is this, as my tale I unfold,
That for you and me who are growing old,
It's better to say "I'm fine" with a grin
Than to let folks know the shape we are in.
How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my "get up and go" just got up and went.
But I really don't mind when I think with a grin
Of all the grand places my "get up" has been.
Old age is golden, I've heard it said;
But sometimes I wonder as I get into bed
With my ears in the drawer my teeth in a cup,
My eyes on the table until I wake up.
Ere sleep overtakes me, I say to myself,
"Is there anything else I could lay on the shelf?"
When I was young my slippers were red,
I could kick my heels over my head
When I was older my slippers were blue,
But I still could dance the whole night through.
Now I am old, my slippers are black,
I walk to the store and puff my way back.
I get up each morning and dust off my wits
And pick up the paper and read the obits.
If my name is still missing, I know I'm not dead
So I fix me some breakfast and go back to bed.
I rang the C.E.S. and said, Slap me up an ad I can't run this
farm myself, I need some help real bad! So rustle me up a farmhand, one
who's good at fencin' Oh, and he must not drink or smoke or swear, I
s'pose I'd better mention
Well I waited home all morning, pacing up and down the
floor And just as I had given up, a fist rapped on my door I
thought, you bloody beauty, they've dug me up a bloke But when I threw
the door back, well I bloody nearly choked
He stood there in a floral shirt, hands upon his
hips Permed hair past his collar, and lipstick on his lips He
carried a paisley saddle and a little embroidered bag I thought to
myself, Oh my gawd, this bloke's a flamin' f.... funny looking
He said, Hi, my name is Toni, I’ve come here for the
job I stood there flabbergasted, then foolishly opened my gob I
said, Only Poofs and Movie Stars wear earrings in their ear.... And I
can't remember seeing a bloody movie of yours this
Oh, that's discrimination! he squealed, This is the Land
of the Free! And nobody else applied for the job, so it looks like
you're stuck with me. Well, he had me over a barrel (....not literally
of course!) I said I hope you can fix bloody fences, and know how to
ride a horse
Ohh, I can do lots and lots of things! Toni said to
me I mumbled If you could act like a bloke, then I'd go to
buggery! Yeah, well I shouldn't have said that either, but my head was
kind of reeling Out here in the bush mate, men are men, except a few
sheep farmers from New Zealand
So I slapped myself around the dial to bring myself to my
senses I said Grab your saddle and get on a horse and I'll show you
these broken fences So off on the flint hard track we rode at a casual
loping pace Toni sat up top the dapple grey with a smile plastered over
I kept right away from the neighbour's fence and down the
middle I went 'Cause if anyone saw my new farmhand, I'd die through
embarrassment Then to pick up the pace, I grabbed the reins, slapped
leather against the flank OHH, luck horse! yelled Toni, You
certainly know how to spank!
Now, it's a shock for a bush bred bloke like meself to
encounter a fella like Toni So I turned my head around backwards, to
keep an eye on this poonce on his pony If he had any 'Funny Business'
in mind then I would not give him the chance But because my head was
turned backwards, I never saw the branch!
It hit me in the back of the scone with a fearsome bloody
force Knocked me backwards, bum over head and straight off the back of
my horse I rolled towards a steep incline, then down the side I
fell And Murphy’s Law came into play as I fell down the old farm
I lay there battered and broken, a bruised and bloodied
wreck I thought, 'my day started off by breaking my pride, now it's
finished by breaking my neck!' Then I looked to the sunlit lip of the
well, only to bloody see Toni's ugly, pooncy mug staring down at
Ohh, are you alright you poor old dear! he shouted out to
me Here, grab these leather undies. I screamed, Go to
Buggery! No, I'm trying to pull you out, he said, then gaily winked
his eye I said, You ain't pulling me nowhere, mate! I'm staying down
here 'til I die!
Well, he lassoed me out with his panty hose, and saved me
from my fate Threw me over the rump of his horse, headed home at a
casual gait But by this time the neighbours had gathered, to cast
ridicule at my pains Hey look, a horse's arse on a horse's arse with a
horse's hoof at the reins!
So he took me home, and on my bed, he laid my battered
hide He said, You just rest, dear, I'll do the chores, and then
flitted on outside And that's the last I saw of Toni, 'cause next day
when I awoke There on my bedside cupboard was a little floral
Hi, wrote Toni, I've gone away, I know you don't like
me! I've fixed your fences and done your chores and made you a pot of
tea I've gone to greener pastures, now, for I'm not your idea of a
man I'm going to where I'm appreciated for WHO not WHAT I
Hell, I'd never felt so guilty, I wanted to crawl away and
hide Until I pulled my boots on and bloody walked outside He'd
strung my flamin' fences up like a fancy macraméd noodle And me poor
old faithful cattle dog was clipped like a pooncy
He'd painted the dunny nipple pink, and painted the farm
ute beige He'd shampooed and blow dried all my sheep, I flew into a
rage My tractor had turned to a Mardi Gras float, so I headed inside in
a huff To find that pot of tea he'd made was that chamomile bloody
So, again I rang the C.E.S. and said Send me out a
BLOKE! One who drinks and swears and farts and loves to have a
smoke So they sent another farmhand who was rough and tough and
mean And stood at the door and said to me. G'day, me name's
Copyright; Neil McArthur from the book 'Tragic Tales from the Thong Factory'
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there
may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with
all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even
to the dull and the ignorant, for they too have their story. Avoid loud and
aggressive persons, for they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for
always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your
achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career,
however humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of
trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is, many persons
strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the
face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take
kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of your
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do
not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and
loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a
child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right
to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is
unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with G-d, whatever you perceive G-d to be. And
whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep
peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still
a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Take care!
They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old, age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them. Lest we forget.
2/7271 Sgt Anderson Charles C M.I.D. A Coy 2nd Battalion RAR KIA 4th March 1956 Buried at the Christian Cemetery Taiping PERAK Malaysia
(The Aboriginal flag is flown as a mark of respect for Sgt Charles C Anderson's Aboriginal Heritage!)
Sgt Charlie Anderson was one of our Indigenous brothers who served with 2 Battalion, RAR during the Malayan Emergency. It was on 4th March 1956, while on patrol during 'Operation Deuce', his platoon made contact with the CT's and Charlie was hit by a burst of fire from a CT ambush, and was badly wounded.
He died before he could be taken out and was buried in the Christian Cemetery in Taiping Perak, Malaya. Charlie Anderson was Mentioned In Dispatches (MID), for leading his Platoon during this fierce fire fight.
Not many people in Australia are aware that many of our Indigenous brothers fought and died for this country, and so, it is by telling this story, soldiers like Charlie Anderson will be remembered for the role they played in the defence forces of Australia.
"In early January 1956 the Battalion was committed to anti terrorists patrol operations on the main land. We moved to South Kedah Reserve, where on the 11th January 1956 we captured our first C.T (communist terrorist). Regrettably our first casualties occurred on the 24th January, three of our members accidentally shot."
"Our first fatal casualty was our Platoon Sergeant, Charlie Anderson."
"We were carrying out a one day patrol on the 4th March 1956 on a search and destroy, when three C.T's laying in ambush, opened fire with there old Thomson sub machine guns."
"Charlie received the full barrage of this ferocious gunfire; he died before we could get him out for help."
"An Infantry Sergeant is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and I still maintain to this day, that Australia lost a first class soldier and a fine gentleman
on the 4th March 1956."
R.G.E.Betts, Pte 4 section 2 pltn A Coy 2nd Bn RAR From the Biography of R.G.E.Betts
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The Sandakan Death Marches were a series of forced marches from Sandakan to Ranau which resulted in the deaths of more than 3,600 Indonesian civilian slave labourers and 2,400 Allied prisoners of war held captive by the Empire of Japan during the Pacific campaign of World War II at prison camps in North Borneo.
By the end of the war, of all the prisoners who had been incarcerated at Sandakan and Ranau, only 6 Australians survived, all of whom had escaped. It is widely considered to be the single worst atrocity suffered by Australian servicemen during the Second World War.
It is May 1945. Clad only in ragged loin-cloths, over 500 skeletal creatures, barely recognisable as human, struggle to their feet at the Sandakan POW Compound, on Sabah's north-east coast. Three long years in captivity, half of them on starvation rations and with little or no medical attention, have taken their toll. The grimy, wasted bodies of these once fit and strapping Australian and British servicemen are covered in sores and scabies, their filthy hair and beards matted and lice-infested.
Many are suffering from tropical ulcers, some so large that shin bones are clearly visible. Others, bloated from beriberi, lumber along on sausage-like legs. They are bound for Ranau, a small village on the flanks of Mt Kinabalu, South East Asia's highest peak, situated 250 kilometres away to the west,
in the rugged Borneo jungle interior.
All were members of a 2700-strong Allied contingent transferred to Sandakan by the Japanese in 1942-43, following Singapore's fall. Their task? To construct a military airfield, using not much more than their bare hands.
For the first twelve months or so, conditions at Sandakan were tolerable. However, in mid 1943 the Japanese discovered that the POWs not only had a radio but were in league with a local resistance organisation. The kempei-tai, or secret police, swooped. Arrests and transfers followed. Discipline at Sandakan was tightened considerably and life became much more difficult for the remaining 2,434 prisoners.
As the war ground on, conditions deteriorated. In late January 1945 the Japanese decided to move 455 of the fittest prisoners to Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) to act as coolie labourers - only to halt them at Ranau, owing to Allied air activity on the west coast. At the end of May, there was a second march from Sandakan and in mid-June a third, comprised of only 75 men.
As both sea and air were under the complete control of the Allies, a track had been cut through the mountains, linking existing bridle-trails. Unaware that it was to be used by POWs, the local headmen given the task of creating this track had deliberately routed it away from any habitation, across the most inhospitable and difficult terrain possible.
There was no medical assistance and little food. Anyone who could not keep up was ‘disposed of'. Despite this, about half the prisoners completed the march, only to die at Ranau from illness, malnutrition and ill-treatment by their captors. Two Australians managed to escape in the early stages of the second march with the help of villagers, and four more successfully escaped from Ranau into the jungle, where they were cared for by local people.
Back at Sandakan, 200 prisoners unable undertake the second and third marches also died, bringing the death toll there to about 1400. Of the 1000-odd prisoners who left on the death marches, about half died in the attempt. The rest died at their destination.
The story of Sandakan and the death marches is one of the most tragic of World War Two. It is also one of the most heroic. Despite appalling conditions, the prisoners never gave up. Their heroism, their determination and their indomitable spirit are testimony to the strength of the human spirit and an inspiration to all. Of the 2434 prisoners incarcerated at Sandakan, 1787 were Australian. The remaining 641 were British. The six Australians who escaped were the sole survivors.
Acknowledgement is given to Tham Yan Kong for this brief overview of the Sandakan Death marches. Thanks also to Lynette Silver, author of "Sandakan - A conspiracy of silence".
The Newcastle Sub-Branch of the National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association held it's first Sandakan memorial service on Sunday 31st May 2009, at the Sandakan Memorial located in Maitland Park adjacent to the Maitland Railway Station.
The service was conducted by our State Chaplain, Eric Bell, with an address by the Maitland Mayor, Cr Peter Blackmore. Tributes were laid at the Memorial, the 'Last Post' was sounded, and the service concluded with the Odes of the RSL and NMBVAA being recited, followed by prays by our Chaplain.
We were joined for the morning by our members from the Central Coast Sub-Branches, and after the service, we retired to partake of a most wonderful BBQ, cooked up by Frank and Renata.
We are all looking forward to an even bigger and better service next year.
Dungog township as viewed from Hospital Hill
Dungog Nashos plaque... Situated on the RSL wall adjacent to the Cenotaph! (The small plate on the bottom right-hand corner, is to the memory of John Garland, our founding Secretary!)
HELPING THE VETERAN COMMUNITY
Dungog welfare officer Garth Wheat with his wife Barbara (right) and
Narelle Digby. Barbara and Narelle have also trained as welfare officers
and are actively involved in Legacy in the local area.
Vietnam veteran, Garth
Wheat, is making a big difference
in his local veteran community
in regional New South wales
through his work as a volunteer welfare officer.
He credits his father for inspiring
him to volunteer for the role.
"My father was a medic
with the 2/5 Australian General
hospital," Mr wheat said.
He volunteered to stay with
the wounded in Greece and was
then interned in Poland for three
"After the war he became an
ambulance officer and for years I saw him suffering badly from his
POW injuries while still lending a helping hand to others," he said.
Garth Wheat was also injured in war, but remained in the army for 30 years to train young infantry
soldiers and officers.
He sees volunteering as part of a natural transition.
"In the army, the welfare of the troops was a key part of our training.
Now I’m concerned with the welfare of our old warhorses,"
Garth wheat has been a welfare
officer in Dungog in the New South Wales Hunter Valley for
seven years. He is also the pension
officer for the Dungog RSL,
chairman of Dungog Legacy,
Training and information Program
(TIP) trainer and member of the TIP national welfare committee.
He says helping the needy and socially disadvantaged in the ex-
service community is the most
rewarding aspect of the welfare
"I can do something for a cause
that is important to me."
If you are interested in becoming
a welfare officer or pension officer, contact your local ex-
Training is available for people
who can volunteer their time
to help members of the veteran
Vetaffairs September Newsletter Page 8. dva.gov.au
Stroud remembers its National servicemen
A large piece of history was preserved on Saturday 17th February,
when a plaque naming 25 men conscripted to the armed forces between 1951 and
1972 was unveiled at Stroud Cenotaph.
Driven by Stroud locals John Bowen and Jim Bratfield, the plaque has been
many years in the planning.
"I had just turned 20 when I received a letter that I had to be at Stroud
Road railway station at 12.40am on April 28, 1953," John said.
"My father had died five years earlier and I had to look after my widowed
mother and I tried to get out of it, but couldn't. Jim and I were two of the initial blokes from the Stroud district to be
"I had never really been to Sydney so it was a real eye-opener. We were on the train overnight to Marrickville Barracks then a bus to Ingleburn where we became members of the 13th Battalion."
"We did 14 weeks initial training and then we could come back home to our employment."
"But we did yearly camps for another two years and then two years on the Reserve Army a total of five years."
"We could then be called up to go to war at anytime."
"Had there been fighting in the Solomon Islands or Fiji we definitely would have gone."
According to both Jim and John, the government of the day didn't recognise these fellows.
"Not in military terms anyway," Jim said.
"We were sworn in to defend Queen and country we were the fodder to be sent if needed."
"But we have now been recognised and received our medals."
The men did their best to get all the names of Stroud area people to be included on the plaque.
"If we have missed anyone it is not intentional and the names can go on at a later date," John said.
A grant from the Federal Government through Member for Paterson Bob Baldwin has enabled the plaque to be made.
The march commenced at 10.30am from Bowens town clock, down to the cenotaph where the unveiling ceremony by Bob Baldwin took place.
Some pictures of the day
Eddie Grills was killed in action in Vietnam.
Others that have since passed away are, Ron Ince, Wally Isaac, Brian Tull, Bob Lyall and Ron Reinhard.
The National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association of
Australia consists of a group of serving and ex-service persons who
have served in the Malayan Emergency, Indonesian Konfrontasi, Borneo and
the peacekeepers in East Timor.
The NMBVA was started by Veterans in the
U.K. and has spread to include many countries, Australia and New Zealand
being just two.
Newcastle's Sub-Branch is a small portion of the much
larger group, with other sub-branches spread across our country. The
State Committee produce a newsletter called, "Merdeka", a Malay word
Our sub-branch in Newcastle meets bi-monthly at the
Mayfield RSL in Hanbury Street, Mayfield. The meeting dates for 2009 will be:
Wednesday 28th January at 5.30pm. Wednesday 25th March at
5:30pm. Wednesday 27th May at 5:30pm. Wednesday 29th July at 5:30pm. Wednesday 30th September at 5:30pm. Wednesday 25th November at 5:30pm.
So, if you served in
Malaya, Singapore, Malaysia, Borneo or East Timor, come along and meet with
our group and make new friends who share a common interest. .
On Saturday 13th September, the Newcastle Sub-Branch of the NMBVAA held a Banner Dedication Service at the Salvation Army Citadel in Rutherford.
The service was conducted by Chaplain Eric Bell, and the Maitland Salvation Army Band.
The Colours were marched on by the Rutherford Cadet Unit, and what a wonderfully professional job they did.
The guest of honour was the Rt Honourable Joel Fitzgibbon, Minister for Defence and Member for Hunter.
The Minister thanked the veterans for their service and praised the role of all of our armed forces in all conflicts.
Veterans present served during the Malayan Emergency and the later Indonesian Konfrontasi. The Malayan Emergency was the longest commitment by Australia to any conflict, running from 1948 until 1960, and saw the defeat of Communism in the region.
The Indonesian Konfrontasi ran a few short years from early in the ‘60s until 1967. This period saw Indonesia disapproving of Malaya becoming a Federation which would include Sabah and Sarawak within their control. The Indonesians were of the mind that the Federation of Malaysia would have to much of a control in the region.
The Australian services that served during both conflicts, suffered losses, but were proud in victory. The Malaysian Government has since awarded all who served, a medal, called the Pingat Jasa Malaysia, and it is worn proudly by all returned personel.
The service was a light, but solemn affair which lasted approximately one hour. NMBVAA members from the Central Coast travelled by bus for the occasion, and were warmly welcomed by us all!
After the service, tea and coffee were provided in true Salvation Army style, with guests sharing the comradeship of fellow members.
It was then decided to go to the East Maitland Bowling Club for lunch and a few drinks, which put a cap on a wonderful day for us all.
Please browse through the photos of the occasion below...
NMBVAA State Secretary Henry Buba, Minister for Defence, Joel Fitzgibbon and Myself flanked by the boys and girls of the Rutherford Cadet Unit.
The cadets marched in the colours, both Banner and flags of Australia and Malaysia. They were very professional and are a credit to their instructors.
Right Honorable Joel Fitzgibbon, Minister for Defence and Member for Hunter and our Newcastle Sub-Branch and NSW State Secretary, Henrik Buba JP.
Our State President, Tony Farina, Minister for Defence, Joel Fitzgibbon, Myself and Henrik Buba, with some of the cadets who helped on the day!
NSW State President Tony Farina and Joel Fitzgibbon
G'day, My name is Andy Gallagher, and I guess you want to know a about me. Well, to start, I'm aged between 45 and death, but erring more towards death than the 45years.
As you can tell by the opening page, I belong to a few different organisations.
The National Servicemens Association and the National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association of Australia are the two main ones.
As you will know from other pages within this site I have outlined my experiences during National Service, so I won't bore you by repeating it all again.
I also served with the Australian Defence Forces during the Malayan Emergency, and my tour of duty lasted from May 1958 until I returned to Australia by ship in December 1960.
I am retired since 1989, and reside with my wife, my three siblings having grow up and moved away from home.
We have eight grandchildren, two living in Queensland, two in Sydney, and four living not far from where we reside.
These are my military service medals and they are from left to right...
(1) Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975
(2) British General Service Medal 1919-1962 (3) Australian Defence Medal (4) Anniversary of National Service Medal (5) Pingat Jasa Malaysia Granted by the King and Government of Malaysia. The medal is in recognition of the "distinguished chivalry, gallantry, sacrifice and loyalty" in contributing to the freedom of Independence of Malaysia!