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4 RAR ASSOCIATIONS OF AUSTRALIA
THE FIGHTING FOURTH
MALAYA/BORNEO - SOUTH VIETNAM - EAST TIMOR/TIMOR LESTE - IRAQ - AFGHANISTAN
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ANZAC Day 2018
It finally happened, both of our ANZAC Day schools after approximately 15 years of having their ANZAC Day services, normally Mitchelton High School in the morning and Helensvale Primary School in the afternoon decided to hold their services on the same day at the same time.
The day was saved by Rick Male who like last year and the year before and the year before that, had volunteered to accompany Maureen and I to both schools. it was impossible this year to visit both schools at the same time, so Rick was asked to attend Mitchelton High School as a guest with no apparent roll to play. Rick agreed and we set about planning Plan A. Plan A was that Rick was to attend as a guest representing the 4 RAR Assoc but with no role to play, no speech, no presentation and Maureen and I would attend Helensvale Primary School and like every year present a speech. This year it was to be about the war dogs of the regiment during Malaya , Malaysia and Vietnam.
I remembered a few years ago that I attended Mitchelton under the same circumstances as Rick was to attend but I had an inkling that all was not as it should be and I prepared a speech for Mitchelton and tucked it into my pocket, just in case. Just in case happened and as soon as I entered the school I was met by a teacher and asked to give the speech as the invited speaker had not turned up. You would not believe it, but as soon as Rick entered the school this year he was asked to present the speech as the invited speaker had not turned up.
Mitchelton High School
Plan B was now in effect and luckily I had given Rick a copy of my speech and some details of the 4 RAR school old boy, Vic Petersen just in case! Rick, however went to Plan B and quickly realized in the days leading up to ANZAC Day that he could not present my speech effectively by simply reading it aloud to the 1,200 students of the school so he prepared a speech in his own words that concentrated on Vic. So, now Plan B was discarded and Plan C was now in effect.
. In Rick's words:
"Hi Alan and Maureen. Had a very successful Mitchelton visit. This is a picture of me and acting principal Ms Shelly Bampton. I also sat alongside Paul Bagnall (Police) and Mark Fernier...(member for Ferny Grove)
You were right...guess what...the guest speaker never turned up. Shelly Bampton was in a flap and asked me if I would be guest speaker. I did not speak about War Dogs even though I had your preparation in my pocket.
I decided to talk about Vic Petersen.... I started off by saying,
"The picture you see before you is of Vic Petersen ...a 4th Battalion soldier of 50 years ago"....A student at this school"....Then I went into his history....everything you gave me...Finishing off with ..."I was his age when he died". The auditorium was completely silent....When I completed my address and as I left the stage the 1,200 students and teachers applauded.
Ms. Shelly Bampton came up to me afterwards and said one word, ....."Impressive"!. Made me feel pretty good about the day.
It made me feel good too Rick and I and the whole 4 RAR Assoc, community owes Rick a big vote of thanks, so thank you Rick. You saved the day by using a little bit of nouse and a whole lot of common dog. You did a marvelous job and we are so proud of you.
Helensvale Primary School
At the same time that Rick was saving the day at Mitchelton, Maureen and I were still at Plan A when we arrived at the Helensvale Primary School. As noted earlier I had prepared a speech concentrating on the war dogs used by 4 RAR and others during the Asian wars. A few days earlier I had collected from the 4 RAR Assoc Qld, Museum, two large framed paintings and 13 A4 posters showing all of the tracker dogs used in Vietnam. I had them heat sealed and took them to the school a couple of days prior to ANZAC Day and suggested that they might be displayed to support my speech.
On arrival at the school on the day, we were met and entertained by the principal Mr Mike Shambrook and then escorted to the auditorium by the school captains and School Chaplain, Padre Long David along with other invited guests from the North Gold Coast RSL Sub Branch. Half way through my speech I became aware of the Vice Principal Ms Terry Welch apparently adjusting the microphone and I thought that I might have to go to Plan B and use my voice if the microphone did not work. I then suddenly realised that the photos and drawings of the war dogs were not on the walls so I dropped all reference to the drawings from my speech and went to Plan A(1) .
. It wasn't after my speech that I discovered that the reason that they were not on the walls was that as I was speaking, Terry was changing slides and showing the photos and drawings of the dogs on the large screen behind me. Towards the end of my speech I asked the 1200 students that if they gained a dog or replaced a dog, would they consider calling that dog one of the names of our tracker dogs so as to not let their names die. It looked from the stage as if all 1,200 children agreed.
I will be going back to the school in a few days in order to continue with their efforts in writing to our soldiers overseas. More about that later.
ANZAC Day Dawn Service
Attendance at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at the Royal Australian Regiment National Memorial Walk was sadly affected by the sudden rain squall that swept Brisbane only an hour so before the service was to begin but all in all it was a very successful and appropriate service. The congregation was addressed by the president of the RAR Assoc, Qld Branch, Lt Col Kel Ryan (Retd) and attended by five 4 RAR members and one family member.
A bottle of rum that was donated by one of my neighbours was quickly devoured as gun fire before the service with a hearty thanks from all.
The Catafalque Party was provided by soldiers from 8/9 RAR who were impeccable in their dress and drill. I laid a wreath of behalf of the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc.
ANZAC Day Brisbane City March
The day was preceded on the day before by an email request from the RAR Association that I lead the RAR contingent. Normally the "Duty Battalion" takes it in turn to lead the RAR contingent and to provide the two Banner Bearers. The Duty Battalion also normally provides the guests speakers for both the Dawn Service and the Battalion Birthday Luncheon. This year 3 RAR was the duty battalion but something happened that caused them to be unable to provide. By the way, it is 4 RAR"s turn next year. Any way Plan A, (Yep here we go again) was that the RAR Banner would be brought to the city by two serving Diggers who would also carry the banner so that I would march in front of the banner, next in column of route, the 3 RAR President and 3 RAR Banner and contingent followed by 4 RAR . Good so far? Hang on.
Plan A was quickly discarded when the RAR Banner and two Diggers did not turn up, the 3 RAR Banner did not turn up and the 3 RAR leader did not turn up. I then had to dodge the bullet inspired questions of, "Why is 4 RAR leading 3 RAR?", I was not, I was leading the RAR but the lack of banner may have had something to do that question. The question to me of "who is leading 3 RAR?" was returned with a shrug of the shoulders and a "God Nose" just to be polite.
Finally we took off . I think at this stage that Plan C was in effect, Oh no! where are the jeeps carrying our sick lame and lazy. Not to be seen was the stern reply. We quickly turned to Plan D and hoped that we could marry up somewhere along the parade. If anybody sees three jeeps looking for someone to march with, please inform them that Plan D is in effect within the "Wherethebuggerarewe Tribe" and to contact Peter Beatty who has the overall plan.
We finished the march but it was very pleasing to see some younger children and descendents marching representing their family warriors. Les Hankin came down from McLeay Island, Jim Roberts came up from Kempsy and Col Woodhouse came down from Hervey Bay. Brian Avery our patron, led the 4 RAR contingent and although we all finished at the Finish Point together we quickly went our own way to our favoured watering holes.
That seems to be the norm now as we get older and is only to be expected.
Next year the 4 RAR Association is to lead the 12 Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment, we will provide the required guest speakers and we will I hope, be the largest contingent within the Regiment. I therefore ask all of you that if humanly possible, you look forward to marching in Brisbane on ANZAC Day next year.
Their Service . . . . Our Heritage
We Will Remember Them
the motto of the Royal Australian Regiment
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