Wallace (Wally) Thompson OAM
Wallace Talbot Claxton Thompson was born in Sydney on November 9, 1932, son of a merchant seaman, Albert Thompson, and Alice. He completed his education at Ashfield Technical School and at the age of 17 joined the Citizen Military Forces.
In 1951, he was conscripted for three months full-time training under the then National Service Scheme. In 1954, he enlisted in the regular army and was posted to 2 RAR, which went to Malaya in 1955, during the Emergency where Wally served as a section commander.
In 1958, promoted to Sergeant, he married a telephonist, Judith Edwards. A daughter, Sharyn, was born 11 months later, followed by a son, Brett, in 1960. In November 1961, he was posted to the British Army Jungle Warfare School in Johor, Malaya. Two more daughters, Catherine and Elizabeth, were born in Singapore.
In December 1963 he was posted to 1 RAR. In July 1964, he was promoted to WO2. The following month, he was sent to Vietnam as a member of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) and was awarded the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star for action with 3rd/5th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam.
On return to Australia, Wally was posted to the Sydney University Regiment.
In January 1968, Wally was posted back to 1 RAR and returned to Vietnam.
He fought at the Battle of Coral, where the North Vietnamese and Vietcong tried to oust the Australian Task Force from its bases near Bien Hoa City. Wally was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade and returned to Australia. He was mentioned in dispatches.
In February 1969, Wally was posted to the Infantry Centre at Ingleburn.
In September 1969, his second son Scott, was born and Wally was promoted to WO1 and posted to 4 RAR at Townsville. He was then sent on his third tour of Vietnam.
In August 1973, Wally was posted as Regimental Sergeant Major to the Jungle Training Centre (renamed the Land Warfare Centre). In January 1983, following a series of Headquarters postings, he was promoted to WO1 and went to the office of the Chief of General Staff.
In December 1974, he was posted to the Infantry Centre at Singleton and in 1997 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for "meritorious service in the Australian Army as the RSM Infantry Centre".
The current RSM-A, Warrant Officer Dave Ashley knew Wally for over 30 years and said, “He seldom gave orders or direction. He didn't need to. When a soldier was in the wrong, Wally's mere distant presence would snap him into the right. This is a great soldiers' example of the respect Wally was, and is, held in. Wally led by example, which in our egalitarian army is the most effective form of soldier leadership."
Wally Thompson retired in 1987 but remained in touch with a wide network of friends and colleagues, serving in the role of elder statesman, and stayed active in several ex-service organizations and battalion associations including the 4 RAR Associations of Australia.
Neil James, the executive director of the Australian Defence Association, said: "He was really the last of his generation of very experienced soldiers in the army post -World War II and Korea.”
At the opening of the Soldier Promotion Centre at Townsville in 2005 Wally said: "I had most of the day going around and talking to the soldiers at Lavarack and I know I can say one thing; We're in safe hands."
Wally Thompson died in Bankstown on April 19, 2012.
He was survived by his widow Judith, his two sons and his daughters Catherine and Elizabeth.
Unfortunately Judith passed away on 06 June 2012.
They were inseparable in life and now are eternally together.
They will forever remain in the hearts and minds of the members of this Association.
May they both Rest In Peace..
Wallace (Wally) Talbot Claxton Thompson OAM
The first Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM-A)
4 RAR Associations of Australia
the motto of the Royal Australian Regiment