April 30 - May 6, 2017: Issue 310

Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch Opens New Memorabilia And Military Heritage Library

Left to right: Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch Padre, The Reverand Lloyd Bennett, President of Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch, The Hon Bronwyn Bishop, Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch Patron and Vietnam Veterans  (Northern) Patron, Jason Falinski, Federal Member for Mackellar, The Hon. Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater, State Minister for Education and Vietnam Veterans  (Northern) Patron, NSW State President of the RSL Council, John Haines AM.
The Refurbishment of the Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch Façade, the instalment of a new Memorabilia Displays and establishment of a Veterans Retreat and Military Heritage Library was opened Monday April 3rd, 2017.

MC for the Official opening was Vietnam Veteran and President of the Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch, Mr. Mark Ferguson.

Below runs transcripts of the Addresses given.

Mark Ferguson, President of the Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch

Thank you all for coming to the long awaited refurbishment of the Club’s military faced, military displays and the establishment of the Veterans Retreat and Military Heritage Library.

I’d like to welcome our official guests, State President of the RSL, Mr. John Haines AM, State Minister of Education, Mr. Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater, MP for Mackellar, Mr. Jason Falinski, President of the Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch and Pittwater Woman of the Year, Mrs. Deborah Carter, President of the Narrabeen RSL Sub-Branch, Mr. Barrie Epps, President of the Collaroy RSL Sub-Branch, Mr. Geoff Luck, President of the Dee Why RSL Sub-Branch, Mr. Alan Wright, Vic-President of the Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch, Lt. Commander Tamara Sloper Harding (RANR) OAM, President of Palm Beach Club Limited, Mr. Bryan Webster, NSW Police Dee Why L.O.C. Area Commander, Mr. Dave Darcy, 77th Squadron R.A.A.F. Assoc. Vice-President, Mr. Ray Seaver and Mr. John Seaton MBE, Chair of the Northern Beaches Veterans Centre, Mr. John McInerney OAM, Sub-Branch Patron and Former Speaker of the House, the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop and the Reverend Llloyd Bennett, Sub-Branch Padre. 

I now call upon the State President of the RSL, Mr. John Haines, for a short address.

State President of the RSL, Mr. John Haines:
Thank you very much, 
Honoured guests and my fellow Sub-Branch Members and guests, thank you very much for the kind invitation to be here today and say a few words.
Memorabilia  - some years ago I was tasked with checking on some of the Memorabilia that we do have in our Sub-Branch clubs. It’s very interesting what Members have collected over the years and have donated to the various RSL Sub-Branches. It reminded me over a number of occasions when I had to deal with that of my Army career and after.

I recall visiting the Thai Railway after my Army career finished and talking to the Curator of a Museum there. He was telling me that he used to go around where those who had suffered severe disease were housed and would find a lot of the equipment. On one occasion he found with his metal detector a pair of glasses. On the glasses rims were the owners name, rank and service number. He leaned them up and thought these would be a very good addition to their Memorabilia cabinet on the Thai Railway. 

He decide he would also make enquiries to the British Legion as to their owner’s whereabouts. This is a part of the Second World war conflict where around 99% of those people sent to this place died.

On contacting the British legion and informing them he had these British glasses, and that he was going to keep them for their Memorabilia Cabinet, the Legion wrote back to him stating the fellow was still alive and he would like his glasses back. He had just retired and needed them. So he packaged the glasses up and sent them off, happy to do so, but in that case, they lost a very valuable item for their display of that aspect of the Thai Railway.

I also recall during the latter part of my Service I used to have to check on some of the guys coming back from Vietnam. They told me first of all that when the Sydney came back on one occasion there was that much equipment coming back that they couldn’t check.

On this occasion they decided to hold the ship off the coast and the Customs Officers would go onto the ship and check. Now the Customs Officers stated they would check every second person; and you possibly know what happens when this method is employed – every second man had nothing and the blokes in between had all the gear. They found they had to try something different and so warned everyone that there would be a thorough check. Subsequently, they reckoned the night before they got off the ship the Sydney rose out of the water as everyone was throwing the gear they bought over the side of the ship.

I pointed out to my boss during my time that it was impossible to track down some of the Diggers gear – they were smarter than policemen, they knew where to hide it, so you can imagine what was brought home. Some of the Cabinets I go around to I’m just mesmerised by how these people got this information, inherent in these items, back for everyone to see, and how important this is to our tradition, how important this is to Australia and our young people, because they do visit these places; they come in to have a look and see at what these great soldiers, and their uniforms, looked like. These displays are very valuable to the communities where they are and very valuable to the Services.

I’d like to thank the President of the Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch and the Sub-Branch for what they have done and are doing here. It’s great that they are holding onto the value of these items and the tradition they embody and very important that they install such displays so other people can come in and be informed of their heritage and what has happened through what is in these displays. Through these the Members and Visitors can appreciate the Service and Sacrifice their fellow Australians have made.

On behalf of the RSL I congratulate you all on this great achievement of allowing others to see what has taken place.
Thank you very much.

Mark Ferguson, President of the Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch:
It will not be possible today to fully acknowledge all the contributors who have made this event possible, however, some special mention of individuals would be appropriate during the course of these proceedings. It would also be remiss to not give an acknowledgement of the unstinting support given to this project by Club Palm Beach during what is also a busy year when the club will celebrate its 60th Anniversary.

This refurbishment is best explained as being at four locations within the club, the first being the Entrance Foyer; as you enter the club you are introduced to a display of Service Badges and Plaques which is intended to set the which is intended to set the club’s desired subdued military ambiance. Some time ago, when this project was in its infancy, Mr. John Seaton, on behalf of the 77 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force Association presented the Sub-Branch with an S.M.L.E. 303 Service Rifle for inclusion in the proposed Memorabilia Cabinet. This iconic rifle, serial number 35233, together with a 15 inch bayonet and scabbard resented by Mr. Bob Week have become somewhat a talisman for Members and are now permanently mounted in the foyer. The date for this opening was chosen in recognition of the 77th as it is the 66th Anniversary of when the Squadron began training on Gloster Meteors prior to being moved to Iwakuni Japan.

The second location is under the club’s Honour Board and is the Naval Working Drawing of the Naval Destroyer HMAS Melbourne showing the 1968 refit. This was presented to the Sub-Branch by Commodore Graham Sloper AM RAN, who sadly passed away late last year.
We are honoured to have Mrs. Dannie Sloper and daughter Tamara Sloper Harding OAM with us here today.

Apart from the obvious interest this will create for Members of the Seaman’s Service, it is of particular interest as this refit was carried out only a few years after what was arguably Australia’s worst peacetime naval disaster, the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21) and the destroyer HMAS Voyager (D04) collision off Jervis Bay on the New South Wales coast on the evening of 10 February 1964.

The third location is the Auditorium Display Cabinet. This collection and display of Memorabilia and Militaria will be in turn stored and rotated as content dictates, with exhibits dating back over a hundred years. From random grain samples actually obtained from the hallowed ground of Anzac Cove by Mr. John Simpson and son, who is with us today, to various headwear, ordnance, citations, uniforms and military collectibles, exhibited by Members and their families.

The present centrepiece is that of the uniform, squadron, medals and, citation of Lieutenant William Chevily Woodward. This citation reads as follows:

‘Companion of the Distinguished Service Order
Lieutenant William Chevily Woodward VX14949
Boungainville 16/10/1945
Lieutenant Woodward was bomb disposal officer during the company advance along Buin Road. Moving ahead of the forward trips in full view of the enemy and under constant fire, he located and deloused four mines and twenty-three booby traps. Later, further booby traps were encountered in front of the enemy position, causing heavy casualties. Displaying complete disregard for his own life he cleared the road. Again, when further traps were encountered he deloused a further thirteen. Lieutenant Woodward’s amazing personal bravery and extreme courage saved his unit heavy casualties.’

We are honoured to have Bill’s son and a Director of Club Palm Beach, Mr. Tim Woodward, with us here today.

Mr. Tim Woodward and cousin Jillian Cobby

The fourth and last location of refurbishment is where the new Sub-Branch office, Badge 333, and Military Heritage Library is. This has been designed to facilitate and enhance the contribution of the Sub-Branch to Veterans and their families, students and other interested members of the community through providing for many a safe and relaxed space. This may be used for educational research and special interest projects relating to Australia’s Military history. Our Mission Statement aligns and confirms our supervisory and administrative protocols that will be observed with responsibility and care in respect of all facets of this operation.

By the 30th of June we intend to catalogue some 1000 exclusive tomes, books and gazettes and provide a recreational reading service as well as supervisory accredited access to accredited online sites for the sole purpose of research. Availability and opening times will vary  to meet demand.
Apart from publications obtained through the Department of Defence and Members contributions, we obviously rely heavily upon the public and service sectors. Whilst there have been many such contributions none have underpinned and contributed so much quantitatively as Mrs. Jan Bolt and the ladies of the Avalon Red Cross Shop who we have the privilege of having with us here today.
I now call on Mr. Rob Stokes to open this facility.

Hon. Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater, NSW Minister for Education:
Distinguished guests, Returned Servicemen and women, ladies and gentlemen;
It is a great honour to be here with you all this morning at this auspicious occasion where we are celebrating the renovations to the façade and Memorabilia and the establishment of the Veterans Retreat and importantly, the Community Resource Library. 

In relation to remembering Australia’s Service in times of conflict, in this room we have many fitting reminders of incredible reminders of Service both at home and abroad, during conflicts and also in peacekeeping operations.

Mark has already referred to one gentleman, Mr. John Seaton MBE, I make especial mention of John as he is celebrating a special birthday this month. John and the men who stand next to him are living links with Australia’s Service and International Service as Forces in the Korean Peninsula who safeguarded the future of South Korea as just one example of Australia’s contribution, and also a huge contribution at the dawn of the jet age. In john we have an incredible piece of the story of Australia’s links with international events and also with Service and sacrifice that has helped to shape this nation.
But of course with earlier conflicts many of those living links are now no longer with us. It is now increasingly important that we maintain those links through the medium of Memorabilia as well as the written word. Because, as we repeat the words every Anzac Day, Lest We Forget, hat we are really committing to is an act of Remembrance, with our lives, with our thoughts and in the way we conduct ourselves.

We are remembering with those words as Lest is a Latin word literally meaning ‘for fear we forget’ because if we forget the lessons of the past we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
What we learn from the time and times of the Australian Service men and women who have served our nation in war is that this nation was built on self-sacrifice and honour and an outward example of service. It was not built on self-promotion, materialism or acquisition.
It is those values that we need to incubate and propagate in the younger generation.

John Haines and I had the honour and great opportunity to be at a School’s remembrance Service at the Cenotaph in Hyde Park just last week where the Catholic Independent and public schools all came together in a joint Remembrance Service. This was such a powerful reminder that we have an obligation to ensure that younger people have access to a deep understanding of the stories that helped shape our nation, many of whom are present here in this room.

As Education Minister I am particularly excited about the opportunity that the Library and resource centre provide to local schoolchildren as well as for Researchers more broadly to access the incredible information held here at Club Palm Beach.

I also wanted to acknowledge everyone who has contributed particularly to the store of Memorabilia here as well as to the resources in the Resources Centre, as well as the Members of the Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch who in many ways, we all owe a debt of service to and yet they are still serving us in the way in which they have worked to ensure that this Memorabilia and these Resources are available and accessible to the wider community.
In that respect I’d like to acknowledge Bob Head as well as Mark Ferguson as I know that these gentlemen, particularly Mark, have driven this project and ensured that today has come to fruition.

With those words I’d like to congratulate Mark and Bob and all the Members of the Sub-Branch who have worked so hard to make today a reality – thank you.

Sub-Branch Padre, the Reverend Lloyd Bennett gave the Blessing and Prayers to dedicate the new facilities.

The ladies from the Avalon Red Cross Shop presented an addition on the Official opening day – something which had come into the resell and invest in Red Cross works facility.

Gloria Xuereb made the presentation, saying;
‘Good morning, I’m a volunteer at the Avalon Red Cross shop and we received this amongst a mixed bag of donations, we took great delight in restoring it. unfortunately there are no names on the discs but on the back there is a name which reads ‘6th Light Horse Division’ along with the legend ‘1912’, and we thought maybe someone could do some research of the names of those who served in the ALH Division, along with the names of their horses, and we could have these engraved on this shield.

I take great pleasure in presenting this on behalf of the Red Cross shop in Avalon for addition to the Memorabilia displays invested at this club facility.'

Gloria Xuereb presenting the shield to Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch President Mark Ferguson

The presentation of this shield already has at least one local link in the father of Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch member Wal Williams, WWII Veteran, whose father Frank Gordon Williams served as a member of the 12th Australian Light Horse before being transferred to the 6th Light Horse. Another link through John Seaton, MBE, whose Tasmanian grandfather and father served in Light Horse Divisions, his father in the 1st Light Horse, was also present at the Official opening.

Pittwater has further links with the training of Light Horsemen in that Mona Vale was utilised at the turn of the last century - visit Mona Vale Training Grounds - From Lancers On Horses To Lasses On Transport Courses

The year on the shield, 1912, marks the year when, on the 1st of July 1912, Capt. James William MacArthur-Onslow,  took command (earlier called the Picton-Camden Half Squadron of the Mounted Rifles), his brother George later commanded the 7th Light Horse Brigade and received the honours CMG, DSO, Order of the Nile. Camden is one of the first places the words 'Light Horse' appears in connection with these squadrons, one of the these being formed in 1885 and parading for the first time in 1886 with 30 men. The MacArthurs' were importing horses as early as 1830 to breed with many a famous and beautiful winner coming form their stables.

We have already run a few insights into this wonderful Australian family, in the Sundial of Human Involvement at The Australian Botanic Garden Mt Annan – Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust  Australian Botanic Garden and St Johns Camden: 176th And 167th Anniversaries In June 2016 -  the church successive generations of M'Arthurs have been married in. Future pages, which example the links between historic Camden and surrounds, and historic Pittwater are planned for forthcoming Issues as these instances became apparent in the volume of materials collected through research.

West Camden Light Horse.
The West Camden Light Horse paraded, for the first time with swords, on Friday afternoon last at Moss Vale, under the command of Captain Mackay, and were exercised in various, portions of the drill, in preparation for the expected visit of the Governor. There were 30 men present, and it is due to Sergeant Major Thompson to say that, after escorting Lord Carrington to his residence, Captain Mackay was complimented by his Excellency on the smart appearance and splendid riding of the troop. The Light Horse again mustered on Monday for a similar duty, and in spite of a very severe storm of wind and rain, and notwithstanding the long distances most, of the men had to travel to reach their drill ground, they acquitted themselves in a most creditable manner. West Camden Light Horse. (1886, January 16). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 120. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162815281 

The origins of the 6th Light Horse Regiment can be traced back to the 11th of September 1888, when 1 Captain, 1 Sergeant and 30 Troopers were sworn in at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. Previous to that, some advertising was done and those 32 positions were quickly filled. The original Commanding Officer was Captain Henry Glendower Bodysham Sparrow. The original horses for the unit were bought from Neersfield Station near Singleton, New South Wales. In January 1889, the unit was extended to include Companies at Queanbeyan, Picton, Campbelltown and Inverall, Campbelltown being their headquarters. The badge was the crossed rifles with a wreath of Waratahs and a Queens crown with a lion rampant.

In 1895, the unit was again extended to the Central West to include troops at Molong and Bathurst, with HQ remaining at Campbelltown. In 1897, a detachment was sent to England to participate in the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. In October 1899, a squadron was raised for service in South Africa under Capt J. M. Antill. They served with distinction during their tour of duty, taking part in the Relief of Kimberly under the column commanded by General Sir John French and fought in the battles of Wittenbergen and Diamond Hill. The Kings Colour was presented to the Regiment by the Governor General of Australia in Melbourne in November of 1904, the colour party consisted of three distinguished soldiers who had fought in the Boer War - Colonel J. W. MacArthur-Onslow, Captain R. C. Holman* DSO, DCM and the colour was carried by Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant Wardrow. 

In September 1914, the 6th Light Horse Regiment Australian Imperial Force was raised at Holsworthy Military Camp under the command of Lt Col C. F Cox CB, CMG, DSO, VD also a Boer War veteran who had distinguished himself while in command of a squadron of New South Wales Lancers during the conflict in the South Africa. On the 19th of December 1914, the Regiment sailed aboard the transport "SUEVIC", bound for Egypt and the Suez Canal.

The 6th Light Horse Regiment, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Cox, C.B., V.D., and the 7th Regiment, under the command of Lieut.Colonel Arnott, are now encamped at Holdsworthy, about four miles from Liverpool. These regiments belong to Colonel Ryrie's Light Horse Brigade, and are composed of men of the very best type, all of them being well set up young fellows in perfect condition, who can both ride and shoot well. Colonel Cox is popularly known as 'Fighting Charlie,' because in the South African War he was always eager for the fray, and led his men confidently and well.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL C. F. COX AND OFFICERS OF THE 6TH A.L.H. REGIMENT. Light Horse. (Reading Left to Right)— Lieut. ….


LIGHT HORSEMEN OF THE SECOND AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE. (1914, November 25). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 13. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166252416 


Most of the men forming this splendid regiment are from the country districts of New South Wales, and all are fine riders and good shots, while many of them served in South Africa.

This regiment, which, like the 6th (Lieut. -Colonel Cox) and 7th (Lieut.-Colonel Arnott), belongs to Colonel Ryrie's brigade of the Second Australian Imperial Force, is now encamped near Liverpool. It is commanded by Lieut. -Colonel Harris, V.D.
A TROOP OF THE 6TH (N.S.W.) AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE REGIMENT. (1914, December 2). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166252740

After training, they landed at Gallipoli on the 20th of May 1915. The regiments distinguished service on Gallipoli and in the Middle East is well recorded. Shrapnel Gully, Johnsons, Jolly, Romani, Amnan, Es Salt, Beersheba, Gaza, Meggido, the Jordan Valley. At Romani it was the first time that they had served together as a complete mounted Regiment and, along with other Light Horse units, took over 11,000 prisoners. 

Letter From Trooper Sherwin.
In a letter to his mother (Mrs. C. Sherwin, of Cargo) written at Ma'adi Camp, on May 9, Trooper Norman Sherwin says :-.
We are leaving for the Dardanelles this coming week, without our horses-we are going as infantry. The machine guns are leaving to-night, C. Sherwin among them. It is only the infantry that has fought at the Dardanelles, so far. Tom Byrnes was among them. I went to Caro yesterday to try and find out if anything had happened to him ; but I could get no news whatever concerning him. I saw hundreds of the wounded. They are all anxious to get back again. I hope we will be able to make up for some of the damage the Turks have done to our chaps. They tell me that the Turks cut the tongues out of two of our buglers.

At this camp they took up a collection, and with the money bought 1400 packets of cigarettes for the wounded, which were appreciated very much. There is about £2 10s over.

The natives here can make use of almost anything. They gather up manure, wet it, patter it out like a pancake, dry it in the sun, and use it as fuel. That is the only fuel they use. I was on police duty one night here, in Ma'adi, at the "Nile Cafe." Had to settle a few disputes as to prices, etc. It is not the best job in the world. After closing up, the proprietor treated us to a good dinner and drinks.

Shifting from here is now only a matter of days. I will be glad when we get into action. We are just bursting for something to do. I expect we will be at the Turks long before you receive this letter. Do not be anxious about me, as I can look after myself alright. At any rate, I hope to come through without being too much knocked about. ... It may be a long time before you hear from me again. Letter From Trooper Sherwin. (1915, June 26). Molong Express and Western District Advertiser (NSW : 1887 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article101049044

On the 28th of June 1919, a total of 15 officers and 391 other ranks sailed for home after having been detained since the previous December due to their policing duties during the Egyptian Rebellion, finally arriving in Sydney on the 3rd of August 1919. The command at this time fell to Major D.G. Cross, Lt Colonel C.D. Fuller DSO - Order of the Nile, having taken temporary command of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade. During the Regiments almost five years on active service, it received 5 DSOs, 5 MCs, 6 DCMs, 13 MMs and was awarded 5 foreign decorations. The Regiment suffered 134 deaths either killed in action or died of wounds, etc. had 461 wounded in action, 1265 were evacuated through illness and had 16 taken prisoner of war. [1. 2.]

The RSL Virtual War Memorial lists all members of the 6th ALH - but not their horses, here:  https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au/explore/units/214/people?page=6

There is an extensive overview of the reorganisation of these Servicemen and their divisions of horses prior to the later establishment of Australian Light Horsemen divisions, along with many pages of photographs in New South Wales Military Forces. (1902, October 22). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 30. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71494313 

Photographs taken this year from the Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch and Club Palm Beach Official Opening of the Military Heritage Displays and Military Heritage Library run below.

1. Australian Light Horse Organisation - Retrieved from webpage page http://www.lighthorse.org.au/resources/units-in-service/6th-light-horse-regiment 
2. TROVE - Australian National Library
Bob Head, Pensions & Welfare, Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch with Martin Ryan
NSW President of the RSL, Mr. John Haines AM, Sub-Branch Padre, The Reverend Lloyd Bennett and President of the Dee Why RSL Sub-Branch, Mr. Alan Wright
Chair of the Northern Beaches Veterans Centre, Mr. John McInerney OAM, President of the Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch and Pittwater Woman of the Year, Mrs. Deborah Carter and President of the Collaroy RSL Sub-Branch, Mr. Geoff Luck
Mr. Ray Seaver, Mrs. Barbara Seaton and Mr. John Seaton MBE
Beryl Driver OAM, Bob Grace, Nita Simpson
Avalon Red Cross shop volunteers (l to r): Anne Walker, Gloria Xuereb, Coral Morris, Isobel Bennett
Reverend Llloyd Bennett, Sub-Branch Padre and NSW Police Dee Why L.O.C. Area Commander, Mr. Dave Darcy.
The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, Patron of Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch with Danni Sloper
Mr. Nigel Lewis, Mr. Manny Carvalho, Mr. Wayne Edwards, Narrabeen RSL Sub-Branch
Robyn Head and Jillian Cobby
Mr. John Oliver, Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch, Mrs. Deborah Carter, Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch, Mr. Peter Verrills - Pete's father was involved in the construction of the RSL 60 years ago.
Chris and Bob Tipping
Mr. Robin Tapp, Forrestville Sub-Branch, Bryan Webster, President of Palm Beach Club Limited, Mr. Bob Graceand Mr. Peter Blundell.
John Sinclair, Secretary Manager of Club Palm Beach and two of his great staff members.
Report and 2017 Photos by A J Guesdon.