Since my last report much has happened. Our
battalion plaque was dedicated at the Australian War Memorial on 17th
November, the Association luncheon at the Bowlers Club on 16th December
,and the plaque was placed in the Sculptured Gardens in January at the
Australian War Memorial Canberra.
A copy of
the plaque dedication ceremony follows my report.
Our new book “History
of 2/18th Battalion” went into print and will soon be available.
Many thanks to Di Elliott and Lynette Silver for the countless hours of
research to bring it up to date. A big thank you to Larry Czarnik for
the time and effort he put in bringing the book to fruition.
A copy of the cover of the book is
reproduced at the end of the newsletter.
Christmas Picnic. Our Christmas
picnic was, again, a great day. Joan and Diane did a great job
decorating the hall.
NX40156 C A Harding
NX59414 W Hughes
Jack Waterford who was awarded the OAM for services to the media.
Jack was editor of the Canberra Times for some time and is the son of
John Waterford, a Battalion member.
luncheon on the 16th December was an outstanding success. One
hundred attended and all agreed that it was a wonderful occasion that
will be remembered for years to come. People came from as far apart as
Queensland, Lightning Ridge, Canberra and Coffs Harbour. The venue,
Bowlers Club in York St was excellent. Wendy Willcocks, Joan Okey and
Diane Humphries arranged a great display of Battalion archives.
Noel Simmons did a splendid job as M.C. Larry
Czarnik spoke about the production of the book and the
order form which he has
placed on the battalion website. There is also an order form
included with this newsletter
The address by
was mainly about the History of the 2/18th Battalion, a revised edition
of our original book “Against All Odds” A copy of her address follows.
This book will soon be in circulation and priced
at $25.—to Association members and their kin. As this will be the last
publication and numbers are limited, it is advisable that books be
ordered as soon as possible. The book should be an excellent gift to
17th November, the battalion plaque was dedicated at a service at the
Australian War Memorial. Eighty people attended what was a memorable
occasion, some from Queensland and Tasmania.
Col Spence’s great grandson, Elliott Hull
presented his war medals to the Australian War Memorial . Hugh Simmons
grand daughter, Sue Simmons, a cadet officer arranged transport and
lunch at the Officers Mess at Duntroon. It was wonderful to meet up with
old friends and sons, daughters of our old mates.
The A.W.M. advise that the plaque has been placed
Sculptured Gardens at the Memorial.
I’d like to see a good turnout at the Anzac
Day service at St Johns.
Anyone wanting information from the archives
or wishing to donate material, e.g. diaries or transcripts of copies of
manuscripts, letters or any other items relating to the 2/18th Bn.,
contact Wendy Willcocks on e-mail
Photo shows Bob Flint, Gordon Richardson, Stan
O’Grady, Merv Blyth, John McGrory Joe Ferris in Canberra.
[Webmaster note: from L to R - Joe Ferris, John McGrory,
Merv Blyth, Stan O'Grady, Gordon Richardson, Bob Flint]
Ethne Brooks has sent a portrait of her father Capt. George McLaughlin,
which follows, the Artist :- Henk Brewer at Changi Camp 26.1.1945
letter and following photos show Rod Beatties museum and research
facility in Thailand supplied by Di Elliott.
Ian Johnstone, son of Capt. F.T. Johnstone 2/18th Bn has made a donation
to the plaque
Photograph taken at the luncheon held on December
16th of ex POW’S with President Merv and Margaret Mourdant (Civilian
[Webmaster note: from L to R - Stan O'Grady, Bob Flint,
Margaret Mourdant, John McGrory, Merv Blyth, Mac Gibson, Cliff Olsen,
Mac Cotte, George Auld]
Dates to Remember
Picnics in the Park
Anzac Day Reunion…Wednesday April
25th. Lunch at City Tatts. PITT ST 12 noon
St Johns Church Service - Sunday April 29th.
Don’t forget if you want any
information or wish to donate material contact Wendy Willcocks on e-mail
2/18th Bn Association Welfare/Liason Report.
AULD George/Jean :- Both keeping well.
George has been diagnosed with a cancer in the bladder, has been getting
treatment and last week had a chemotherapy procedure. Seeing his Doctor
and waiting on results of tests.
BLYTH Merv/Heather :-Both keeping reasonably
well. Merv working very hard re our rewritten history. Expect to be
ready for delivery within the next month.
BARNES Bill :- Bill phoned as promised.
Still need more rain, not as bad as before, things going steady. Not
much news about. He is keeping well and on top of things.
FORD Bob/Pam :-Both feeling a little
better at present, hope the good feeling continues into the future. He
has had a very rough trot over many months, so welcomes feeling good
again. We are all with you Bob and Pam
GEMMELL Lee :- Keeping reasonably O.K.
at present. Has her ups and downs like the rest of us. Very lucky to
have family that is so close to each other. Keep smiling all.
GIMBERT “Slim”/Betty :- Both going along
reasonably well, “Slim” having operation on his eyes next month. Hope it
will be of some help Slim. Very hot and dry in their area with most of
the rest of Australia.
MEIER Marcia :- Keeping reasonably well,
has had a bad back but puts up with it. Has her daughters within walking
distance so is not without company. Sends greetings to all.
OLSEN Cliff/Kath :- Cliff not the best
at the moment. Was unable to attend our picnic last week. Kath is
reasonably O.K. Hope both are on the mend.
PEARSON “Ginty”/Eileen :-Some phone
trouble it appears, the call goes through, someone picks up the phone,
but no one answers. Try again tomorrow.
PIPER Reg :- Keeping very well actually.
Lost a couple of stone in weight. His daughter from America is coming
out to stay for a few weeks with him, then they are going on to
Melbourne to see his boys. Looking forward to all of that. His 90th
birthday is in April, so he is doing well. Sends his regards and best
wishes to all his old mates.
SPRATT Doug/Olga :- Both keeping
reasonably O.K. He is worried that he might not be able to keep driving
for much longer. I feel a bit the same way, we will have to see how we
both go. Keep smiling old mate.
O’GRADY Stan :- Getting all set for his
journey to Sandakan in Borneo with a group led by Lynette Silver for
Anzac Day. Looking forward to the trip very much. Have a great trip old
FORD Bob :- Coming good, getting some
energy back. Feeling quite a little better, Doctor has put him onto one
more set of antibiotics which should clear up the infection.
GRAHAM “Tich”/Barbara :- Keeping
reasonably well. Barbara is going along O.K. Keeping his mental
processes up to scratch. Said his daughter was up in Cairns recently,
was able to see and speak with our old mate “Bluey” Evans and Phyllis.
“Bluey” is going .O.K.. Phyllis not keeping the best at present. Hope to
catch up with them also.
PARTRIDGE Wally (White) :- Passed away
at lunch time today Tuesday, 18th in hospital. Pneumonia. Offered
condolences to Anne Jensen
RICHARDSON Gordon :-Keeping well at
present. Leaving for his son’s place in the Dandenongs next week. His
son is having birthday celebrations and will be staying in Victoria for
about a month. Enjoy a great holiday Gordon.
SMITH Jack/Therese :- Still on top of
things as always, now chief cook and bottle washer and food procurer.
Therese still doing it tough. Lucky he stays fit and well.
PEARSE Mary :- Keeping quite well. Has
taken on playing bridge again and is really enjoying it. Has a new great
grand daughter and thinks that is great. Sends regards to all.
FLINT…Bob :- Keeping well. Has not had any of
the rain that has been falling in some areas. Keeps in touch with Joe
EVANS Eric/Phyllis :- 66 years married,
sure is a long time. “Bluey” is keeping quite well Phyllis not 100% but
is battling on regardless. Send their best wishes to all their old
FERRIS Joe :-Keeping fit and well. Tells me
he has not been to see a Doctor for at least 2 years, takes no medicines
of any description. What a wonderful situation to be in. Has had no rain
and is actually buying vegetables. That would be a first for Joe.
COTTEE Mac/Linda :- Keeping reasonably
well. Still having trouble with his legs. Doesn’t get around much now.
Linda is keeping fit and well, she is able to get around.
DORPH Joan :- Keeping reasonably well,
her back still gives her some trouble following her recent bad fall
.Sends regards to all.
GWYNNE Amy :- Turns 99 in March. What a
wonderful lady she is, speaks well of everybody. Is still doing
worthwhile things for many people. Sends her best wishes and blessings
to all. Had Frank been alive, he would have been 100 last week.
HORLEY ..Daphne :- Has everyone in her
thoughts and trusts all are feeling well. Daphne is battling on, has her
good days and not so good days .I guess like most of us. Sends her
regards to all
Helen Veitch, widow of our good friend George, is
looking forward to turning 100 years old in June of this year. Helen is
a great lady who did much with the Comforts Club during the war years.
She has a great memory and is a fount of knowledge relating to the
2/18th Bn. She has quite some memorabilia relating to those tough times.
She recently had a bad fall and spent three or four weeks in Mon Vale
hospital recovering. Never a complaint and has had the great support of
her sister, Molly, who has helped to take care of her for quite some
Passed away on Tuesday 13th February.2007.
Died in hospital from a bout of pneumonia. He has been
suffering from Parkinson's Disease for a few years now, but he was
bearing up under the strain in a magnificent manner. He has remained
very positive with the help of his two daughters, Ann Jensen and Olwyn
Since losing his lovely wife Margarette some years ago, he
has relied on his daughters and son who have been very attentive to him.
He spent the last two years or so, in the Holy Spirit Home in Aspley,
Queensland. Where he was looked after very well. He was a very good
patient who everyone on the staff was pleased to look after. He was a
first class soldier during the fighting, held his own during all the
VALE.Bert Harding. Mudgee
C.A. Harding NX40156
CA. Harding enlisted at Mudgee in 1941. Joined he 2/18th Bn
in 1941 at Manilla Road Camp at Tamworth in the group known as 4th and
5th Reinforcements, and went to Singapore on H.M.X.S.Sibijak, a Dutch
flag ship, which got us into port safely.
Bert was a good soldier who trained well with his mates and
did a good job in the actual fighting. He was spoken of very
respectfully by his Section for the work he did in the fighting,
especially on Singapore Island.
He was quite a popular figure as a P.O.W. on Blakang Mati
where he spent about 2 ½ years, after spending time at Woodlands Camp
and at Changi (Selarang Barracks).
Address and Toast to the 2/18th Battalion, AIF. by Lynette Silver.
Reunion lunch, 16 December 2006
As an honorary member of the 2/18th Battalion Association, I am honoured
to say a few words on this very special occasion, especially as I have
no blood ties to the unit.
My introduction to the 2/18th was via its parent body, the 8th
Australian division, one crisp ANZAC Day morning. I must have been about
8 or 9 years old. Before my grandpa, a veteran of two world wars, left
to join the march, he exhorted me to wave my little flag very hard as
the men of the 8th Division passed by. "These men", my grandpa said,
"are the true heroes. They were prisoners of the Japanese".
At the time, of course, I was too young to really appreciate the impact
of this statement, but I waved my flag very hard indeed, and from that
day on always regarded the 8th Division as something special. It was not
until I was about 13, with a voracious appetite for reading, including
accounts of POW life, that I began to understand why my grandfather, who
had been badly wounded in Flanders, and wore 14 hard-earned medals on
his chest, held the 8th in such high regard.
However, it was not until the mid 1980s that I actually had the
privilege of meeting someone who had served with the 2/18th - Captain
Ken Mosher, one of my grandpa's heroes. Funnily enough, the meeting came
about due to a common link with geology -Ken as a practicing geologist,
and me as a colonial historian, interested in the first gold discovery.
Once we had sorted out the gold story, I had a wonderful discussion with
Ken about his POW experiences in Sandakan and Kuching,- but with so much
public emphasis on the years the 8th Division spent in captivity, it was
not for another three years, when researching material for another book,
that I became interested in Australians in action, in Malaya.
As you all know, the 2/18th was in the thick of the fighting, at
Nithsdale Estate - a battle that began on the night of the 26th of
January 1942 and lasted ten hours, claiming the lives of over 80
officers and men. A week or so later, on the 8th of February, the unit
was back in action, scattered among the mangroves and scrub of Singapore
island's north-west coast - one of three battalions facing an onslaught,
across the narrow straits of Johore, by thousands of fanatical Japanese
troops. Those who survived and were able to retreat, re-formed again,
some to become involved in fierce fighting along reformatory road;
others to join the ill-fated x battalion. By the time the allied army
was surrendered, the battalion had lost 225 killed and over 400 wounded.
It was the knowledge that Australians had fought, and fought well, which
led me to come to their defense in 1993. following allegations that
Australian cowardice was responsible for the fall of Singapore. When my
rebuttal to a particularly sensationalised document, the so-called
Wavell Report, was published in the national and international press, I
was invited to accept the post as historian to the 8th Australian
Division Association. This was an honour but, far important to me, was
an invitation to join the 2/18th at their famous picnics in the park.
And what a privilege this has been, to not only be welcomed into the
fold, to such an extent that I am now an honorary member of this special
group, but also to witness at first hand the battalion's wonderful and
enduring bonds of friendship, forged so strongly that they endure to the
Bonds formed initially on the dusty training ground at Wallgrove, then
at Bathurst; bonds bolstered in the steamy jungles of Malaya:
strengthened in desperate battle and, finally, tested to the extreme
through years of very great adversity. The lasting camaraderie of the
unit's members over a period spanning 65 years is an inspiration to a!!.
It has also been a great privilege for me, with my dear friend Di
Elliott. another honorary member, to be invited to use the historical
and research expertise we have accumulated over the years, to update and
revise the former unit history for re-publication.
We know that some people find our involvement in, and commitment to,
this project hard to fathom. But our motivation is really so very
simple. We are merely living up to the battalion's motto
"Legionis lampada tradamus"
'We hand on the torch of the legion'.
My only regret in preparing the revised history for publication is that,
due to time constraints and logistical problems of maintaining the same
page structure, I was not able to expand some of the text, or to include
some of the fine research undertaken by Wendy Willcocks, John Fuller's
daughter. You may not be aware that her 2005 thesis 'Without Glamour - a
social history of the 2/18th Battalion' not only earned her a much
deserved Master of Arts, with honours, but also resulted in her being
awarded the prestigious University prize, I am sure, Wendy, that the
members of the battalion, and everyone here today would like to join me
in congratulating you.
I am sure also that your father would be immensely proud of you, just as
proud that I am to have been associated with such a fine body of men as
the 2/18th Battalion.
We are all aware of the inexorable march of time but as an historian I
am confident that the sacrifices made by members of the 2/18th will be
remembered, long after we are gone. Future generations, on learning of
the great legacy the 2/18th has left, will hand on the torch of the
legion, not because they feel obligated to do so, but because, in the
words of Lord Byron, 'there are deeds which should not pass away, and
names that must not be forgotten'.
Thank you, gentlemen, for the great contribution you have made to ensure
that here, in Australia, we have been able to maintain a vigorous
democracy, allowing us all to live in a country free from war and civil
It is now my great honour to ask you all to be upstanding, to charge
your glasses and to join me in a toast to the gallant members, past and
present, of the 2/18th Battalion, AIF.