2/18th  BATTALION  (A.I.F.)  ASSOCIATION

 

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#134, FB '07

President
M.M. Blyth,
43 Hazlemead St.,
Asquith 2078
Treasurer
Diane  Humphries,
31/10 McKye St.,
Waverton. 2060
Secretary
Colleen Czarnik
PO Box 108
Pennant Hills 2120
(02) 9875-3497
Welfare Officer
J. McGrory
30 Holland Cres
Frenchs Forest 2086

 

NEWSLETTER NO 134

February 2007

Presidents Report
      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.
          LAST POST
NX40156 C A Harding
NX59414 W Hughes
 
      Congratulations to 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.
      The 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 Lynette Silver 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 members families.
      On the 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 in the Sculptured Gardens at the Memorial.
       I’d like to see a good turnout at the Anzac Day service at St Johns.
                                                                                                                              Merv
 
      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 willco4@bigpond.com.au

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
 
The enclosed 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 P.O.W.)
[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
      March 5th
      April 2nd
      May 7th
 
      Anzac Day Reunion…Wednesday April 25th. Lunch at City Tatts. PITT ST 12 noon
      St Johns Church Service - Sunday April 29th. 11.30 am
 
      Don’t forget if you want any information or wish to donate material contact Wendy Willcocks on e-mail willco4@bigpond.com.au


      2/18th Bn Association Welfare/Liason Report.
 
                                        .February 2007
 
    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 mate.
    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 Ferris.
    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 mates.
    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
      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 time.
                                                                            xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
 
    VALE W.M. Partridge NX71938
 
    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 Jones.
    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 action.
 
    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).
                                                                          

                                                                               xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


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 present day.
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 strife.

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.
 


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