24 April 2011

Anzac Day roundup

It being the eve of Anzac Day it seems appropriate to provide readers with a roundup of the various posts I have put up about, or touching on, the war service of various people I have known, usually with connections to The Armidale School or the University of New England.

In Anzac Day, 1967 I provided some pictures of the Anzac Day March in Sydney, 54 years ago.

Anzac Day, Armidale, 1959 gives a couple of photos taken by my mother during Armidale’s 1959 Anzac Day march, and a bit of background about Anzac day in Armidale.

In Duty Done: Flight Lieutenant Colin Russell Leith AM DFC I recounted the remarkable flying career of Spitfire pilot Russell Leith, who served with RAAF 453 Squadron in Britain, was credited with 3 ½ kills, participated in the Battle of Normandy, was shot down behind the German lines, evaded capture and rejoined his unit to fly on until the end of the war.

In Burial of Australian Spitfire Pilot I noted the burial with full military honours of Flight Lieutenant Henry ‘Lacy’ Smith, who had been missing presumed dead since his aircraft was shot down on 11 June 1944, just five days after D-Day, and whose body was discovered in the wreckage when his plane was discovered last November by a French couple, buried in the mud of the Orne estuary.

In Vale Rex Robert Budd, DFC (1935-2010) I wrote of an Old Boy of The Armidale School who served two operational tours of duty with 9 Squadron between 1968 and 1970 flying Iroquois helicopters during the Vietnam War and was the first RAAF pilot to log 1000 hours during that campaign. After the war he became one of the pioneers of helicopter mustering of cattle.

Alex Buzo on George Crosslé reproduces my late classmate’s obituary piece for a remarkable Irishman, one of our teachers at The Armidale School, who never revealed anything of his war service in our time at school, because he worked at the top secret British code-breaking establishment at Bletchley Park.

Alex Buzo on Brian Mattingley reproduces Alex’s obituary for another remarkable teacher, who commenced teaching at the Armidale School in 1939, survived 36 missions over Germany and occupied Europe as a navigator in Lancaster bombers (average survival 10 missions), was awarded a DFC, returned to the School and resumed his teaching career.

Remembering Des Harrison is an obituary I wrote in 2005 about the teacher who was master in charge of cadets during my time at The Armidale School. He had joined the staff at The Armidale School at the beginning of 1942, but after just two terms he enlisted in the army and spent two eventful years as a member of the Northern Australia Observer Unit that came to be known as "Curtin's Cowboys".  In peacetime, as well as being master in charge of cadets, he had a long career with the 12/16 Hunter River Lancers, becoming in due course the regiment’s commanding officer.

Jock McDiarmid, MM C de G is a plea for information about a remarkable Scotsman who was School Sergeant at The Armidale School from 1957-59 and from 1961-April 1962. Jock had an outstanding war record, having seen action with the Special Air Service behind German lines in the invasion of Sicily and the liberation of France, followed by further action in Holland (where the picture in the post was taken in 1945) and Germany. On the trail of Jock McDiarmid pieces together what little I have been able to find out about his military career, and Jock McDiarmid’s MM commendation quotes the citation for Jock’s Military Medal.

New England University Rugby Team 1939 recounts the stories of a group of young men, my father included, who were university students at the outbreak of war, and touches on their military service where known.

Last but by no means least, Ida Madge Brown (1904-2009) is a tribute to a family friend, daughter of John Francis Brown, who planted the first vine grapes at Milawa.  Madge died in Wangaratta in 2009 at the remarkable age of 105. Madge had an eventful war: she served with 2/4th Australian General Hospital during the height of the conflict at Tobruk, became matron-in-charge of the hospital ship Wanganella, and at the end of the war shared with my father the task of commencing the rehabilitation of the prisoners in Changi Prison and arriving in Singapore from the Burma-Thailand railway and camps elsewhere.

No comments: