3rd Field Regiment RAA Association
ISSUE No.5 - 2/2002 JUNE 2002
CO’s HOUR (President’s report)
Welcome to the June edition of Take Post. Anzac Day 2002 was most successful. The day started for around 100 of us at a dawn service conducted at Hobbs Artillery Park The service was conducted by the members of 7 Battery with the able support of the Col Comdt. and the 13 Brigade Chaplin. After this excellently conducted and moving ceremony a hearty gunfire breakfast was enjoyed by all. Our ranks for the march were the largest we had for many years, and have prompted your committee to plan changes for next year to make it even more successful. The function at HAP was again well organized and run by the Battery, and at the peak of the afternoon we had around 300 people enjoying themselves. It is pleasing to report the attendance of the members of the 2/7 Field Regiment Association, who for the first time used HAP as the venue for there Anzac Day function.
It is interesting to note we now have two father and son members, all who served in Artillery, they are Doug and John Collins, and Max and Les Puddy.
As you may remember we have our own web site (www.geocities.com/obees.geo/3fdregt/index.html), if you have not visited it please do it is well constructed and has some great artillery links. We are considering simplifying the address to just RAA or similar, but this will cost, we are therefore considering advertising members businesses on the site to cover this, if you are interested please contact John O'Brien
There are two Reserve Forces Day observances planned this year, (details in this edition) I would urge you to attend not only to be part of the day but also to meet up with people you may have served with from other Corps.
Our next function is the Battery birthday on Friday 5July, this promises to be another great show so come along and join fellow members to celebrate.
As most of you are probably aware the perceived the role and importance of Artillery in today's Army seems to be diminishing in importance. The advent of smart weaponry and small scale conflicts may be the cause of this shift in thinking. There are two points on this subject that may be worth pondering. The first in current times was the recent deployment to Afghanistan of the British Commando unit, with its own supporting artillery. The second is an extract from the official history of 4 RAR's second deployment to Vietnam, "There were considerable advantages in selecting guns over air.These were: The guns' rapid initial response to calls for fire; the speed and accuracy with which the fall of shot could be adjusted; supported troops did not have to move before fire could brought down; fire could be walked in to within 50 meters without causing casualties; the artillery shell fuzes could be altered in a few seconds to get the best affect from the rounds on specific targets; and that support was available at all times in all weather. These advantages, for most commanders at company level. tended to make guns the weapon of choice in most contacts."
Your comments on the above would be welcome.
I look forward to seeing you at our next function.
FROM THE COLONEL COMMANDANT’S DESK
I very much enjoyed the Dawn Service which 7 Fd Bty and the Associations conducted for the first time this year celebrating Anzac Day 2002. It was a simple yet dignified event and very appropriate in its order of ceremony which enabled those of us attending to re-dedicate ourselves to the spirit of Anzac and the remembrance of those who fell in the defence of freedom. I was very glad to have been asked to speak to the occasion because I feel that as a veteran, in a community in which our veteran numbers are diminishing, that we must take every opportunity to pass the word that there is nothing romantic or enjoyable about armed conflict. This theme in no way diminishes the respect and honour we owe to those who’ve served. Rather, it simply expresses a desire that our children are never faced with the same terrible experience. So, well done the Bty and well done the Associations. Thank you also to those who turned out to join us at the service and helped make it the success it was.
I look forward to seeing you all at the Unit Birthday Dinner in July.
Brigadier R A (Dick) Lawler AM (Retd)
Colonel Commandant RAA Western Region
BK’S O GROUP (SECRETARY’S REPORT)
Anzac Day 2002 with the Battery conducting for the very first time a Gunners Dawn Service at Hobbs Artillery Park followed by a hearty 'Gunfire breakfast' was very moving, well organised and enjoyable. The March through Perth and RSL Service and camaraderie with in excess of 300 during the afternoon at the Hobbs Artillery Park was a very successful day, enjoyed by all present. The day provided a wonderful opportunity for members to meet over a beer and luncheon. Members from the RAA Association WA, 3rd Fd Regt RAA Association, RAA Historical Society WA, 2/7th Fd Regt RAA Association , Vietnam veterans from various Gunner units, spouses, family's and friends were made welcome and enjoyed the cheer during the afternoon.
Anzac Day 2002 saw many new members join the Association and a welcome is extended to the following new members, David Brown, John Collins, Gordon Hewitt, Alan Lockwood, Brian Mofflin, Graham Missen, Stan Panting, Les Puddy and Peter Suckling.
We wish to continue our recruitment drive to extend our membership to as many ex 3Rd Fd Regt RAA members as possible and members are requested to email or ring Secretary Tom A and provide name and address of an ex member and we will send out an information and application to join kit.
Please look at Notice Board in Take Post for details of up coming functions for Battery Birthday, Reserve Forces Day, Reserve Forces 2002 Open Day, RAA A WA-AGM and Gunners Day 2002.
Any change to members personal particulars ie, address or phone number please advise Secretary Tom on 9332 3309 or by mail to Secretary 3rd Fd Regt RAA Association, PO Box 881, Claremont WA 6910. If you are on email please establish com’s with Secretary Tom on email@example.com
Tom Arnautovic OAM
RAA ASSOCIATION Tradition and More Tradition
Two recent events have highlighted to me the significance and importance of retaining military tradition. I refer to the military presence associated with the funeral ceremony for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and more recently the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. How well the members of the services performed with absolute attention to detail. It certainly made one feel that if some of the centuries old traditions had not been retained, some of the ceremonial aspect might have been much less spectacular. There is no doubt that the Brits know how to turn on shows of this nature.
In a world of constant change, how easy it is to take the easy option and with traditions in the military, this can often mean taking a less focused choice. I urge you all as members of the Gunner fraternity to join with me to retain and adhere to our traditions.
President RAA Association of WA
Thanks to those who have contributed to this issue. In particular a special thanks to Percy Mofflin for taking the time to put down his memories of the early days of 3rd Field Regiment. It is to be hoped that others will take the time to do likewise. Old photographs would also be appreciated.
Percy Mofflin's Recollections of 3rd Field Regiment
At the outbreak of World War 2, England had just changed to the regimental system and was equipping with the 25 pounder. At that time a field regiment was headquarter and 2 batteries each of 3 troops of 4 guns. To speed up the change over a 25 pounder (25pdr Mk 1) piece was produced and mounted on an 18 pounder Mk IV carriage. The totally new equipment was the 25pdr Mk 11 on carriage 25pdr Mk 1.
In Australia at the outbreak of WW2, the artillery unit was a 'brigade', e.g. 3rd Field Brigade RAA (3 Fd Bde RAA). For the AIF Australia followed Britain and formed regiments ? essential for standardisation. There were no 25pdrs ? use was made of 18pdrs and 4.5 Howitzers. It was on this basis that AHQ School of Artillery (Fd Wing) conducted AIF courses at Holsworthy early in 1940, using an AIF battery as 'depot battery'.
Australia had only just got going on mechanisation, which of course included pneumatisation, so some units still held some equipment fitted with iron tyred wooden wheels.
I think the AIF regiments were equipped with their guns overseas, i.e. they embarked without artillery, at least the early ones anyway. Australia got into producing the 25pdr Mk 11 on the Mk 1 carriage, but it must have been well on into 1940 before the school got a couple of these. The permanent 'A' Fd Bty established permanent camp at Holsworthy beside the school and was eventually equipped with the new gun. The Bty became the full time depot battery for the school and was so when I was transferred to Duntroon in January 1942.
The brigade formation continued for some time with the CMF units. In 1940 at Holsworthy I remember a course for CMF officers and NCOs based on adopting certain regimental procedures into the brigade system. I know it was jolly awkward and I was glad to see finish. Never heard anything of brigades after that and I think they swapped over completely. The brigades comprised a headquarters and 4 batteries each of 6 guns, so both regiments and brigades had the same fire power.
Again I cannot recall exactly when regiments were changed to HQ and 3 Btys each of 2 tps of 4 guns, (note same fire power still) but at least here in Australia I would say after 1942. 3 Fd Regt (CMF) of 1948 started with this organisation. The change was probably made for more flexibility. This organisation was still current at the time of my discharge in January 1959. The batteries were known as P, Q, and R, the troops as A and B, C and D, and E and F.
3Fd Regt RAA (CMF)
In 1947 Australia started gearing up to re?establish the CMF As far as artillery was concerned, courses were commenced at AHQ School of Artillery, North Head. The Fd Wing conducted 2 (1 left after the second. I think it might have been the last of that nature ? it was for me anyway). These courses were: 1 Cadre Course (Fd) 1/09/1947 to 17/03/1948 No 2 Cadre Course (Fd) 04/1948 to 10/1948
They were large courses of Offrs, WOs and Sgts (ex original Permanent Military Force ?PN1F) who had been gathered up from the various places where they had been held while the army was sorted out at the end of WW2. Beside technical and tactical artillery training, administration and 'Q' matters were fully covered to produce Adjutants, Quartermasters, RSMs, RQMs, Instructors, and Technical Storemen. It was personnel selected from No 1 Course who had the task of organising the first recruitment for 3 Fd Regt.
The first ARA staff (I think we had lost PMF status at this stage) were
Adjt Capt Meers
QM Capt Houlton
RSM WOI Bill Holder
RQ WOII Les Devereux
Instructors WO II Jack Way
Ern Kgelgrin (later to 10 Mdm Regt)
Sgt Tech Storeman Sgt Les Puddey
Bdr Clerk Bdr Jack Hettick
Tpt NCO Bdr George Bradford
Gnr Storeman Gnr Fred Bull Note ex S of A Course
Gnr Driver ?
Initially, I think, all CMF units I WA were grouped as 13 Inf Bde, but at a comparatively early date, units other than infantry were regrouped as W Comd HQ Gp. The CNIF units in Karrakatta were included in this formation.
Of the listed 13 members of 3 Fd Regt ARA Cadre, 10 were actually posted to the unit establishment. The instructors were another group again ? W Comd ARA Cadre (RAA) Attached. They could be, and occasionally were, directed to training duties elsewhere. For the working of the Regt, all ARA staff were under the control of the CMF CO, but for the purpose of administration, discipline and ARA training, their CO was the ARA Bde Maj of W Comd HQ Gp.
3Fd Regt recruiting for officers commenced in June 1948. The first CO was Lt Col Bale and the 21C was Maj Rogers. All the officers were WW2 servicemen.
Recruiting for other ranks commenced the following month, July 1948. When I joined the Regt on 25 October 1948 there was a number of WW2 servicemen ? a couple of WOs a Sgt or two and several ORs. The majority were young men enlisting for the first time, mostly keen, a number of whom eventually advanced to commissioned rank and even to commanding the Regt (Sharp & Taylor I have in mind). But that was shortly after my discharge.
For the duration of 1948 all members to date were held as RHQ. With the commencement of parades in 1949, 'P' Bty was formed and allotted an instructor who for Bty training matters, worked directly under the BC. The first BC was Maj Davis and the Instructor was Mofflin. The other 2 instructors were allotted duties by RHQ, essentially incoming recruits who were always held initially as RHQ. Facing down the hall, P Bty office was the first room on the left of the ramp.
Personnel numbers were always low, unfortunately. There were also always some recruits who gave up attending parades after only a limited period, despite the enlistment having been for 2 years. These people increased the administrative workload as staff had to visit their home addresses to recover clothing and equipment so the individuals could be discharged, However we were at least fortunate in that the Program of Parades always had more voluntary home training parades than was the case later. In addition some unpaid voluntary home training parades of a Thursday night were included for NCO training. Thus the Regt was getting a valuable nucleus of responsible members, some of whom continued to commissioned rank.
That we had 2 x 14 day annual camps in the calendar year (Jan/Dec) 1949 gives clear indication of the enthusiasm and effort displayed by the early members of the Regt. The first camp about March was apparently for the year 48/49 and the second in September (the period of all future camps) for 49/50.
The March camp was at Northam, but we travelled north to Dandarragan for field firing, doing some deployment en route. The unit camped overnight on a reserve near Moora and it was dark before arrival and raining. Tents were off?loaded from a Q truck, but the recce hadn't been too good ? the site was an iron stone knoll. You can imagine the scene ? in the dark, tent pegs breaking up, pick heads bending up and drizzling rain. What tents couldn't be strung to shrub growth, the lads just pulled over themselves to get shelter. Anyway, we got to the range had a satisfactory shoot and in due course got back to Northam a bit bedraggled but the young troops happy with their trip and baptism to 25pdr firing nevertheless. The camp was also a good introductory experience for the ARA staff into CW unit life.
The September camp was conducted entirely at Moora under canvas in the show ground ? just 3 Fd Regt. The camp stores were railed direct from 5 BOD Midland to Moora railway station and trucked there from to the show ground by the advance party. The sigs had to lay line to the local telephone exchange where we were given a connection to the PMG system. The field firing was again at Dandarragan ? no need to camp en route this time. The town’s people made the troops welcome and the camp was enjoyed by all.
Again I can't remember exactly when 'Q' Bty was formed but probably early in 1951. I think the first BC was Maj McAskill. W011 Ken Anderson was ARA instructor
National Service training started with the first intake marching in to 17 NS Trg Bn, Swanbourne, in September 195 1. The Bn had 14 platoons, each of 48 ? 50 trainees so it was in the vicinity of 700 lads 3 times per year. But prior to that, a number of changes had occurred to 3 Fd Regt command and the ARA staff.
CO Lt Col Rogers
21C Maj Davis
Adjt Capt Meers / Capt Whitelaw / Maj Forbes
QM Capt Houlton / Capt Donegan
RSM WO Holder / WO Mofflin (acting)
Back to National Service. The original commitment was 3 months full time training in a NS Trg Bn followed by 3 years part time training with a CMF unit ? 14 days annual camp, plus 12 or 14 days compulsory home training parades. As with CW, time was counted Night parade = 2 hours, Half day 3 hours and Whole day was represented by 6 hours or anything up to 24 hours. Only a couple of years after its introduction, the part time training with a CMF unit was reduced to only 2 years. A trainee living beyond a certain distance from a training depot (there was a number of country depots) was classified as 'out of radius' and only had to do the 14 day annual camp component. This 14 days counted from the time of leaving home to the time of return there to.
Commencing with intake No 3 (i.e. August 1952), the last 3 weeks of full time training was devoted to training in the particular corps to which allotted e.g. Armour Arty, Inf etc. 3 Fd Regt allottees did specialist training (TAs, Gun Nos, & Sigs) at Hobbs Artillery Park under the Regt ARA instructors and myself, culminating in a brief deployment under a 17 NS Trg Bn platoon commander, and a field firing usually at Yanchep. The range was between Yanchep National Park and the ocean ? shooting in a northerly direction. This firing used to be conducted by 3 Fd Regt Adjt or an officer from W Comd HQ. However, the last platoon I was associated with in late November / early December 1958 did no deployment and only had a shoot seaward off the SAS Regt oval at Swanbourne The plan was a disappointment to me and the troops also, but they performed admirably ? a real credit to themselves.
17 NS Trg Bn had 3 intakes of trainees per year and initially 3 Fd Regt was allotted Nos 6 and 7 Platoons, each of about 48 trainees, so from the first home training parade in 19 5 2, the Regt started to receive roughly 100 basically trained lads 3 tines per year. It was a big boost to the Regt, especially as they could be posted straight away to the Btys. Later, about May 1953, only No 6 PI went to 3 Fd Regt (No 7 PI May 1953 to Coast/Antiaircraft, then Sept 1953 to 10 LH). I do not know if the allotment was ever increased to 2 platoons again after my time.
1 was posted back as ARA instructor to P Bty again as from 7 September 1953. The CO was Lt Col Davis, 21C I think Maj Fitzharding Adjt Capt Weir, RSM WOl Bill Butler. Jack Hettick, now WOll, was ARA instructor, and later, on the discharge of WO Anderson, became instructor Q Bty. The RHQ clerk, Bdr Plutski was, I believe, the first woman in the Regt.
Although the NS drafts greatly increased the strength of the Regt on paper, in practice the benefit was a little less so. Generally speaking, they were happy to do the annual camp and thoroughly enjoyed it but disliked the home training parades. This resulted in absences with or without leave. For these absences Further voluntary parades on the Program were notified to them as obligatory parades ? which some of them would attend. Also about the end of 1953 when the NS obligation was reduced to only 2 years, a number of NS were already entitled to discharge. This meant the incoming increase was being reduced by discharges.
A while later on, the Regt was allotted a number of 'out of radius' personnel whose commitment was only 2 annual camps, with travel to and from home included in the fortnight. Because of infrequent services and distance, public transport ? train and bus ?did not always match with camp dates, so in some cases personnel marched in during the advance party and left before conclusion of the camp proper (in the middle of the field firing), or arrived after commencement of camp and completed their time in the rear party. The situation was eased a little by the 1 or 2 days obligatory home training programmed at the commencement of actual camp date, giving an actual camp period of 15/16 days.
For many ORs the September period was a busy seasonal time and so there would be a few granted leave, some would be absent without leave. These personnel were obliged to attend an alternative camp at Northam in February. The one camp embraced members from all CMF units and only conducted general training ? no corps training ?and was staffed by ARA drawn from all the units concerned. So the Regt could have some people on its roll who were never even seen during their NS commitment. The OOR system was terminated by 1958.
After Moora the Regt always initially camped at Northam. It became the practice to schedule a obligatory weekend home training parade immediately prior to the camp period so that the last day of camp would be on the following second Sunday. Early in the second week the Regt evacuated Northam Camp and moved, in the early years to Yanchep, and later to Lancelin for field firing.
Both batteries would be deployed for firing, but even with the NS numbers it was sometimes difficult to raise sufficient gun Nos 1 to suitably man all guns, and occasions arose when a No Is position was held by a reliable Gnr However, with 2 batteries in action it gave an opportunity to practice on a limited scale, the procedure for engagement of 'Bty target' or 'Mike target' (Regimental). These targets always aroused a spirit of competition, as each troop was keen to be first to report '_ Troop ready'. At the conclusion of field firing, there was a sense of achievement, that the Regt was getting somewhere as it were, but also a sense of disappointment that so many capable lads would be gone by next camp. We slipped back a bit each time and had to recover at the next camp.
On the final Saturday it was on the road once again this time to Karrakatta, usually arriving mid to late afternoon. Most troops took the opportunity of leave overnight with an early morning return.
Sunday was a very busy day ? for the troops maintenance and sorting and returning stores ? for RHQ settling 'm and administration. It culminated with pay, the final parade and address by the CO on the parade ground, and dismissal.
The rear party then camped in the main hall. There was plenty of work, but the troops were always happy and willing, and as with advance parties, those who wished took leave overnight. How completely the work was completed was dependent on the weather we had had in the field ? sometimes the depot hall had to be left 'm a mass of tentage or blankets draped from the roof structure to dry. Once every thing was packed up it was a job for all the ARA staff to return stores and vehicles to Midland.
At the end of 1958 the only remaining members of the original ARA staff were WO Jack Way, WO Jack Hettic and Sgt Les Puddey. WO Way would have retired. WO Hettick was transferred to the Eastern States and was promoted to W01. Sgt Puddey was promoted W011 and transferred to the Cadet Corps.
7 Field Battery 3rd Field Regiment RAA
The Battery suddenly finds its self at the mid-point of the year and still going flat out. So far this year, we have conducted a number of small arms and infantry minor tactics exercises at both Bindoon and Northam Training Areas. The Battery has utilised these exercises to revise basic soldier skills of shooting, patrolling and working in the field. We have also taken the opportunity to qualify members on the new F1 grenades, which came into service during 2000.
Early April saw the Battery deployed on the first of a number of planned Dry Fire Exercises, at Lancelin. The exercise was a great success, and saw the battery complete a number of direct and deliberate deployments by day and night. It was a great opportunity to revise technical gunnery prior to the Live Fire Exercises later in the year.
ANZAC Day at Hobbs Artillery Park was a huge success, starting with a Dawn Service and Gun Fire Breakfast, followed by the Battery marching through Perth as part of 13 Brigade and finishing with lunch and a few beers back at the Battery. As stated, the day was a great success and well supported by current and not so current members of the Battery. If this year's turn out is any indication then ANZAC Day 03 is not to be missed.
At the end of May the Battery sent 8 personnel to Canberra (29-30 May) to support the Australian Federation Guard in firing a 19 Gun Salute to mark the arrival of the Prime Minister of Thailand. The salute went well and all who participated enjoyed the chance to catch up with our Artillery brethren from 48 Battery (SA Gunners).
Coming up in the immediate future the Battery has a 'Try Before You Buy' day planned for Saturday 15 Jun 02, at Hobbs Artillery Park. Followed by the Brigade Military Skills Competition at the end of June. This year will see BDR McMahon once again leading the Battery team. Hopefully he and his team will do as well as they did last year. Last year they finished in the top five from a field of twelve.
From the end of June and the Military Skill Competition the Battery focus will change from basic soldier skills to gunnery skills as we prepare to conduct a number of trade related courses through the month of July. This period should stand us in good stead for the latter part of the year when we have a number of Artillery Live Fire Exercises planned lead into the ARTEP evaluation exercise.
Well that's all from me, I look forward in keeping you informed on the battery's past and present activities in the next issue.
'SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLUM' (If you want peace, prepare for war)
Warrant Officer Class Two
Sergeant Major Instructor Gunnery
Battery Birthday Friday 5 July 2002
Reserve Forces Day Sun 7 July Kings Park 1000 hrs
RAA A WA—AGM Mon 26 Aug Anzac House Gallipoli Rm 1130 hrs
Reserve Forces Open Day Sat 7 Sep at 13 Bde
Membership for the year 2001 to 2002 is now due.
Fees still $10.00
PO Box 881 Claremont WA 6910
President Peter Rowles W 9359 1280 H9246 3941 Vice President Ron Jager W 9420 2231 H9457 2166 Secretary Tom Arnautovic W9430 3428 H9332 3309 Treasurer Les Herbert W9370 1200 H9341 4517 Committee Ray Bird W9380 9388 H9446 5520 Committee Ted Barton H9479 6382 Editor Peter Farrell H9246 1367 Committee Ken Hepworth H9294 2275 Committee John O’Brien W9273 7157 H9339 8615
Issues of ‘TAKE POST’ will be posted to members on a quarterly basis with next ‘TAKE POST’ in June 2002.
Membership fee is $10 pa.
3 Fd Regt RAA Association
PO Box 881
CLAREMONT WA 6910
Telephone + 61 8 93323309
Members are requested to advise Secretary of contact name & addresses of former 3rd Fd Regt personnel and application for membership kits will be forwarded direct.
‘TAKE POST’ is published by 3rd Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery Association as a service to members. Any articles or editorial comment should be submitted to the Editor:
3rd Fd Regt RAA Association