Sadly I advise of the death of 519712 Peter Ross Chester Smith. Peter “PRC” passed away on Monday 5th April after a series of surgical complications. PRC served in Vietnam with 8 RAR Nov 69 – Nov 70. He also served in 8/9 RAR.
Sadly I advise that Sapper has passed away, 215124 Warren Hugh Johnson, passed away 30/03/2021, at Peninsula Private Hospital.
Warren’s funeral will be held Wed 7 April 2021, at Albany Creek Memorial Gardens, in the Garden Chapel, at 10.30am, please wear medals.
Condolences to his wife Susie, family and friends.
Warren did two (2) tours of Vietnam, 66 – 67, and 68 – 69.
Sadly I must advise of the death of the epitome of an Infantryman – Fred Morrison; anti-terrorist operations in Malaya; esteemed team member 11 Pl, D Coy 1RAR first tour of South Vietnam 1965/66. Fred also served on the 2nd tour 1968/1969. Fred died at home aged 84 years on the evening of 25th March.
Funeral details TBA
Sadly I advise of the death of 2788209 Robert James (Wiso) Wiseman at the Gold Coast University Hospital at 8:00am Tuesday 23 March 2021.
The cause of death is unknown, however, Wiso had a few medical issues over the years having lost a kidney sometime ago and had continuing heart problems.
At his special request, he will be cremated with no funeral.
I have been advised of the death of James Liddell on 7 March 2021, and his Memorial Service was held last Monday, 15 March 2021 at the Nathalia Recreation Reserve.
I have been advised that Brian Douglas passed away last Wednesday the 17th March 2021 of Brain Cancer at the Bolton Clark Age Care Home Fernhill- Caboolture Qld.
The funeral service will be held on Friday 26th March 2021 at Traditional Funerals 644 Morayfield Road Burpengary Qld 4505. Phone 1300 018 183, I believe the funeral will be live-streamed, please check if you wish to watch the service.
I have been advised of the death of 2791894 James (Jim) Francis DONNELLY at about 2:00am on 17 March. Jim’s funeral will be held at Tweed Crematorium on Tuesday 23 March 10:00am.
Sadly I advise that Allan Charles McLean passed away at 11:00pm Wednesday 17 March 2021 after a long battle with cancer.
Allan was Pioneer Platoon SGT and Pioneers are rallying around his wife Betty.
Allan’s funeral will be:
11:00am Wednesday 24 March 2021
Gregson and Weight’s Chapel 5 Gregson Place, Caloundra
Please join with us in offering our deepest sympathy to those who will mourn the passing of a loved one. Another 6 RAR family member, taken too soon.
Friday, 19 March 2021
TOMORROW we commemorate 105 years since the arrival of Australian troops, who were part of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC Corps), in Marseille, France, during the First World War.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said these troops joined the Allied cause to fight against the powerful Imperial German Army, with every battle testing the limits of each man’s endurance.
“In February 1916, the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force were rearranged as both forces had expanded, this led to ANZAC Corps being replaced by I ANZAC Corps and II ANZAC Corps,” Mr Chester said.
“The AIF men were fit and eager to prove themselves worthy of the Anzacs’ reputation of bravery, skill and initiative, a reputation that is remembered in Australian society more than a century on.”
The two newly formed corps included veterans who had been evacuated from Gallipoli to provide a foundation of experience, reinforcements who had been training in Egypt, recent recruits from Australia and the recently formed New Zealand Division.
“By the end of 1916, more than 10,000 men of the AIF had died on the Western Front, and some 30,000 had been wounded – losses which were felt immensely on the home front,” Mr Chester said.
“The impact of this war was felt by those who lost their comrades and in the Australian community where family members and friends grieved over those who would never return home. For their service and sacrifice, we say thank you.
“I encourage all Australians to offer a moment of their day to remember the service of all those who fought in the campaigns in France.”
As a lasting legacy to their service, the Sir John Monash Centre tells Australia’s story of the Western Front through the words of those who served. Set on the grounds of the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in northern France, and adjacent to the Australian National Memorial, the Sir John Monash Centre is the hub of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front.
To learn more, visit the Anzac Portal.
Royal commission into veteran suicides is a matter of trust
By Jamie Twidale
As a veteran who has lost mates to suicide, like many veterans and their loved ones I live with the ever-present fear of losing more. My experience with suicide is not unique among the veteran community.
I admit that I do not have the answers on how to fix this appalling issue, but I do believe that a royal commission is an essential first step in rebuilding trust between the veteran community, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the government.
My first experience with suicide was as a 17-year-old soldier. On my first day after initial employment training, I was being shown to my live-in accommodation at my new Army unit. The area was cordoned off by Military Police who were finishing their investigations after a soldier had suicided the previous evening. Back then, people only ever spoke about these things in hushed tones and it was generally glossed over.
My next experience a few years later was more personal. While away overseas on a training activity, one of my best friends, who had discharged the previous year, took his own life. This shattered me, with questions floating around in my head for years about what if I had been home, what if I had called him more, what if….?
Another one of my wider friendship groups went the same way a year later.
In more recent times a former colleague committed suicide a few days after I saw him at a funeral.
I have close friends who are veterans of recent operations in the Middle East who I contact regularly because I worry that they are at risk; each have sought help and have support networks, but it remains a constant fear.
I share these stories simply to illustrate that as veterans we all have some experience with suicide or, according to the statistics, we are likely to. Suicide affects all ages and genders, all lengths of service, all types of service and not only those with mental health issues or warlike service, although the last two groups are much more at risk.
The statistics for in-service men and women are significantly lower than the general population, but this does not make it acceptable. However, the statistics for ex-service men and women are simply deplorable and a blight on society.
At the RSL Victoria Annual Conference the membership overwhelmingly voted in favour of a royal commission; and I say thank you to those that brought this motion forward.
I am in a privileged position in that I get to meet, talk with and hear from many serving and ex-serving veterans. What is clear is that while there is now consensus within the RSL in Victoria, there is not across the ex-service community nor across the RSL in other states.
I do not think we will ever get consensus; it is simply too complicated and emotive an issue. I personally have changed my own opinion on what is the best way to move forward.
Whether or not you are for an enduring National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention and whether or not the commissioner has the same or similar powers of a royal commission is not important. What has become clear to me is that there is a widespread lack of trust by veterans in the government institutions responsible for looking after the welfare of our serving and ex-serving people. This was made worse by the appointment of an interim national commissioner for suicide prevention without a transparent process and who was perceived to be too close to the defence establishment.
A royal commission may or may not find the answers we all seek, but what is certain is that a royal commission would go a long way towards rebuilding trust by giving mothers, brothers, partners and friends the opportunity to be heard in a forum that is truly independent.
Having a royal commission does not mean we cannot also establish the permanent commissioner for suicide prevention. But that commissioner can only start their work at the conclusion of a royal commission. The appointment of the permanent National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention must also be done through a transparent, merit-based process that ensures that the appointment is an appropriately skilled person who does not have recent ties to the ADF or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).
The arguments about cost are also irrelevant. Having a royal commission does not mean that funds are stripped out of DVA or away from veteran services. A portion of the money that will be wasted in the inevitable pork barrelling in the lead up to the next federal election would more that cover it.
RSL Victoria has now formed a shared view on this issue and in the coming weeks we will implement an advocacy strategy to call for a royal commission. This is what our members want, and it is what we will do. This campaign will include appealing directly to state and federal politicians and will seek to harness the voices of our members across Victoria in the lead up to ANZAC Day.
ANZAC Day is the day we pay our respects to those who have served and to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice; this year that will include raising a voice for those who have taken their own life as a result of their service.
Jamie Twidale is the CEO of RSL Victoria. He served in the Regular Army for 22 years both as a soldier and later as an officer. He served overseas in Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. He is also a serving Reservist.