Dasher: The Kevin Wheatley VC Story

I’m just reaching out about a terrific book  ‘Dasher’ written by author Michael C Madden is the story of one of our national VC treasures. Michael has made it his mission to bring Kevin Wheatley, VC’s story; and we are so very proud to have published this really amazing, big hearted story.

Big Sky Publishing is thrilled to be publishing Dasher: The Kevin Wheatley VC Story, (November 2021) and to have sold Audio rights for the book to Wavesound, Australia. Kevin ‘Dasher’ Wheatley VC is one of the most extraordinary characters in Australian history, and although he is one of the most famous Victoria Cross recipients of all time, his story has never been fully told. Until now

Please find additional information below. Would you be interested in interviewing Michael Madden on this wonderful Australian hero?

Points of Interest

  • Kevin ‘Dasher’ Wheatley VC is one of the most extraordinary characters in Australian history.
  • One of the most famous Victoria Cross recipients of all time, his story has never been fully told. Until now. Foreword was written by Keith Payne VC
  • After 56years the Wheatley family will finally receive Dasher’s American Silver Star award – to be presented by the Governor-General on 14 December, American Embassy, Canberra
  • Trailer can be viewed here

“As a champion of great Australian authors and stories, Big Sky Publishing is very proud to be bringing Kevin ‘Dasher’ Wheatley’s remarkable story to life in audio and paperback. It stands as a poignant example of the valour, comradeship, sacrifice and tragedy of war which will have broad appeal.” Said Denny Neave Director at Big Sky Publishing.

‘Dasher’ was written by author Michael C. Madden with the support of the Wheatley family, friends and those that fought with him.  Foreword was written by Keith Payne VC and on the 14th of December, the Governor-General will finally, 56 years after his many acts of heroism,  award Dashers family with the international award of bravery the American Silver Star at the American Embassy in Canberra.  The publication date for the book is 4 November 2021

Everyone who met the man has a Dasher Wheatley story of larrikin behaviour, outstanding soldiering, stunning valour, or all three.  It is our great pleasure to have his story published in paperback and audio for people everywhere to discover this amazing man.

Madden’s previous title ‘Australia Remembers – Victoria Cross’ was extremely well received within Australia and Internationally. Michael is a supporter of a number of charities and his royalties for this title were donated to the TPI Victoria for their members, families and the veteran community.

Big Sky Publishing focuses on Australian Authors and Australian Stories supporting emerging authors and illustrators across adult and children categories.


For info only, this is just to let you know that the RCBRG is certainly following this up with our own Gov, Ray Fulcher has written up a very valid overview and sent it to the Minister
Subject: Rifle Company Butterworth
Dear Minister
Further to my email of 18 October 2021.
In rejecting the RCB claim for warlike service recognition, the Department of Defence has repeatedly advised Ministers that a New Zealand review in 2013 (Medallic Recognition Joint Working Group (JWG) on service in South-East Asia 1950-2011) supported its contention that service at Butterworth was peacetime service.
Yesterday the New Zealand government released a new review (attached) which overturns the 2013 review and finds sufficient grounds to upgrade New Zealand service at Butterworth. This new finding is pertinent to RCB service and pertinent to the reasoning in the report of Mr Howard Whitton of the Ethicos Group sent to you on 18 October 2021.
You will recall that Mr Whitton said that
        ” On the basis of the documentation provided to this reviewer,   the Commonwealth’s current position appears to have arisen from a series of failures by various decisionmakers since at least 1972 to identify significant errors of fact and misrepresentations of the nature of the RCB service deployment at issue. In particular, the 1972 recommendation by officials to the incoming government that RCB deployment in defence of Butterworth air base could be misrepresented– by the Government, for overtly political purposes –  as ‘training’, remains at the heart of this matter.”
It is significant therefore that the New Zealand report’s summary states:
        “Declassified material has shown that the deployment was clearly for operational reasons rather than for the stated training purposes. Intelligence assessments and operational visits identified a clear threat to the Base and the Australian Mirage fighters stationed there that required an additional layer of protection through the deployment of a rifle company initially from Singapore (shared between Australia and New Zealand) and subsequently directly from Australia. It is recommended that the 1RNZIR deployments to Butterworth Air Base between 1971 and 1973 be considered operational service.” Para 6 of Executive Summary.
The report in its entirety supports the RCB claim for an upgrade of service.
I look forward to discussing this matter and the Ethicos report at your earliest opportunity.
Yours sincerely
Ray Fulcher
Chair, Rifle Company Butterworth Review Group

Loyal Wingman passes another major flight milestone

Defence Connect

The unmanned ISR platform is one step closer to becoming Australia’s first domestically designed and built aircraft after completing a series of flight missions.

Boeing’s Loyal Wingman has passed yet another milestone, with two of the Airpower Teaming Systems completing flight missions in South Australia’s Woomera Range Complex.

These latest test flights marked the first time the aircraft’s landing gear was raised and engaged.

The announcement from the Department of Defence comes following the system’s inaugural flight in February this year.

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfield lauded the achievement– noting that it has demonstrated the benefits of collaboration between Defence and the local defence industry.

“The Loyal Wingman sets new standards for capability development and shows what collaboration between industry and Defence can achieve,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“Flight testing is increasing throughout the year, and we are on the way to teaming the Loyal Wingman aircraft with existing Air Power platforms.”

Three systems from phase one of the project are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2021.

“This opens up significant capability agility for Air Force, particularly with features such as the reconfigurable nose,” Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts said.

“We’re heavily engaged in the payload development and the element of surprise that it gives us in the battlespace. You never really know what’s in the nose.”

So far, in excess of 35 local companies have worked on the program such as Whitehorse and Form 2000 – two Australian SMEs who partnered on the manufacture build-to-print components of the aircraft. Other companies include Ferra Engineering, AME Systems, Allied Data Systems and Microelectronic Technologies.

Alongside Boeing, BAE Systems Australia and RUAG Australia have also contributed to the success of the program.

According to a release from the Department of Defence, the system has a range of some 3,700 kilometres, “helping to project airpower forward while contributing as a team with our crewed capabilities.”


Watchdog finds no misconduct in mistaken Afghan airstrike

Watchdog finds no misconduct in mistaken Afghan airstrike

By Lolita C. Baldor,  and Meghann Myers

Nov 4, 16:40

WASHINGTON (AP) — An independent Pentagon review has concluded that the U.S. drone strike that killed innocent Kabul civilians and children in the final days of the Afghanistan war was not caused by misconduct or negligence, and it doesn’t recommend any disciplinary action, officials said during a Wednesday press conference.

The review, done by Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said, found there were breakdowns in communication and in the process of identifying and confirming the target of the bombing, according to a senior defense official familiar with the report. But, Said concluded that the mistaken strike happened despite prudent measures to prevent civilian deaths, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a report not yet released.

Said told reporters Wednesday that while his review didn’t single out any bad actors or recommend any discipline, he does not have the final say.

“I didn’t eliminate the possibility of accountability,” he said. “That is commander business.”

As Air Force inspector, Said had no direct connection to Afghanistan operations and thus was deemed an independent judge of the matter.

Said’s review said the drone strike must be considered in the context of the moment, as U.S. forces under stress were being flooded by information about threats to troops and civilians at the Kabul airport, just days after a deadly suicide bombing. Thousands of Afghans were swarming the airport, trying to get out of the country following the Taliban takeover.

According to the official, Said found that better communication between those making the strike decision and other support personnel might have raised more doubts about the bombing, but in the end may not have prevented it.

Said was asked to investigate the Aug. 29 drone strike on a white Toyota Corolla sedan, which killed Zemerai Ahmadi and nine family members, including seven children. Ahmadi, 37, was a longtime employee of an American humanitarian organization.

The intelligence about the car and its potential threat came just days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. troops and 169 Afghans at a Kabul airport gate. The U.S. was working to evacuate thousands of Americans, Afghans and other allies in the wake of the collapse of the country’s government.

Said concluded that U.S. forces genuinely believed that the car they were following was an imminent threat and that they needed to strike it before it got closer to the airport.

The report, which has been endorsed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, made several recommendations that have been passed on to commanders at U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. The official said the review recommends that more be done to prevent what military officials call “confirmation bias” — the idea that troops making the strike decision were too quick to conclude that what they were seeing aligned with the intelligence and confirmed their conclusion to bomb what turned out to be the wrong car.

The review recommends that the military have personnel present with a strike team whose job it is to actively question such conclusions. The report says using a so-called “red-team” in such self-defense strikes that are being done quickly might help avoid errors.

“If you had somebody sitting in the strike cell ― the issue of confirmation bias ― saying, ‘Look, you’re correlating this piece of info to reaffirm that that is the vehicle. But what you’re reaffirming, and the activity you’re seeing could be nefarious, if you will, but it could also be very benign,” Said said. “So pushing back a little bit, playing that dialogue to go, what is it exactly that we’re looking at? To make sure.”

Operational commanders are reviewing the report to figure out how that layer of discussion can be institutionalized in the kind of circumstances on the ground in Kabul at the end of August, with no in-person intelligence gathering and a perceived imminent threat.

Said also recommended that the military improve its procedures to ensure that children and other innocent civilians are not present before launching a time-sensitive strike.

For days after the strike, Pentagon officials asserted that it had been conducted correctly, despite mounting reports that multiple civilians and children had died and growing doubts that the car contained explosives. Said’s review concluded that officials made their initial assessments too quickly and did not do enough analysis.


No more day dreaming and excuses     

No more day dreaming and excuses     

        1939–A war and its trials we did not seek

Can you recall far distant drumbeats of war

Hear echoes of weeping kin ask “what for?”

Constant fears and doubts in every town

Smiles of victory, or in defeat, glum faces drooping down

Air raid sirens, sandbag shelters, strangers seeking courage from each other

Children asking why, as they find comfort from a mother

Fear of visits by sad faced messengers knocking at the door

Loved ones wounded, missing or are no more?

Whatever our religion or lack it, national unity was our iron core

Despite tears of pain, always was the strong faith for our tomorrows

 Of peace, prosperity and a way of life saved for those who will follow

 1945  Then as one we sought our tomorrows 

Perhaps you arrived on Planet Earth after the guns went quite

When blissful peace reigned, and prosperous futures bright

Our proud flag flew high, and all as one we sought tomorrow

Our history well known including mistakes and sorrow

Toil, sweat and tears, yet always as one, standing proud

A hydro scheme then oil and gas were news we shouted out loud

Student discipline, confidence and education among the world’s best

We welcomed record numbers of refugees and stood the test

Cars made in our land down under showed what could be done

All this and more thanks to national vision, purpose and all as one

       Lessons soon forgotten and apathy reigns in our Space Age

Then false leaders grew lazy and slept and slept

The Devil preached ‘‘of buying cheap” as our dying factories wept

Borrowed foreign coin everywhere and deep debt became the norm

Foreign lands saw easy gold, and bleating two legged sheep were shorn

Today the gap between rich and the poor grows with each and every day

Our shame is a massive huge national debt for those who follow to pay

Thought Police prowl night and day, freezing truthful tongues

Apathy and deceit can destroy values which heroes defended with gun

A new bible preaches diversity, yet shuns proven powers of unity

Fists and pepper spray to fight COVID masked by mirages we are still free

       Poor fella my country, when will the penny drop?

Alas, shadows from our past are returning for all to see

Hints of rattling iron chains to steal a precious way of life so free

Lessons learnt in times of strife never understood and cast aside

Quickened by Canberra Suits peering into mirrors with false pride

We are fast asleep in our castle with wide open doors

Space age noisy brown shirts are bullying more and more

Political correctness slowly stealing nous from you and me

Orchestrated lawless mobs are destroying our way of life with impunity

They carry toxic flags of sly wokes, fiery dragons and thugs reborn

Can’t you sense the ANZACS fury growing with each passing dawn?

George Mansford ©November 2021


I have been researching fellow members who were with RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam, from July 1964 to June 1966. (this is the date the flight became 35 Squadron). Of the 272 who served during these 23 months, I have found that about 125 have died (some information is a bit un-check). If anyone would like further info, please contact me.

Nev Watterson

[email protected]


Veterans are rightly given formal recognition for their service

New Zealand Minister of Defence Peeni Henare announced today that eligibility for the New Zealand Operational Service Medal (NZOSM) has been rightly extended to include a larger proportion of members of the New Zealand Armed Forces who served in Malaysia and Singapore.

“The award of this medal recognises the valuable contribution to the defence of South East Asia by veterans who served in Malaysia and Singapore, but were previously excluded as they were not required to deploy into combat areas, such as Borneo or Vietnam,” Peeni Henare said.

“I’m proud that around 4,500 veterans who served in South East Asia from February 1959 to January 1974 are now rightly able to be awarded a medal for their valiant service. I hope veterans and their whānau take this opportunity to have their service recognised in this way,” Peeni Henare said.

The review commissioned by the government and carried out by the New Zealand Defence Force, showed there was a need for a wider approach to medallic recognition for South East Asia than had been the practice in the past.

The 2021 review looked at the period between 1955 and 1989 and assessed that service between 1 February 1959 and 31 January 1974 should be qualifying service for the award of the New Zealand Operational Service Medal.

It was a unique period in New Zealand’s military history including; forward deployment and deterrence; operational readiness as part of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation plans for responding to the threat of communist expansion into South East Asia; an ongoing communist terrorist insurgency in Malaysia; the Cold War; a fraught relationship with Indonesia which resulted in conflict; and war in Vietnam.

It concluded that together during that period that these events justified the award of medallic recognition but not a campaign medal. Campaign medals (and the New Zealand Operational Service Medal) have already been awarded for related operational service including the Malayan Emergency, Thai-Malay border, Confrontation with Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

“An eligible veteran must have been posted or attached for seven or more days with the Far East Strategic Reserve, the Australia New Zealand United Kingdom Force or associated units during these dates,” Peeni Henare said.

“I implore all those who meet the new criteria to apply for the formal recognition that they and their whanau rightly deserve. The dedication and commitment both individuals and whanau make in order to keep our country and region safe cannot be overstated, and I wish to thank every one of the Defence force whanau for their service,” Peeni Henare said

For those eligible under the revised settings Veterans and next-of-kin of deceased veterans need to apply to receive the NZOSM.

The application form is on the New Zealand Defence Force Personnel Archives and Medals website: www.nzdf.mil.nz/pam

About 7,000 veterans of South East Asia combat theatres are already eligible for the NZOSM. Any unclaimed medals can still be issued.

Defence and Veterans Legal Service

I write to let you know about the new independent legal service to support participants in the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

The Defence and Veterans Legal Service (DAVLS) is a free national service that will provide independent information and legal advice to support Australian Defence Force personnel and veterans, as well as their families, carers and supporters, to safely share their experiences with the Royal Commission.

We are independent and separate from the Royal Commission, the Department of Defence, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. We are taxpayer funded through the Federal Attorney-General’s department and accountable to:

  • Provide legal advice and information to members of the public and to assist Australian Defence Force personnel and veterans, and their families, carers and supporters to access and engage with the Royal Commission.
  • Provide a trauma-informed, culturally safe and accessible service nationally, including referral to counselling and other supports.
  • Provide community outreach and liaison, and community information and education sessions.
  • Operate for the duration of the Royal Commission.

This service will operate from Monday 1st November and will take inquiries on 1800 33 1800 (Freecall).

We will have a web site from Monday at https://defenceveteranslegalservice.org.au/ and I would encourage you to log on for more information, access to resources and referrals. You can also subscribe to our mailing list to stay informed of upcoming events and latest news.

Please see attached service brochure.

We are excited to get our offer of free assistance out to the veteran community and to work with your organisation in making our service and the Royal Commission responsive to the needs of veterans and their families and friends. To this end, could you share this email among your networks please?

We are very keen to hear from our stakeholders in the veteran community on all topics of interest or concern regarding the Royal Commission. For this, could you reply to this email, with the name of the best person for me to contact in your organisation and their contact details please?

I look forward to working with you to make the Royal Commission a success for ADF members, veterans and their families.

Best Regards,

Nicholas Warren

Community Engagement Officer (Mon – Wed)

Defence and Veterans Legal Service

W: defenceveteranslegalservice.org.au

P: 02 9219 5622

Information line: 1800 33 1800


The Australian War Memorial is pleased to reopen to the public – with a new temporary entrance – on Wednesday 17 November 2021.

The new temporary entrance, on the eastern side of the main building opposite Poppy’s café, will be the main visitor entry point for the next three years as works on the Memorial’s Development Project continue.

Visitors will require timed tickets to enter the Memorial galleries, and also to attend the daily Last Post Ceremony at 4:45 pm in the Commemorative Area.

Ticket bookings open tomorrow Wednesday 3 November, for visits from Wednesday 17 November.

To see a short clip of the Charge click on the link below



31st October is one of the most notable dates in Australian history as it commemorates the charge of the Australian Light horse at Beersheba on 31st October 1917. 

At the Centenary Commemoration in Beersheba in 2017 Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu stated:

“103 years ago brave Anzac Soldiers liberated Beersheba for the sons and daughters of Abraham and opened the gateway for the Jewish people to re-enter this stage of history…brave soldiers who are buried here played a crucial role in defeating the Ottoman Empire, liberating the Holy Land and ending 400 years of Ottoman rule in one great dash.” 

Remember Beersheba – Courageous Charge, Or the Hand of God? “Two aspects of Australian military history have etched themselves indelibly in the annals of Australia’s heritage: that is, the landing at Gallipoli and the Light Horse charge at Beersheba.

Beersheba: it should be noted; was a victory by Australians led by Australians, we find all the elements of what Australian folklore and true Australian nationalism is about. In 1917 General Edmund Allenby took command of the Anzac forces from General Murray…Ideally, he needed to take Jerusalem which would shake the very foundations of the then existing hierarchy and its jubilant masses. But there was much territory to be fought over before Allenby could present himself at the gates of Jerusalem.” (‘Men of Beersheba’ by Lt-Col Neil Smith).

The key to the doorway were the precious water wells of Beersheba! To put things in the proper perspective let Ion Idriess, an actual eye witness to this magnificent charge relate the strength of the Beersheba defences: “It’s the boast of the German engineers…that the redoubts of Beersheba are impregnable, and that it is ridiculous to imagine that mounted troops could destroy the infantry redoubts surrounding Beersheba….Intelligence informs us that the Turks have massed guns along the Beersheba front…. The plan is: the Anzacs must smash Beersheba. So there will be merry hell to pay. I wonder if my luck will pull me through!” Idriess continued: “Here goes for the great fight and the grandest charge of mounted men in history. English cavalry officers are now swearing it was so, anyway!…All were excited, each in his own quiet way…We were the Anzac Mounted Division, marching 25 miles from Asluj to assault Beersheba.

The Mad Aussies the ‘mad Aussies’ charged magnificently across the dusty plains, so fast that the Turkish artillery could not keep pace with them and they were able to slip under their guns. As they leapt the trenches a cheer went up from the British ranks, such was the magnificence of the feat. Although outnumbered and outgunned they charged on. Beersheba – the gateway to Jerusalem, was opened that day, not by Crusaders, Napoleon, or the British Army but by the Australian Light Horsemen! Let me quote ‘True Australian War Tales’: “The British swept towards Gaza. They stormed the city on 26 March but were thrown back by determined enemy resistance. A second attempt on 17 April also ended in failure. The Turks, with Germans of the crack Asia Corps, stood firm along a fortified line from Gaza on the coast, to Beersheba…The key to victory was Beersheba. Many nations claim to have mounted the last cavalry charge in history, but most of these actions were minor skirmishes of no real significance in the outcome of the war in which they fought. The Australian Light Horse attack on Beersheba was the last important cavalry charge in history and the last to win a resounding victory that altered the course of a war.” (And Israel).

Thunder from Down Under “The afternoon sunlight flashing on their bayonets, Australians of the 4th Light Horse Brigade made a proud sight as they spread in a khaki flood over the stony Palestine plain. The thundering hoof beats of their mounts rolled over the arid land ahead like some macabre overture ..Wearing their distinctive plumed slouch hats at a variety of jaunty angles the troopers seemed nonchalant in the face of death …Beersheba came into sight, the graceful minaret on its Mosque pointing the way to glory.

“As one, the big warhorses surged forward in a mad gallop, their hooves striking thunder from the hard-sun-dried earth. Then from within the barbed-wire-encircled town, artillery began firing. The shells roared overhead, exploding in fiery geysers amid the charging ranks. Yelling men and horses went down in tangled heaps amidst the choking smoke clouds swirling everywhere. But not even shrapnel could halt their fierce onslaught. Leaping their mounts over fallen comrades, they swept towards the Turkish line.

“Then someone shouted, pointing through the sunset towards the invisible headquarters. There, at the trot, was regiment after regiment, squadron after squadron, coming, coming! It was just half-light, they were distinct yet indistinct. The Turkish guns blazed at those hazy horsemen but they came steadily on. At two miles distant they emerged from clouds of dust, squadrons of men and horses taking shape. All the Turkish guns around Beersheba must have been directed at the menace then. Captured Turkish and German officers told us that they never dreamed that horsemen would be madmen enough to attempt rushing infantry redoubts protected by machine-guns and artillery…At a mile distance their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man – they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze – knee to knee and horse to horse – the dying sun glinting on their bayonet points.

Soon the shells were falling harmlessly behind the advancing ranks. With the first gauntlet behind them the Australian horsemen raced into the next. “From the flanks Turkish machine-guns took over the defence. More men and horses went down, but still they came on. The tough Turkish infantry had been unnerved by the seemingly invincible horde bearing down on them. Wild with fear, for they knew their foe by reputation, the Turks put up a formidable barrage in a frantic effort to stop the mounted madmen. Troopers pitched from the saddle; others had their mounts shot out from under them: and yet the suicidal charge swept on. As the horsemen galloped nearer the excited Turks forgot to lower their sights and began firing high. Bullets buzzed harmlessly over-head as the squadrons thundered across the last kilometre, jumping their mighty “walers” over the trenches.”

The rest is history. “Beersheba was in Australian hands by the time the last rays of daylight had faded from the desert sky. The deed would live on as the proud achievement of the legendary Australian Light Horsemen. These Light Horsemen were the finest mounted soldiers in history, rated better even than the Cossack or the American Plains Indian.” In fact the British Commander – General Allenby rated the Cavalry charge as one of, if not the most magnificent in history.

These ‘Aussie’ Light Horsemen had achieved what 60,000 British troops with tanks could not do. What even the Crusaders or Napoleon could not do! They had opened the doorway to Jerusalem against unbelievable odds. Jerusalem, after centuries of occupation was about to be freed! Courageous charge, or the hand of God? (From my book 800 Horsemen – Riders of Destiny).