Lithgow Arms Factory Announces New Rifle

Lithgow Arms continues the development of a new automatic rifle for the Australian armed forces. Based on designs from Melbourne-based Wedgetail Industries, the new rifle appears to be a departure from Lithgow Arms’ F90 bullpup platform, however, Wedgetail have previously showcased, at LandForces2022, a prototype 6.8mm chambered F90. In December, Thales Australia and Wedgetail Industries signed an agreement that will see the Wedgetail-developed rifle manufactured at Lithgow if it is selected as part of the Australian Army’s upcoming rifle tender.

Currently referred to as the Australian Combat Assault Rifle (ACAR). According to Thales Australia “Wedgetail and Thales Australia’s Lithgow Arms initiated a design and development effort on the new weapon system in early 2022. The work was undertaken at Lithgow Arms’ C3 – a small arms and weapons systems ‘incubator’ established on site at the Lithgow facility designed to assist and bring on board small-to-medium enterprises (SME) in the defence industry.”

Photo: ACAR (Lithgow Arms/Thales Australia)

The ACAR is an AR platform-based weapon with variants chambered in 5.56x45mm, .300BLK and 7.62x51mm developed.

Matt Duquemin, Thales Australia’s Director Integrated Weapons and Sensors, said, “We are proud to work together with Wedgetail – helping develop and grow the innovation and ingenuity of Australian SMEs by bringing down costly barriers to entry often experienced by Australian companies in the defence industry”.

Photo: A 6.8mm F90-pattern bullpup (Wedgetail Industries)

 The ACAR is described as being at the pre-production stage and ready for full-rate production. Unsurprisingly a version chambered in the new US Next Generation Squad Weapon cartridge, 6.8x51mm, has also been developed and is undergoing final qualification testing. Wedgetail have already confirmed that an Australian-manufactured version of the round has been developed. The ACAR is in a development spiral to refine with weapon, develop variants required by the Australian military and integrate it with accessories such as optics and night vision devices.

The Australian Defense Force is currently undertaking its Lethality System Project – LAND 159. The first Tranche of which saw new sniper systems and close combat weapons selected back in October 2022. Tranche 2, due for consideration in 2024/2025, will see the selection of new ‘Close Combatant Assault Rifle, Machine Guns, Direct Fire Support Weapons’. With a strong showing from the SIG Sauer-Aquaterro partnership in Tranche 1, it can be expected that Lithgow Arms’ ACAR will face competition from SIG’s XM7.


Massacre of Naval Personnel in the Solomons, 1880?

By Professor Clive Williams MG is a former army officer and visiting fellow at the ANU.

Solomon Islands (formerly the British Solomon Islands Protectorate) was in the news again in 2022 because of its closer association with China, largely due to the Morrison government’s neglect of the South-West Pacific and China’s preparedness to pay bribes to promote its strategic interests.

Historically, though, the Solomons only seems to have attracted Australian public attention when there have been acts of violence there – particularly ones where British nationals and Australians have been the victims.

 In 2021 I came across an account of a massacre of British naval personnel in the Solomons in 1880, written by Admiral Sir Reginald Tupper. In 1881, Tupper was personally involved in the punitive action against those responsible. (This was in the early part of his distinguished naval career.)

The account I have of his involvement in the Solomons? probably later became part of his memoirs. In 1929 Tupper published his autobiography, titled Reminiscences.?

Who, then, was Tupper?

 Admiral Sir Reginald Godfrey Otway Tupper, GBE, KCB, CVO (16 October 1859 – 5 March 1945) was a Royal Navy (RN) officer during the late Victorian period and First World War.

PHOTO: Sir Reginald Godfrey Otway Tupper by Bassano Ltd whole-plate glass negative, 28 May 1921. National Portrait Gallery, London

Tupper was the son of CW Tupper, an officer in the Royal Fusiliers. His mother was Letitia Frances Wheeler-Cuffe, the daughter of Sir Jonah Denny-Wheeler-Cuffe, an Irish baronet.

Tupper joined the RN at the age of 14 in 1873.

After his involvement in the Solomons, he saw active service during the 1890 Witu Expedition in East Africa, where he was mentioned in despatches.

In 1898 he was appointed Deputy Commissioner for the Western Pacific and a member of the Naval Intelligence Department, and in 1901 he was promoted to Captain and posted to the Admiralty as Assistant Director of Naval Ordnance.

On 28 September 1901, Tupper arrived at Ocean Island (now part of Kiribati) aboard HMS Pylades to take formal possession of the island for Great Britain.

In 1903, Tupper was given a seagoing command, the cruiser HMS Venus, and he transferred to the battleship HMS Prince of Wales in 1905. In 1907, he was appointed to command HMS Excellent, a gunnery training depot. In 1912, he returned to a seagoing command with the Home Fleet, as Rear Admiral commanding the Portsmouth Division aboard the battleship HMS Revenge; he left this post in 1913.

Tupper did not return to an operational command at the outbreak of the First World War, but in early 1915 was given command of the patrol area around the west coast of Scotland. In early 1916 he took over command of the Northern Patrol from Vice Admiral Dudley de Chair and was subsequently promoted to Vice Admiral. Tupper had hoped for command of the 4th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. Instead, he commanded the Northern Patrol until it was abolished in November 1917.

After the Armistice, in January 1919, Tupper was promoted to Admiral and appointed Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches, based at Queenstown in southern Ireland. He held this post during the Irish War of Independence, handing over command and retiring from the RN in 1921, aged 62.

I have left Tupper’s account of his 1881 Solomons involvement in his own words and unabridged. Some of it would be regarded today as politically incorrect, but I have left it as Tupper wrote it to reflect the naval attitude of the time more accurately.

His narrative follows:

The trouble of 1928 in the Solomon Islands took my mind back for the better part of fifty years when as a young sub-lieutenant I shared in a punitive expedition that was the result of just such another outbreak.

The story begins when I was serving as a sub-lieutenant in the old ironclad battleship Alexandra, flying the flag of Sir Beauchamp Seymour in the Mediterranean, with Lord Walter Kerr as flag-captain.

I remember the commotion there was when one day in October 1880 I returned from an afternoon’s ride to the Union Club at Malta and saw a telegram posted up stating that Lieutenant James St. Clair Bower and a boat’s crew from H.M. schooner Sandfly had been massacred in the Solomon Islands. The news caused a great sensation, and everybody regretted the young officer’s death, but no further information came in for some time, and with so many other things to interest us the excitement died down.

Two months later I had a surprise when I was informed that I had been appointed to act as first lieutenant to H.M. schooner Renard, a little ship of 120 tons engaged on police work on the Australian station. I knew that before I had left London I had put in a request to be given any appointment which promised quick promotion, but nobody wanted to leave the flagship of the Mediterranean station for a small schooner.

The flag-captain wanted to know whether I had applied for this job, as naturally he was not pleased at the idea of a junior officer asking to be moved away from his ship, which was regarded as the finest in the fleet, without his knowledge.

I was able to explain things satisfactorily, and the commander-in-chief wired to the Admiralty to ask to let me stay in the Alexandra; but the request was refused.

Accordingly I embarked at Naples in a Pacific Steam Navigation Company’s packet in company with two other sub-lieutenants who were destined for service in other schooners; and with all the social pleasures of a liner and the exciting prospect of adventures ahead it can be well understood that we three youngsters had a very enjoyable passage.

When we reached Sydney, we found that H.M. corvette Emerald had just arrived in port from the Solomons, whither she had been sent under Captain Maxwell on a punitive expedition after the murder of Lieutenant Bower and his boat’s crew. Unfortunately the attitude adopted by the Governor of Fiji, who was ex officio High Commissioner of the Islands, was not helpful, with the result that the ship had to return to Sydney with her object unaccomplished, to the intense indignation of the Australians and the Navy. The consequence was some change in the Pacific Colonial Service.

I learned at Sydney that the Renard was at Hobart, Tasmania, recommissioning after a spell of police work in the islands. Lieutenant Walker S. King was in command, and under him was one sub-lieutenant (myself), a boatswain, and twenty-two ratings. The Renard was one of five schooners that had been built by Sydney shipbuilders to Admiralty design – little ships 80 feet in length, with a beam of 17 feet and a draught of 8 feet 6 inches, built on the good old “cod’s-head and mackerel-tail” principle, which made them fine sea-boats, and gave them good accommodation below for their crew. They were well rigged, the main-boom being 35 feet long, and they were fitted with a big square sail that was very useful for running before the wind.

Amidships a 12-pounder Armstrong breech-loader was mounted; otherwise their men only carried rifles and cutlasses, and the officers revolvers. We also carried the famous old-fashioned boarding-pikes. As the schooners were designed to undertake long cruises on their police work they had ten tons of fresh water apiece, in five iron tanks, and were provisioned for four months.

Lieutenant King and myself messed aft in a diminutive wardroom, the deck-house rising three feet above the deck and giving us air and light. The boatswain had a tiny cabin to himself, just forward of our quarters, and in this he spent every off-duty moment reading his Bible, with never a word to officers or men.

When we recommissioned at Hobart one-third of the old crew stayed on in the ship, as they had obtained some experience in the handling of fore- and -aft sails, of which the average naval rating was ignorant. I was quite at home in a fore-and-after on account of my yachting experience, and we felt that we could hold our own with the other schooners on the station, and that the Admiralty were entirely justified in choosing us to go up with the sloop Cormorant, [under] Commander Arthur Bruce, to punish the murderers in the Solomons.

By then the massacre was several months old. It had occurred on Mandilana Island, which is a small uninhabited island off Florida in the Solomons.

Kalikaona was the chief of Florida Island, and he had been involved in a domestic quarrel with some or all of his wives. This made him sulky, and he declared that he would not eat until some skulls had been brought to him in traditional fashion.

Two of his chiefs, Utomati and Voreea heard the threat, and having seen a man-of- war’s boat – it belonged to H.M. schooner Sandfly – with six men on board making towards Mandilana, they sent a boy in a canoe to reconnoitre and report whether or not they were well armed. The boy sold fruit to the bluejackets, and took the opportunity of noting that, although their rifles and ammunition were in the boat, they were busy surveying, and were not at all a warlike party.

The boat was in charge of Lieutenant Bower of the Sandfly, with five ratings, and as soon as he landed on Mandilana Island he took the very proper precaution of searching the bush for natives before he permitted his men to relax their vigilance.

Unfortunately the boy had returned to Florida Island, and the two chiefs, with a party of their followers, had landed on the far side of the island, just as the search-party were returning to the boat and reporting that all was clear.

Feeling that his party was safe, Lieutenant Bower gave permission for his ratings to bathe, and with an able-bodied seaman named Savage he walked along the beach to see if there was anything of interest.

The lieutenant was some distance from the bathing -party when the natives rushed out of the bush and attacked them, helpless as they were, with tomahawks and spears.

They were taken at a disadvantage, and most of them could do nothing to help themselves, but one seaman named Venton contrived to get to the boat, and, unable to reach and load a rifle, seized a stretcher and laid out two of the savages before he was overpowered and killed. Not one of the bathing-party escaped, but Lieutenant Bower and seaman Savage, hearing the disturbance, were in time to see what had happened, and as it was obvious the could do nothing, hid in the bush. The natives then cut off the heads of the four seamen, which they took away with them, and after hauling the boat up clear of the water, so that she was too heavy for the two Britons to launch they returned to Florida Island with the rifles, ammunition, and oars of the boat.

Apparently they were quite satisfied that they had wiped out the whole party, but when they came to discuss things they could not make the numbers tally with the  report of their spy, so they returned next morning to search for survivors.

During the night seaman Savage undertook the very difficult and dangerous swim across the shark-infested tide rip to Florida, where he had the good fortune to fall in with some friendly natives who cared for him until he could slip away to the Sandfly.

Bower did not undertake the swim, but hid himself up a tree until help could reach him, as he had already given that rendezvous to the Sandfly.

Before Savage could communicate with the schooner the natives returned to the island, and, seeing Bower’s hiding-place, the chief Utomati shot him with one of the boat’s own rifles. Poor Bower’s head was then collected and taken back to Florida, while the arms and legs of the whole party were cut off and taken away, and the ghastly mutilated trunks were stuck up in a row on the beach, as a gesture of defiance.

Meanwhile the Sandfly was under the temporary command of Sub-Lieutenant E.E. Bradford, now Admiral Sir Edward Bradford, and one of the best-known officers of the Navy, who was my contemporary. As time went on he began to get anxious, and searched for the missing boat. At last he found the remains of the bodies on the beach, and marks in the sand on Mandilana which showed how the boat had been hauled up and later launched by the natives.

Bradford saw that something would have to be done at once to make an impression on the natives and to show them that they could not murder white men with impunity; so, most gallantly, he took his entire ship’s company with the second whaler and the dinghy leaving the schooner with only two or three men on board, and straightway landed on Florida Island to burn some canoes and huts near the shore.

Returning to the boats his force came under a heavy fire from the bush, and he had one man killed and one wounded before he got clear. After that he realized that he could not do anything further without a bigger force, so he re-embarked to make sail for Sydney and report the whole incident to the authorities.

This was the incident that had caused all the trouble, and although it had been almost forgotten in Malta, it was still a very live question in Australia and among the islands.

Before making a rendezvous with the Cormorant off Florida Island the Renard was ordered to pick up Bishop Selwyn, of Melanesia, who had made excellent progress in converting and civilizing the natives on this same island of Florida, and who had great influence amongst them. He was the ideal type of bishop for such a diocese, strong, spare, and dark, with the frame of an athlete and as hard as nails, and I can speak of the great impression that his personality made on at least one sub-lieutenant of the fleet.

Arriving at Florida Island the Cormorant anchored off the north-west coast, while the Renard went to the south-east. The Bishop landed to parley with the natives, and to carry to them an ultimatum from the commander of the Cormorant that if the murderers were not surrendered to justice all the villages and property on the island would be burned.

In the meantime the whole coast was blockaded to prevent the natives of near-by islands sending reinforcements, and to see that the murderers did not slip away to safety before the negotiations were complete.

I was afloat in one of the boats and the boatswain in the other, maintaining a night patrol over a long stretch of coast. It was not by any means an easy task, for we had to be ready to meet the big native war-canoes which were capable of carrying between seventy and a hundred warriors apiece, and which were quite likely to be meaning business if we did meet them.

We had great excitement one evening when two huge war-canoes, which must have had nearly two hundred men in them, were sighted paddling towards the Renard.

We immediately triced up our boarding-nettings and made ready to fight, but about a mile ahead of the Renard the savages turned towards the shore and landed, while I was sent in the dinghy with two men and an interpreter to find out what they were after. It was a ticklish job for a lad of twenty-one with no support, but everything passed off quite calmly.

They had brought the chief, Voreea, whom they alleged to be the leader of the attacking party, bound in the bottom of one of the canoes, and I must say that he was triced up about as thoroughly as a man very well could be, the cords biting into his arms and legs until he was quite unable to move an inch without excruciating pain.

We bundled him into the bottom of the dinghy, returned to the ship and loosed his cords securing him in the hold infinitely more humanely than he had been treated by his friends. The news of the surrender of the chief who was certainly one of the men whom we were seeking, had to be communicated to the Cormorant at once, as it had been arranged to march inland on the morrow.

Lieutenant King took a boat’s crew of five men through the extra-ordinary winding sea passage, which cuts right through the island of Florida, to convey the news to his senior. That left me in charge of the schooner with nightfall approaching, and I must say I spent a very anxious night of it, particularly as just before dusk the two big war- canoes with their crowd of savage warriors put off and took up a position some hundred and fifty yards on each bow of the schooner.

I had a big black retriever on board, and she made an excellent extra look-out, but all hands were very keenly on the alert, with their rifles in hand and our single gun ready loaded. But it was a relief to everybody when nothing happened through the night.

The two canoes departed at daybreak.

The surrender of Voreea was the beginning of the end, but the natives insisted on their usual haggling, and there was a lot of delay before the whole of the canoe’s crew which had committed the murder were brought in.

Natives had to be interrogated closely to get the true facts of the case, but after some days we had no doubt that we had all those implicated except Utomati. He was pretty obviously the worst of the party, and finally he was brought down to the beach and handed over.

We then made up a landing-party and marched all through the island, making a great impression on the natives, and showing clearly that if the murderers of the white men were surrendered the British Navy had no desire to punish innocent parties.

All the prisoners were tried on board the Cormorant, and every care was taken that they had an absolutely fair and just trial. There was no doubt about their guilt, and Utomati was sentenced to be hanged on the tree from which poor Bower had been shot, while the other prisoners were sentenced to death, and taken to the most important islands round about, where they were shot individually, after a speech had been made to the assembled natives.

The impression made lasted for many years, and I cannot help thinking that the trial on the spot had a greater effect than it would have had had the prisoners been removed to another district.

There is one curious incident in the affair which is worth recounting. The second surgeon of the Cormorant Dr. Lewis was sent to the little Renard, and after the trouble was over he and my captain went ashore, leaving me in charge of the schooner. A party of natives brought off a skull which they said was Lieutenant Bower’s, but to me one skull looked remarkably like another and I accepted it without being convinced of its identity.

In the meantime Dr. Lewis, when taking his walk, saw a small native girl with a necklace of human teeth, and he noticed at once that some of them had been stopped with gold. He bought the necklace for a stick of tobacco – surely a curious desire for a small girl – and as soon as he returned to the ship he found not only that the teeth fitted the skull on board perfectly, but that Bower had that number of teeth stopped with gold, so there was no doubt that we had at least a small part of his remains to be taken back to Sydney for burial.

After that incident in the Solomons the rest of my time in the Renard, about thirteen months, appeared comparatively tame, although it was exceedingly interesting work.

We had to supervise the recruiting of labour in the island for the Queensland sugar plantations, and to check the activities of the “black-birders”, who invited the natives on board their ships and then kidnapped them, being in fact no better than slave- traders. The activities of these depraved whites had much to do with the indignation of the natives and their occasional outbursts against us, while the Government agents who were appointed to these labour schooners to supervise the recruiting of labour were in some cases the worst type of down-and-out beachcomber, and were often hand-in-glove with the men they were supposed to watch.

At the end of a long cruise we returned to Sydney, where I was appointed to the ironclad Nelson, flying Commodore Erskine’s broad pennant, and after our free and easy life in the Renard the return to flagship routine was a very big change.

After five months of this service I found myself appointed to the Royal Yacht, as a result of a recommendation by my seniors after the Florida Island affair; and although this is an appointment which is the aim of every ambitious young officer, it caused me to miss the bombardment of Alexandria: but I still feel very highly honoured in being selected for it.

An absorbing account, I think you will agree. Such colonial punitive expeditions were not as uncommon as one might think; it’s just that they don’t form part of the history we learn about in our education system.

Punitive expeditions to punish a political entity or group of people outside the borders of the punishing state have been undertaken for revenge purposes without formal declaration of war since at least the 5th century BC.

They were commonly undertaken by European powers in colonial times to consolidate political control over native peoples, usually successfully, although they created long-term local resentment – as is the case with Australia’s First Nations people.

International punitive expeditions still occur today, a modern iteration being the US and coalition partners’ punitive attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11 and US drone assassinations of terrorist leaders.

A naval example was the US Navy’s destruction in 1988 of half of the operational ships of the Iranian Navy for damaging USS Samuel B. Roberts by mining international waters in the Persian Gulf.

 Russia’s ‘Special Military Operation’ in 2022 to punish Ukraine for trying to join NATO is yet another example of a punitive expedition. (But in this case the outcome seems more likely to depend on who can tolerate the most punishment before making the necessary concessions to achieve a peace agreement.)




Darwin welcomes next rotation of US Marines.

The latest rotation of US Marines has arrived in the Northern Territory as part of the 12th rotation of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D).
The rotation will enhance the capabilities, interoperability, and readiness of the ADF and the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and is a significant part of the United States Force Posture Initiatives (USFPI), a hallmark of Australia’s alliance with the US.

Over the next seven months, up to 2,500 Marines will conduct combined training exercises with their Australian Defence Force counterparts, as well as with regional partner nations.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Hon Richard Marles MP, welcomed the latest rotation of US Marines, saying, “The US is our most vital security partner and the strength of our alliance highlights our joint commitment to promoting a secure, stable, and inclusive Indo-Pacific.”

For more than a decade, cooperation under the Force Posture Initiatives has enhanced Australia’s capacity to deter coercion and maintain a secure and stable Indo-Pacific — since its establishment in 2011, the Marine Rotational Force has expanded from an initial 200 Marines to now 10 times that size each year.

“Our cooperation with the US has been instrumental to enhance the capability and interoperability of both nations through joint exercises and activities. Australia–US force posture cooperation will continue to offer significant investment into Australia, including opportunities for Australian industry,” Marles said.

Commanding Officer Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 2023, Colonel Brendan Sullivan, echoed the statements from the Deputy Prime Minister, saying, “We are honoured to extend the legacy of the US–Australian alliance, working side-by-side with our ADF partners to provide support for contingencies and crises in the region.”

COL Sullivan’s comments were reinforced by the Australian Commanding Officer Headquarters Northern Command, Captain Mitchell Livingstone, who said, “Having this Marine rotation in the Top End not only helps build interoperability between the ADF and the US, but also serves to increase regional cooperation with partner nations in the Indo-Pacific.”

The Force Posture Initiatives have also since expanded to initiatives across the air, maritime, land, and logistics domains.

“Over the next six months, the ADF and USMC will conduct a comprehensive range of training activities including humanitarian assistance, security operations, and high-end live fire exercises, all of which better prepare our forces to respond effectively to contingencies that may arise,” CAPT Livingstone added.

Last week, the Albanese government announced as part of AUKUS, an expansion of the Force Posture Initiatives in the Submarine Rotational Force – West, which will see US nuclear-powered submarines rotate through HMAS Stirling beginning from 2027.

The United States Force Posture Initiatives are a key component of the Australia-United States alliance — the USFPI are a tangible demonstration of the strength of the alliance, and of Defence’s engagement within the Indo-Pacific region.

These initiatives provide security, economic, and community benefits for Australia and the US through the following.

  • Deepening interoperability and enhancing capabilities through training and exercises.
  • Increasing engagement with regional partners in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Better positioning both nations to respond to crises in the region, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • Generating economic, industry, and community benefits for Northern Australia through infrastructure investment and the provision of support services.
  • Building a strong community presence through an array of activities including volunteering, community and school visits.

The Marines will remain in Australia until October 2023.


Support available for anyone impacted by ongoing OSI investigation.

Some members of the veteran and Defence community may be concerned by the ongoing investigation by the Australian Federal Police and the Office of the Special Investigator, which was set up in the wake of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) inquiry.

The findings of the IGADF inquiry are serious and may understandably cause concern or anxiety in the community, especially for our Afghanistan veterans and their families.

Please remember that our focus at DVA is to support your health and well-being. So, if you need mental health or medical support, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with us. DVA is not part of any investigation. Our only concern is your well-being.

To anyone who is serving in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), or has served, or is close to a serving or ex-serving member, please remember:

  • You should be immensely proud of your service, or your loved one’s service, and there is overwhelming respect in the Australian community for your service and sacrifice.
  • If you need help, reach out and get the specialist support you need. Support is readily available through DVA and is routinely used by thousands of serving personnel and veterans every year.
  • Families, particularly children and teenagers, could also be affected and there is support available for them as well.
  • We don’t need to know what happened overseas. We just want to make sure you’re okay. And help you cope with what you are feeling today.

Where to get help

For all current ADF members and their families, the Defence all-hours Support Line is a confidential phone and online service and is available on 1800 628 036. Families of serving personnel can also contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

All current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families can access Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling. Open Arms is a national mental health service that provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling. It is not part of the Department of Defence. Importantly the Open Arms website provides a range of self-help resources and well-being tools. Visit or phone 1800 011 046.

In addition, Safe Zone Support is an anonymous counselling service that has been established to support veterans and their families impacted by the IGADF Inquiry. Safe Zone Support is staffed by specialist counsellors who have an understanding of military culture and experience and can be accessed at: or 1800 142 072. Calls to Safe Zone Support are not recorded. Both current members of the ADF and veterans can access this service any time, day or night.

Family of veterans or service personnel who are concerned about the impact the arrest or the Inquiry may have on a loved one, can call DVA to seek guidance on the support available.

If you are unsure what support is available please contact DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

If you know someone in need, please pass on this important message – DVA is there to help.

Ex-service and non-government organisations

  • Ex-service organisations (ESOs) play a vital and complementary role to DVA by providing mateship, advocacy and welfare support. You can find ESOs on the DVA website.
  • There are also a number of excellent non-service related community organisations available, such as Lifeline (call 13 11 14 for 24/7 crisis support or visit

Lieutenant General Sir John Dudley LAVARACK, KCMG, KCVO, KBE, CMG, DSO (1885-1957)

Sir John Dudley Lavarack (1885-1957), army officer and governor, was born on 19 December 1885 at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, the third child of English-born parents Cecil Wallace Lavarack, a draughtsman who became a major in the Queensland Defence Force, and his wife Jessie Helen, née Mackenzie. Educated at Brisbane Grammar School, John was a prominent member of the cadets. He gained high marks in the examination for a commission in the Permanent Military Forces and on 7 August 1905 was appointed lieutenant, Royal Australian Artillery. His junior regimental postings took him to Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Thursday Island and Queenscliff, Victoria.

On 10 October 1912 at St George’s Anglican Church, Queenscliff, Captain Lavarack married Sybil Nevett Ochiltree. He attended the Staff College, Camberley, England, from early 1913 until the outbreak of World War I. After working at the War Office, London, he was promoted brigade major of the 22nd (British) Divisional Artillery in February 1915. The division was sent to France in September; in November it was redeployed to Salonica (Thessaloniki), Greece. By May 1916 Major Lavarack was staff officer, royal artillery, at the XVI Corps’ headquarters.

Lavarack had been appointed to the Australian Imperial Force in February 1915. Although he made many requests, he was not permitted to leave Macedonia and link up with his countrymen until July 1916 when he joined the 2nd Division for the operations at Pozières, France. He commanded two field batteries and was brigade major of the 5th Divisional Artillery during the subsequent fighting on the Somme and the advance to the Hindenburg line. One of the few Australian officers with staff-college training, he was transferred in May 1917 to the headquarters of the 1st Division where he worked under Colonel (Sir) Thomas Blamey: it was probably in this period that an antipathy developed between the two officers that continued for the remainder of their careers.

By December Lavarack was a lieutenant colonel and general staff officer, 1st grade, of the 4th Division, commanded by Major General E. G. Sinclair-Maclagan. Lavarack took part in battles at Dernancourt (April 1918), Villers-Bretonneux (April), Hamel (July) and Amiens (August). Maclagan and he had taken the major hand in planning the operation at Hamel which set the pattern for later Australian successes. For his war service, Lavarack was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (1918) and the French Croix de Guerre (1919); he was also appointed C.M.G. (1919) and thrice mentioned in dispatches.

Returning to Australia in September 1919, Lavarack was posted to the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Federal Capital Territory, as director of military art. In 1924 he served as a staff officer at the headquarters of the 2nd (Militia) Division, Sydney. In March 1925 he was made director of military training at Army Headquarters, Melbourne. Promoted brevet colonel in 1926, at the end of the following year he went to London to attend the Imperial Defence College. He was the first Australian army officer to complete the course; a fellow student was (Sir) Frederick Shedden.

Back home, in early 1929 Lavarack was given the post of director of military operations and intelligence at Army Headquarters. He found himself in keen debate with Shedden who was secretary of the defence committee. Shedden and the Naval Staff claimed that Australia’s defence should rest on the Royal Navy. Lavarack, as an adviser to the chief of the General Staff, argued that Japan would attack in the Far East when Britain was preoccupied in Europe. Therefore, he contended, the Australian army had to be prepared to deal with a possible invasion. He published his views in the Army Quarterly (1933).

In January 1933 Lavarack became commandant of the R.M.C. On 21 April 1935 he was promoted to temporary major general (substantive in June) and took over as C.G.S., superseding a number of more senior officers. Intelligent, with a quick and incisive mind, Lavarack was impressive in appearance. He was 5 ft 11½ ins (182 cm) tall, with a dark complexion and blue eyes. Lieutenant General (Sir) Sydney Rowell, who had worked under Lavarack, recalled that he ‘had a fine brain; he wrote brilliantly and spoke convincingly’. While he ‘did not possess the most equable of temperaments and could be a difficult master . . . at other times he was a delightful character with a wide range of interests’.

As C.G.S., Lavarack renewed his arguments with the navy and Shedden, and also challenged successive ministers for defence—Sir Archdale Parkhill, H. V. C. Thorby and G. A. Street—over the government’s reliance on the Royal Navy and its insistence that army funds be spent on coastal defences rather than the field force. Lavarack found himself increasingly at odds with the government. The release (apparently by senior army officers) of information to the press that was critical of government policy led ministers to mistrust the army. Lavarack’s appointment as C.B. (1937) was delayed because politicians were dissatisfied with him.

In 1938 the government appointed a British officer, Lieutenant General E. K. Squires, as inspector general of the Australian Military Forces. John Hetherington claimed that ‘some Ministers had begun to suspect soon after [Lavarack] became C.G.S. that his reports were framed to tell them less what they should know than what he believed they would like to know’. Yet, as Brett Lodge has argued persuasively, it ‘would be more accurate to say that Lavarack was telling the government too much of what it did not want to hear: that its defence policy was bankrupt’. He had pressed his case strongly, but he might have achieved more with a different approach.

Lavarack worked closely with Squires to prepare the army for war before departing in May for a tour of Britain. He returned in September, after hostilities had begun. Squires was appointed C.G.S. and Blamey was selected to command the new 6th Division, A.I.F. Still out of favour with the government, Lavarack was promoted lieutenant general and given Southern Command. To add to his difficulties, Blamey saw him as a potential rival, and was able to use Lavarack’s temperament as a justification for denying him a series of important appointments. ‘Joe’ Lavarack, as he was known, certainly had an unpredictable and ‘wicked temper which rose like a flash and often subsided quickly’. He was passionately fond of sport, such as golf and tennis, but, when he lost, there was often an extraordinary display of bad humour. For all that, he could be charming and personable. Essentially a shy man, he was sensitive to any perceived slight to his rank or position.

When the government decided in March 1940 to raise the 7th Division and Blamey was given the newly formed I Corps, he refused to have Lavarack as commander of the 6th Division because of his ‘defects of character’. Against Blamey’s wishes, the government chose Lavarack to command the 7th and he reverted to major general to accept the appointment. He arrived in the Middle East in November. At the end of March 1941 Axis forces under General Erwin Rommel attacked in Libya. The 18th Brigade of the 7th Division was rushed to Tobruk to support the 9th Australian Division under Major General (Sir) Leslie Morshead.

Faced with a rapidly deteriorating situation, General Sir Archibald (Earl) Wavell, the commander-in-chief in the Middle East, ordered Lavarack to Tobruk in early April as head of Cyrenaica Command. He organized the defence of the fortress, deploying Morshead’s division on the perimeter. On 13 and 14 April the garrison repelled a strong assault by Rommel’s forces. Wavell directed Lavarack to take over Western Desert Force, but Blamey advised that Lavarack was unsuitable for high command. On 14 April Lavarack returned to his division in Egypt.

The remaining two brigades of the 7th Division played a major role in the allied invasion of the French-mandated territory of Syria in June 1941. Lavarack exercised effective leadership over his formation which advanced in two columns, one on the coast and the other inland near Merdjayoun. Seizing an opportunity, he changed the axis of the advance, thrusting towards Jezzine and catching the Vichy French commander unawares. The French counter-attacked and Lavarack had to reconstitute a force at Merdjayoun.

In the midst of these battles Lavarack was promoted (18 June) lieutenant general to command I Corps, Blamey having become deputy commander-in-chief in the Middle East. The corps took responsibility for conducting almost the whole of the Syrian campaign. Reorganizing his force, which included British, Indian and Free French troops as well as the 7th Division, Lavarack supervised the capture of Damascus and Damour. An armistice came into effect on 12 July. For his commands at Tobruk and in Syria, in which Wavell said that he had shown ‘abilities of a high order’, Lavarack was appointed K.B.E. (1942) and mentioned in dispatches.

Following the outbreak of war with Japan, plans were made for I Corps to sail to the Far East. By late January 1942 Lavarack and his senior staff were in Java, ahead of the troops. Lavarack cabled the Australian government, endeavouring to prevent the first of his units from being retained in Java. He was unsuccessful in this effort, but the remainder of his men were diverted to Australia. His support of a British proposal to deploy the corps in Burma annoyed the Australian government. He left Java by aeroplane and arrived in Melbourne on 26 February. In March he was acting commander-in-chief of the Australian Military Forces before Blamey assumed the appointment on his return from the Middle East. Next month Lavarack took command of the First Army with responsibility for the defence of Queensland and New South Wales. His two years in the post were a time of frustration. Blamey overlooked him when an army commander was required in New Guinea.

In February 1944 Lavarack flew to Washington to become head of the Australian Military Mission. He was military adviser to the Australian delegation at the United Nations Conference on International Organization held at San Francisco in April-June 1945. As the war progressed he became increasingly disappointed by his lack of active command, and was anxious to preserve his military reputation. Some politicians accused Blamey of shelving him. Lavarack claimed that he had always been loyal to Blamey and, contrary to Blamey’s assertions, had never coveted his position. Lavarack returned to Australia in August 1946 and retired on 18 September.

That month it was announced that he had been appointed governor of Queensland. He was sworn in on 1 October 1946, the first Australian-born to hold the post. In 1951 his term was extended for another five years and there was to be a further extension of one year from 1 October 1956. He was appointed K.C.V.O. in 1954 and K.C.M.G. in 1955. Because of ill health, he was relieved of his duties on 25 January 1957. Sir John died on 4 December 1957 in his home at Buderim, Queensland. He was accorded a state funeral and was cremated; his estate was sworn for probate at £38,024. His wife, who had been president of the A.I.F. Women’s Association during World War II, survived him, as did his three sons, all of whom served in that war.

According to the Brisbane Courier-Mail, Lavarack had discharged his duties as governor ‘with a quiet and modest dignity’ and had ‘impressed all who met him with his soldierly sense of duty, his friendly accessibility in social intercourse, and his desire to be of service to people in all parts of the State’. He had, moreover, made a substantial contribution to the Australian army. Despite a fiery temperament, he was an educated and articulate officer, and, as a commander, ‘showed himself to be a determined and competent leader’. The Lavarack Barracks at Townsville are named after him.


A tribute to the Anzacs from the Wheatbelt

Thanks to the Kondinin Community Recreation Council together with the Kondinin Artists’ Group and Shire of Kondinin for making this happen.

The mural was painted on a custom-built canvas, fixed onto the water tank at Yeerakine Rock, a place where Kondinin holds their annual Anzac Dawn service.

The painting sits alongside a Light Horse monument, that was erected in 2015 and commemorates the 10th Light Horse Regiment who was primarily raised in the Wheatbelt and had strong connections to a number of families in the region.

The mural depicts one of the many brave men who had to leave their wives and children behind during the disastrous drought of 1914, which ruined early farming progress and communities.

The soldier sails from Fremantle, goes to the Great War, and after experiencing its horrors, expresses the pointlessness of it all in a letter. The soldier was one of the fortunate ones who was able to return to his family.

Special thanks to Hannah and Gary Repacholi who helped steer the direction of the artwork and introduced me to the song ‘Green Fields of France’ referenced in the soldier’s letter and plays throughout this video.

CLICK LINK to watch the video.

Support needed for Special Forces Veteran

Support needed for Special Forces Veteran

By Herston Russell

It is a national shame and absolute disgrace the way that too many people in positions of power have treated and now abandoned our service men after sending them to do what they would and could not do themselves.

Our role in Afghanistan was not comfortable, nor was it easily conducted with the clarity of the armchair opinions that now seek to slander what they can and will never understand first hand.

Our roles in Special Forces require us to embark upon actions that bring real dangers to ourselves and those we love back home. This is why all Special Forces personnel are supposed to be afforded ‘Protected Identity Status’ – the ability to keep our identities out of the Australian media – especially at a time when Afghanistan is back under Taliban control and knowing all too well the real evil that is out there in the world.

Instead, over the last few years, outlets and certain journalists have taken it upon their righteous selves to publish the names, pictures and other personal details of our Special Forces Veterans for the benefit of their own media agendas. This has to stop!

It’s time to step up and support those who have served and sacrificed so much for this nation. We must take action to make legislation that protects those we have a moral obligation to still support – so they can be afforded due process and the presumption of innocence – to be decided in the courts of law in this land, not the media circus that now destroys the lives of our Veterans and their families before any trial.

Child sex offenders in Australia have more rights to protect their identities under current legislation than our Veterans who have served in the Special Forces.

Please use the template below to email your elected Member of Parliament and the Senators in your State or Territory – you can find all their details at

People taking action together – United with purpose is how we do what needs to be done. Please take action today and support those who have and continue to serve.

If you can – please donate towards the organisation stepping up while so many more are keeping silent. Please donate to the fighting fund at (CLICK HERE) so we can keep acting fast when it is needed.


Dear Elected Representative,

I write to you in your professional capacity.

On 20 March 2023, a member of the Special Air Service (SAS) was charged by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on allegations of war crimes. I do not know the full details of the combat operations conducted by our Special Forces in Afghanistan, nor have these been made public.

I do not propose to speak to the former SAS members’ conduct, as I was not present in Afghanistan in 2012. However, I wish to raise my serious concerns for him and his family following his full name and age being reported by ABC on 20 February 2023.

In circumstances where members of the SAS and the Special Forces community have undertaken high-value and high-risk counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, it ought to be reasonably apparent there would be reprisal action against their families and persons if their identities were known. Indeed, for this reason, members of the SAS do not openly use social media.

Given the above, I seek your intervention to ensure any further members of the Special Forces community remain unnamed until they are convicted. This protective measure has the benefit of ensuring the proper administration of justice while also ensuring the Court’s processes are not prejudiced or in any way hindered by contrived news articles which do not provide the full particulars of an event. It is likely that once the former SAS member appears before a Court there will be a suppression order in place. However, there should be no reporting until it is appropriate to do so.

Our Soldier’s conduct overseas deserves our respect and, at minimum, has earned them the right to privacy during whatever Court proceedings they are subjected to. Given this, I request you write to the Attorney-General of Australia to seek members of the Special Forces community to maintain their protected identity status.

Kind regards,


Defence personnel and veterans rush to beat Royal Commission deadline

By Kirsten Webster

A legal service funded by the federal government has fielded more than 1,200 calls in a year from veterans and their families who want to be heard by the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. Almost a quarter of the demand is coming from Queensland’s veterans community with 341 calls taken by the Defence and Legal Service in February. Likewise, 316 calls were made to the New South Wales service, 190 from Western Australia and 140 calls were made in Victoria.

Brisbane-based veteran SiuPing Wong is one of the hundreds currently preparing a written submission to the Royal Commission. She is being helped by solicitor Kathryn Starkey who has provided Ms Wong’s quotes to the ABC. “I am speaking up because I don’t want to see any more veteran suicides,” Ms Wong said.

“I have experienced continual depression. Life is miserable for me now. “Each day, I feel exhausted and in pain. I have struggled with thoughts of suicide most days.” Ms Wong was medically discharged from the Royal Australian Air Force after a training accident. “I have suffered enormously,” Ms Wong said. “Physically, mentally and emotionally.

“The task of getting appropriate medical and psychological support has been confusing and frustrating. “After my medical discharge, I was effectively left on my own to work out my future healthcare. I was not supported by the ADF.”

Deadline looms An April 28 deadline for private submission requests to the Royal Commission has prompted a surge in veterans wanting to tell their story, Ms Starkey says. “They know that nothing is going to change for them because it’s already occurred,” she said. “But they take great satisfaction and comfort out of being able to finally sit down with someone and have someone sit there and just listen to them.”


A-10 Warthog FINALLY After Upgrade

The A-10 Warthog can fly with one engine, one elevator, half of its tail, and half of a wing all missing. The aircraft simply cannot be shot down and that’s one reason it has stayed in service for almost half a century. It’s also why, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the A-10 Warthog was the one aircraft called by Ukraine’s Defense Minister to save the country. However, despite already being lethal to taste, the A-10 is constantly upgraded with new capabilities to become even more decisive in high-end conflicts, especially with China’s military might constantly on the rise. So in this video, we’ll be discussing everything there is to know about the lethal masterpiece that is the A-10 Warthog – a true innovation and symbol of American superior air power.