The following is the booklet prepared for the Fiftieth Anniversary in 2003 of the 4/53 (Dec 1953) OCS Graduating Class.
Only minor cosmetic changes have been made to the original to better suit an internet environment .........(Webmaster)




  by Bill Smith


OCS Portsea Fourth Class was not a close group. After graduation on 13 December 1953 their paths seldom crossed, if at all. Some happened to gather for the Twenty Fifth Anniversary reunion at Portsea and found it to be a pleasant experience. Perhaps that event provided the incentive to mark the Fiftieth Anniversary. But in 2003 there were new problems to overcome.

By this time all graduates had left the Army and no longer had access to a good communications network. In fact, not many were working at all and this meant that travel, accommodation, food and phone costs were of fresh significance in the form and location of the reunion. Since the Officer Cadet School had closed and the Portsea asset was being flogged off, it could not be considered as a reunion venue. Even meeting in the townships of Portsea or Sorrento would be a constant reminder that the group had returned to the decaying shell of a former dream. The reunion choices were simple — quit now or sample the new OCS home at Duntroon where early experiences were being perpetuated by the youth of today. It is also where much of the OCS history has been preserved. Bill Smith and Kaye Latham met briefly on the ANZAC Day march in Canberra last April and later discussed the prospects of a class reunion with their wives Thea and Betty. They decided to try to find their classmates and to test reactions for a reunion.

The response from RMC Commandant Brigadier Paramor and the staff at Duntroon was supportive and the initial class reaction to the first letter was encouraging. The idea of pulling together a small organizing group was quickly abandoned on the basis that time was better spent tackling the problems here rather than tackling an interstate organisation. Local classmates Col Adamson and John Clarke offered their help and the game began.

Their biggest thrill was in making contact with the widely dispersed group. It was inevitable that health problems would affect the mobility of some. Previous engagements held back others. Despite Betty pouring through electoral rolls and phone books for hours on end, it was not possible to locate everybody. Gradually the list began to take shape. It was sad as names had to be added to the growing list of classmates who had died. Mention must be made here of Bill Lessels who, because of hospitalization, was denied graduation with this class. He did graduate with the next course, losing six months seniority on the way, but he put that behind him and `soldiered on'. Tragically when serving in Darwin, Bill once more became ill and died. Although he is not listed as a graduate of OCS 4/53, Bill will always remain in our thoughts.

A lot of effort has been put into the reunion program to give classmates the opportunity to meet, reflect and to enjoy the experience.
Publication of this book marks the start of the reunion. This will be followed by the fun of meeting those who shared your past and discovering that words like old and friends are most appropriate. The organising committee thanks all classmates and their partners for coming to Canberra, wishes them a safe trip home and urges them to book their places for the fifty fifth.


Welcome to
The Royal Military College of Australia

Officer Cadet School Portsea Class 4/1953 Reunion

It is my great pleasure to welcome graduates of the Portsea OCS Fourth Course to Duntroon on the occasion of their Fiftieth Anniversary of graduation. It's wonderful to have you with us at such significant anniversary.

Each year we are honoured by many classes from RMC, OCS, WRAAC OCS and OTU who choose to gather at Duntroon for significant anniversaries. You may even meet some such groups tha include Army Officers with whom you may have served in the past. I am pleased that so many o your Class are able to visit the College and that your activities include a tour of the area and um' ( searching our Archives and Museum. You will find that much of the Portsea history and tradition have been transferred to us for display and safekeeping. We treasure your treasures.

Your OCS Class is of particular interest to us. The OCS Fourth Class of 1953 was the last of the 'pioneer' courses under the first Commandant, Colonel James Harrison and the founding organisation, and it is most fitting that you dine in the Harrison Room of the Cadets' Mess.

Since your Cadet days, changes in the Australian Defence Force were reflected in the length an content of later OCS Courses and eventually led to relocation to Duntroon. At no stage, in the involved process, did we depart from the principles and practices established during your `pioneering days at Portsea. Memories of your experiences will be stirred as you watch the graduation of our next generation of young officers next Tuesday. Reserved seating has been set aside for you.
I look forward to catching up with you during your time here.


Royal Military College of Australia
6 November 2003



(i) Foreword
(ii) Welcome
(iii) Contents
(iv) Loyalty and Service
(v) Further Information
The Reunion Details
1       Duntroon Map
2       Program of Events prior to Graduation
3        OCS 4/53 Graduating Class
4        The Right Stuff
5        Address List of Class 4/53 Graduates (witheld)
6         Missing Graduates
Personal accounts of the last Fifty Years
7.        Graduate letters arranged in Alphabetic Order
8.         Those who have helped us enjoy this occasion


"Loyalty and Service"
The Officer Cadet School Portsea

A book review by Hugh Smith, Department of Politics, Australian Defence Force Academy.


The Australian Army's Officer Cadet School at Portsea in Victoria existed for 34 years from 1952 to 1985. Less in the public eye than RMC Duntroon, its older counterpart located in the national capital, OCS Portsea can nonetheless claim that its products constituted the backbone of the ARA officer corps for many years. In its lifetime it turned out 2,825 junior officers for the Army (40% of the total) compared with RMC's 2,022 (28%) over the same period.

The origins of OCS lay in the need for a substantial increase in the output of officers in the early 1950s to support commitments in Japan and Korea and to provide junior officers to train the new national servicemen during their three months full-time duty. The four-year course at Duntroon was simply not flexible enough to perform this role. In the 1960s a new conscription scheme and the expanding commitment to Vietnam created fresh need for Portsea graduates.

After Vietnam Portsea continued to flourish, providing about 50% of all new officers for the ARA compared with RMC's 39%. But its position was challenged by the decision to establish ADFA to take over the academic education of RMC cadets. As Neville Lindsay suggests, OCS could have taken over the military training role of RMC and the latter might have disappeared. But tradition weighed heavy and it was OCS Portsea that was destined to lose its identity on incorporation into RMC.

It is worthwhile and timely, therefore, to record the achievements of OCS Portsea and to assess its contribution to officer training. Neville Lindsay's book does both tasks superbly well, offering a wealth of detail for the historical record and providing a balanced judgement of Portsea's contribution to the Australian Army and the wider world.

Loyalty and Service offers a factual record of immense variety. It covers the early history of the Portsea area and the original quarantine station on the site (for some years cadets had to be ready to evacuate within 24 hours in the event of a quarantine emergency). The bulk of the work, however, records cadet life: daily routines, training activities, discipline and punishments, living conditions and cadet language, prizes and awards, insignia and clothing scales, sporting efforts and entertainment (approved and unapproved). There is comment, too, on selection boards and recruitment, on cadet organisation and rank structure, on bastardisation and the travails of married cadets in the early years. All of this is amply illustrated by photographs, diagrams, lexicons, cartoons, maps and pictures, many of the latter in full colour.
As befits such a history, all graduates are recorded and there are photographs of every graduating class. The focus of the book, as the author acknowledges, is on the cadets, not on the staff. For it is those who came in as more or less raw recruits and who left after 12 short months to take up command positions who were the life-blood of the institution. Loyalty and Service records their trials and triumphs with insight and a degree of justifiable pride.

The book also provides material for assessing Portsea's contribution to the Army and to Australia. Though cadets were told in the early years that they could not hope to go beyond the rank of major, reality turned out rather different. OCS can boast two Major Generals so far and with 6 Brigadiers, 35 Colonels and 139 Lieutenant Colonels still serving in 1995, more can be expected. OCS graduates can also look back on a distinguished record of active service. Over 40 served in the Malayan Emergency and in Borneo while large numbers fought in Vietnam where 86 graduates won operational awards.

Nor should one overlook the impact of the 700 or so graduates who went into other forces, among them 378 to New Zealand, 91 to Malaysia, 61 to PNG (including a future Deputy Prime Minister and a leader of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army), 40 to Singapore and 38 to the Philippines. Three African armies-Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria-also sent future officers to Portsea while another exotic force, the RAAF, received 30 OCS-trained officers (one of whom is now a federal MP).

In the last year of OCS female cadets were admitted and 14 graduated. It was typical of the college that it did not shrink from the difficulties involved. For OCS proved itself over the years to be an adaptable and enterprising institution. Colonel Neville Lindsay has told its story with balance, insight and a keen eye for detail. Loyalty and Service has much to offer not only to graduates who will want to remember and reminisce but also to those interested to learn about an institution that was a vital part of the Australian Army for over 30 years of war and peace.

Neville Lindsay, Loyalty and Service: The Officer Cadet School Portsea, Historia Productions, PO Box 604, Kenmore 4069, 1995. xvi + 354 pp.

Have YOU visited the OCS Portsea Alumni website?

The Alumni website for all OCS groups is at Organiser is Rob de HaaS, a graduate of the Dec 67 OCS class. This site is worth a visit every so often. Check it out.




The Duntroon Society

The Duntroon Society embraces the interests of graduates of the Royal Military College, the WRAAC Officer Cadet School, the Officer Training Unit and the Officer Cadet School. All interested graduates are urged to consider joining.


Class Reunion - Program


Saturday 6th December
4 - 6pm. Registration. Paparazzi (62824600) will open for us at Garran Shopping Centre. Assemble for Afternoon Tea (pre-pay) to meet others and to confirm your local contact details, accommodation, transport needs (if any) etc. Collect your booklet (pre-pay) and any information updates. Dress is casual - come in your touring outfit or ready for an evening of your choice. Include family and friends.
6.00pm Dinner. The Mascot Chinese Restaurant seats about 40 and is only 100 m away. Former US President Jimmy Carter once dined there! That was years ago. Still noted for its good food in modest surroundings at modest cost. Some may wish to dine here while others may prefer to try out nearby clubs (about six within 10 minutes drive) or pursue own programs. Your choice. Bookings can be made at the Mascot after 5pm.
Sunday 7th December
930am Church Service. Visitors are invited to attend either of two Church Services that are normally held each Sunday in the Anzac Memorial Chapel, Duntroon. Parking is available nearby. See the OCS Colours.
10.30am Discover Portsea in Duntroon. Voluntary Duntroon Society guides of our age group will show the 1953 OCS Course how Duntroon adopted the OCS mantle following the closure of Portsea. The tour starts at the Chapel after the Church Service and ends at the Officers Mess in time for lunch. Dress as for church.
12 noon Lunch. RMC Officers Mess, Duntroon. Guests welcome at pre-pay rates.
2.00pm. Memory Lane. Visit the Museum and Archives where old Portsea records and artefacts are now kept.
Monday 8th December
10.00am. Australian War Memorial (AWM). Meet guides at main entrance steps to attend a short wreath laying ceremony with the Director, Maj Gen Steve Gower (Ret) at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Tour continues past recent exhibits as arranged by Col Adamson to finish near The Landing Place restaurant.
1.10pm Lunch. Your own choice of The Landing Place (where there may be queues) or similar places at the Old Parliament House, National Art Gallery, National Museum etc. The Ainslie Football Club is nearby.
Afternoon. Continue visits or discover Canberra.
7.00pm Class Reunion Dinner. The previously advised Bridges Memorial Dinner was cancelled. Our Reunion Dinner is in the Harrison Room of the Corps of Staff Cadets Mess with full military ceremony (and wines). Lady Harrison, widow of our Portsea Commandant and former Governor of South Australia, Maj Gen Sir James Harrison, regrets that she is unable to attend. Surviving instructors were also unable to join us in our celebrations. Appropriate dress is suits (or jacket and tie) with miniatures. Parking is available near the mess.
Tuesday 9th December
9.30am. Graduation Parade, Duntroon (reserved seating for reunion classes). See separate instructions.
Morning Tea. Tables will be set-aside for reunion groups. Pre-pay please.
Farewell – Put your name down for the 60th Reunion – it's bound to come around all too soon!

The Right Stuff


What a mixed lot of officer cadets we were as we met in Portsea in the winter of 1953. There was representation from all States and most religions. Our education and employment backgrounds varied so much as did our choice of sports and recreation. In fact, our only unifying streak was that we wanted to become professional soldiers. Later we shared another goal – to get graduation behind us so that we could get to work to test our knowledge and skills.
Many years would pass before some graduates were exposed to active service. For others the wait was too long with opportunities receding as we aged. Whether we stayed in the Army or not, there was no real proof that our training at OCS had fully prepared us for what may lie ahead. Were we equal to the leadership task? Was it possible that we had missed some vital lesson on the way? This is where Classmate Noel Delahunty's actions in Vietnam challenged doubts our class may have harboured on this matter. You will recall Noel was an interesting cadet and went on to become an equally intriguing officer. He was dedicated yet liked to defy authority, he was athletic but avoided sports, he wished for good health but chain-smoked, he was a good gunner but sought baptism of fire in a specialist infantry role. All of his friends had a story about Noel. Here is one told about Vietnam.

Noel Delahunty MC

In April 1964, Captain Noel Delahunty had taken a 56-man unit of Vietnamese Special Forces and local troops, with two American Special Forces sergeants, on a secret patrol close to the Laotian border in Quang Nam Province to find a site for a new Special Forces post that would be used as a base for raiding enemy reinforcements and supplies moving along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
From the first, Delahunty enforced standard Australian Army jungle patrol routine -- and he wasn't very popular. This routine meant breaking camp in the darkness before dawn and ensuring that nothing was left to tell an enemy anyone had been there that night; then, without food or cigarettes, moving at first light. About 9 a.m. there was a halt for a hot meal, after ensuring that fires and smoke and the smell of cooking wouldn't be detected, and with sentries posted in relays while others ate. And then on again through the morning and afternoon until about 5 p.m., when a campsite was selected and secured, sentries posted, followed by a cold meal, no fires and sleep.
But the routine paid off. The patrol wasn't detected until, having selected a place called A Ro for the Special Forces post and having started on its way back, some of the patrol's sentries posted during the hot-meal break left their positions and sneaked back to camp for food. Without warning, a Viet Cong unit attacked. The patrol beat off the attack but now it was known to be in the area, and several attempts at interception and ambush were made before the 19-day patrol was over. Three of the patrol were killed and 12 wounded, the latter including Captain Delahunty.


On return from Vietnam, Noel soldiered on in his unique and upbeat way before deciding he could move faster without the constraints of Army life. He left the Army to set up his restaurant "Onions" and continued the flamboyant lifestyle until an untimely death. Mourned by many, Noel earned our respect and admiration when his brave and dedicated actions reminded us that we too had been taught the right stuff during our early training. He showed us this when isolated in a foreign country with foreign troops. We are proud of others in our class who distinguished themselves in battle. But for this particular reunion, let us say, "Vale Noel – and thank you".


Personal Histories Section


Old friends are invariably greeted after many years with the observation that they look well. The next question is "What have you been doing since I last saw you?" At some stage during a reunion there needs to be an opportunity for everyone to amplify the usual response of "Not much".

The Reunion Dinner can make allowance for people to speak for five minutes to outline the last fifty years of their life! That would not work for our group. Five minutes is not much time for any meaningful message to be transmitted. If twenty-five people wished to speak, diners would have to go through two hours of mounting torture before the speeches were over! Former gunners would not hear much of it. Too much Port later would make others forget what was said. We have avoided these problems by inviting all classmates, whether attending or not, to write their answer to the question "What have you been doing since I last saw you?" on one A4 sized page for this booklet. Many rose to the challenge and their fascinating stories fill the rest of this booklet. The stories are set out in alphabetical order by authors.

Contributors were not invited to reflect on the circumstances that drew them together in the first place even though it is relevant to the career decisions they had to make during the next half century. They came together because Australia was involved in a war in Korea and needed more troops. National Service had been introduced and the Regular Army was hard pressed to train them while fighting the war. OCS came into being to provide Second Lieutenants to train National Servicemen. No sensible thought was given to the fact that these young Officer Cadets would strive for careers as Officers in the Australian Regular Army. A rudimentary career chain was cobbled together for them. Considerable care was taken at Military Board level to ensure that these junior officers would not pose a career threat to RMC trained officers. A "Prescribed Seniority" scheme was dreamt up which, in effect, made RMC applicants more senior than officers who had already graduated from OCS. Selection procedures were devised for promotion and selected appointments where less emphasis was placed on maturity, experience, man management, course and examination results. Instead, the use of artificial seniority and reliance on relative youth were often used to frustrate OCS candidates. The use of "Cohort groups" for promotion selection purposes came later and further disadvantaged some OCS groups by a further year. While these devices did not advantage the many excellent RMC officers, it did position the best OCS officers somewhere behind the mediocre also-rans.

These measures were clearly wrong and may well be a thing of the past. At the time it did starve the Army of many great officers and denied those who remained a fair chance to prove themselves. The personal histories of our group of graduates makes it obvious that the original selection of cadets by Army was well based, all had much to offer Australia whether in the Army or elsewhere. Those who branched out on other careers proved their worth in those spheres while those who remained had to be satisfied with an artificially truncated career. The personal histories are uplifting and show that OCS Portsea was a launching pad equal to any.
Congratulations to all who contributed to this section, and thank you for sharing your story with us.

Col Adamson

Memories ..... 1953 - 2003


  • Having my 18th birthday at Seymour and Ronnie-the-One shouted!
  • Those church parades and the pub with no beer (at least none for us).
  • The dancing lesson !?!
  • The lessons given by Richmond Cubis on how to hold a fork!
  • The uphill run from Portsea and the company in the bath before dinner.
  • That mad pommy engineer who delighted in the effect of explosives.
  • Being caught with a dirty rifle after a torchlight inspection. (B#@######d)
  • Being ignored by corporals and colonels at my first battalion! (b#! !#!!d)
  • Four years of exploring in New Guinea. (on full pay too!)
  • Playing golf with my Colonel seven days a week. (someone has to do it)
  • The long carry with an anti tank gun. (are we there yet?)
  • Another 3 years in New Guinea (I really thought I had finished exploring)
  • The peace of a Huey ride after a 26 day battle!
  • All the friends I made at Staff College.....
  • The worst job and boss I had at Army Headquarters. (Boo-Hiss)
  • The best job and boss I had at Army Headquarters. (Hooray)
  • Seven great years at the Joint Intelligence Office. (Shhhhhh!!)
  • Sailing the Whitsundays after retiring (Sigh!)
  • Skiing Thredbo after retiring (Sigh!)
  • Lounging in Tahiti after retiring (Stop it!)
  • My first civvy job (and at my age!)
  • Co-owning a real estate agency. (More hard work – but fun)
  • Selling our real estate agency and retiring again because I was already involved in developing my dearest memory which is...
  • Finding the love of my life and holidays with Jan to the United States, Great Britain, Italy, France, Belgium, and New Zealand.


Bill Bathurst

We just could not stay away


Editor's Note: - Bill was one of the first to respond to the initial invitation to attend our proposed class reunion. When it became apparent that he might be able to catch part of the celebration program, he called again for more information. The .following letter was his initial response.

I regret that my wife and I will be unable to attend the OCS 4/53 Class Reunion due to commitments in Melbourne over the weekend 6/7 December.
I do hope that the celebrations are a great success and request that my apology will be recorded.
Following is a short summary of my rather brief military career.

  • Upon graduation, I was posted to RAASC School at Puckapunyal to complete 6 months Corps Training and thereafter as Transport Officer with 1 Company RAASC. Oct 54, posted to ANARE Detachment RAASC under Officer Commanding Lt. Tony Hall. I was a DUKW driver on 1954/55 Antarctic Division changeover aboard MV Kista Dan. This was the first time DUKWS were used on the Antarctic mainland.
  • April 55, posted to 20 NS Trg Bn Puckapunyal on completion of duties with ANARE.
  • Sept 55, promoted to T/Lt and OC ANARE Det. RAASC for the 1955/56 Antarctic Station changeover on board MV Kista Dan.
  • May 56, posted as Administrative Commander of 24 Company, RAASC in Ballarat.
  • Apr 57, resignation of my Commission accepted.

I then moved to Melbourne and spent three years with OPSM Ltd.

In Feb 60 I joined The Shell Group of Companies and over the next 30 years enjoyed a variety of marketing positions with various companies within the Group in Australia and the Pacific Islands. I retired from Shell in Aug 90 but continued on as a part-time consultant for two more years.

My interests include bush walking, sailing, wine, U3A, Probus and extensive travel both in Australia and overseas.
I married Pat in November 1954. We have two daughters and three grandsons.

The good news is that Bill and Pat will drive through from Melbourne on the Sunday and will stay in Canberra with Tony Hall (Bill's former OC from the Antarctic days) so that they may join the Reunion activities for the Monday and Tuesday. We look forward to seeing them.-Ed

Edward Beaumont

Charting a Better Course

Leaving Portsea in 1953, I was one of the dozen graduates who were introduced to the various aspects of Artillery at North Head. welcomed the Queen as she sailed into Sydney Harbour, then got on with training National Servicemen. I was another of our class who married in 1954. I guess this was one of the many factors which combined to make me develop a new perspective of where I was going and what I really wanted. The answer was to resign my commission in September, 1956.

The best way for me to set out the rest of my story is to do it by locations.
1956 — 1958 Accounts clerk with QANTAS.
1958 — 1960 Assistant accountant for Land Newspaper.
During this period I involved myself in serious study and qualified in accountancy in May 1960.
1960 — 1969 Appointed audit manager with Price Waterhouse before moving to personnel and recruiting aspects. Further study qualified me as a chartered accountant.
1969 — 1974 Joined Henry Jones (IXL) Ltd as Company Secretary. TASMANIA
1974 — 1979 Relocated to become the Commercial Manager of Henry Jones (IXL) Ltd Tasmanian Business Division.
1979 — 1984 A new appointment as Chairman of the Primary Products Marketing Council with the Tasmanian Government and also chairman of three marketing authorities.
In 1984. I moved north to my present position with McConaghy & Co Chartered Accountants.

Now for the Snapshot....
Our marriage in 1954 produced four children and they in turn have given us 6 and a half grandchildren.
In the past I participated in ocean racing. including one Sydney to Hobart and one Melbourne to Hobart. Also interests include dressage, tennis and squash. Currently I work 3 days a week in public practice. play competition bridge. instruct in a dog obedience club and compete in dog obedience trials. I plan to attend the reunion and hope to see as many of you as possible.

Gordon Brown

An Interesting Journey from Portsea to Deloraine


First, the great Life of an Engineer...
1954-55 20 Field Park Squadron. 19 National Service Training Battalion. Holsworthy. 1956  Basic Engineering Course. School of Military Engineering (SME) Holsworthy
1957- 59 Troop Commander Plant Troop. Construction Troop, 24 Construction Squadron. Enoggera 1959-61 2IC. 28 Army Field Park Squadron (CMF), Ipswich
1962-63 Adjutant CRE N Cmd. Brisbane. Inf Coy Comd Course. Arend Sqn Cmd Course 1964-65 Royal Military College of Science. Shrivenham. UK
1966 Attended Staff College. Camberley, UK (Editor's Note – When I read Gordon's story, I was able to suprise him with the news that he got there through a UK competitive entry. rom R_VICS). 1967-68 Instructor Field Engineering. SME. Holsworthy
1968-69 Officer Commanding 21 Construction Squadron. Puckapunyal.
1969-70 Australian Army Training Team Vietnam as District Senior Adviser. Nam Hoa. I Corps. 1970-73 Grade 2 staff appointments, E in C office, D Engineers. G Branch. Dept of Def. Canberra. 1973-76 Commanding Officer. 3 Field Engineer Regiment. Townsville
And the Engineering of a greater Life...
1976-80 Farmed (fruit growing. largely) near Koah (which is near Kuranda) on the Atherton Tablelands.
1981-86 Managed beef cattle property near Malanda on Atherton Tablelands while Marj studied Community Welfare externally at James Cook University.
1987-89 Lived near Atherton. I further indulged my interests in the practical aspects of rifle and pistol shooting. including the three fields of small arms ballistics. Marj completed her studies. We were subsequently caretakers of a cattle property in the Gulf Country on Cape York.
1990-92 Lived in UK on elder daughter's property. Marj worked as a psychiatric social worker. On weekends. we enjoyed bushwalking in Snowdonia. and I continued my interest in shotgun shooting. I furthered my penchant for military history (particularly the Napoleonic Wars) and the psychology of combat.
1993-2003 Lived in mountains in Northern Tasmania near Deloraine. I Indulged my cabinet-making hobby, and continued my shooting hobby.
2003 - Present Recently moved to the township of Deloraine. Marj and I are renovating an old house.

An Essential Ingredient...
What have I learned from all this? - How to come to grips with things about which I initially knew nothing. Boy. the Army must have trained me well!

Marj and I have four children. elder daughter lives in UK (lady of leisure). elder son lives in Northern Territory (OIC, Weather Bureau Station). younger son lives in Spain (but works currently in Nigeria as a helicopter pilot) and our younger daughter lives in Brisbane (administrator at Dept of Medicine, University of Queensland). Marj and I are fine and wish you a successful reunion in Canberra.

Evard Cape

Back to Where it all Started — at last!


One of the great things about Portsea was that it was located in Victoria. Leaving there after graduation to learn about gunnery at the School of Artillery for a few months was OK. but returning to become a Platoon Commander in 14 National Service Training Battalion in Puckapunyal was better. It led to me getting some flying training and becoming a Pilot in 16 Air Observation Post Flight in Canberra from 1955 to 1956. I then transferred to 1 Field Regiment RAA in Holsworthy in time to pick up the second `pip' and lots of experience. I needed this for my next job as an Instructor at the School of Artillery where I was from 1959 to 1961. Having a certain fondness for flying it was a shock to find myself out in the wastes of Woomera as a Launching Officer for things destructive to aircraft! This was the Army Guided Weapons Trials Unit. The promised promotion to Captain eventuated so I stayed there from 1961 to 1963.

Continuing in the anti-aircraft game. I was posted back to Holsworthy as a Troop Commander in 111 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery for two years then to Adjutant of a nearby CMF unit. 9 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery from 1964. In 1965 I returned to SA to become the Battery Captain of 110 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery in Woodside. Finally I was able to return to field gunnery in 1966. I was promoted to the rank of Major and appointed to command 106 Field Battery in Vietnam. This period of active service placed much of my previous work in better perspective.
Further perspective was gained as a student at Australian Staff College during 1968 and fitted me for the job of Staff Officer Grade 2 (Training and Operations) in HQ RAA 3 Division until 1970. My delightful three-year tour in Victoria was interrupted by having to move north to Canungra to become an Instructor at the Jungle Training Centre from 1970 to 1973.  I jumped at the chance to return 'home' to Southern Command Headquarters as the SO2 Ops. particularly as I was soon to be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1974 on posting to the nearby Logistics Command Headquarters as the SO1 Training and Operations. I retired from there the following year – essentially to stay home.
My first civilian job in 1975 was as Secretary of The Life Offices' Association of Australia. A bit of a name change in 1979 had me as the Secretary of the Life Insurance Federation of Australia until 1993. Between 1980 and 1983 I served as the Honorary Secretary to the Board of Melbourne Legacy. My other long-term commitment is to the Regular Defence Force Welfare Association where after many years I continue to work two days per week as the Honorary Secretary.

The Capes Today
Shirley and I married in Jan 1958. We have two sons and one daughter. They all live overseas and took our five grandchildren with them!
I still love boat building and sailing it should come as no surprise that I am a member of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron. One of my sons was a crewmember of the successful Swiss challenge for the America's Cup this year. My other son is a Military Adviser in the United Arab Emirates. Our daughter lives in New York so we just have to travel to see them all.

Shirley and I so much wanted to catch up with old friends in Canberra. I understand there are others who. like us. must wait for reports of a successful reunion. Please include us in the next one!

Max Carroll

A Soldier's Long March to the Sea


I had just over 30 years of commissioned service when I resigned on 18th January 1984. During this time from 2nd Lieutenant to Colonel. spread over 16 postings. I covered the normal spectrum of career courses and regimental, training and staff appointments.

My active service included the Malayan Emergency with 3RAR (1957 – 1959) as a Rifle Platoon Commander and the Tracking Team Commander: and Vietnam with 5RAR (1966 – 1967) as Operations Officer and as a Rifle Company Commander. I was honoured with a Mentioned in Despatches (`Hero – 4th Class') in both campaigns.

After Vietnam I was seconded to the Malaysian Army (1967 – 1969) as an instructor on the Command and Staff Wing of their Military Training School. (Note: I am NOT responsible for Dr Mahathir's long-standing dislike for Australia!). Other instructor postings were at OCS Portsea (1961 – 1963) which was a much happier experience than in 1953 – and then later to its eventual successor, RMC Duntroon (1969 – 1971). With my luck running hot. I scored two years in London (1974 – 1976) on our Army Staff in Australia House on the Strand. This indeed was a hardship posting eased by Duty Free!

After I resigned from the Army, I spent a year as an Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of Federal. Police. This was followed by several years building up a small rural property at Murrumbateman. then by eight years at the Australian War Memorial before retirement in 1996.

We sold at Murrumbateman and moved to Hallidavs Point in May 2002 where beachcombing is great (but we are happy to break from that for a couple of days to enjoy the Reunion)!

Our house was barely nearing completion when I was invited to write my "Life's History since Graduation". I submitted it in long-hand form because our little seaside hamlet does not run to a secretarial service – nor do we have a computer – nor do we propose to get one. Any gaps in my career above were not intentional. If they did occur, it is probably due to inattentive typing or to my Hallidays Point selective memory loss that happens whenever deeper thoughts intrude.

Did I mention that beachcombing is great?

John Clarke

My Number was — 27880

I remember very clearly that night in June 1953 boarding the train at Central Station Sydney to go to Puckapunyal to attend the Pre OCS course. My uniform was brand spanking new, it was in fact the first time I had worn it. I honestly did not know what lay in front of me; I had had no previous experience with the military. nobody in my family had to my knowledge ever been in the services and here was I embarking on the biggest adventure of my life with only the barest of an idea of what lay ahead.

On graduation, after a short period at the School of Artillery at North Head. I was posted to 12 National Service Training Battalion at Moorebank until about mid-1956 when. with the introduction of the Pentropic Division, I moved to 101 Battery of 1 Field Regiment RAA. In late 1960. being heartily sick of being a peacetime Gunner with little prospect of anything more exciting than a posting to one of the State based Command Headquarters, I took another leap into the blue and sought and gained a transfer to the Royal Australian Ordnance Corps (RAAOC) to be trained as an Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO). My first posting in this new role was to a small unit (a Capt. WO2 and Cpl) at Wallangarra on the Queensland Border. Initially it was a great culture shock after the city and the previous large messes. but very quickly I found that it was as exciting a posting as one could want. My area of responsibility spread right through Queensland including PNG. I was sorry to leave the friendliness of a small country community and the great freedom of operation that I enjoyed.

I then found myself heading up the Stores Section of the 101 Field Workshop RAEME at Inglebum. A bit of a culture shock but good for my general education. I guess the only memorable aspect of that posting was that I had the dubious honour of being the Mess President of the only regular RAEME field unit

I then went back to the country for a couple of months as the ATO of the ammunition Depot at Marrangaroo near Lithgow. From there I went to the USA for 18 months of courses and attachments. This was a very interesting part of my career as I had the opportunity to observe the USA at close quarters. visiting most States and obtaining a comprehensive overview of the US Army Ordnance system. Returning to Australia meant attendance at Staff College. Not a pleasant period for a number of reasons but I was fortunate to be posted next to the Directorate of Equipment, MGO Branch AHQ(v1) for two years. This was a posting supreme; everyday brought something new and exciting. Senior officers were without doubt the best I have served under; they were progressive. highly intelligent and knew how to get small teams working to top efficiency.

After two years I was posted to Canberra as a member of the Army Reorganization Planning Staff Again, a small team but very focused and energetic. It was exciting to be part of such a major change to the Army's command and control system. As an Ordnance officer I was mainly involved with the logistics area, the area of most change. From there I moved to DCO where I was responsible for the compilation of the Five Year Rolling Program (FYRP) and the Capital Equipment Program (CEP). In this posting I was closely connected to the Military Board and Defence, the activities of both being quite fascinating.

The needs of my family then caused me to think seriously about my future so I resigned and joined the Public Service as the Office Manager for the newly formed Technical and Further Education Commission. I stayed with Education Commissions until 1983 when I then ventured into private enterprise with a coffee and donut shop in a major shopping centre of Canberra. Over the following years I started and sold about six different fast food shops until I sold my last shop in November 2000.This proved to be the most profitable period of my working life, but also the most humdrum.
I am now partly retired, only having a small interest in a Chinese antique furniture business – a long way from that youth in an ill-fitting army uniform boarding the train on a cold winter night so long ago, but I wouldn't change a day of it!

Gerry Clifton

Retirement — at last?

After graduation into the Royal Australian Engineers in December 1953, I was posted to 17 Construction Squadron. For the next 30 years I served in a variety of appointments with overseas tours in Malaya, Vietnam and the United Kingdom. My Australian postings were in Melbourne. Sydney (including Casula. Penrith and Holsworthy). Brisbane and Townsville.

I shared my time between corps and non-corps postings. Likewise postings were split between regimental roles and staff appointments that included troop officer and troop. squadron and regimental commands. Commander of Field Force Engineers and Directorate of Cadets as well as various staff appointments.

While serving as Chief Engineer, 2nd Military District in 1984 I decided it was time to make a change in my life and give the family stability of location. I resigned and bought a house at Clovelly and I took up a position as Property Manager with the Anglican Retirement Villages, who have 19 retirement villages in Sydney and it environs. I remained with them until December 1997 when I retired. My retirement lasted a month until the ex-Army Senior Chaplain, Monseigneur Eugene Harley who is Parish Priest at Sacred Heart Parish. Mosman suggested I assist him with the redevelopment of the parish facilities.

Since then the parish has completed construction of the first stage of a retirement village and a 420 student primary school. The final stage of the redevelopment (36 additional retirements units) will start in early December.
Early 2004 will herald the retirement of both Fr Eugene and myself from the Mosman scene.
During my army service family highlights were:

  • Married Aileen in January 1957
  • Arrival of seven children: Mark (Melbourne), Marissa (Sydney), Tracey Ann and Simon (Kuala Lumpar), Barry and Christopher (Melbourne) and Sally (Birmingham).
  • Setting up house in at least 15 different locations; (I'm sure there were more but the memory is not the best!)
  • Seeing our children grow up and achieve personal succes

We are settled in Clovelly but get itchy feet from time to time, and we spend a lot of time at Dungog (yes, Doug Walter's home town) where 8 of our 16 grandchildren live. We are looking forward to 2004 onwards – who knows what is in store for us?

I am pleased there is to be a Reunion this year but various contract negotiations make it almost impossible for me to attend. However, there is a faint possibility that I may be able to do a day trip to Canberra on Monday 8th (War Memorial tour day) and an even fainter chance of attending the dinner later that evening. I will try to be there, but if I can't, please pass my best wishes to all those attending and add my thanks to the organisers.

Andrew Connor

Application to resume Army Service for two days for the following reasons:

  • My first name is Charlie. You insisted that it is Charles. I wish to be known as Andrew an both days.
  • My CMF unit was called the Australian Horse. Nary a horse, though I did meet a few donkeys. Horses this time please,
  • and I wish to spend more time in the company of my fellow December 1953 OCS graduates.
    In support of my two-day application for reappointment, I submit the following Curriculum Vitae.

    I know one word of Latin. Belli, which has something to do with war. My personal investment in belli is now substantial, and creak far more than I used to. although I hear much less of the said creaks. My language skills include the odd word of Cavalry horses. and one or two Vietnamese epitaphs. and a smattering of Americanese. My schoolboy French failed me in Canada, France, and most critically Vietnam. The German I learned brought invitations to please speak English. I consider that any extension of my resumed service should be in Italy, preferably in Perugia, Firenze or Sienna where my Latin language skills could be extended.

    When last with the Army, I was sent overseas on three occasions: Malaya, South Vietnam and Canada. In all three cases I was consigned to the company of foreigners. I was thrown to the British Army (if the Cavalry accepts membership), the US armed services (and other less clearly defined types) and Vietnamese (in that case, some good guys), and the Canadians in their snow. In all three cases I thrived - and they were all glad to see me go. Being with Australians overseas would be a change. In Malaya though I lived with the Royals and their horses. I did not get close to the horses as, after all. they were only polo ponies and rate below donkeys!

    To ensure this two-day reappointment, I left the Army quickly after being posted to the Stables at Campbell Offices, thus avoiding any contamination by association with higher offices. I am therefore fresh for major decisions on reappointment, and unlikely to be confused by fact. I have some friends in Canberra where I am happy to visit, rather than live.

    Everyone should spend some time in Puckapunyal, if only to appreciate the beauty of almost anywhere else. I had some 12 years there, which may explain a lot. After that, I had the first of my foreign holidays in 1poh, Malaya, before being consigned to the non-convict state, where life improved significantly. Pat, my wife who was a South Australian, accepted a challenging task, which she now considers is almost finished. Following Malaya, life and postings got to be exciting. While we hoped for stability moves came apace, and like so many others, we scarcely seemed to stop. I claim to have missed most of the sixties, and a good part of the seventies. We were stuck back in Victoria at the outpost of the Empire. and indeed it was from there that we departed for two years in. Ottawa, a most interesting time. Visiting Australians (including Bill Smith who happened to remind me) kept me in some sort of contact, but Ottawa was a long way from Australia. With no one looking over my shoulder, we had a busy and interesting introduction to another way of life based on very different climate, origins and proximity to both USA and Europe. To my surprise, Sydney followed Ottawa, and there we stopped rushing about.

    The threat of learning something made me leave the Army and change my style. I became an office worker, intent on the flex-clock and public transport. I became a part-time student at Macquarie: and before you snigger, I was not quite the oldest student. The dual shock of the Public service and study with fellows young enough to be my children was the cause of me to loosing some hair, and a lot of sleep - mainly at the books. When that course was completed, I began the recovery, which is upon me now. However, the final shock came when I was assigned to introducing users to computers and assisting with writing the learning materials.

    The important part of my life now is my family. My son Mark is being married on 6 December, on the Central Coast; thus I will not be able to get to Canberra before Monday 8 December. My other son Peter, and his wife and two preschoolers will participate. Mark and his bride, both researchers, may discover how to produce further grandchildren, and thus win their grandparents hearts.

    I look forward to the two days of reappointment. If a post in which my language can be improved (many have tried) is not found, I will be happy to continue my search for that Australian Horse independently, and hope for the production of more grandchildren.

    Regards – Andrew {as above}.

  • Brian Cooper

    My Dear Friend

    Many years have passed since we last spoke and it saddens me that this is so. When we last saw each other on that graduation day at The Old School we were overjoyed and looking forward to what the future may bring. We were so young and adventure lay before us. Ah - but so much has happened. How can I tell you in but a few lines?

    Training of young pressed men in the 11th and 12th of Foot kept me young and nimble and in 1956 I married Miss Echo Phillips of Brisbane. You will remember her from her attendance at our Graduation. The following year .I undertook a course of training in the intricacies of operating one of those infernal flying machines. Service with the screw guns for two years was to follow and then was to return to the skies.

    I sailed to the New World to work with the Americans, fought a war in Indo China and visited the lands of the Japanese and the Malays. I studied at the Staff College and was given command of the Regiment of Aviation. While all of this was happening my lovely wife, on each of three occasions presented me with a son, and all three have served some time with the Colours.

    I served on the staff of the Commander of our defence forces, undertook further studies at the Joint Staff College, all in the late 1970 's, before taking up the appointment as Military Advisor to the Papuan and New Guinea Constabulary. After a period on the staff of the Field Army Command I was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed Deputy Chief of Reserves.

    I retired in 1985, although from 1993 to 1999 I was the Honorary Colonel of Aviation. I started writing for a military journal, the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, which I continue to do to this day. Did I tell you I wrote a book? It was about that dreadful chap from the East, that Genghis Khan.

    Since retiring the Lady Echo and I have travelled far across Siberia, slept in a yurt in Mongolia, seen the Entombed Warriors in Xian, and walked on the Great Wall; we cruised on the Danube, the Rhine, the Nile and the Zambesi and saw Queen Victoria's Falls; we visited Jerusalem, the Red City and the Pyramids in the Middle East and walked through the ruins at Pompeii and Epheses. We have seen Borobodour and Prambranam, the Taj Mahal and the Hermitage, and many other wonders in this great world.

    As to the fixture I wish you well My Friend for.
    I Remain,
    Your True and Faithful Friend

    Brian of Caladan

    John Deighton

    Serving the Green Machine — and Beyond!

    Graduated - same date as the rest of you - although there are some who wonder how?

    Allocated to "The" Corps of Infantry and remained with that Corps until I resigned from the Army on the 4th July. 1983.
    I served in a number of Regimental and Command postings both in Australia and on operations overseas. including Malaya (twice). Borneo and South Vietnam (twice). Although my first trip to Vietnam was a somewhat shorter one. the second in 1968/69 was a full tour with 4RAR as a Company Commander and Operations Officer. I was also lucky enough to command soldiers at all ranks from Second Lieutenant to Brigadier. Those posting included being a Company Commander in Malaya. Borneo and Vietnam where I was fortunate to command D Coy 4RAR in both operational areas.

    Next we moved to Canada as an exchange student before returning to the appointment of Commanding Officer 2/4 RAR in Townsville. This was followed by another tour in Canada in 1979 as an Australian Instructor at the Canadian Staff College. My next posting on return was on promotion to be Commandant of the Infantry Centre at Singleton. NSW. This led to further promotion with the posting to become Commander of the 3rd Brigade in Townsville in 1981-82. While there I sought my resignation from the Army to take effect from 4th July. 1983.

    On leaving the Army after some 30 years. I worked as a Consultant with Richard Pratt before becoming Regional Director of the National Crime Authority in Melbourne. My current appointment is as CEO/ State Secretary of the Victorian RSL. a job which I have enjoyed for the past 15 years.
    Married to Anne. I have three adult children. Dean. Nikki and Matt and they between them have graced us with 7 grandchildren.

    Anne and I still live in Victoria in our own home in Mt Eliza and retain contact with a number of old Army friends. All in all, life is pretty good. and, providing I wake up each day I consider myself very fortunate - particularly to have had a great deal of enjoyable service in my 30 years in "The Green Machine"

    Postscript - On submitting the foregoing to Bill Smith as Editor of this book, he invited me to make some mention of the fact that I was awarded the Military Cross during my second trip to Vietnam with 4RAR and also that more recently I received Membership of the Order of Australia in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours for staying out of trouble at the RSL. I am naturally grateful for these awards but would prefer not to include them here for risk of spoiling a good story.

    Ian Downing

    Portsea and Afterwards

    I was twenty-two years of age when. I left Portsea in December 1953. When selected for the Officer Cadet School. I was a part-time student at the Melbourne Technical College; a private soldier in the Victorian Scottish Regiment and I had worked for five years. On leaving the Australian Regular Army in February 1963, I was a Captain in the Royal Australian Corps of Signals and had recently returned from Singapore and Malaya where. two years previously. I had replaced Des Overstead and we even took over their Singapore house. At that stage there were three of us - my wife Pat, and our toddler-daughters Judith and Elizabeth. David. our eldest son. was born in the British Military Hospital in December 1960. The youngest of our four children, Richard, was born in Melbourne in April 1963.

    Whether true or not. I was once told that the key-question Selection Boards put to candidates was; "Why do you want to become an Army officer?" I don't recall the question and sometimes wonder how I would have answered it in 1953. If I had an answer then - I don't have one now! Both World Wars cast long shadows over my extended family. My paternal grandfather came back from the Great War as a wrecked man. On my mother's side, some were killed. some were hurt and some were widowed. I know that in my circles during the early 1950s, the experience of war and of its consequences was nearly as common as the experience of peace. For most people around me at the time, whether in the family or at work or at play, another 'War' seemed inevitable. No doubt these things contributed to my aspirations. What else motivated me? Years later. I can still reflect on my earlier resolve to become a career officer in the Australian Army - and on my later resolve to put that career behind me. It was not until 1999 that unplanned and unexpected circumstances brought me back to the fellowship of my old Corps.

    Most of my post-Army working life has been spent in voluntary agencies. so called. A year or so before I stopped working for a living (in 1994) I became a part-time student again - this time at a Roman Catholic Theological College - as a layman and an Anglican. Later, I was to become a student again and subsequently a post-graduate student at Monash University. My post-Army working career started. in all seriousness. at the Victorian Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Dependency, in 1966. I became a director, firstly of the Victorian and then of the Australian Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Dependence. My experiences in the alcohol and drug dependency field brought me into contact with three of the most influential people in my life. namely; the late Sir Kingsley Norris; the late Sir Philip Phillips. QC; and the late Sir Edward Dunlop. I was privileged to work for each of these men, during their successive Presidencies of the Victorian Foundation.

    In 1971 I was appointed General Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Scout Association of Australia - a position from which I retired in 1994. I attended local and overseas scouting events and conferences. I have also engaged in much voluntary activity myself! I was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Melbourne and later - for seventeen years - of the Rotary Club of Melbourne. I was a member of the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol and for a time. Acting Commodore for Victoria (1981 -82). I am a secondary school mentor. With my wife. I belong to a local Bridge Club. I am a member of the Signals Association of Victoria and Chairman of the Australian Army Signals Historical Foundation Inc. the company that operates the Signals Museum at Simpson Barracks, Watsonia. I am a Member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia. I hold a Bachelors Degree in Theology; the Honours Degree of Bachelor of Arts (Monash); and the degree of Master of Arts in The School of Historical and Gender Studies, Monash University. Pat is a retired Maternal and Child welfare nurse. Our children are married and we have eight grandchildren.

    Phil Dobney

    And then I found a Career !

    Three days after Graduation I spent six weeks in Concord hospital suffering from Hepititis. I missed most of my Corps training at the School of Artillery and was sent to fight the battle of Puckapunyal (which I lost!). I resigned my Commision towards the end of 1954.

    I went back to Sydney to work as a Flight Steward with Qantas for a year or so, and saw some of the world.

    Towards the end of 1955, I went to Adelaide for a few weeks holidav and stayed 13 years. I worked at the Adelaide pool as the lifesaver, and watched Dawn Fraser and John Hendricks train for their Gold Medals at the Olympics in 1956.

    In 1956 I went back to school, sat with the kids and matriculated. The next four years at Adelaide University studying Physics was followed by a year of teaching at a High School before taking a position as a Lecturer at the South Australia Institute of Technology. In the next six years I married (two lovely daughters. and now three grandchildren) and researched in the field of Magnetic Resonance. In 1969 I was awarded a Ph.D...

    I moved to Toowoomba in 1970 to take a position as a Senior Lecturer, then became head of the Department of Physics at the now University of South Queensland. In the late 1970s I changed my research interests to Weather Processes - in particular hail formation and possible mitigation. I spent 25 years teaching Physics to Science and Engineering students before retirement in 1995.

    I now live on my own; play golf (Toowoomba Club Champion in 1984) but only on days that end with a "y". I also compete in Bridge Congresses, cook, garden. Have given courses at U3 A. Started watercolor classes myself and generally enjoy retirement.

    This reunion is a good thing. I hope there is a good turn-out so that we all have a better chance of meeting up with old friends.

    John Gillespie

    My Story — and I'm sticking to it!

    The incredible start was graduating on 18th December. 1953. I then spent 25 years in the Army with the highlights being:

    • Serving on exchange duty in Malaya with British Air Dispatchers during the Emergency
    • Completing a parachutists course and qualifying as an air dispatcher
    • Serving for two years on exchange duty with the Roval Corps of Transport in the UK and starting a school at RAF Tang mere to train British air dispatchers and airloaders.
    • Commanding 5th Company RAASC in Vietnam during 1969/70
    • Attending Staff College in 1970 and ending up as CTMO in the Headquarters of 2nd Transport & Movements Group in Sydney.

    During this period I was married and divorced and did not venture into marriage again.

    Then I switched to become the NSW & ACT State manager for AAT Coach Holidays where I stayed for the next three years. Things changed when I had a disagreement with the General Manager and one of us had to go. You guessed it - and it was me!

    This forced change in direction created an opportunity for me to work as an office administrator for a chartered accountant. That experience led me to open my own business based on giving marketing and business advice. Next step was to start a Migration Consultancy and eventually I established the Migration Institute of Australia with me as the first National President. Now I had good reason to travel overseas on a regular basis. Also during this time I became a part time Services Member for the Veterans' Review Board.

    While writing these notes I am still running my consultancy. My aim is to retire in the not too distant future with a view to enjoying life more and to reduce the pressures of everyday work. In the meantime. I hope to see as many of you as possible at the reunion.

    Is it really fifty years?

    (more yet ........let me get my breath..!)