Makan – No. 127
Members will be sorry to hear that Freddie Bladwell has been a patient at Marrickville Hospital for some time. Ulcers are the trouble and Fred has had a bad time. We hope that Fred will make a speedy and permanent recovery.
Ashley Pascoe is a great news link for the Makan. He is a full time employee of the N.S.W. Country Party and as such he sees every Country newspaper in N.S.W. He always relays to us any item of interest.
Joe Roxburgh of Crows Nest regularly sends in his Annual subscription during the first week of the year. Joe has had a train of ill luck for some time, but we hope that he is getting his head above water now.
Jackie Fell is still living at Coolah and writes that the 8th Div. is well represented in the town even though the population is approximately only 500. Jack was unable to attend the last reunion, but hopes to got along to the next one.
Visit of Japanese Prime Minister.
The visit to Australia of the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. N. Kishi was an occasion of special interest to our own Unit. The decision to bring the Prime Minister to this Country was made by the Australian Government with the broad interests of Australia to the fore. However, decisions of any Government are not always popular and this was one decision which was on the razors edge of public opinion. It devolved on our own C.O. to make a statement which was later reported to have done more to ensure that the tour was a success than any other statement or opinion made. The Old Man in his brusque rough shod way replied sharply when asked of his opinion of the project. He said this:
"The past is the past. The war has been over for 12 years. If we want to maintain peace, we must show our bona fides. In Europe the free nations are working in the closest unity with Western Germany, a nation which has been our primary enemy in two world wars. Indeed, a German General is leading the NATO forces. I have been invited to the reception to Mr. Kishi tomorrow. I will go to it despite the past, because I believe this is essentially a gesture towards peaceful association. We should not be offended by the desire of Mr. Kishi to lay a wreath in honour of our dead. The absence of such a gesture would also provoke criticism. If we suspect every motive we are surely sowing the seeds of future enmity. Strange as it may seem the Japanese have a tradition of honouring not only their own dead, but also the dead of their enemies. Many of my former comrades who were prisoners of war will recall instances of wreath-laying by Japanese in honour of enemy dead. The cause of world peace is best served by the maintenance of trust and understanding with our neighbours."
The adult approach to an issue which easily could have been clouded over with red herrings was strongly supported by Sir George Holland, Federal President of the R.S.L. We received also as one could expect, many comments from next of kin of deceased. Their general reaction was that if the hatreds of the war with Japan were to carry on, then the deaths of our soldiers would have been all pointless and to no avail.
The Statement of the Old Man is of course strongly supported by the Association. It brings up the point of leadership again, the 2/30th led the fight against the Japanese and our leadership was a bone of contention to a few. The Old Man is still able to lead and this time his leadership was on a national statesmanlike level. The same critics are still around, but their statements are not worth recording.
JANUARY 14TH - GEMAS DAY
The placing of a wreath on the Cenotaph in memory of our Fallen Comrades was attended by about fifty persons including representatives of our friends of the 2/15th Field Regt. The day was of brilliant sunshine and as the troops lined up before the Cenotaph, there was a lull in the mid-day traffic. The Old Man placed the wreath and he stepped back into line as a bugler blew the Last Post and the Reveille. We hope for an increased attendance as the years go on at this Annual Ceremony.
ROADSIDE MEMORIAL - 23RD NOVEMBER, 1957
On 23rd November last, the Old Man unveiled a Memorial to our Comrades at the gates of our old camp at Bathurst. About 200 people including many next of kin of deceased comrades attended, together with local Civic dignitaries. The ceremony was a solemn one and was the fulfilment of a suggestion by Mrs. Nugent Geikie, that we erect a Memorial there. Speakers at the ceremony included the Hon. A.S. Luchetti, the Local Member, the Vice President of the Turon Shire Council, and Mr. Jack Coxhead the President of the Bathurst Branch of the R.S.L. Mr. Luchetti spoke sincerely of the great sacrifices our dead comrades had made and in whose honour we were erecting the simple Memorial. Mr. Jack Coxhead supported Mr. Luchetti's remarks and extended a welcome to all those present to avail themselves of the facilities of the Bathurst R.S.L. whilst they remained at Bathurst.
Arch Thorburn who traced the history of the little project for those present then introduced the Old Man. The Old Fellow has never spoken better than he did at the Ceremony. He craved our indulgence to recall the memories of those gallant comrades of ours who marched through that gate so many years ago and set their faces towards a goal from which they never returned. He traced their journeys through the battlefields of Malaya and Singapore Island where they were struck down in the flower of their youth, in the great and roistering health and strength which was theirs for so short a time. He recalled also the slow deterioration of the bodies but not of the minds of those young men who died from Burma to Japan. "There is no better place" said the Old Man, "to erect this simple Memorial than here at the gates of their old camp, where the very hills rang with their laughter and from whose hills they were never to return." He unveiled the Memorial which is in the form of a granite obelisk about four feet high. The wording on the Memorial is:
"THEY WENT FROM HERE"
The Memorial was then consecrated by the Chaplain Generals The Rev. Hugh Cunningham and by the Rev. Father John Rodgers O.F.M. Both padres were formerly of the 8th Australian Division. After the wreaths were laid a trumpet blew the Last Post, then Reveille, the Trumpet Calls were followed` by the rendition of the Lament by the Pipe Band of the N.S.W. Scottish Regiment under Capt. Hutchinson Smith. The National Anthem brought the ceremony to a close.
Several features must be mentioned regarding the Ceremony. Firstly the idea of the erection- of such a Memorial was originally put forward by Mrs. Nugent Geikie, supported by our late friend Reg Ellis and forcefully taken up by the Committee. However, the erection of the Memorial including subsidised transport of next of kin to the site and provision for afternoon tea cost in the vicinity of £950. This is a large sum but the results were worth it. We unashamedly appeal directly to you to make a small donation towards the cost of this unique Memorial. The donations should be sent directly to Mrs. Nugent Geikie, 1 The Point Road, WOOLWICH. Mrs. Geikie was appointed by the Committee to organise the raising of money towards the cost of the Memorial. All donations will of course be acknowledged. Mrs. Geikie it must be mentioned worked almost full time for several weeks on the project prior to the actual erection of the Memorial. It was difficult however to complete the job from Sydney and she and we owe a great debt to Ben Hackney, Ian McKibbon and Les Brown of Bathurst, all 8th Division men, and to Mr. Rawson the Shire Clerk of Turon Shire, together with the President and Councillors, of the Shire. We must give special credit and thanks also to Jack Coxhead, President of the R.S.L. Club and to his Committee who threw open their Club to us for the day. It is a magnificent Club house with showers, hot and cold water, indeed everything was there to make our stay comfortable including tea and refreshments. At the Bathurst R.S.L. our official party, led by Noel Johnston was given a Civic reception by the President of the Turon Shire Council and his Councillors. We are deeply appreciative of the open handed and spontaneous generosity of those Country people. The coordination of all aspects of the unveiling of the Memorial was the responsibility of Noel Johnston. The success of the ceremony was his reward but we feel that we cannot allow the occasion to pass without mentioning his grand effort. Noel also designed and prepared the printed timetable which was handed to all those present. We are also grateful to Mr. Bill Clayton for the printing of the programmes for us.
So much for our Unit Memorial. It rests there by the side of the road, and the two gum trees, which flank it give it an Australian setting which our Comrades would have loved. It is a lonely road and few will see this Memorial. For that reason it will probably remain unscathed, sitting by the side of the road opposite the gates of our old camp through which those young men marched on their long road to death,
Tributes continue to come in to us indicating the great loss our friends have suffered at the death of Reg Ellis. Malcolm MacDougall has written from London, Garry Rickwood from Singapore and others from all States have testified to their sense of loss at the untimely death of Reg. We hope you will excuse us for not replying personally to all the letters, but on behalf of Mrs Ellis and daughter, Cecilie, we do thank all those who have tendered their sympathy.
Annual General Meeting
The thirteenth Annual General Meeting of the Unit Association will be held on March 28th Friday, at the Southern Inn, Dixon Street, at about 8,00 p.m. We have changed to the Southern Inn, as we feel that it is even more suitable than Mr. Lee's place. The Southern Inn is down near the vegetable market, almost at the end of the street.
The Committee hope that you will make every effort to come along, particularly for a Chinese feed before the Meeting. Bottled beer will be available and we expect the troops will assemble from six o'clock onwards. Come along and let us enjoy your company, this is one gathering where every man is your friend.
Members are requested to make this year’s march one of our biggest yet. Medals will be worn, correctly mounted of course. If you have not already had your medals mounted, you should try the R.S.L. or Christies who will attend to it for you for a small fee. The Banner will be carried this year by Harry Collins and the Old Man will take his rightful place at the head of the Unit.
We mention in passing that once again the Old Man has received an invitation to travel to a country centre for the Anzac Day March, and once again he has declined to go. The Old Fellow loves to visit our lads in the country, but he considers that on Anzac Day his first duty is to be where the majority of -the Unit are and that is at the Anzac Day March at Sydney.
We are negotiating for a place to have a rest after the march and if successful will let you know on Anzac Day.
See you on the 28th,