A History of the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc.
The 4th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment Association, Queensland Incorporated (4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc) was first established at a meeting of former serving members of 4 RAR at Kelvin Grove Barracks, Brisbane in 1985. Prior to this, commencing in 1975, Bluey Fryer organised former members of B Company 4 RAR to gather as near as possible to 01 February each year to celebrate the Battalion’s birthday and to maintain the brotherhood of warriors. Later this was expanded to include all former members of the Battalion. At the Adelaide national reunion in 1985, Brigadier the Honourable, David Thomson MC, the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army, RSM (A) Wally Thompson OAM and other former serving members suggested the forming of an association. Western Australia already had an association for some years prior that gathered to celebrate the Battalion’s birthday on 01 February each year.
Alan Price to President. Queensland formalised an association and Alan Price was elected President and a short time later Maureen Price was appointed Secretary. This association initially encompassed members Australia wide. Alan and Maureen then set about to establish two major functions per year, the traditional birthday get together and a mixed dinner dance around September each year. Birthday functions during this time were conducted at various RSL Clubs. The first dinner dance was conducted at Cananga in 1985 with the assistance of John (Toad) Dunshea OAM who was then the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) OF THE Land Warfare Centre (LWC) AT Canungra. The Initial dinner dance was a huge success, and it was resolved to be held annually at Canungra. The maintenance of messing and other responsibilities being passed to civilian contractors meant that for the past few years the dinner has been held at 6RAR Long Tan sergeants’ Mess. 2008 saw the realization that costings imposed by the civilian contractors made conducting the dinner at army establishments far too costly and exercise and as a result the 2008 and subsequent dinners were conducted at the Gaythorne RSL Club.
1987-Noel Huish to President
In 1987 Noel (Horror) Huish OAM (LM) was elected President and Max (Yogi) Upton (LM) was elected Secretary. They continued the annual functions at Canungra and in 1994 they and their organising committee, were responsible for the highly successful Brisbane national reunion.
1996-Allan McLean to President.
Noel Huish stood down as President in 1996 after 9 years and Allan (Blue) McLean took over the reins, still with Yogi Upton as Secretary. Blue and Yogi then successfully gained permission from the Royal Australian Regiment National Memorial Walk (RARNMW) Committee to install a bronze plaque in the forecourt of the contemplation building at Enoggera to commemorate the New Zealand warriors of V and W Companies who served with us in South Vietnam but who unfortunately were killed in action. Many other associations soon followed suit.
2000-Bob Pearson to President
Blue McLean stood down as President in 2000 and Bob (Yogi) Pearson (LM) was elected as President, still with Yogi Upton as Secretary. Both continued to maintain the traditions of the Association and to improve on the activities and the responsibilities of the Association until 2002 when Yogi Upton unfortunately, suddenly died.
2002-Alan Price to Secretary
Alan price was elected to Secretary immediately after the death of Yogi Upton with Yogi Pearson still President.
2006-Alan Price to President
In September 2006, Bob Pearson, because of failing health, stood down as President and Alan Price was elected President, Don Zerner was elected Vice President, Ross McGregor was elected Secretary and Noel Fairley was elected Treasurer. Bob maintained his position on the committee as did Noel Kelly and Derek Firth.
2008-Noel Kelly to Secretary
Early in 2008 Ross Macgregor resigned as the Association secretary due to failing health and then Bob (Yogi) Pearson resigned his tenure as Immediate Past President for the same reason. Bob had diligently served the Association for eight years. Noel Kelly was elected Secretary and later was elevated to Vice President and Don Zerner as a result, was elected Secretary.
2011-Clive Clewley to Vice President
At the 2010 Annual General Meeting held over to February 2011 so as to be conducted at the February national reunion, Alan Price was re-elected as President, Clive Clewley replaced Noel Kelly as Vice President, Bob Woodbury replaced Don Zerner as Secretary and Jerry Dykyj replaced Noel Fairley as Treasurer; they later in all cases, stood down due to health and family responsibilities. In August 2011, Bob Woodbury stepped down as Secretary to become the Administrative Officer and Mike O’Neill stepped up as Secretary.
At the Annual General Meeting of February 2011, it was resolved that the Association become incorporated. Due to some previous groundwork our Certificate of Incorporation was signed on 23 September 2011 by the Office of Fair Trading, Queensland and the Association became known as The 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Association, Queensland Incorporated (4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc).
At the 2014 AGM, Alan Price was again elected as president and Maureen Price was elected as secretary and Jans Beurskens as Vice President but we lost Clive Clewley as a vice president, George Robinson as a committee member and Jaye Clewley as an Associates’ Members. Maureen Price agreed to take over Jaye’s role so we were in safe hands. In fact Clive and Jaye Clewley and George and Bernadette Robinson in league with Col Ellard volunteered to run our Bunnings sausage sizzles for two years.
What a most generous offer!
2015-Alan Price Re-elected to President
Despite his protestations and desire to stand down, Alan Price was again elected president unopposed for the tenth successive year. Jan Beurskens resigned as Vice President due to severe illness and Maureen Price was again appointed as Secretary, Lisa Mountney was appointed as Treasurer again and Ken Carter retained the task of welfare officer with all HVOs reappointed. Gary McGlone was elected as Vice President, Northern Queensland. We gained two new committee members, Bob Still as Membership Officer and Ray Moore as IT Member.
We thank all and welcome them to the fold.
Our original patron, Brigadier The Honorable David Thomson MC (Retd) unfortunately passed away in 2013 but we are pleased to report that Lieutenant Colonel Brian Avery (Retd) kindly accepted an invitation from the members in 2014 to become our patron so again, we are in good hands.
Qld, WA, NSW, SA and Vic now have their own state associations and the Qld Association looks after Tasmania and Northern Territory.
4 RAR and the 2nd Commando Regiment
In February 1996, Yogi Upton and Allan (Blue) McLean (LM) organised our members to travel from Brisbane to attend the Battalion’s birthday parade at Holsworthy. It was at that parade that the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc commenced the tradition of the former members forming up in two lines on the inner edge of the parade ground and applauding the soldiers as they marched off. Two former 4 RAR members, Don Zerner and Alan Price were very nearly posted into the Battalion in 1995; Don as Battalion 2IC and Alan as CSM.
The Association continued to maintain very close ties with 4 RAR and 4 RAR (Cdo) and Association members attended their birthday parades and other events annually until the members of the Battalion marched out of the Royal Australian Regiment to form the 2nd Commando Regiment (2 Cdo Regt) on 19 June 2009.
4 RAR still remains as a battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment on the Order of Battle but without personnel, stores, weapons and equipment.
During the battalion tenure as the commando battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, its commando qualified soldiers wore the distinctive Commando Green beret with the badge of the Royal Australian Regiment and the Commando Green parachute wings. They operated however, as a Special Forces unit under Special Forces operational command. Non qualified members either wore the Rifle Green beret of the Infantry or the Blue beret of the Army and respective badges, depending on their corps.
The Unit Citation for Gallantry
For heroic actions in Afghanistan in 2005 and 2006, the Battalion was awarded the Unit Citation for Gallantry (UCG). The 4 RAR Colours with the streamer of the Unit Citation for Gallantry attached are held in trust by the Australian Infantry Corps Museum at Singleton NSW until 4 RAR is reactivated.
The 4 RAR Association, Qld initiated Project COMMANDO whereby students from Helensvale State School in Queensland, corresponded with members of 4 RAR (Cdo) serving overseas.
The children maintain their letter writing with 2 Cdo Regt.
Christmas Parcels and Scarves
In December 2009 the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc initiated the subsequent delivery of approximately 4,000 Christmas parcels to all soldiers serving overseas. It is intended to continue this venture with parcels being sent to 2 Cdo Regt soldiers from time to time.
At the request of the National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association of Australia (NMBVAA), Qld Branch and a lady called “Beryl”, we were able to send a Christmas present in 2014 of 74 scarves to the soldiers of 2 Cdo Regt serving in Afghanistan. The scarves were intended either for the soldiers or to be gifted to the children of Afghanistan in the local villages. In 2016 we were again able to send a quantity of scarves and beanies from the NMBVAA to Afghanistan via 8/9 RAR. This welcome task continues through to 2017
The 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Annual Birthday Service
In 2003 under the residency of Yogi Pearson, the annual birthday service was moved from RSL clubs to the RAR National Memorial Walk where the service is held annually on the Saturday closest to the 1st of February, the Battalion’s birthday. Each year a certain aspect of the history of 4 RAR is used as the theme for the service.
The commemorative service was then followed by a family BBQ at the 6 RAR Long Tan Sergeants’ Mess. The option to attend the 6 RAR Sergeants’ Mess was changed in 2010 when the concept of unit messes was changed to one mess that accommodated members of all ranks and units within the Gallipoli Barracks. Subsequent birthday celebrations were then conducted as a family BBQ amongst the trees of the Diggers Rest area of the RAR NMW.
Prior to the commemorative service, Australian flags are placed at the base of the individual bronze plaques naming and
commemorating those who died overseas in the service of 4 RAR and during the service, those in attendance place flowers of remembrance beside the plaques.
The Nui Le Dinner
In 2004 the Association under Bob Pearson, changed the style of its annual dinner and renamed it The Nui Le Dinner in honour of the last major battle of 4 RAR in South Viet Nam and which was also the last major battle fought by Australians in South Viet Nam. At the battle of Nui Le, D Coy with considerable fire support from all available sources engaged with the 33 rd Regiment and caused them to leave the battlefield and in turn, Phuoc Tuy Province. Operation IVANHOE during which the battle took place, involved the whole battalion and especially B Coy and Victor Company who also confronted the 33rd Regiment. The dinner is normally held at an RSL or similar venue on the closest Saturday to 21 September, the date of the major part of the battle. So far it the function has been conducted in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville.
The Australian Defence Force Trackers and War Dogs Association. (ADFTWDA)
The ADFTDWA conducts a memorial service for National Military and Services Working Dogs at the Military and Service Working Dog Monument at the RSPCA Wacol, Brisbane on 07 June each year. The 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc is always invited and a wreath is laid in remembrance of those war dogs that were as much a part of the Battalion as we were.
The National Malaya and Borneo Veterans of Australia, Qld Branch (NMBVAA)
The NMBVAA Qld Branch conducts a Malaya and Borneo Veterans Commemorative Day at the RAR Memorial Walk at Gallipoli Barracks on 31 August each year. The members of the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld are always invited to lay a wreath to honour those of the Battalion who were KIA during the Malaysia/Borneo campaign of Indonesian confrontation and who have subsequently died. The NMBVAA has a group of ladies that knit scarves and beanies and they are sent overseas via the 4 RAR Qld Association and 8/9 RAR.
All financial members of the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc and all those members with email addresses will receive periodic copies of the Association newsletter. Unfinancial members of the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc may gain copies by virtue of becoming financial members or by informing the association of email addresses.
Members attend the Dawn Service at the RAR National Memorial Walk and attend and speak at various schools during school ANZAC Day services.
The ANZAC Day school activities include Mitchelton High School with over 1,000 students who pay an annual tribute to Private Vic Petersen, 4 RAR, who was KIA on 16 February 1969. Vic was a student of the school and his father was a teacher at the school.
Our Patron, Lt Col Brian Avery (Retd) and The President, lead the 4 RAR contingent during the Brisbane City march and then
lead the contingent to the locally selected watering hole for drinks, two up and memories.
The 4 RAR Memorial Plaque at the Australian War Memorial
On the 4th of February 2008, immediately following the National Reunion in Melbourne, the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc was responsible, on behalf of all state 4 RAR Associations, for the dedication and laying of a
commemorative plaque in the western grounds of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in remembrance of all those who have served in 4 RAR and all those who have subsequently died.
The 4 RAR Memorial Pavers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Seymour Vic
In 2016 Alan and Maureen Price visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Seymour in March 2016 and at the request of our members purchased a group of pavers to be displayed in the grounds of the memorial paying tribute to 4 RAR and all who served in the battalion.
Hospital “RAP” Packs
Up until 2010, the Association gave toiletries to those in hospital. It was common however to find that the patients had already brought them with them on admission to hospital, or that they were supplied by the hospital. So, an initiative by the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld introduced the giving of colouring in books and coloured pencils or crayons to our hospitalised or sick at home members.
The concept is now widely accepted and acclaimed by doctors, nurses and psychologists world wide as probably one of the best get well gifts that can be given to a hospital patient. We are happy that the gift places a smile that often turns to loud laughter from our sick, even though at times the books and pencils are given to the grandchildren of the patient or to the children of the nurses.
Leading on from that concept is that adult colouring in books directed at adult hospital patients are now on sale in shops.
Please let us know when you are admitted to hospital or are sick at home because Col Ellard has donated many books and pencils to be issued but, if you colour outside the lines you may not be given another book.
Due to the rising incidents of illnesses and hospitalisation among Association members the committee installed a welfare team comprised of Derek Firth as the Welfare Officer and Joe Dvoracsek and Greg Shannon as Hospital Visiting Officers. In 2011, Greg Shannon stood down due to other volunteer activities. Unfortunately Derek Firth sadly, died of cancer in January 2013.
The Association had also successful in gained the highly qualified and experienced Bill Temple OAM, a 7 RAR veteran, as the Association’s Pensions Officer and Advocate. Unfortunately Bill passed away in January 2010 but another respected advocate Graham Ross, took his place.
As at August 2017, Ken Carter is the Hospital Visiting Officer (HVO) for Brisbane North, Alan Price is the HVO for Brisbane South, Don McKenzie and Mary Hawkins are the HVO for Western Districts, Jim Pollard is the HVO for the Townsville area and Allan Wood for Tasmania.
HVO’s are requested to visit our hospital patients and those sick at home on a regular basis.
Eulogies for the funerals of our members are available for presentation at all funerals as long as we are informed in a timely manner.
Notice of the deaths of members and invitations to attend funeral services are generally by newspapers, email and word of mouth.
The Ladies’ Luncheon
In 2010 it was suggested by Noel Kelly and resolved, to conduct an annual luncheon for our ladies that would include all ladies and their female guests at a minimal cost. Our widows are the guests of the association at these functions. The ladies have dictated that no males are to be invited to the luncheon. (Males may attend but eat the same menu in a different room.) For fear of retribution we have acceded to that request. The first Ladies Luncheon was conducted at the TAFE College of Hospitality at Southbank in Brisbane 2010 and the ladies elected to have the luncheon there again in subsequent years. A guest speaker is invited each year. In 2017 it was Mr Soren Neilsen from Health and Hearing.
National Reunion 2011
The Qld Association was responsible for the organising and conduct of the highly successful national reunion held on the Gold Coast in 2011 and is now supporting the National Reunion in Townsville in September 2017.
In January 2013, after an initial approach to the Australian War Memorial in early 2012 by the website manager Tony Waghorn, The Australian War Memorial added the web site (http://www.4rarassociationsaustralia.com/) to the PANDORA, the National Library and Australia’s web archive.
The 4 RAR Associations of Australia web site is now included in the PANDORA Archive under licence of the Copyright Act of 1968 and now allows public access to it by way of the internet. We also granted the National Library permission to retain the publication to provide access to it for perpetuity. The Research Centre of the Australian War Memorial will catalogue our publication and add the record to their online book database at: http://www.awm.gov.au/firsttopact. This will increase awareness of our website among researchers using libraries.
This means that the website and its content will be accessible to all forever via The National Library and the Australian War Memorial. We consider this a great achievement.
The Royal Australian Regiment Assoc, Qld Div (RARQ)
The 4 RAR Assoc, Qld also maintains close ties with the RAR,Q and attends all their full committee meetings and functions and represents the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld members.
In 2016 it was resolved by the RAR,Q at the suggestion of the 4 RAR Assoc, Qld that all serving and former members of all battalion associations residing or serving in Queensland or elsewhere by request, be considered a member of the RAR,Q and that no annual individual membership fees be requested by the RAR Q, but that annual fees should continue to be requested for membership into battalion associations.
It was also resolved that an annual donation be allocated to the RAR,Q by battalion associations to offset the administration costs of the RAR,Q.
Amendments to some association constitutions and the RAR,Q may have to made to accommodate this well received innovation. Our constitution immediately allows for this to happen as all serving or former members of 4 RAR residing in Queensland or elsewhere by request, belong by definition, to the 4 RAR Assoc Qld as Associate members.
The RAR,Q is the representative body of the RAR and deals with Army, government and political demands on our behalf at state and national levels leaving the battalion associations to care directly for the well being, welfare, camaraderie and social activities of their members. Battalion associations are still required to bring to the attention of the RAR, Q and to support the RAR, Q in their endeavors at higher levels.