Tagged: Blair Anderson VC
Our Anzac Day Swim Set
On Anzac Day (or thereabouts) I usually use an Anzac theme and tell some stories between the sets. This year I used a selection of those who served as patrons of each set, so here it is, mind the step:
5*600s on Anzac Day
1. PO Ron Middleton, VC RAAF: 150fs /10R + 3*50 as fs, bk, fs /5R + 150 drill-DPS-bk /2:45 + 3*50 as fs, bk, build /60
2. Lt Col Vivian Statham (nee Bullwinkel), AO MBE AANS: 4*(2*50 (25fly+25fs)/60 + 50bk/70)
3. Ord Seaman Teddy Sheean, VC RAN: 3*(100IM/2:00 + 2*50 as Build & FE /60)
4. Capt Reg Saunders, MBE 3RAR: 4*(50 sprint/70 + 100 aerobic fs/1:45)
5. Cpl Cameron Baird, VC MG 2 Cdo Regt: 4*100s/2:00 as 75fs+25bk; 4*50s/50, 55, 60, n/t
You may not understand the swimming short-hand, but it is more important to understand the service of the patrons, so here are my notes foreach of them:
PO Ron Middleton, VC RAAF. He was awarded the VC while piloting a Stirling bomber over Turin, Italy in 1942. His aircraft was hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire over the target and he lost consciousness briefly with numerous serious wounds to his limbs, body and face. After dropping their bombs he was determined to return his crew home to England but they suffered more flak damage over France. He ordered his crew to bail out on reaching the English coast and five did so successfully. He turned back over the Channel and ordered his front gunner and flight engineer to bail out, but they did not survive in the water overnight. He soon crashed into the Channel and his body was washed ashore in Feb 1943.
Lt Col Vivian Bullwinkel, AO MBE AANS. Served as a nurse with the 2/13th AGH, Singapore, until defence of the island ended and she escaped on the SS Vyner Brooke. The ship was sunk by Japanese aircraft on 14 Feb 1941 and she made it ashore to Bangka Island with 21 other nurses, soon surrendering with others to the Japanese who killed the men and ordered the nurses to wade into the sea (probably after being sexually assaulted) before machine gunning them from behind. She was hit and feigned death until the Japanese soldiers left. She hid for 12 days with a British soldier who was also wounded (and later died of his wounds), before being captured and then spending 3.5 years in captivity as a PoW of the Japanese.
Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean, VC RAN. He served on the corvette HMAS Armidale, carrying out escort duties off the Australian and PNG coasts. On 1 December 1942 in waters off Timor the Armidale came under severe attack from Japanese aircraft with torpedoes hitting its port side and engineering spaces. After a bomb hit aft, the order was given to abandon ship. Survivors leapt into the sea and were machine gunned by Japanese aircraft. 18 year old Teddy helped to free a life raft then scrambled back to his Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun on the sinking ship. Although wounded in the chest and back he strapped himself to his gun and shot down one bomber and kept others away from his comrades, still firing as the Armidale sank. Only 49 of 149in the ship’s crew survived the sinking. He was awarded only a MID and had a Collins Class sub named for him in 1999, but in 2020 after a sustained campaign to have his bravery and sacrifice recognised, an expert panel recommended he be considered for a VC, which was posthumously awarded in December. This was a first for the RAN.
Capt Reg Saunders, MBE 3RAR. Reg was the first Aboriginal Australian to be made a commissioned officer in the Army. He enlisted in 1940 and served in North Africa and then the ill-fated Greek and Crete campaigns, eventually evading capture on Crete for 11 months. He was evacuated to Australia in 1942 and re-joined his battalion, fighting in the 6th Division in New Guinea as a Sergeant until recommended for officer training in mid-1944. He served in NG as a platoon commander in the Aitape-Weiwak campaign. He left the Army in October 1945, but when the Korean War started he returned to the Army serving initially as a Lt with 3RAR and later as a Captain Company Commander in the ferocious Kapyong battle (in which 3 RAR was awarded a US Presidential Citation). Reg was recommended for a decoration but turned it down. He was a much-respected soldier and leader and awarded the MBE for his community work in 1971.
Cpl Cameron Baird, VC MG 2 CDO. Originally from Tasmania, Cameron joined the Army in January 2000, serving with 4 Battalion (Commando), later 2 CDO Regt in Timor-Leste and Iraq (twice) until 2004. He re-enlisted in 2006, also with 4 Bn (Cdo). From 2007 he had four deployments to Afghanistan until 2013. He was awarded the Medal of Gallantry (MG) for a search and clearance operation on a Taliban stronghold under heavy fire and with close quarter fighting in 2007 as a LCPL. He was KIA in operations in 2013 and awarded a VC in 2014 for his bravery and self-sacrifice. After a helicopter insertion, Cameron Baird led the silencing of a number of enemy positions under heavy fire. He then assisted another team whose commander had been seriously wounded. With selfless disregard for his own safety, he drew fire from an enemy machine-gun position and his team regained the initiative. Inside the enemy compound he charged their positions three times, drawing fire away from his team, again under heavy fire. His third attempt cost him his life.
Remembrance Day 2020: Tattersall’s Club, Sydney
By observing one minute’s silence on 11 November 2020, we pay tribute to the men and women who have served and are still serving in our defence forces and remember those who have died or suffered in conflicts, wars and peacekeeping operations.
A number of Tattersall’s members and members of their families have served with distinction, some paying the ultimate sacrifice, particularly in the First and Second World Wars. I cannot mention all of them here, but it is worthwhile highlighting the service of some of them.
Several members served in both wars. Lieutenant Colonel Blair Anderson Wark VC DSO MID is perhaps the most famous. Blair won a VC for bravery in operations against the Hindenburg Line at Bellicourt in 1918. He re-enlisted in the militia during the Second World War, but died suddenly on a training exercise whilst commanding the 1st Battalion at Puckapanyal in 1941.
Another well known member who served in both wars was Bob Concannon. A peak at his service record puts protests against COVID restrictions into perspective. He served with the 7th Light Horse Regiment,1915-1919 including service on Gallipoli and at Romani. In 1941 Bob re-enlisted to serve as a Captain with HQ 8 Division in Malaya. He was captured by the Japanese and then interned as a POW in Thailand from 1941-1945. Two other members, George Kiernan and Ward Booth were interned with Bob.
The family of member John O’Riordan also saw remarkable service over both wars. John’s brother Captain (Dr) Sydney O’Riordan MC served with the Australian Army Medical Corps in both wars, winning his MC for his gallantry and devotion to duty whilst dealing with casualties in an aid post in France in 1918. He served again from 1941-1942, but died in 1944. Another brother, Flying Officer Clifford O’Riordan, was an air gunner with the famous 460 Squadron, RAAF. He was killed in a flying battle over Germany in 1943. One of John’s sons, Sgt John O’Riordan served with the 1st Papuan Infantry Battalion and he too was killed in action in New Guinea in 1943. Another son, James O’Riordan, survived the war, having served with both the Australian Army and the RAAF between 1942-1945.
Perhaps the most tragic family is that of member Henry Stevenson and his three sons: Frank, Joseph and Charles. Flight Sergeant Frank Stevenson served as a pilot with 450 Squadron, RAAF and was killed in a flying battle over Italy in 1944. Joseph the oldest son, was also a Flight Sergeant, serving as an air gunner with 24 Squadron, RAAF. He was killed in a flying battle over the Timor Sea in 1945. Henry’s middle son Charles served as a Gunner with the 2/5th Australian Field Regiment, RAA. His date of death is recorded as November 1947 in DVA’s Nominal Roll for the Second World War, but we could not determine a cause of death.
You can share who you are remembering on social media using the hashtag #WeRememberThem