Committee of Management

We are a small team of Sappers, who as a committee, want to support and bring together both past and present Sappers of the Royal Australian Engineers in a social atmosphere, whilst at the same time remembering those who have gone before us.

COL John Wertheimer AM, RFD (Retd)


John Wertheimer completed secondary school at Melbourne High School in 1954 and graduated to the RAE from RMC-Duntroon in December 1958. After completing the Fellowship Diploma (Civil Engineering) at RMIT, he was posted to 21 Construction Squadron. During his three year with the unit, he served in Weak, New Guinea where he met his wife Marcia.

In 1964 was appointed 2IC of 7th Field Squadron. The Sqn being the first unit to move to Sabah, Malaysia during the Indonesian conflict. He was a member of the three man recon party for the deployment and led the Sqn advance party

In 1969, he deployed to Vietnam as Officer Commanding, 17Construction Squadron Group, headquartered at Nui Dat with multiple detachments throughout Phouc Tuoy Province and a total strength of 430 sappers. Provided Engineer support to all Australian Forces and the local community

Following transfer to the Army Reserve, he served with appointments including Commanding Officer 7 FER Ringwood, Commanding Officer 6 Engineer Group and Colonel Reserves, Victoria. He has dedicated himself to the Corps for over 60 years both in and out of uniform including; Driving force behind the establishment and Chairman of the RAE Foundation1998-2015, Colonel Commandant Southern Region (Victoria)Representative Colonel Commandant 1992-2000 including an audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 1998,Trustee of the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne and Patron of the RAE Association (Vic) and RAE Vietnam Association

Since 1970, he has worked on major projects such as the Sydney Opera House, Reserve Bank Note Printing Works, Craigieburn, World Trade Centre, Melbourne, Melbourne central, Monash Medical Centre, Collins Place, National Rail Upgrading Melbourne to Adelaide, Automated Fare Collection, Know City Shopping centre, Victoria and Albert Apartments, ANZAC Ship contract,Adelaide Gauge Standardisation, Regional Fast Rail Project and the Regional Rail Link. John started his consultancy business in 1987 and in 1995 added a Project Management consultancy to specialise in construction and fitout projects.

He has also held multiple significant positions including; Foundation member of the Committee for Melbourne, Chaiman or the Melbourne High School Foundation, Chairman of the Order of Australia Association, Victoria and Member of the Advisory Committee of the RMIT Civil Engineering Faculty.

He was awarded the Centenary of Australia Medal in 2003 and a Member of the Order of Australia 2001.The Citation reads; For service in the field of engineering and the management of construction projects and to the community, particularly through ex-service organisations

He is Married to Marcia, they have thee children and five grandchildren.

LTCOL Don Hughes (Retd)


Don Hughes was born in 1957 in Melbourne and attended Mount Waverley Primary and High Schools. Seeking both a military and technical career he entered the Australian Army Apprentices School in 1974 then located at Balcombe and graduated with the Trade Medal in Carpentry & Joinery to the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE).

He subsequently graduated from the Officer Cadet School Portsea in 1978 and after young officer Corps training was allocated as a Troop Commander to the 21st Construction Squadron then based at Puckapunyal.

Don’s posting history includes service with 21 Const Sqn, 1RTB, 7FER, 5 Engr Gp, SME, 12 CE Wks, HQ LSF ENGRS, CE Sth VIC, 105 Const Sqn, 4 CER, HQ 4 BDE, ATSOC, ACSC.

Awards and Decorations: ASM (Mozambique), PNG 10th Anniversary Medal, UN Medal (ONUMOZ), UNSSM, DFSM, ADM. “Land Commander Australia Silver Commendation” as Commander Australian Service Contingent in Mozambique; “Silver Arrowhead” for services to Scouts Australia; an Australia Day Award in the Federal Electorate of Menzies and an outstanding service award as the maintenance officer for Baptcare.

Don cites his service career highlights as serving as CO 4 CER, deployment on OP CORACLE (Demining Team Mozambique); service as OC 105 Const Sqn, service with 12 CE Wks Papua New Guinea and Ex Long Look (British Army)

Don has qualified as Bachelor of Professional Studies (Management) and Graduate Diploma Management. He is a certified builder, carpenter and joiner.

Don is married with 3 adult children.

Vice – President

Position Currently Vacant

WO1 Jim Davis

Honorary Secretary

Warrant Officer Class One James Henry Davis was born in Swan Hill on 19/06/1947 and educated at both the Swan Hill High and Technical Schools reaching Intermediate Certificate. In 1964 he left school to take up a career in banking and joined the Bank of NSW (later known as Westpac) and spent 32 years with the bank reaching senior management. In 1995 he accepted a redundancy from

Westpac and moved into a position with Members Equity Bank as a Senior Residential Credit Officer where he served for 10 years before retiring on the 24th December 2007.

In 1975 WO1 Davis joined the Army Reserve and was allocated to the Corp of Engineers and posted to 7 Field Engineer Regiment (7FER). Following completion of his recruit training in 1976 WO1 Davis joined 8 Field Squadron and completed his Initial Employment training. Following completion of the IET WO1 Davis was posted to 10 Field Squadron which was the senior squadron of 7 FER.

WO1 Davis served with 7 FER until 1978 when he was transferred with his employer (Westpac) to Goroka, PNG on a two year secondment. In order to maintain his Reserve involvement he was transferred to the Supplementary Reserve and was posted to 39 Electrical and Mechanical Squadron. During this period WO1 Davis travelled from PNG to attend annual field exercises. Upon returning to Australia WO1 Davis resumed normal Reserve conditions and was posted back to 7 FER.

WO1 Davis main service has been with the RAE where he has served with numerous squadrons within 7 FER, 7 ESR, 55 Resources Sqn, 4 CER and 22 CONST REGT however he has also had periods with 4/19 PWLH (Kyneton) and 2 RVR (Maryborough) where he served as Engineer support.

On 01/01/2001 WO1 Davis was promoted and appointed to the SSM of 105 Construction (22 Construction Regiment) where he remained until April 2006 when he assumed the role of Regimental Sergeant Major of 22nd Construction Regiment which he fulfilled until 01st January 2008 when the position was converted to an ARA full time role. WO1 Davis was then placed in charge of the Training Troop and given the task of building personnel numbers particularly in the skilled trades. During this period as TP COMD the ARTAP scheme was introduced with the result that a number of apprentices were enlisted into the role When the ARA RSM was moved to HQ 4 BDE on special duties WO1 Davis moved back into the RSM role for a further period of 6 months. WO1 Davis was posted back to 4 CER from 01st January 2009 where he assumed the role of OPSWO until his retirement from the Reserve on 01st January 2013.

There have been far too many highlights in his 37 years of military service to list but some have been the appointment to WO1, completing CFTS duties at 4 CER, and the role of RSM at 22 CR. Being able to assist with the devastating Victorian bushfires and floods provided a great deal of satisfaction.

WO1 Davis has been awarded the ADM, RFM (with 4 clasps) and Australia Day Medallion.

Duncan Howarth

Honorary Treasurer

I joined the Army Reserve back in 1977 at the tender age of 18. I joined 10 FD SQN of 7 FER. After arecruit course at Pucka, I was extremely lucky that the annual exercise that year was courses at SME Holsworthy. So, I managed to complete my IET’s very quickly.I remained in 10 FD SQN until about Jul 1981, when I went over to the dark side and transferred to the Frankston battery of Artillery. ( I had moved to Mt Eliza after my marriage in May) This lasted for around 2 months ( who said I was slow!!!). I then joined 106 CONST SQN of 22 CONST REGT which was then a supplementary reserve unit.

During the first 12 months I did my subjects for CPL. The Sub 4 was held at HMAS Cerberus. I believe this was the first course that the Army Reserve ever held there. A very interesting experience was had especially as the SI was the newly PSO’d CAPT Bourke. I was promoted to CPL in 1983.I spent 11 wonderful years at 106 with some fantastic annual exercises.

In 1993, after a reshuffle/restructure at 106, I was posted back to 10 FD SQN then a stand alone unit with 4 BDE. Some 12 months later I went into recruiting and later was heavily involved in the raising of 4 CER. I spent the rest of my time in recruiting until my eventual medical discharge in July 2000.

In 2001 I joined the Army Cadets at Oakleigh (302 ACU) and remained there for five years finishing as the OC.I am married (2nd wife) and we both have 3 adult children each. I am expecting the birth of my first grandchild in early November (2017).Currently I am working as a sessional trainer for an RTO teaching traffic management courses, along with working in the traffic management industry as well as driving buses on a casual basis. 

Mel Constable

Curator History & Heritage, Web Site Administrator

Mel was born in Chelsea, Victoria then moved to Mont Albert, went to Surrey Hills State School and then Box Hill High School. 

Was both a Scout and a Scout Leader of the 1st Mont Albert-5th Box Hill scout group and a cadet in the Box Hill High School army cadet unit.

Started an apprenticeship in 1967 as a cabinet maker and worked for a joinery company in Surrey Hills for 28 years until 1995, working up to being Project Manager.

The largest of these projects managed was in Canberra, working on the New Parliament House where up to 84 tradesmen were being managed, supplying and installing carpentry and joinery works to the House of Representatives offices, the Main Committee Room and the Parliamentary Libraries for period of three years from 1985-1988 all whilst living in a caravan.

Joined the State Emergency Service at Croydon in 1983 and was the Administration Officer and part of the Rescue Team before having to leave to work at Parliament House in Canberra in 1985.

Enlisted in the CMF (Army Reserve) in August 1967 to RAE 3 Div, 10 Field Squadron at Ringwood. Mel’s number did not come up in the ballot for the National Service Draw in September 1969 but stayed on there anyway until October 1972 as a   Corporal and has the awards ADM, ANSM.

Was discharged from the unit at own request to spend more time with the family but rejoined again at Ringwood, this time to 7 FER 10 Field Squadron in April 1975 until finally and again at own request leaving the unit in November 1978 after serving a total of 8 years and 9 months. 

Had a great time there and was rewarded by being appointed the President of the OR’s Mess Committee in 1977-1978

Was part of a group of old Sappers who got together to start the first official Royal Australian Engineers Association in 1977 with Maj. General Ken D. Green as our Patron.

The Association was quite strong with reunions being held yearly at the Ringwood depot, dance nights and car rallies as well, Ron McMillan was the President, Mike Potts the Secretary and Mel the Treasurer. 

The second attempt was in 1993 when Bill Atkins was President and seven of us in including the help of Bruce Wadeson and Bill King tried again to start the Association the last reunion was in 1996. Was a member of the Old Sappers Association before joining the RAE Association.

Started a forestry business on land near Yarra Junction in 1991 growing specialist trees until 2000 when the work load got too much, because in 1995, being a Commercial and Domestic Builder, started a building company, Melcon Building Services P/L, with factories in Kilsyth.

Has been on a number of committees and a board member at the Donwood Nursing Home in Croydon and published a 450 page “300 year History of Constable Family”.

Married Robyn in February 1972 and moved to Croydon, have two boys and a girl and four granddaughters.

Retired in 2015 and together with Robyn enjoy, amongst many other things, travelling around Australia in their off road caravan. 

All three of the children now continue to run the family Company.

Mike Potts

Editor-in-Chief of Sapper Summit

I was born in 1947 in Shoeburyness, Essex, in the UK. Shoeburyness was a “Barracks Town”, hosting a range of Artillery and AA units, and a number of important developments in AA, Anti tank and Naval gunnery were made there. Many of my childhood friends’ fathers were in the Army, so I grew up in a military atmosphere from the start. Even got arrested by the Redcaps for being where I shouldn’t have been.

In December 1957 my parents emigrated to Australia to join other family members. Probably a coincidence, but that was the year the Artillery retired its last horses from the barracks, thus depriving Dad of an ongoing supply of horse manure for his vegetable garden.

Having completed my Primary schooling in England, I commenced at Ringwood High School in 1958. I spent two years in the RHS Cadet unit, rising rapidly to the rank of Corporal.

We lived in Ringwood for a couple of years, then built in Park Orchards.

My education continued in 1964 at Melbourne University, then at RMIT, where I completed my training as an Industrial Chemist. I worked in the laboratories at MacRobertson (Cadbury), CUB, and Ansell, before retraining as a teacher in 1973. I taught at Box Hill Tech, Lilydale Tech, Billanook College and Norwood Secondary, specialising in Chemistry, General Science, Maths and later First Aid and Woodwork.

In 1965 I had met my future wife Susan, and we married in 1969. (Sue’s father had been in the RA in WW2, and had trained at Shoeburyness!). We now live in Croydon North, and have two children and four Grandchildren. 

Our son Daniel was a member of the Norwood Cadet Unit, and later 4CER.

In 1966 I enlisted in RAE 3 Div at Dublin Rd, also registering for National Service. My number didn’t come up either. Trained with 2 Sqn, posted to 10 Sqn 1967, back to 2 Sqn as L/Cpl instructor 1968, then again to 10 Sqn in 1969, where I remained until discharge in 1972.

In the late 1970s, I became involved with organising a reunion of former Sappers, which resulted in the formation of the original RAE Association. Several successful reunions followed, one of those conducted during a beer strike – we had to drink XXXX!!

It was great to see the Association resuscitated, and I’m enjoying contributing to such a great organisation.

In 1997 I accepted a “departure package” from Jeff Kennett’s Education Department, and Sue and I struck out alone with our own wooden toymaking business, which I had started earlier on a part time basis. This involved long hours and hard work, but teachers are used to that. 

Managed to stay alive, fed, housed and sane until we decided it was time to finally retire in 2016. Much of the time since then has been taken up with  20 years of backlog in house maintenance!

Concurrent with much of this, I was a Volunteer Firefighter with the CFA at South Warrandyte from 1968 to 1985, Holding various Officer positions, and attending many incidents, including Ash Wednesday 1983.

My other interests include family history, military history, cryptic crosswords and converting large bits of wood into smaller bits. There is no time to be bored.

Eric (Jock) Howatt JP

Committee Member and Merchandising

Eric Howatt (JOCK) was born in Glasgow in 1953 and moved to Australia in 1970 at the age of 17.

During the seventies he completed his trade as Fitter & Turner was married in 1976. He joined Australia Post and Joined the Army Reserve, in 1979 at 7FER in Ringwood East.

In 1984 was he promoted to Corporal. He was Posted to JIRU for 12months for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. He was also posted for 12 months at Ringwood on CFTS as Ops Sgt in 2004. He retired in Aug 2013 at 22ER having served most of his career in Sapper NCO postings.

Awards & Decorations: Soldiers Medallion 1997, RFM 3rd clasp, Australian Defence Medal. Eric has been married to Joanne for 40 years & had 4 children.

In 1989 one of his children Adam died of cancer at the Royal Children’s Hospital aged 8 and since that time members of the Regiment at Ringwood & Oakleigh have raised over half a million dollars through the Good Friday Appeal. Next year will the 30th year of collecting.

Other Achievements:
Given the honour of Honorary Life Governor Royal Children’s Hospital 1990.
1993 Awarded Shire of Lilydale Citizen of the Year.
2000 Carried the Olympic Torch .
2004 was Chairman of Board for Anchor Community Services.
2006 Carried the Commonwealth Games Baton.
2007 Was given the Honour of becoming a Justice of the Peace.
2014 was appointed to the Committee of the Royal Australian Engineers Association Victoria.

Margaret Handte

Committee Member

I was lucky enough to have spent 22 years with the army reserves covering various roles mainly RAE & Recruiting at Ringwood, Bourke street & Oakleigh Depots.

During this time l worked full time mainly within the transport & seniors travel areas as well as supporting the air cadets as a volunteer staff member for approx 19 years.

In conjunction with other army & industry  organisations.

After finding myself unable to climb tall buildings in a single bound l left the Reserves & the air cadets & down sized my work load to start up with a great team for 10 years the annual RAE Corp birthday reunions held in July. 

Joined the Historical & Heritage Assoc in approx 2010 now RAE Assoc Vic & have  remained  as a committee member ever since.   

Proud member of WRAAC, RAE & Recruiting.

In December 2001 was given the rare privilege of receiving a special award, the Australian Army Centenary Medallion for past & present services to the RAE & Cadets at Ringwood East & Oakleigh Depots. 

MAJ Mark Shanks RFD (Retd)

Committee Member

Born in 1951 in Rockhampton Mark grew up in Tasmania attending both Claremont Primary and Claremont High Schools. After moving to Victoria, he attended Ringwood High School before working in the insurance industry. 

Joining the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) at the age of eighteen in 1969, he served in 2 Field Sqn and 8 Field Sqn within RAE 3rd Division for five years, discharging in 1974 as a Corporal.  

Seven years later, he again enlisted as an Officer Cadet at OCTU in the Army Reserve. Graduating two years later as a 2LT, he was posted as a Troop Comd back to 8 Field Sqn. Normal postings followed at both Ringwood and Swan Street as well as 3 Training Group. As a CAPT, Mark was 2IC of 91 Forestry Sqn, and later its Admin Comd. Captain Shanks also volunteered for periods of fulltime service. 

Promoted MAJ, he became OC 38 Field Sqn and the Depot Comd at Newborough. For a short period, he was OC 38 Support Sqn. A posting as an Instructor at 3 Training Group followed and it was during that time, in 1999, there was a conflict in the Balkans. Australia agreed to establish a series of Safe Havens and MAJ Shanks agreed to work at the Puckapunyal Safe Haven located in the old 3 Training Group lines.

Following the initial conflicts in East Timor, the Kosovo’s either returned home or were sent to the Bandiana Safe Haven. 915 East Timorese moved into the by now refurbished transit lines at Puckapunyal. At the end of this period, Mark was appointed Defence Manager of the Bandiana Safe Haven looking after the last of the Kosovo people who had been most affected by the Balkan conflict. Some 12 months later the Safe Haven was closed, and he moved back to Melbourne to HQ 4 Bde and further Reserve service. 

An opportunity arose to transfer to the ARA working at HQ 4 Bde. A range of positions followed including a period as acting BM for the Bde. At the invitation of his former 2IC at 38 Fd Sqn, Mark undertook further fulltime service to 1 CER in Darwin where he completed eighteen months as OPSO. 

Transferring back to Melbourne he became the 2IC of 4 CER for six months before being posted to HQ CATC Puckapunyal for two years. Three years at LWDC followed before being discharged medically at the age of 61. In all, he served 10 years in the category Married with Dependants (Separated). 

Major Shanks has been awarded the Reserve Force Decoration with First Clasp, the National Service Medal, and the Australian Defence Medal. He has also been awarded a Head of Defence Corporate Support Commendation for performance on Operation Safe Haven. 

Major Shanks has completed 38 years of service including 10 years ARA. Mark has qualified as Bachelor of Professional Studies (Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution) and has a Graduate Diploma of Resource Management. He is an Associate of the Institute of Arbitration and Mediation, is a practicing mediator, and is currently undertaking consultancy work in management. He is also an authorised Commonwealth Marriage Celebrant doing both weddings and funerals.

Mark currently enjoys playing golf and travelling between bouts of treatment for injuries incurred during his service. Above all, Mark is enjoying life at seventy. Looking back, he remembers fondly, “the good times, the mate ship, and a sense of duty”.

COL Bruce Murray AM

Committee Member

Born in Melbourne in 1964, Colonel Bruce Murray joined the Australian Army Cadet Corps in 1979 whilst a student at Melbourne High School and entered the Royal Military College Duntroon in 1983 graduating into the Corps of Royal Australian Engineers in 1986. He has served the Engineer Corps in command, infrastructure and instructional appointments including the 20th Divisional Engineer Support Squadron and the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment culminating in command of the School of Military Engineering 2005-06. 

Colonel Murray’s overseas appointments began with secondment to the United Nations Mine Clearance Training Team Afghanistan / Pakistan in 1990. From 1991 until 1993 he served as the Provincial Building Engineer for the 12th Chief Engineer Works located in Mendi, the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. In 1997 he returned to mine clearing operations with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre as a Senior Technical Adviser and received a commendation for significantly reducing landmine and IED casualty numbers. 

From 2002 to 2004 he served as the Liaison Officer to the US Army Manoeuvre Support Centre at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, USA and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. In 2009 he was appointment Chief of Force Development responsible for the raising and deploying the Afghan National Security Forces throughout Southern Afghanistan. In recognition of growing a 24,000 strong force during high operational tempo he was awarded the US Army Bronze Star. 

His personnel appointments include the Directorate of Workforce Planning and the Commanding Officer of the Soldier Career Management Agency, responsible for the career development and retention of over 20,000 soldiers. In 2011 he was appointed Director of Force Development of the Land Warfare Development Centre responsible for preparing Army’s strategic capability plan for the Force Structure Review and subsequent Defence White Paper. He was appointed Acting Commander Land Warfare Development Centre throughout 2011-12. 

From 2013 to 2016 and was appointed Defence Attaché to Manila, Philippines and was awarded the Philippines Outstanding Achievement Medal for his role in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan and for arranging the transfer of five Landing Craft Heavy to the Philippine Navy. 

Colonel Murray is a graduate of the Australian Command and Staff College, Queenscliff. He holds Masters Degrees in Defence Studies and Business Management. In 2010 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to command, career management and training. He is a former Director of the Royal Australian Engineers Foundation. 

Colonel Murray is married to Helena and they have three adult children. He retired from full time service in April 2016 and was appointed Colonel Commandant, Southern Region in March 2017.

LTCOL John Raike

Honorary Padre

Zeus (The Wonder Dog)

RAE Association Mascot (Don Hughes Assistance Dog)

A rescue dog from a farm in Deniliquin, our formal Mascot Zeus, is half Lab & half Kelpie.

Previously, Zeus undertook basic Infantry training with 5/6 RVR and spent some time in Special Forces. Zeus is a qualified Assistance Dog.

He now thoroughly enjoys representing the RAE Association of Victoria at numerous formal & social functions with Don.

Zeus’s hobbies include tennis & football collecting!

Would you like to join our committee and be part of our team