Honouring our fallen sappers and associates of the Royal Australian Engineers Association (Vic) Inc.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Lest We Forget
Fred Banyard, 1919 – 31 May 2020, 101
Fred Banyard was the last Sapper of WA’s 13 Field Company (WW2),
Brett Waterford, 1 November 1972 – 28 May 2020, 48
Brett joined the Army at Oakleigh with 105 Construction Squadron in 1993. Brett was one of the most conscientious people you would ever meet and this was particularly evident very early in his military career, a very popular person who was prepared to help anyone in need. After serving for 24 years Brett retired from 22nd Engineer Regiment on 31st December 2017 with the rank of Corporal and held the position of Transport NCO. In civilian life Brett was a Fire Fighter.
Brett fought a dogged battle against an insidious disease but regretfully even with the strongest of support and determination this disease just does not take prisoners
Michael (Mick) Keen, 25 January 1948 – 26 May 2020, 72
Mick joined the Regular Army around 1972 and after basic training at Kapooka was allocated to the Engineers where he soon built a reputation and rose through the ranks to WO2 and on the way gained his EOD qualification. He served for over 24 years.
During his career Mick enjoyed numerous postings throughout Australia including a tenure as the Training Warrant Officer at Newborough (in the Latrobe Valley) with 38 Field Squadron – one of his last postings was to 13 Field Squadron in Perth, WA.
Mick also had overseas postings to.;
West Germany 1981-82, Papua New Guinea,1983 – 86, Pakistan 1991
After discharging from the ARA in 1997 Mick became part of the demining teams that operated in various countries throughout the world.
John (Jack) Muir, 30 August 1925 – 20th May 2020, 95
Jack enlisted in 1955 into what was known as the Supplementary Reserve (SR) and as he worked for the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission (SRWSC) in Tatura he was allocated to 105 Construction Squadron which was part of 22nd Construction Regiment. Jack was among the first to enlist into this new scheme and the SR.In 1963 Jack was part of a unique experiment which, for the first time, saw SR sappers deployed offshore. A contingent of about 90 personnel from the various Squadrons of 22nd Regiment flew to Wewak in PNG to relieve 21 Construction Squadron (ARA) which was commanded by MAJ Peter Gration (later GEN Chief of Defence) and whose Works Officer was CAPT John Wertheimer (Later COL Wertheimer). The task was mainly road building between Wewak and Maprik (130 kms of road) but also involved the construction of bridges and river crossingsObviously the bridge building component was an important part of the project and Jack was able to add a great deal to it with experience, guidance and supervision through his knowledge working with forestry crews. It had been noted that Jack’s input was invaluable to the successful completion of the bridge task. At the time of his discharge in 1972 Jack was the SSM of 105 Construction Squadron an appointment he had held since 1969.
Harold (Harry) Buckley, 28 July 1926 – 13th May 2020, 94
Warrant Officer Class I Harry Buckley was a living legend in the RAE. He first set foot on the soil of SME Casula home of the Sappers, late 1947 His first achievement in the Corps were to be presented with the Clasp Knife with Lanyard as best student on the first Field Engineer conducted under the then CO/CI, Col “Basher” Brogan, later to become Maj Gen. In 1950 he attended the first course to qualify Field Engineer Sergeants and prepare 40 students for appointments as instructors with the National Service Training Scheme and was posted to 19 NS Trg Bn. He is mentioned in volume 4 of the History of the Royal Australian Engineers as a notable instructor at SME. Harry receives a second mention for the part he played as a Troop Sergeant with 7 independent Field Squadron in Butterworth Malaysia and Borneo in 1959 and again for his service in the legendary Australian Army Training Vietnam in 1970-71.
R.P. “Phil” Kudnig, 8 May 1933 – 27 April 2020, 87
Phil served from 17th March 1951 and discharged on 16th July 1979 with the rank of LTCOL
Phil was commissioned with the OCS Class December 1953 (The Third Class), he also being awarded the Governor General’s Medal.
He returned to OCS on the staff 1964 – 1966. He then moved over The Rip to Army Staff College in 1967.
In South Vietnam he commanded 1 Fd Sqn RAE Jan – Nov 1971.
Phil’s overseas posting include Japan/Korea, United Kingdom and Vietnam.
Phil served at Ringwood East Depot in 1968 and held many Staff Appointments throughout Australia during his distinguished career.
Robert “Bob” Baguley, 21 December 1941 – 25 April 2020, 79
After a long battle with cancer Bob passed away peacefully in the early hours of Anzac Day 2020.
Regretfully I do not have much information on Bob’s service but he enlisted 09th March 1965 and discharged 08th March 1971 and I understand that he saw active service in Borneo.
Rodney “Blue” Horton, 11 November 1947 – 19 April 2020, 73
During his 30 years military career Rod served in a most Australian states including several times in Victoria where a couple of his postings were,
1985 – 1988 6 Engineer Group as RQMS
1988 – 1990 – 7 Field Engineer Regiment as QM
Rod also served in South Vietnam (1967) and during 1999 was also involved in Op Safe Haven.
Rod retired from the Army on 18th August 2002 with the rank of Major.
`Rod is survived by his wife of 51 years Aileen and his children, Sally Fontana and Trevor Horton, his grandchildren Jessica, Samantha and Madeline and his great grandchildren, Oliver, Isla, Sage, and Luna.
Phil “Von” Schneider, 27 January 1968 – 30 March 2020, 52
Sapper 3205921 Phil Schneider affectionately known as “Von” who passed away in Thailand on 30th March 2020. Von was a member of 7th Field Engineer Regiment and served in both10 and 8 Sqns.
Phil was on holiday with his wife Cathy when, as a result of COVID-19, Thailand closed its borders and introduced strict travel restrictions which regretfully Phil and Cathy were caught up in. Phil did not pass away as a result of the virus.
Frederick Ross McLeod, 3 February 2020
Robert “Bob” Burns, 28 December 2019
Bob was a SSGT when I joined 7 FER back in 1975 and was an SQ. He went on to become a WO2 and as far as I know was always within the Q stream.
I found Bob to be a great bloke but one always ready to catch you out – for instance he had his keys tied onto an elastic cord which he would throw towards you only to see them spring back to Bob before reaching you – he certainly got a laugh out of this – I know that I never caught those keys.
COL Robert Sanders, 17 October 2019
I am writing to pass on some terrible news that – today – we lost one of our own in COL Rob Sanders, Director Land in DGLAND Branch at HQ JOC.
Rob collapsed in the HQ JOC gym this afternoon, and despite frantic efforts from those present to administer CPR, he was eventually pronounced deceased around 2pm.
Rob leaves behind his wife Gail and son Matt who are being cared for at this difficult time. His work colleagues are being supported by Padres and HQ staff.
As you know, Rob was an extremely well-respected and liked member of your cohort, our Army and Defence Force. Many of us interacted with Rob earlier today, so the sense of shock and grief is palpable amongst us. Please be cognisant of the shock and hurt within his family as they come to grips with this terrible tragedy – we are still consoling them and will be in a better position in time to understand how best to support them.
As we become aware of funeral details I will also ensure this is passed on.
Anthony (Tony) Rawlins
Deputy Chief of Army
Gerald Arthur Betts, 14 June 1951 – 12 October 2019, 68
This notice is difficult for me to write as Gerry and I enlisted about the same time into 7th Field Engineer Regiment, Ringwood, Vic and typical of the Army family we have remained good friends ever since.
On Thursday Bill van Ree (President), Don Hughes (Vice-President), Zeus (wonder dog) and I visited Gerry in the Palliative Care Unit at Shepparton Hospital and whilst Gerry did not speak during our visit I am sure he knew we were there with him.
I have no hesitation in saying that today the Corps has lost one of its most loyal, passionate and dedicated Officers in Gerry.
Gerry served in the Reserve for 38 years and rose to the rank of Captain.
Bryan “Brett” Nolen, 15 August 1933 – 1 September 2019, 86
“Hi Duncan, A brief note on Brett as I know. 36262 WO1 Nolen Bryan (Brett) Henry. Born to a farming family in Nyah/Tocumwal NSW. 15/08/1933. Called up for 1st National service intake 1953, returned home and after having a blue with his bother left the farm and joined the regular Army 1956. First posting 21 construction squadron Puckapunyal. Continued his career in a number of RAE units until being promoted to Sgt. Where he was posted to LWC Canungra training troops for Vietnam. March 1967 he deployed to 1 field squadron South Vietnam until march 1968. During this deployment he worked extensively on the laying of the infamous barrier mine field at Dat Do, in which a number of sappers were killed and seriously wounded due to a number of incidents while laying mines. His next overseas posting was New Guinea, working in road & construction tasks in which he was tasked with removing or destroying Jap UXO’s. From New Guinea as he said many times that he had won the lottery had been given a posting to RSME England, In which while there was presented his WO1 rank by her majesty Queen Elizabeth 2. While at RSME Brett was given the task to train alongside British sappers in the use & deployment of the MGB to which he was to deliver a report back home on the effectiveness & adaptability of such a bridge for use within the Australian Army and doing so overseen the first bridge being delivered to Australia. From RSME he attended the Royal school of bomb disposal at Lodge Hill and topped the course in which he was asked to stay on for a further 12 months as an instructor. After coming back to Australia Brett filled again some senior instructor positions at LWC & SME. Finally finishing his career in 1980 where it all began at 21 construction squadron. After the Army Brett was once again called upon by the commonwealth to assist in training overseas diplomats that were being sent abroad for DFAT. Brett also lent his hand to special effects with the knowledge that he had gained throughout his career to supply SFX for the ABC series Spy force and for the movie the Odd angry shot. In 1988 Brett was asked to a local Army reserve unit as a guest speaker, In which he said he was so impressed with the enthusiasm and professionalism of the soldiers that he offered his time in a voluntary role to help train the Pioneer platoon with his extensive sapper knowledge. The pioneers had no idea of the level of instruction they were about to receive and knowledge they were about to have passed to them. This voluntary instruction continued for a further 3 years seeing many troops become the most proficient pioneers they could be. In 1991 Brett was awarded an Australia day award from 4 Brigade HQ for his voluntary contribution to the Army reserve. I personally as with many others valued his knowledge and experience throughout their time at the corps of sappers as he never shied away from anyone that had a question or thirst for sapper knowledge. God bless ya O’l mate, May you rest in peace Sapper, Your knowledge & stories will be here for a long time to come.”
Regards Glenn Harmer
Neville Geoffrey Handley, 3 June 1942 – 24 July 2019, 77
Many of you reading this notice will not be aware of Neville but he was a very loyal and dedicated Sapper who served with 91 Forestry Squadron for in excess of 30 years where he reached the rank of Corporal and was a true asset to the squadron.
Neville joined as a Sapper but then had a change of career streams and became the cook for 91 Forestry Squadron a position which he enjoyed until his retirement from the Reserve.
In his civilian life Neville was employed by Forest Commission Victoria. In his younger days he was a competitive and highly skilled axeman but also enjoyed bowls. Married to Dianne Neville was father to 4 children.
It is the quiet unassuming people like Neville who helped forge the Reserve as we know it today and his contribution cannot be underestimated.
Neville Flintoff, 31 October 1939 – 13 June 2019, 80
Neville served between 1962 and 1970 with 21 Construction Squadron (including in Wewak, PNG), Chief Engineers Southern Region and several Engineer Units.
There was no doubt that Neville was passionate about being a sapper and was a long-time supporter of the Old Sappers Association where he was granted honorary life membership – that honorary membership transferred across to the RAE Association (Vic) Inc.
Vernon George “Whitt” Tuskin, – 14 November 2018
On the 11th March 2019 I tried to contact Vern Tuskin to wish him a very merry 96th birthday only to learn from an investigation of the internet that he had passed away on 14th November 2018 and was laid to rest on 13th December 2018 – this event is a very sad one for us not only was Whitt a WW2 veteran he was our oldest surviving member. The ranks of Australia’s WW2 veterans are thinning very quickly. We also did not get the opportunity of attending his Service to farewell this lovely man – knowing Vern though (little as I did) I am sure he would have liked a very simple Service without any fuss
Vern saw active service in the Middle East (Palestine, Syria, Egypt), Ceylon and Papua New Guinea. He served with 2/8 Engineers and ANGUA (Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit) in Papua New Guinea – the photo below from the AWM shows Vern at Malamal compound in Papua New Guinea – he is in the front on the left side. He reached the rank of SGT. He asked to be allocated to Engineers because he had a brother who was a LT in the RAE and wanted to serve with him.
Until recently Whitt had lived in his home at Oakleigh but had moved into a Care Facility
On the 07th March 2017 the then President (Colin Bowater) and I visited Vern at his home and presented him with a Tee Shirt and hat – we sat with him whilst he had his lunch which was a couple of Vegemite sandwiches.
Vern told us of one incident during his overseas service and that was he was posted to Egypt and when heading to his compound he was challenged by the guard who turned out to be his father!
Regretfully I can add very little more other than I hope that Whitt was welcomed to the big parade ground and looked after because there is no doubt that this Sapper has certainly earned a rest after serving his country so well
Rest in peace Vernon George (Whitt) Tuskin – UBIQUE
Rev Canon Graeme Winterton, 1940 – 21 March 2019, 79
As I have limited knowledge of Rev Winterton and believe that he deserves greater acknowledgement for his contribution input was sought from BRIG Bob Slater (see attached) and COL John Wertheimer who has advised me as follows;
Re Graeme he was a fine man of the cloth We met when I was the Comd 6 Engr Gp about 1984 1985 . I believe Graeme was the a Capt . I have an idea he did not start as a man of the cloth – I do not recall what but it could have been for a number of years .
At the unit he was the first padre for a while and maybe not many posted since . He cared for units 7 FER , 22 Const Sqn , Yallourn , Swan Street and Ringwood . He was a good listener with a sense of humour and a perceptive operator
He transferred from Reserve to the Regular Army and was posted to Duntroon as RMC Chaplain . It was about the time of the ADFA start – 1986 I imagine that was a posting as Major. Later attended church in Paynesville say between 1995 to 2000 and as the Anglican priest based in Bairnsdale , he took the limited numbers of services at Paynesville . Also course , he would have cared for Bairnsdale Primary School 754 which I had attended earlier.
Graeme would have been say in his mid-forties at Swan Street . As you are aware Graeme conducted the dedication service for the RAE Memorial Tree at the Shine about 2013 , when his heath was not the best . In his latter years in Melbourne , I have a feeling he was a strong contributor to an Anglican Church charity . Good bye to an interesting , helpful and smart man
The Reverend Winterton was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2016 Australia Day Honours “For significant service to the community through disaster recovery and emergency support ministry, and to the Anglican Church of Australia”.
Desmond Arthur Ernest Oldis, – 9 March 2019
I have received a number of emails from the La Trobe Valley advising of this sad event and I think these emails speak volumes about Sapper Oldis so rather than me sitting here typing I will include them.
Des undoubtedly was a colourful character and if you upset him he would certainly let you know – irrespective he was a very fine Sapper and we should all take a moment to reflect on our loss of another of our friends who contributed so much to the Corps.
Rest in peace Des – wherever you are I am sure you would be making your mark already – you have completed a wonderful contribution to the Military and we are proud of you and acknowledge impact.
David Eakins, 22 February 1927 – 3 March 2019, 92
David has been a long time member of the RAE Association and it is always difficult to say goodbye to our friends.
I know from speaking with David’s family that he was very proud of his military service and contribution to Victorian RAE where he reached the rank of Captain.
Rest in Peace David – your duty has been done.
Claude Mervyn Wright, 4 June 1929 – 2 March 2019, 89
Claude rose to the rank of Captain and was a graduate of OCS Portsea.
Claude is survived by his wife and 2 step children – in civilian life he was a Civil Engineer.
I did not know of Claude and his application is very scant on details of his service other than he served from January 1951 to December 1964
I find it so hard to in situations like this as Claude needs to be acknowledged for his contribution but I can provide no further information
Francis “Frank” Taylor, 5 January 1920 – 30 January 2019, 99
Frank served with 15th Field Company RAE (3 Div) as a Sapper then received a commission as Lieutenant. He saw active service in New Guinea & Bougainville.
Francis George Taylor (known as Frank) passed away last Wednesday 30th January 2019 after a short illness. Frank was in his 99th year.
In 1995 Frank assisted with the writing of a book on the history of 15th Field Company called “Mad Micks Mob” and felt that at the time of the writing he and the author were possibly the last survivors of the 15th Field Company and now Frank has also left us for the RAE Parade Ground above.
Fred Milkins, 16 October 1933 – 22 January 2019, 85
3157901 Milkins Fred, born 16 October 1933 passed away 22 January 2019, age 85.
He entered 15 National Service Training Battalion on 28 April 1954 at Puckapunyal Victoria, posted to D Company 18 Platoon.
Marched out 12 August 1954, posted to 38 Field Squadron, 5 Corps Engineer Regiment, Royal Australian Engineers,
(Citizen Military Forces) located in Yallourn. Fred was posted 38 Fd Sqn Squadron Sergeant Major (SSM) from 1974 to 1977.
Fred served for 23 years continuous in 38 Field Squadron RAE (CMF) at the RAE Depot, Southend Road, Yallourn.
Fred was very heavily involved in the Operation Fire Power in 1959 and his participation is detailed in Swan Street Sapper on pages 41-42. He and members of 38 Field Squadron were responsible for the demolitions component of the activity – Fred received great accolades for his dems display and contribution.
Regards Michael P Meany
Alan “Ali” Barbour, 1946 – 20 October 2018, 72
Ali was a great bloke but many would not know of him as he lived Eurobin in country Victoria and discharged from 22nd Construction Regiment in 1995 – an ex SEC employee he was part of the Supplementary Reserve (SR) and served for 27 years.
Ali kept in touch with mates from 22 CR through the Major Creek annual reunion where he was a regular attender camping there for several days.
Ali certainly had his fair share of health problems including bowel cancer but his passing was unexpected – he was in his 72nd year.
Thomas “Neville” Trevena, 1937 – 5 October 2018, 81
Neville was an outstanding person and was an exceptional supporter of the RAE Association with the result he was elevated to complimentary membership effective 23rd January 2015.
A very loyal and skilled Sapper Neville rose to the rank of WO2 .
Neville lived in Lara but still managed to attend many of our functions – a quiet man really but not afraid to speak his mind but he was generous to a tee not only with his time but also his advice.
A man’s man who was not afraid to get his hands dirty and was prepared to pitch in on any project that he could and provide help – a real community minded man he was the “go to man” to get things done.
Alan “Kiwi” Ngati, 5 October 2018
Many would not know Kiwi but I had the pleasure of serving with him at 22 Construction Regiment.
Kiwi is a humble man and I do not intend to embarrass him but I will mention that he has served in 2 Defence Forces – Australia and New Zealand – as a Sapper in the New Zealand Army he had just completed a drivers course when the newly qualified drivers were asked to consider volunteering to assist with a disaster – details were not disclosed but it was the Mount Erebus Air Disaster and meant working under appalling conditions – Kiwi was one of the volunteers and as a result was awarded a decoration for his part in this task.
Kiwi was also awarded a Soldiers Medallion when he served with 22nd Construction Regiment.
Mardi Yvonne Davis – Wife of Jim Davis, 25 September 2018
It is with a very heavy heart and great sadness that I have to advise of the passing on 25th September 2018 at 11.30 am of my darling wife Mardi Yvonne Davis and whilst not a sapper in the sense of the word she is without doubt the most deserving of this title.
I have sent many Vale notices but this is without doubt the most difficult I have ever had to write – I am a shattered and devastated man and wonder how I can face the world without the love of my life beside me.
I take some comfort that Mardi passed peacefully and I had the honour of being with her as she left her worn out body for a journey to another place.
Whilst I will miss her so very much I thank everyone who has contacted me offering support and thoughts throughout Mardi’s illness
Mardi is now free from pain and whilst I would do anything to have her back I would not wish her to return to her pain ravaged body. She fought a wonderful battle against cancer.
For those of you who had the pleasure of meeting and knowing my Mardi you are truly blessed to have known a true angel here on earth.
Henry “Harry” New, MID, 1916 – 10 September 2018, 102
It is my very sad duty to announce the passing on 10th September 2018 of the Associations oldest member in Harry New, MID – Harry was 102 years young
Harry was a wonderful man and a very proud and loyal member of the RAE.
The loss of any sapper is a sad event but with the passing of Harry this is even more poignant as the RAE has lost one of its last remaining threads to a WW2 veteran.
Harry enlisted on 20th October 1939 and discharged 23rd October 1945 – he served for the entire duration of the Second World War – he was a member 2/2nd Field Company (6 DIV) and saw action in most of the main theatres of conflict of the war obtaining the rank of SSGT and was Mentioned in Dispatches.
Harry was acknowledged by the RAE Head of Corps when he reached 100 years and a copy of his certificate is attached along with an article that appeared in Army News, MUFTI and of course Sapper Summit. He kept meticulous records of his service
Brian Chirgwin, RFD,ED, 13 April 1935 – 16 August 2018, 83
Brian was a very proud sapper reaching the rank of Major and was a member of 22nd Construction Regiment – he was also a National Serviceman – there is a wonderful article by Brian on his early military service on page 140 of Swan Street Sapper
Prior to his retirement Brian was an Engineering Surveyor.
Allan “Blue” Rantell, 1945 – 29 July 2018, 73
What a devastating and tragic experience this is for Allan’s family and many friends but it is also a great loss to the Corps of the RAE with another of our Vietnam Vets passing. Allan served from 1966 – 1991 reaching the rank of CPL.
Allan was a great sapper and a very proud Vietnam Veteran. He was a Tunnel Rat and served the RAE with devotion and distinction both here and abroad. How proud he was, and what a wonderful acknowledgement, that Blue was recently awarded the Unit Citation for Gallantry for his actions at FSB Coral & Balmoral.
Allan was a Life Member of both the RAE Association (Vic) Inc. and Old Sappers Association. Blue was a great supporter to the sapper family here in Victoria and often attended the RAE Association functions.
Elizabeth “Betty” Chirgwin – Wife of Brian Chirgwin, 1938-2018
Brian Chirgwin was a long-time member of the Reserve and reached the rank of Major and was OC of 106 Construction Squadron – Betty was his strongest supporter which allowed Brian to contribute the time he did to the Reserve – in addition Brian and Betty lived in country Victoria which required a lot of travel for Brian. A truly committed RAE family.
Enough about Brian it is Betty that we need to remember and acknowledge – Betty had been married to Brian for a remarkable 59 years (18 April 1959) and the parents of 4 children (Carl and 3 sisters) and 8 grandchildren (one of whom is a CAPT in RAAC currently posted to 1 Armd Regt).
“Bill” Koostantinoes William Unmeopa, 11 July 2018
Bill was a Vietnam Veteran and a Tunnel Rat who served in SVN 1965 – 1966 with 3 Troop (1st Field Sqn) but more importantly he was an RAE man through and through –
Regretfully the younger ones in the Corps will not know of Bill or his reputation but for those who had the opportunity of serving with Bill then they served with one of the best.
We in Victoria can lay some claim to Bill as he served as the RSM of 7 FER.
Bill has certainly earned the right to be in the front ranks for the Parade in the sky.
Max “Doc” Liverstone, 22 September 1940 – 8 July 2018, 77
Max was a Vietnam Vet (3 Field Troop) and I also understand that he was very active in Victoria for the RAE and held the position of the RAE Victorian Vietnam Vets Association.