Victorian Sapper Groups and Associations

This is a History of Victorian Sapper Groups & Associations 80 years of dedicated service to the Australian Engineer and Royal Australian Engineer Sapper. This History is a work in progress.  (Updated 10 November 2019). As information comes in, the page will be updated. If you can contribute please email Mel at Thank you.

Early Engineer Gatherings 1906 – 1934

34th Fortress Company Engineer Association 1945 – 1949

The Old Sappers Association 1934 – 2014

15th Field Coy RAE AIF Association

Royal Australian Engineers Association 1977 – 2007

RAE Vietnam Association Inc

Ex-Forestry Group Association RAE AIF 1945

91 Forestry Sqn, Woodpeckers Association 1992

38 Fld Sqn, La Trobe Valley Sappers 2012 – 2018

22 Const Regt Ex-Members Association

105 Fld Sqn, ‘The Old Blue Tongues’

RAE (Vic) Historical and Heritage Committee 1992 – 2004

RAE (Vic) History and Heritage Association Inc. 2004 – 2014

Royal Australian Engineers Association (Vic) Inc. 2014 –

Early Engineer Gatherings 1906 – 1934

As early as 1906, according to Captain O. Gluyas, there was an active group of old Sappers, ex servicemen of World War 1 and some even earlier that met at the Alexandra Avenue Depot and had regular meetings and reunions with permission the Depot Command.

Some early members were A. E. Carlyle, F. Nicholls, O.Gluyas, C. Probert, A. Dickie, S. Painter, R. Hutchison, H. Rogers, F. Fielder, W. Rankin, R Smithwick, H. Larkin, J. Lawlor.

The Corps of Engineers had enjoyed permissive occupancy of their old depot in Alexandra Avenue on the South bank of the Yarra since 1894, thus it was time surely that this choice site was vacated, the wooden buildings demolished and the area restored to the citizens of Melbourne. 

As a Grand Finale they organised an Old Sappers Reunion as a “Farewell to the Old Depot” that was held at the depot on 22 September 1934. Under the Patronage of seven senior Officers of the Corps, it was a huge success.

34th Fortress Engineers Association 1945 – 1949

The President was Major W. Botham and Secretary Captain L. Wilson. The Association was short lived and they decided to explore the possibility of an amalgamation with the Old Sappers Association with the assistance of Old Sapper and former Fortress Engineer, Captain “Jack Lawlor. They were by then based at Swan St anyway so it made sense to join forces.

After two committee meetings on 24 March 1949 and 29 April 1949 a Special General Meeting was held on 27 May 1949 of the Fortress Engineers where it was agreed merger with the Old Sappers Association subject to their support of the annual in commemoration of “Lark” Force who died in New Britain or at sea in the prison ship “Montevideo Maru” off Luzon, June 1942.

By the merger, the Old Sappers Association had doubled its membership with the younger men of World War II it also meant that there was a one hundred percent increase in funds, a real “shot in the arm” just when it was needed.

The Old Sappers Association 1934 – 2014

1934 – 1939

In 1934 the brand new red brick Army Engineer Training Depot at Swan Street, Richmond was ready for occupation and the units moved in. During that year an Association was formed and in 1935, the constitution was drawn up for the Old Sappers Association in the combined Sergeants Mess in which they where allowed to use for their monthly meetings. This was in an honorary capacity, courtesy of the Commanding Officers at the new depot. A. E. Carlyle was elected the first President, W.O.C. Probert Treasurer and W.O.A. Dickie Hon. Secretary

The units at the Depot at the time were;

3 Division Engineers, OC Major C. Lawrance M.C

4 Division Engineers, OC Lt Col R. Simpson

2nd Field Squadron

34th Fortress Coy, Major Robinson

At the Association meetings all members have the same and highly prized rank of “Sapper” and are so addressed, hereafter thus recorded in this history.

During the busy years to follow with the C.M.F. at the Swan Street Depot, the Association was well received and respected. The members of the Combined Sergeants Mess for all Engineer Units and Permanent Army Staff at the depot were able to enjoy the Old Sappers activities in particular their Waterloo Nights.

A framed  photograph of the President, Sapper Carlyle was presented to him at the Christmas meeting on 11 December 1937 to recognise his many years of service to the Association.

1939 – 1949

With the outbreak of hostilities on 3 September 1939 and the world was to become another Armageddon in a little more than two decades, all the Engineer units were mustered in camper at their war stations at Port Phillip Heads in the case of the Fortress Engineers. 

Some action was imperative regarding the assets left by the Combined Sergeants Mess at the Swan Street Depot. By telephone from Seymour Camp, the Mess President, WO W. Clarke and the Secretary, Sgt M. Beck requested A. Carlyle, President of the Old Sappers Association to collect the assets and arrange storage during the wartime disbandment of the Mess. So for the duration the piano, billiard table, lounge suite, tables, chairs, glass and chinaware, etc were stored in the homes of the Old Sappers.

Spr A. Carlyle fabricated canisters in his sheetmetal workshops for the safe keeping of carpets and banners. Spr O. Gluyas acted as custodian of the funds and was co-trustee with Spr C. Probert.

During the grim war years, the Old Sappers Association held some meetings in the Officers Mess. At times it seemed useless to continue and the Association almost lapsed. Following the cessation of war activities, the President, Spr A. Carlyle set about the revival of the Association. Tall, broad with a heart to match Albert Carlyle was affectionately known as “tiny”. His public service was impressive for he was a J.P. and served as a Melbourne City Councillor for the years 1947 – 1955, Heidelberg councillor 1940 – 1947 then 1951 – 1957 also as Mayor for 1946/7 and 1956/7. He was awarded the M.B.E in the Queen’s Honours in June 1958. In 1947, realising that new blood was required he obtained the services of Maurice Black.

Spr M. Beck drew up a new constitution which was adopted at the General Meeting on 3  November 1947, the annual subscription being five shillings and persons eligible for membership were those who had served in the Corps of Engineers poor to and including August 1945.

Provision was made for three Trustees. The granting of Life Memberships was commenced in 1947 on the basis of one per annum. The first Life member was the President Spr Albert “Tiny” Carlyle who had served the Association so well. In the early postwar period many Associations were formed by members of wartime Engineer units. The passing of time and the problems encountere“Civvystreet” made continuance rather difficult. The Fortress Engineer Association, formed in 1945, had flourished but by early 1949 a merger with the Old Sappers Association was considered advisable. 

The second life member, elected in 1948, was Sapper “Alf” Dickie who had given good service as Secretary. In 1949, the third recipient was Sapper Harry Larkin, a fine soldier and Captain/Adjutant of the Fortress Engineers at the old and new depots. It is interesting to note that his elder son George, was a Duntroon graduate. His younger son, Bill was a Lieutenant with the Rabaul Fortress Coy, “Lark” Force in 1941/42.

1949 – 1951

On 9 November 1950 the sixteenth Annual meeting was held, Spr A. Carlyle in the chair, Sappers R. Hutchison and H. Wright Vice Presidents. 

Former Fortress Engineers elected to the committee were Sapper L. King Treasurer, Sapper R.Knight Assistant Secretary to Secretary M. Beck, Sapper W. Both committee man with Sappers F. Nicholls and P. Vaughan who had served with the Royal Engineers.

The membership was now at 113 members. Sapper “Ossie Gluyas, a trustee since early years was elected Life member number four.

In August 1951 the assistance of the Association was sought on behalf of the National Service Trainees, then in camp. A Challenge Cup and Hut pennant was donated for the competition. In November a dance for the N.S.T.’s was arranged by the Association at the depot.

Old Sappers Association Challenge Cup
National Service Trainees Engineer Group – Presented for Inter Platoon Competition

1951 -1952

31 October 1951 saw the seventeenth annual report being presented showing a very full year of activities, keeping the Association very busy. Membership was 143 members and Sapper W. Rankin, was elected Life member number five.

1952 – 1953

The eighteenth annual general meeting on 13 November 1952 followed a most successful year and was held in the Sergeants Mess. Sapper A Carlyle was in the chair and an attendance of 80 members. Membership was now at 202. Office bearers as per last year but with additional committee  men Sappers A. Nitz and G. Dewhurst.

Honorariums approved for the Secretary and Treasurer were 10 guineas and five pounds respectively. A collection for the Korean Force Christmas fund realised eight pounds.

On December 12 , the Christmas Social Evening held in the Sergeants Mess was attended by 95 members and six guests. Niners of ale were donated by the Association.

The C.R.E., Lt. Col. J. Needham presented Sapper H. “Ham” Rogers with Life membership number six and then gave a resume of the history of the Corps about the time of Ham’s enlistment in 1885. Sapper Rogers responded with particulars of his service and displayed Corps badges worn before Federation.

For entertainment members of the Old Sappers staged a hilarious four act play “Cinderella” in costume which was well received. 

The main hall of the Engineer Depot was the venue for the children Christmas Treat on 13 December, the attendance being 133 children and 150 adults. Spr Carlyle donated the Christmas Tree and the entertainer was Mr Wells, conjurer. Father Christmas arrived and distributed the toys after which refreshments were enjoyed by all. This excellent affair was a forerunner for the yearly parties held since, thanks to the Ladies, the Management Committee and assisting members. Monthly meetings with some form of entertainment were held in the Sgt’s Mess during the year.

At the May meeting, Mr W. Uren of the Olympic Games committee gave a talk on the games at Helsinki, 1952. A talk by Mr. E. Tanner about the 1948 Olympics was followed by a screening of a 1948 Games film.

In 1953 the Association increased its strength by an amalgamation with all financial members of the 11th Workshop and Parks Association.

This Autumn the Old Sappers Association undertook the rather daunting but commendable task of providing working bees for maintenance work on Blamey House, Black Rock. By 24 May, four full Sundays had been occupied. Legacy kindly provided the meals.

12 June was Waterloo Night the attendance being 79 members and 3 guests. Spr A. E. Carlyle was in the chair. Entertainment came from members present. Official guest, Mr J. Cooper of Legacy thanked the Association for the work done at Blamey House.

The Shrine pilgrimage was conducted on 28 June and supported by the 2/22 Bn. Association, the Northcote Corps Salvation Army Band and Mr Alf Foletta was the Bugler. Mr E. “Ted” Best, 2/22 Bn. gave the address. 

It is interesting to recall that Ted was Lord Mayor of Melbourne 1970 – 1971. During the term of his office, he and his wife welcomed the Queen to our city during the Royal Visit and accompanied the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne during their free and easy stroll among crowds assembled in Collins St

Two more working Sundays virtually completed the project at Blamey House, Black Rock. On the last day, 2 August, an impromptu party was held, Legacy and Spr “Tiny” Carlyle supplying the liquid refreshments. Mr Gallagher of Legacy thanked the Association and “The Age” of 3 August published particulars of the work with photographs of the assembly.

On 18 August at the Engineer Depot, 70 National Service trainees were welcomed int the Corps and entertained by the Association. The first Ladies social night was held on 24 October and enjoyed by 42 members and their ladies in the Sergeant’s mess. This was a successful and progressive step by the Association. There is not the slightest doubt that our continued success over the years has been due in no small measure to the support given by the ladies.

A weekend coach trip to Queenscliff late October completed the activities for the year. The accomodation was at the Queenscliff Hotel. On Saturday Old Sapper Jack Lawlor, resident of Queenscliff arranged a pleasant afternoon at the Bowling Club. An inspection of the Queenscliff Fort area was made on Sunday morning followed by a visit to Point Lonsdale and a view of the rip from the elevated lookout of the lighthouse.

1954 – 1955

The year commenced with the Nineteenth Annual General Meeting held in the Sergeants Mess on 12 November  with Sps A. Carlyle in the chair and an attendance of 80 members.

New Office bearers were Treasurer Spr. Nagle,  Committeemen are; Sappers J. Kerr, F. Chambers and J. Nagle.

A clay bird shoot was organised on 14 November for the members and their families on the Sloan’s property at High Street Road, Mount Waverly and was as usual very enjoyable.

On 1 December, 62 National Service Trainees were welcomed to the Corps of Engineers at the depot by the Old Sappers Association. The C.R.E Lt. Col. J. Needham, OBE outlined the traditions of the Corps to the trainees. Sappers Ham Rodgers, A. Dickie and R. Knight spoke briefly after which the Association provided supper for all attending.

The Christmas Social Evening on 11 December was attended by 86 members. The President A. Carlyle presented Vice President Sapper Bob Hutchinson with Life Membership badge number 7 and thanked him for his service to the Old Sappers Association since its inauguration. Sapper L. King was the recipient of a presentation in appreciation of his industry as Treasurer for the previous two years.

A record attendance of 170 children and 150 adults attended the Children’s Christmas Treat at the Main Hall of the Engineer Depot on 12 December. The entertainer, Mr Hal Roy gave an exhibition of trick cycling. Father Christmas distributed toys, not an easy task on a warm December afternoon. Refreshments for all followed and so a happy family gathering ended, a credit to the Committee and assisting ladies and members.

The monthly meetings from January to May 1954 had fair attendances. The entertainment varied from miniature rifle range shoot, films about the antarctic to an interesting talk by well known cricket umpire Mr R. Hele. 

The Waterloo Night meeting in the Main Hall of the depot on 11 June was attended by 67 members and one guest. 

A conducted tour of the Australian Paper mills in Alphington on 15 June was appreciated by the members.

The Shrine Pilgrimage was conducted on 27 June and assisted by the Northcote Corps Salvation Army Band. The address was given by Old Sapper , Major W. G. Botham. DCM

In August, with the CRE Lt Col K. Green present, the Engineer intake of National Service Trainees was welcomed by the Old Sappers.

At the twentieth Annual General meeting on 11 November, Spr “Ray” Knight was elected Secretary and so began his long term as such. New Committeemen were Sprs W. Sibley and J. Kerr. 

With the CRE Lt Col K. Green present, 82 N. S. Trainees were welcomed by the O.S.A. at the Depot. The Christmas Social night on 10 December was a notable affair with an attendance of 100. 

The official guests were Maj Gen Sir Clive Steele, Col P. Jackson, Lt Col K. Green and Major Tanner. Sir clive thanked the OSA for the invitation. He expressed his satisfaction with progress of their work for NS Trainees. 

Spr C. Probert was presented with Life membership badge number eight by Sir Clive.

The Christmas Treat at the Engineer Depot on 12 December had the bumper attendance of 180 children and 200 adults. Peter Leonard entertained with his puppets.

A New Year’s Eve Ball was held at the depot and even though the attendance numbers were low an enjoyable evening was had by all. A trick cyclist was entertainment along with an orchestra followed by an excellent supper. Auld Lang Syne at midnight with plenty of balloons and streamers.

1955 – 1956

In January 1955, the Old Sappers Association was allocated one of the war time buildings in the depot area for their use. This noteworthy act provided a stimulus to the Association from which it had never looked back. 

For an official opening at the March meeting, working bees toiled during February repairing and sanding the floor, decorating the interior walls, etc. To provide a working fund Spr Vaughan made an interest free loan of 50 pounds. Similarly Spr King made 22 pounds available for equipment Note; these amounts in 1955 would have been considered quite appreciable.

Spr Sibley, master painter, donated the paints to decorate the hall. Further donations from members amounted to 20 pounds.

The committee decided to make a Special Effort Appeal at monthly meetings to increase Association funds. The OR’s of the Regular Army at the Depot could become affiliated members of the Old Sappers Association at a nominal sum, with the use of the hall at any time.

The attendance at the meeting on 8 March was 83 members and 4 guests. The CE Col P. Jackson, officially declared the new rooms open and congratulated the members on the decorating and furnishing of the hall. Col Jackson stated that our work for the National Service Trainees was well knowing official circles. Col K. Green CRE, handed the keys to the hall to L/Cpl G. Carr, Army representative of the O.S.A. at the depot. Major Knight, 6 Engineer Group, responded for the visitors. 

The committee resolved to open the hall for members and visitors on ANZAC Day with adequate provision of light refreshments during the day. Tis open-house each ANZAC Day has been a feature of he service to the Corps by the OSA since 1955. Its success can only be realised by a visit to the rooms on any ANZAC Day.  There, a great number of all ranks, freely mingle and enjoy the facilities and hospitality and this service must be highly commended.In the new quarters the Old Sappers were now able to enjoy film nights or other entertainment at their monthly meetings. A welcome to the Corps, at the Depot was given to 80 NST’s in April and a further 110 in August. Refreshments were provided by the Association, the short welcoming addresses were given by Sprs Botham and Nicholls.

The Old Sappers Mess at the Swan Street Depot

A minute of the meeting on 9 August reads as follows; “The members adjourned for 5 minutes in respect of our Patron the Late Sire Clive Steel, Major General and Engineer-in-Chief World War 2”.

Vale: Chief Sapper Clive Steel

Showing great initiative, the Management Committee staged the first Cabaret Ball at the Depot on Derby Eve, 28 October. With excellent organisation and a great deal of hard work it was a resounding success reflecting great credit on Sapper Ray Knight and all concerned. A Cabaret Ball has been a yearly feature in the Old Sappers Association calendar since that first happy function.

The Foundation President, Sapper Carlyle retired as President at the Twenty first Annual meeting on 10 November 1955 after 20 years in office. Sapper R. “Bob” Hutchinson was elected as President.  At the well attended Christmas meeting on 9 December, the President, Spr R. Hutchinson presented Life membership badge number 9 to Sapper M. Beck a recognition well earned by our former secretary and the first badge awarded to a member with active service in World War 2. Spr R. Knight made a presentation to Spr “Tiny” Carlyle, now immediate past President, in recognition of his service to the OSA.

This busy month included the Annual Christmas Party for 190 children accompanied by adults on 11 December. A welcome was made to 65 National Service Trainees on 13 December and there was a ladies night on 17 December.

To Be Continued…

Royal Australian Engineers Association 1977 – 2007

In 1977 a group of sappers in the OR’s canteen at Ringwood Engineer depot got together and decided that they should have a reunion of any old sappers who had left the Ringwood depot.

The biggest problem was to find all these ex members without the aid of computers, internet, mobile phones, Facebook, Google, etc. This meant that they needed to get hold of the old nominal Roll books from the Orderly Room and hand write these names onto filing cards together with the members contact details then make numerous phone calls and write many letters. It took many hours with a core group of 4 members Kevin Coleman, Mike Potts, Lindsay George and Mel Constable, aided by many willing volunteers.

Later that year with the help of Ron McMillan, who at that time was WO2 of 8 Field Squadron, a committee was formed with Ron as the President and the Royal Australian Engineers Association was born.

In 1978 the constitution was established, bank accounts started and the name Royal Australian Engineers Association was registered. Major General Ken Green was asked to be our patron, which he accepted. 

The first function was to be a reunion to be held at the Ringwood depot on Remembrance Day, 11 November 1978. Invitations were then sent out and advertising placed in the local papers and on radio. The response was fantastic and it was a great day. It was then decided to have an annual reunion as close as practicable to Remembrance Day.

There were other functions held throughout the year, for example, dances, country and western nights, car rallies and picnics but it was the reunions that attracted a lot of patronage.

Ron McMillan passed away in 1987 and the Association, after 10 years slowly disbanded. 

An attempt to restart the Association was in February 1993 when Bill Atkins, who had been a Captain in 10 Field Squadron, took over as President. On 16 April 1994 the committee with the help of Col Bruce Wadeson and WO2 Bill King held an Extraordinary General Meeting followed by a BBQ and once again the Association was operational. In 1995 Eddie Vial was elected President and the committee decided that the cost of posting the Sapper Summit for the members was to be borne by the Association.

16 November 1996 we had our first reunion after a 9 year break and they continued until our final one in November 1999. Eddie Vial passed away in November 2001 and after a couple of years without direction, in March 2004 Russell Frost took over as President. 

The Association continued to pay for the postage of the Sapper Summit magazine for its members but this cost unfortunately slowly whittled away the funds as the membership dwindled and by early 2007 there was not enough monies to pay the RAE Historical & Heritage Association for the Sapper Summit postage. 

May 2007 saw the Association asking for a pledge from its remaining members of monies to help pay for the shortfall and to gauge whether the Association would continue, a few donated but it barely covered  costs.

 After paying its debts to the Historical & Heritage Association, the Royal Australian Engineers Association slipped into obscurity after 30 years of service.

Bill Atkins passed away in September 2011  

A framed Engineer badge display (BM-60) was presented to the current Royal Australian Engineers Association (Vic) Inc. in memory of Ron McMillan, Bill Atkins & Eddie Vial and in recognition of the original Royal Australian Engineers Association. 

15th Field Coy RAE AIF Association

President in 1995 was Frank Taylor

RAE Vietnam Association, Inc

Ex-Forestry Group Association RAE AIF 1945

In WW ll the three Australian forestry companies (RAE units much the size of 91 Forestry Squadron – some 150 men) served with distinction in the UK, Northern Territory, Papua New Guinea, including New Britain, and Borneo. Ultimately they formed a forestry group under Lt Col Cyril Cole. Ins PNG late in the war, there was also a forestry assessment group designed more to prepare for post war sawmilling than provide timber for military use. On returning home, the men formed the Ex-Forestry Group Association RAE AIF. In those early days were 250 members across Australia, especially Victoria, WA and Tasmania, and commonly 120 attended Victorian reunions. The earliest were at the Dorchester and the William Street drill hall, sold 15 years ago or more, but still standing.Llater reunions often at member Tim Templar’s home in Toorak. Many men had married in the UK, so British accents were common amongst the wives. We were pleased when ex-forestry people visited 9I Squadron’s camp at Port Welshpool-Snake Island in 1982. Victorian members marched each year in Melbourne’s Anzac Day parade. Notable secretaries included Stan Dansie, Cliff Bennetts and Norm Lewis, with Bruce Morrison continually occupying executive positions. Bruce is still alive, along with Laurie Gear and two other Victorians, as well as two from WA. Bruce wrote a history and helped wind the association up two years ago.  In 1976, Stan Butler, a well known Victorian forester had been RSM of the Forestry Group, asked if members of 91 Squadron could carry the banner in Anzac march. His comrades were finding the going tougher. This led to a wonderful relationship the years: 91 Squadron looked after the banner repaired it from time to time, and we often lunched together at various hotels. Sadly attrition took its toll with the last AIF marcher, Laurie Gear, on parade until 2006. Another fine association, the Woodpeckers, still carries this World War II banner proudly each year, appreciating help from serving reservists, One memory in the early 1980s Bruce Winfield lived on the streets, but some years he would emerge the crowd in front of Young and Jackson’s to his mates, who warmly welcomed him. 

(Excerpt written by Rob Youl – Sapper Summit Issue 63 September 2008)

91 Forestry Sqn, Woodpeckers Association 1992 –

In the post-WW2 era, from 1947 to the mid-1980s, the Forests Commission sponsored Australia’s only military sawmilling unit, the 91 Forestry Squadron, which was a special reserve unit of the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) . 

Forests Commission Victoria Logo

Established and commanded by FCV forester and WW2 veteran, Major Ben Benallack, the “Woodpeckers” as they were known comprised a small pool of specialised soldiers capable of rapid mobilisation in the event of a need. 

Several other Victorian departments such as the State Electricity Commission (SEC) did the same thing by supporting a construction squadron based at Newborough in the Latrobe Valley. 

It created a very active and capable part-time military group that completed many worthy projects across the State. 

The 91 Forestry Squadron operated bush sawmills, built timber bridges along the Murray River, the suspension bridge at Tarra Bulga National Park, the Snake Island jetty, logging roads and various demolition tasks. Numerous Commission employees and others from the forestry sector served long periods in the unit. 

Benallack, Andrew Leonard (Ben) (1903–1966)

Ben, as he was affectionately known to many, entered the Creswick School of Forestry in 1920. He held the diplomas of Creswick and Canberra and was a member of the Institute of Foresters of Australia. He served a period of 4 years, 1949–1953, as Chairman of the Victorian Division of the Institute.

During his early years in the profession he served as assistant forester and later officer-in-charge of a forest district. He worked in the Powelltown, Millgrove and Neerim areas, the centre of the Victorian sawmilling industry at that time.

Ben served overseas for 5½ years in World War II and was O/C. 2/2 Forestry Company R.A.E., A.I.F., with the rank of Major. During the post-war years he founded and commanded 91 Forestry Squadron; he retired from active service in December, 1963.

The Woodpeckers Association RAE started in 1992

Consisted of Ex World War 2 Forestry Coys., 91 Forestry Sqn, 55 Resources Sqn, 105 Engineer Support Sqn, 105 Construction Sqn. 

Les Malseed; OC

1st President; John Morey

1st Secretary; Michael Murray

Main meeting at the Pukapunyal “Mill Site” Each year a reunion/get together at a country location because of the state spread of members

The Mill Site Today

Memorandum of Understanding on 20 November 2004 between; The Woodpeckers RAE Association, 105 Construction Squadron RAE and 22 Construction Regiment RAE

38 Fld Sqn, La Trobe Valley Sappers 1993 –

The Latrobe Valley Sappers are ex 38 Field Squadron member who meet regularly on the first Friday night of every month in the OR’s Canteen at the Newborough Depot. They still meet at the Morwell RSL

22 Construction Regt. Ex-Members Association

The ’22 Construction Regiment Ex-Member Association’ formed in the mid 1990’s and conducts a full weekend reunion in October each year mostly in country locations.

Peter Bloor was the inaugural Secretary and continued until his death in 2003. He started it as a 105 Sqn reunion but it immediately expanded. Each year a local organiser is appointed to develop and manage the following years activities.

105 Fld Sqn, ‘The Old Blue Tongues’

The Old Blue Tongues is a smaller group of retired members of 105 Squadron who served together in the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

The steering committee was Maurie Squirrel (Sec), Bruce Campbell and Norm Dodgson

Then George Weekes, Les Francis and Bill Mitchell, all from northern Victoria met each May on the banks of Majors Creek at Nagambie for a weekend at a reserve campsite, with camp fires from the Friday to Sunday and is still annual event.

RAE (Vic) Historical and Heritage Committee 1992 – 2004

Col Bob Slater was Comd of 6 Engineer Group from 1988 to 1992. This covers the departure from Swan St the final Parade was 3 Nov 1991. He wanted to make sure that we did not lose historical material in the transfer to Oakleigh  – ie records being dumped, Mess memorabilia being put into storage, but no record of where, etc.

Somewhere in early 1991 he asked Lt Col John Slee (Retd) to pull together a Committee to achieve this.  Bruce Campbell was a member. At that time “Corps Newsletters” were the general communication system. The earliest record that can be found is the September 1992 Corps Newsletter which says the “Historical & Heritage Committee” needs help “putting together displays”. At this stage (1992) most historical material had been relocated to Oakleigh & the Committee had a filing cabinet & a 2-door cabinet in a “garage” type building at Oakleigh.

In 1992, the late LTCOL Bob Eastick MBE decided to resurrect the Historical and Heritage Committee which had operated several years previously. He recruited a group of ex-reservists and got things going.

Chair: Lt Col R.F. Eastick

Committee: Capt W.P. Atkins, Capt D.C. Boyle, Maj B. A. Campbell, PO W. J .Goodall, Maj L. P. Malseed LtCol J. E. Slee, Sgt G. Warr, WO1 W. Fry, LtCol R. Youl

Over succeeding years, the Committee produced and distributed Sapper collected and stored memorabilia, arranged Sir Clive Steel Lectures and conducted excursions to engineer related installations. They helped install memorial plaques at the sites of former RAE establishments, such as at the site of the Street Depot. Members also became involved in the writing of several books of RAE history. 

The inaugural Sir Clive Steele lecture was presented at Oakleigh Barracks on 3 December 1993 and was greeted with a terrific response. An initiative of the Historical and Heritage sub-Committee of the RAE Corps Committee (Southern Region}, the annual Memorial Lecture is sheduled on the first Friday of December each year with notable guest speakers presenting lectures on significant military engineering tasks.

The composition of the early Committees is unknown.  Initially the Committee was “Oakleigh” focused. Eddie Vail was conscripted to give a Ringwood representation. Austin Byrne joined in December 2000 & got the job of coordinating the Sapper Summit mailing list! This was at the 84th Meeting. He became Secretary in November 2001, following Eddie Vail’s death . Jim Davis took over on 23 April 2013.

Re Sapper Summit: There were 11 Corps Newsletters produced up to December 1994. In April 1995, the newsletter had the heading:  “SAPPER SUMMIT” – RAE Corps Newsletter – Victorian Engineers – Number 12.

(This implies the earlier Corps Newsletters had retrospectively been allocated an “Issue Number”! ) From this point on, the primary objective of the H & H Committee was the production of Sapper Summit. The last issue Austin edited was No 86 in June 2014.  Issue 85 (April 2014) said the AGM would approve the name change to the RAE Association of Victoria, Incorporated, effective from 1 July 2014.

RAE (Vic) History and Heritage Association Inc. 2004 – 2014

In 2004, the Committee changed from its nebulous ‘Committee’ title to an Association, a ‘Statement of Purposes’ and a ‘Set of Rules’ and became incorporated. They have an on a Memorandum of Understanding the Corps Committee on common issues and key activities. 

2005 marks the I4th year of activities for the people involved in the Association. As well as continuing to produce Sapper Summit, and arrange excursions, they are tackling some new horizons. Want to widen the Association membership to give a better representation from the various RAE and groups in Victoria. They are also looking at developing an e-mail option for Sapper Summit distribution, and the need to pick up some for the cataloguing of memorabilia. They want to identify which local Unit Histories need be written up over the next few years

Royal Australian Engineers Association (Vic) Inc. 2014 –

The Royal Australian Engineers Association of Victoria was incorporated in 1 July 2014

1st President Colin Bowater

1st Secretary Jim Davis

1st Treasurer Maureen Rundle