Post Navy





Rekindling the Mateship


After I paid off I lost contact with my fellow Navy mates (apart from Barry Sheather that is). When I moved my family back to Queensland, I even lost contact with Barry. That was back in 1972.  When I formally retired due to ill health in 1992, I tried to find ways of rekindling those early years.


At first my search was fruitless but then I heard of an organisation called the HMAS Sydney VLSVA.  Despite being primarily a Vietnam Association I none the less became a member.  I felt a little out of my league but I had served on the HMAS Sydney and they certainly made me feel welcome. I even met one of my old home town drinking mates who I hadn’t seen since 57′. Sadly, he passed on a couple of years later.  Then out of the blue my best man and ex-Matelot Barry Sheather rang me. Barry had just been to a reunion of the Fleet Air Arm Association on the Gold Coast.  It was through this contact that I joined the FAA.


After I joined the FAA and went to a few of their meetings, I started to run into some old friends from my navy days. I even started to march with the FAA on Anzac Day in Brisbane.  In 1998 the FAA had a 50th Reunion at the HMAS Albatross. Both myself and brother John, along with our wives, had a wonderful week at Nowra re kindling mateship that was forged nearly half a century ago. You can imagine the fun and laughter we shared, trying to place young faces on tired and misshapen bodies! Admittedly a few ales were sunk and a few ditties were told.


Another organisation that I joined prior to 1998, was the Far East Strategic Reserve.  Around about 1996 an ex-gunnery jack, along with a few mates, started a new organisation which they aptly labelled the Far East Strategic Reserve Association or FESR. As a group we mustered on 24 April at the Cenotaph in memory of our two shipmates Spooner and Cooper, who lost their lives during the Malayan Emergency.  Our first act to gain recognition was to march as a group to the Australian Federal Police, where we promptly gave ourselves up as war criminals.  The logic?  If the Australian Government didn’t recognise our operational service, then we must unwittingly have committed a criminal act!  That was the start of a very concentrated campaign to get recognition for the Navy during the Malayan Campaign.


Supported by a number of very distinguish Retired Naval Officers, Admirals, Commodores, etcetera, and along with some very astute and competent ex-Matelots, we lobbied the parliamentarians and bombarded the news media, both print and television. Even the Governor General copped a serve. With the help of the Naval Association, we finally got a national review of the anomalies with Justice Gen Mohr and Admiral Kennedy heading the review.  Travelling to every State and Territory to hear hundreds of submissions form various branches of the service, their recommendations have since changed the course of history. A Government has altered official policy and the Repatriation Act has been amended as a result of the combined effort by all.  We are now officially classified as Returned Servicemen and as such can wear our RAS Badge and Medals on Anzac Day. Best of all we can hold ours heads high when doing so.


Bravo Zulu


The FESR held it’s first national reunion on Anzac Day 2000 and once again new friends were made and old mateship rekindled. Age is fast catching up on us now, and a new need is arising. The Armed Services Assistance Centre INC. (ASAC Australia) was formed by a bunch of ex-Matelots to help smooth that arising.  ASAC Australia provides free assistance in relation to pensions, welfare, compensation and entitlements to serving and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force and their families.  They are a non profit organisation staffed by a dedicated group of volunteers who receive no payment for their services.


I urge all ex-Matelots who find themselves surfing the net, to visit the ASAC website.  You may be entitled to more than you know!  Maybe you will rekindle some old friendships such as I have done, perhaps you’ll make some new. Either way, I look forward to seeing you at the many reunions.  May I take this opportunity to thank you for visiting my homepage. I trust you have enjoyed your stay.  Please feel free to post your comments throughout this website.


Brows may wrinkle and hair grow grey,

but friendship never knows decay.