Air Force Health Services Association Reunion – Caloundra RSL October 2018

13/02/2018 at 4:55 pm

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His Feet Are Decked in Flowers

30/10/2017 at 2:14 pm

Poem by Jacquie Wiese source Noelene Park thank you

WRAAF Newsletter NSW September 2016

02/03/2017 at 1:29 pm



WRAAF Newsletter NSW Sep 2016

ex WRAAF In The News

02/03/2017 at 12:02 pm

Source: Probably Noelene Park West Australian 26 Jan 2016

Anzac on the Wall – A Poem by Jim Brown

01/03/2017 at 1:18 pm

Hello all

I’ve been rather neglectful of my website but I assure you I don’t forget it. It’s just there’s not enough time in the day when there’s so much else to do. Most know I’m trying to do my BA and this semester have taken leave of absence to recover from an end of year medical nightmare. Getting there.

This poem below was sent to me, I think, after the last reunion by Tom Rendall, Pam Bridgeman’s husband. It’s a beautiful poem and you wonder if it’s real. Sad to say it’s not but it is a composite of many people and doings just like this John Stuart.

I’ve retyped it from an A3 sheet but the funny spellings are what comes with the poem – not my mistakes. I also looked up the origin of the poem. Enjoy.


The Anzac on the Wall

(sent to me by Tom Rendall I think)

Poem by Jim Brown


I wandered thru a country town ‘cos I had time to spare,

And went into an antique shop to see what was in there.

Old bikes and pumps ad kero lamps, but hidden by it all,

A photo of a soldier boy – an Anzac on the Wall.


“The Anzac have a name?” I asked. The old man answered “no,.

The ones who could have told me mate, have passed on long ago.

The old man kept on talking and, according to his tale,

The photo was unwanted junk bought from a clearance sale.


“I asked around,” the old man said, “but no one knows his face,

He’s been on that wall twenty years, deserves a better place.

For some one must have loved him so, it seems a shame somehow.”

I nodded in agreement and then said, “I’ll take him now.”


My nameless digger’s photo, well it was a sorry sight

A cracked glass pane and a broken frame – I had to make it right

To prise the photo from its frame I took care just in case,

“Cause only sticky paper held the cardboard back in place.


I peeled away the faded screed and much to my surprise,

Two letters and a telegram appeared before my eyes

The first reveals my Anzac’s name, and regiment of course

John Mathew Francis Stuart – of Australia’s own Light Horse.


This letter written from the front, my interest now was keen

This note was dated August seventh 1917

“Dear Mum, I’m at Khalasa Springs not far from the Red Sea

They say it’s in the Bible – looks like Billabong to me.


“My Kathy wrote I’m in her prayers she’s still my bride to be

I just can’t wait to see you both you’re all the world to me

And Mum you’ll soon meet Bluey, last month they shipped him out

I told him to call on you when he’s up and about.”


“That bluey is a larrikin, and we all thought it funny

He lobbed a Turkish hand grenade into the Co’s dunny.

I told you how he dragged me wounded in from no man’s land

He stopped the bleeding closed the wound with only his bare hand.”


“Then he copped it at the front from some stray shrapnel blast

It was my turn to drag him in and I thought he wouldn’t last

He woke up in hospital, and nearly lost his mind

Cause out there on the battlefield he’d left one leg behind.”



“He’s been in a bad way mum, he knows he’ll ride no more

Like me he loves a horse’s back he was a champ before.

So Please Mum can you take him in, he’s been like my brother

Raised in a Queensland orphanage he’s never known a mother.”


But Struth, I miss Australia mum, and in my mind each day

I am a mountain cattleman on high plains far away

I’m mustering white-faced cattle, with no camel’s hump in sight

And I waltz my Matilda by a campfire every night


I wonder who rides Billy, I heard the pub burnt down

I’ll always love you and please say hooroo to all in town”.

The second letter I could see was in a lady’s hand

An answer to her soldier son there in a foreign land


Her copperplate was perfect, the pages neat and clean

It bore the date November 3rd 1917.

“T’was hard enough to lose your Dad, without you at the war

I’d hoped you would be home by now – each day I miss you more”


“Your Kathy calls around a lot since you have been away

To share with me her hopes and dreams about our wedding day

And Bluey has arrived – and what a godsend he has been

We talked and laughed for days about the things you’ve done and seen”


“He really is a comfort, and works hard around the farm,

I read the same hope in his eyes that you wont come to harm.

Mc Connell’s kids rode Billy, but suddenly that changed

We had a violent lightning storm, and it was really strange.”

“Last Wednesday just on midnight, not a single cloud in sight

It raged for several minutes, it gave us all a fright

It really spooked your Billy – and he screamed and bucked and reared

And then he rushed the sliprail fence, which by a foot he cleared”


“They brought him back next afternoon, but something’s changed I fear

It’s like the day you brought him home, for no one can get near

Remember when you caught him with his black and flowing mane?

Now Horse breakers fear the beast that only you can tame,”

“That’s why we need you home son” – then the flow of ink went dry –

This letter was unfinished, and I couldn’t work out why.

Until I started reading the letter number three

A yellow telegram delivered news of tragedy

Her son killed in action – oh – what pain that must have been

The Same date as her letter – 3rd November 17

This letter which was never sent, became then one of three

She sealed behind the photo’s face – the face she longed to see.


And John’s home town’s old timers – children when he went to war

Would say no greater cattleman had left the town before.

They knew his widowed mother well – and with respect did tell

How when she lost her only boy she lost her mind as well.

She could not face the awful truth, to strangers she would speak

“My Johnny’s at the war you know, he’s coming home next week.”

They all remembered Bluey he stayed on to the end

A younger man with wooden leg became her closest friend


And he would go and find her when she wandered old and weak

And always softly say “yes dear – John will be home next week.”

Then when she died Bluey moved on, to Queensland some did say

I tried to find out where he went, but don’t know to this day

And Kathy never wed – a lonely spinster some found odd

She wouldn’t set foot in a church – she’d turned her back on God

John’s mother left no will I learned on my detective trail

This explains my photo’s journey, that clearance sale

So I continued digging cause I wanted to know more

I found John’s name with thousands in the records of the war

His last ride proved his courage – a ride you will acclaim

The Light Horse Charge at Beersheba of everlasting fame


That last day in October back in 1917

At 4pm our brave boys fell – that sad fact I did glean

That’s when John’s life was sacrificed, the record’s crystal clear

But 4 pm in Beersheba is midnight over here ……

So as John’s gallant sprit rose to cross the great divide

Were lightning bolts back home a signal from the other side?

Is that why Billy bolted and went racing as in pain?

Because he’d never feel his master on his back again?

Was it coincidental? Same time – same day – same date?

Some proof of numerology, or just a quirk of fate?

I think it’s more than that, you know, as I’ve heard wiser men,

Acknowledge there are many things that go beyond our ken


Where craggy peaks guard secrets neath dark skies torn asunder

Where hoofbeats are companions to the rolling waves of thunder

Where lightning cracks like 303’s and ricochets again

Where howling moaning gusts of wind sound just like dying men

Some Mountain cattlemen have sworn on lonely alpine track

They[ve glimpsed a huge black stallion – Light Horseman on his back.


Yes Sceptics say, it’s swirling clouds just forming apparitions

Oh no, my friend you cant dismiss all this as superstition

The desert of Beersheba – or windswept Aussie range

John Stuart rides forever there – Now I don’t find that strange

Now some gaze at this photo, and they often question me

And I tell the a small white lie, and say he’s family.

“You must be proud of him.” They say – I tell them, one and all,

That’s why he takes the pride of place – my Anzac on the Wall.


Jim Brown


Jim is a former Primary Schoolteacher, Police Officer in N.Z. where he was born and where he also commenced a career as TV Journalist before moving to Melbourne.

In Australia Jim worked as a News and current affairs journalist for Channels Nine and Ten where he won awards for his reports on the Chamberlain Trial, the Ash Wednesday Fires. He covered overseas events including the fall of the Marcos Regime and the trial of Australian Priest Brian Gore in the Philippines.

In 1991 he joined the ground-breaking lifestyle program “Healthy Wealthy and Wise” as a presenter of travel and human interest stories. Around Australia Jim filed stories on more than 270 destinations and characters, and more than 50 overseas including NZ, Northern Ireland, and USA (Los Angeles, & New Orleans) South Africa.

Jim is now a freelance Producer of broadcast and corporate TV, videos and DVD’s cameraman, & editor.

In recent years Jim has branched out as a songwriter, and performer of classic Australian Bush Poetry and his own work, for which he has won several awards both in Tamworth and other competitions around Australia including the Bush Laureates Golden Gumleaf Award for recorded poetry. This is the most prestigious poetry award in Australia.

Jim has won the State of Victoria’s Bush Poetry Champion, and has recently returned as a tour guide for a “Celtic Spirituality tour of Ireland” to examine the roots of our music, culture and the Christian religion to understand how they all fit into our lives today. In 2006, Jim was invited to perform at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, and the Tullamore Irish Festival. In September this year Jim won the inaugural Wool Wagon Poetry Competition in Crookwell NSW.

Jim enjoys working with young people and teaching them how rhyming verse is relevant to their generation. Besides rediscovering the joy of our unique Australian poetry classics from the pen of Banjo Paterson and others, audiences have enjoyed Jim’s own verse and music. An hour with Jim helps understand the soul of Australia.

Index of Writings

Author’s Note: It started when I was a TV journalist preparing to travel to Gallipoli for the 75th anniversary of the landing [1990]. I went to Canberra to gather photographic support for a TV documentary, and while in the archives of the Canberra War Memorial Museum a lovely old man put a box of letters before me. The letters were untraceable, and had no addresses. They were written to and from the war front and I was entranced by them. I was not allowed to take them away, but I made notes. This was a long time before I became a bush poet,

The final cog in the wheel was about 5 years ago when I went into an antique shop and saw a photograph of a light horseman on the wall. For some reason I still can’t explain I had to have it, and started writing a poem based on the question who was he? This was the first or shorter version of the poem.

I later revisited my notes of the letters and incorporated them into the longer poem. What struck me in the letters was the untold suffering of Australians waiting at home, and how many mothers and fathers knew intuitively that they had lost a loved one on the other side of the world. Those close to the land seemed to know from signs of nature, and these are in the poem.


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WRAAF Reunion 1983 – Adelaide – Photos to remember

18/01/2017 at 12:22 am

WRAAF Lannie Wilson tells us another WRAAF Story

27/02/2016 at 1:19 pm

WGCDR Baxter Margaret LynnSource Lannie Wilson
I have very fond memories of Group Officer Baxter,going back many,many moons.
She was then Flight Officer Baxter,WRAAF Officer in charge at RAAF Frognall. The year was,I think, 1962.
I was posted to Frognall after rookie course 120 at Point cook. I had two wonderful buddies {let them remain nameless at this stage},and,periodically we did get into some mischief in the barracks. In those days nissan huts. I recall distinctly,along with my two “buddies” being hauled ” on the mat” before Flight Officer Baxter for some idiotic mischief in the barracks.. At the time, we were convinced that we were to be court martialled.
Thankfully we were given a gentle tongue lashing,and,dismissed.
The NCO i/c ,who marched us into {then} Flight Officer Baxter’s Office was Sgt Doreen Fraser.
Afer being posted from Froganll to East Sale to await re-muster to TPRINOP at Radio School,Laverton,I did not ever come across Group Officer Baxter again during my years in the WRAAF,but,never forgot her charming,gentle reprimand on that day.
I often wonder about my two buddies,and,always remembered “Flight Officer Baxter” with great affection,and,that day we were hauled “on the mat”.Oh! so long ago. Lannie Wilson

A WRAAF Story – Life at East Sale 1962

23/02/2016 at 7:51 am

Dear Lyn
I was interested to read your account of life at East Sale in the Djinning Assoc. Newsletter which my husband, Lou Thompson, ex-COMMSOP receives. Who can forget Panic Nights and floor polishers!!?
I was sent to School of Air Navigation as a Clerk General in 1962 after completing recruit course at Point Cook. I arrived late at night at the WRAAF Quarters which seemed deserted and wandered around nervously until I spotted a light and knocked on someone’s door. I was put in a temporary hut for a night then allocated a room with four girls who became my friends for the four months that I was there. One was called Cora, I recall, and she seemed to be constantly on a diet and consuming Ford Pills to aid the process! There was a pretty blonde girl and I have photos of her but sadly I cannot remember her name and also Sophie Vladyka who I remember as being quite extrovert and good fun. I remember playing with a ouija board in our room and frightening the life out of each other in the dark.
I had my 21st birthday at East Sale and we went to a hotel for dinner where some commercial travellers gave me samples of their stock as presents! I still have a gold plated china dish from that event. Later in the year I was posted to Base Squadron, Point Cook. Other postings I had were Headquarters, Williamtown and Air Staff at Headquarters Operational Command, Glenbrook, where I met my husband and was discharged after four years service in 1966.
I attended the WRAAF Reunion in Brisbane in 2011 and had my photograph taken, wearing my old forage cap, with Quentin Bryce. I also met up with four or five girls who had been on my recruit course which was a bonus. Hope this is of some interest to you.
Pam Thompson (nee Jones)

We remember WGCDR Baxter Margaret Lynn

21/02/2016 at 12:34 pm
Regimental Books – Australian Military History

Was pleased to see that a WRAAF officer on the Regimental Books feed today. WGCDR Baxter was the CO at WRAAFTU when I enlisted. The post says Wing Commander but the phot is of her as a SQNLDR.

We Remember Today – Wing Commander Margaret Lynn Baxter MBE, RAAF.

Baxter joined the WRAAF in 1952 and she was commissioned in 1955.

Jan Griffin Margaret was at Uranquinty when I was there.Anyone else from Quinty still around.I am still friends with Joan Macklin and Maxine Phillips Jones. Met them in 1955.

Like · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs
Terri Tonkin
Terri Tonkin I was on her changeover rookie course. She took over from SQNLDR Cass.

Andrea Storm
Andrea Storm I remember her quiet well…….

Whoopee – Facebook is so good. Logged in to find women as fighter pilots on the agenda.

06/02/2016 at 5:16 pm

WRAAF Women Pilots F-35 operation 2016 No equality – true equality is not here yet, and perhaps won’t be in my lifetime. But if we turn back 50 years, and what a road we’ve travelled. Women poised to start flying RAAF fighter jets

Pioneering pilot Colonel Jeannie Leavitt in her F-15E Strike Eagle at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Australia could soon have its first woman fighter pilot and is likely to have at least five women in the cockpit of the Joint Strike Fighter when the cutting-edge warplane comes into operation at the start of next decade.

The Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, told Fairfax Media he was witnessing an “evolution” in attitudes towards women becoming fighter pilots nearly 30 years after the elite RAAF role opened to women.

Women have been eligible to become RAAF pilots since 1987, but fighter jet cockpits have nonetheless remained the RAAF’s last all-male domain, Air Marshal Davies said, akin to the army special forces or navy clearance divers.
Pioneering pilot Colonel Jeannie Leavitt in her F-15E Strike Eagle at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Pioneering pilot Colonel Jeannie Leavitt in her F-15E Strike Eagle at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

The RAAF has one “fast jet trainee” at the NSW Williamtown base with 76th Squadron, training on Hawk jets. She is “progressing well”, he said.

She was expected to complete that section of fighter training at the end of June, after which she will graduate to training on Hornet fighter jets, which are currently being used to bomb Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.

Another woman is due to start training around the middle of this year.
An F-35 Join Strike Fighter.

An F-35 Join Strike Fighter.

Air Marshal Davies said both women were a “great chance” to become Australia’s first qualified fighter pilots. But he said the more exciting story was the number of young women in the pipeline.

“That basis is starting to grow and … I actually think our best chance is that we’ve grown a better pool from which to pull. Rather than having one female fighter pilot in a year or two years, I reckon we’ll have five or six in five or six years’ time.

“It’s a more positive picture than two women in pilot schools.”

He said they would be “eligible to go to JSF”. Australia expects to start operating the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from 2020. The latest Pentagon report points to continuing problems with the project but Air Marshal Davies said nothing in the report suggested the RAAF would need to changes its schedule.

Air Marshal Davies said with women poised to start flying fighters operationally, others entering the RAAF could see that “maybe that big, blokey, fighter pilot attitude is starting to dilute a little”.

“So it bloody should,” he added.

The increase in women entering the JSF program has also come despite another potential hurdle, which is Defence’s restriction on pilots weighing less than 62 kilograms from flying the F-35 due to an increased risk of neck injury during ejection.

Since 1987, 42 women in the RAAF have graduated the pilot’s course and gained their “wings”, flying planes such as C-17 Globemasters, C-130 Hercules and Wedgetail airborne early warning and control planes.

Other countries including the United States, France, Turkey, Israel and Jordan have female fighter pilots. Colonel Jeannie Leavitt became the US’s first in 1993.

Air Marshal Davies said the RAAF had made a “really strong” effort to convince young women that the job was an option. But also the generational changes in gender attitudes were helping.

“I would’ve given a fair wad of cash, I would’ve given a couple of free flights in a Hornet, if someone could give me that key.”

Former Labor defence minister Stephen Smith announced in 2011 that all military roles, including the SAS and 2nd Commando regiments would become open to women over the next five years.

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