Visit to Bill Bates Military Collection

Bill explaining the history of some of his collection

On Sat 25 Mar members of the Association traveled to Malmsbury at the invitation of Bill Bates. He has an amazing collection of militaria and was keen to get some gunners onto the tools with his 25 Pdr and Director. You may have seen that gun on display at the Shrine with our 150th Anniversary Day in Dec 2022.

Both his collection and knowledge is amazing. We were treated to a detailed explanation of the history of some of the key items in his collection, including uniforms from many senior officers the the World Wars.

Dave Mills, Garry Rolfe being taught the sighting system by Bill

Jason Cooke (President) had a plan – half the group would learn the drills for the 25 Pdr, half would learn them for the Director and then the gun would be bought into action, passed line and “fired”. Ex gun sergeants Dave Mills and Garry Rolfe were straight into learning the operation of the gun rule, levels, sights and elevation/traversal of the gun. Various detachment drills were performed (to a passable standard apparently).

Similarly Brigadier Perry was all over the operation of the director and passing line. We even had the old PAMs out for the correct orders.

Whilst the equipment was different to what the assembled gunners worked on, the concepts of passing line and laying the gun were the same and easily adaptable.

BRIG Perry checking the sight to the Director
CP supervising

All of this activity was supervised by the “CP” enjoying a brew.

Bill, his family and friends put on a great lunch, with COL Cooke reading a story of Australian paratroopers in WWII from Bills collection.

Beep, Jeep and 25 Pdr

After lunch there was a lot of interest in the vehicles there – two Willys Jeeps, a Beep (“Big Jeep”) and the Chevrolet Blitz gun tractor. Some of us enjoyed a tour of the town via Jeep.

Moving the Director before heading off in the Jeep

A great day was had by all – getting familiar with older equipment, catching up and sharing old stories. We hope to repeat this to a more members of the Association in the future. The Association thanks Bill, his family and friends for putting on a great day.

The photos from the day are in the gallery. More photos are being added as I collect them. MAJ Eling took some drone footage that is too big for this site, but will be available from Defence Media in course.

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