RAA Association visit to Bill Bates Militaria Collection at Malmsbury

By MAJ Garry Rolfe

On Saturday 25 March members of the committee accepted a kind invitation to visit Bill Bates collection of militaria at his property in Malmsbury.

The invitation was also extended to Dave Mills, James Eling and Doug Perry who joined us on the day. It was terrific to see Murray Duckworth, known to many and a friend of Bill’s also join us.

Bill welcomed our group on arrival and introduced us to his family and friends. We took time to remember the fallen members of the RAA in a memorial service led by the President after which Bill proudly gave us a detailed tour of his restored vehicles including Chevrolet Gun Tractor. We then enjoyed morning tea provided for us by Bill’s wife and daughter.

The President took great pride and showed great skill in driving the Ford jeep with Bill and members around the Malmsbury township even returning the vehicle and members intact.

Interestingly every single screw, nut, bolt, panel and part of the Ford jeep is stamped with ‘F’ to stop copy of the vehicle and parts.

During the day, Bill proudly showed us his 1950 restored Jaguar and shared the history of the vehicle from the showroom to being purchased by his uncle and subsequent history of ownership and restoration.

Meanwhile Doug having brushed up on his director drills, set up and orientated the Director before passing line to the 25 Pdr Gun detachment who under command of a crusty No 1 moved the Gun into centre of arc. 

Bill quickly ‘qualified’ the members in 25 Pdr Gun drills before the No 1 ordered ‘take post’. This escalated into a fire mission and fire orders passed by the No 1. Firing data was accurately applied to the sights and elevation and line drills completed in a timely manner by the expert layer. The gun was loaded and on the order ‘fire’ by the No 1 engaged the target. An adjustment ultimately destroyed the target before the order ‘end of mission’ given.

The Association and guests were grateful for the hospitality shown by Bates family and friends who arranged a substantial BBQ lunch which was thoroughly enjoyed with refreshments. Many stories, experiences, fun times and tall tales were shared during lunch.

The President read a detailed diary account of the airborne landing at Nadzab during the New Guinea campaign 5 September 1943. This included elements of the 2/4th Field Regiment, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion and 2/6th Field Company. This year marks the 80th anniversary.

Before departure Bill shared his daughter’s participation as a torch bearer in Legacy’s 100thAnniversary Torch Relay during the Ballarat leg. 

During his thank you speech to Bill and his family the President announced support from the Association with a donation of two hundred dollars.

A great day was enjoyed by all with many memories shared before the journey home.

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