The cleanup of the RAA Association Memorabilia Room at Chapel Street continues to unearth gems that need to be recorded digitally for posterity. Two I found were the 23 Fd Bty Gunners Mess Visitors Book and a RAA Association Flyer for a function at Baxter.
This drink-stained leather bound book has seen better days, and is missing a badge off the front, but records the Gunners Mess functions held in the depots.
Like all records, it provides some interesting context on the people and places. The first entries are for late 83 after the move to Baxter. I expect some of the entries relate to random Baxter mess photos on here. For example Mitch Kenny provided some photos (https://artilleryvic.org.au/index.php/gallery-new/member-photos/2023-photos-from-mitch-kenny/#Fancy_Dress_in_the_Baxter_Mess) that might be one of the functions in the book.
Here’s a summary of the major events in the book.
1983 – 1984
Gunners Dinner, Frankston, 12 Nov 1983
The page says Frankston, but given it’s late 83, I’d assume this was at Baxter as the Bty moved in sometime late 82. Invited guests included:
- LTCOL D. M. Murphy – CO
- MAJ Hemingway – ???
- MAJ Neil Hamel – ???
- MAJ David Osborne – BC 2 Bty
- MAJ G. G. Hill – ???
- CAPT W. C. Barnard – Adjutant
- WO1 G. York – RSM
The roles are assumptions and I’m not sure which MAJ was the BC and which were OPSO, BC HQ Bty, etc.
A lot of the names are hard to make out, but of the 23 Bty gunners mess I can see: Melinda King, Linda Blake, Eileen Earle, Tony Wilkins (Wilco), Ross Stephens, Jack Bohmer, Frank Marschner, A Kelzke, Julie Hamilton, … This was before Wilco, Jack and Frank became SNCOs.
Mess Visits in late 1983 and 1984
There seem to have been a few evenings where the Officers and SGTs Messes visited the gunners mess. It’s interesting to note some the names, ranks and roles.
This included: Garry Rolfe (acting BG), John Carter (acting Sig Sgt), ??? Hughes (Sig Offr HQ Bty), 2LT G.W. Hughes (Seco), Eddie Redfern, Jim Heggen, Andy Kelzke, Don Errey, John Traill (Seco).
It seems the Officers Mess again visited in Sept 84, including: LT K. Black (Bty Ldr), LT J. A. Traill (GPO), CAPT W. C. Barnard (Adjt), MAJ (?) J Morkham (2IC 2/15 Fd Regt).
It looks like there was a function on 15 Sep 84, with a few notable names (like Jack Bohmer ad Eddie Redfern and wife), but no other details.
1985 – 1986
23 Bty vs 2 Bty 1985 Football Game
I had posted a random football photo pic to the website and an entry in the Visitors Book ties this to a date (25 Aug 1985) and location (Baxter).
According to the visitors book:
2 Bty had: BDR Allan Ambler, LBDR M. Cameron, GNR R. Rogers, S. Broady, C. Morel, J. Ticknell, C. Wallace, (BDR) J. McLease, E Redfern (BSM), B. Sulemani, GNR A. Weymouth, T. Wastell.
There are no entries for 23 Bty as they were the hosts (they weren’t “Visitors” to the mess)
There were a number of guests including: members of the Lake household (Jimmy Lake’s family I assume), Russel Gurr from MonUR (he was a LCPL in the Transport section from memory) and various partners.
Here’s the photo of the 23 Bty Team.
From an earlier post and facebook validation, the 23 Bty faces identified are:
- Standing (l-r) – Frank Quigley, Bob Armstrong, Trevor Mile, Jim Higgins, Jack Bohmer, ? Cavallaro, Wolfgang Wessner, Stuart Pigdon, unknown.
- Seated (l-r) – John Traill, Jim Lake, Jim Goldsmith, unknown, Paul Visser, Tony Wilkins, Hookie, Adrian Cajero, unknown
Mess Visits in 1985 and 1986
Some interesting items in the visitors book over 1985 and 1986
- SGT Irons 23 Bty TST (?) in Feb 85
- 2LT Black 23 Bty in Apr 85 and others – listed as Supervising Officer for the Gunners Mess
- LT Wegman from Batman Ave in May 85
- BDR Hudson from Batman Ave Jul 85
- LBDR Ivan Dobay from 3 Bty Sep 85
- A Private Mulvihill and GNR Smith from 132 Div Loc Bty in Sep 85
- LT Ron Harris GPO 23 Bty in Feb 86
- CAPT John Sheard (BK) and LT Don Taylor (GPO) in Sep 86
There are a lot of other mess visitors, but names I don’t recognize or can’t read.
Gunners Dinner, Frankston, 30 Aug 1986
The invited guests are:
- COL Perry – perhaps standing in for the CO?
- MAJ Whitelaw – President of the RAA Association
- MAJ Bill Cross – 2IC 2/15 Fd Regt (he was BC of 23 Bty at some point)
- CAPT John Sheard – BK 23 Fd Bty
- CAPT Reeves – QM, and
- WO1 Peter Bruce – RSM 2/15 Fd Regt
The members in attendance included: LBDR Coxon, GNR O’Neil (Cowboy), LBDR Craig, LBDR Peter Campbell, GNR P. Williams, PTE P. Chapman, LBDR Mitch Kenny, PTE Costa, PTE Blake, GNR S. Pigdon, GNR W. Wessner, BDR T. Wilkins, BDR S. Cavallaro, GNR Wainwright, GNR Mann, GNR Cooper, GNR O’Dell, BDR Quinlan, BDR Visser, Tibor Wald, GNR J. S. Goldsmith, BDR Stephens and GNR Luck (and one or two I can’t decipher).
1987 – 1988
RAA Association Happy Hour, 22 May 87
This happy hour was hosted in the Gunners Mess at Baxter, but was open to all association members. Those in attendance included (23 Bty unless otherwise mentioned): MAJ Ross Peterken (BC), WO2 Bob Armstrong, SGT George Beale, SSGT I Blake (?), LT Jon Traill (at RCSC at the time), John Lake, Barb Green, Dave Green, Ron Harris (2 Bty), Jack Bohmer, P. S. Whitelaw (President of the RAA Assoc), SGT Don Errey, MAJ Merv Taggart (Secretary of the RAA Assoc), E. G. Morrison (RHQ), Lynne Hawkey (HQ Bty), LT David Young (Retd of 132 Div Loc) and G. Coggins (Kimby).
Mess Visits in 1987 and 1988
In Jul 88 BDR Ivan Dobay, LBDR I. Dodds and LBDR S. Cox, all from 2 Bty paid a visit.
Gunners Dinner, Frankston, 5 Nov 88
The invited guests were:
- LTCOL Mike Buckridge – CO 2/15 Fd Regt
- MAJ Bill CRoss – BC 23 Fd Bty
- CAPT King – ???
- WO2 Halbish – ???
Attendeees included: Peter Heard, Mitch Kenny, Jim Lake, S. Gallagher, W. Wessner, P. Wainwright, J. Crawford, Tom Nairn, A. R. Jones, L. Blake, R. Garbett, John Hancock, A. B. Quinlan, LT Edwards (GPO), CAPT Traill, ? Bartholomew, SGT Beale, SSGT S. McDermott (ex ARA for 4 Fd Regt).
MAJ Cross Farewell, 16 Dec 88
MAJ Bill Cross had been RSM of 2/15 and then PSO’d to become an Officer. He was farewelled as BC on 5 Nov 1988. The CO in attendance was LTCOL Mike Buckridge.
The attendees included: the BSM 23 Bty (can’t recall who and can’t read his signature), WO2 Bob Armstrong BSM 2 Bty (ex BSM 23 Bty), Jim Lake, A. Craig, S. Gallagher, Danny Lakasas, Stuart Pigdon, Danny McMullen, J. S. (Jimmy) Goldsmith, L. Tricky, R. Green, SGT Garry Rolfe (A-Sub, Gun Sgt), R. Barbett, R. Costa, Rod Fulton (HQ Bty), David Conlan (HQ Bty), Peter Heard, Alan Halbish (3 Try Grp Pucka), D. O Connor, Wolfgang Wessner, Ross Stephens, LT D Edwards (GPO), SGT Errey (BC Ack) Wo2 Trevor Hopkins (BG), CAPT Peter Rowley (BK 2 Bty), John Trail (BK 23 Bty), 2LT Laurie Marasco (Seco 23 Bty).
1989 – 1990
Mess Visits in 1989 and 1990
Apparently in May 1989 there was a darts competition in the mess. Tony Wilkins was a SGT by this time.
There are many entries of SNCOs with an address of “Across the hall”. The Sgts mess was a small room across the hallway from the Gunners Mess (the Battery Officers were guests of the Sgts Mess).
It seems that OCDT Stuart Pigdon from Melbourne University Regiment (MUR) frequented the mess a few times in 1989. He had been a CP Bdr in the Bty. He returned and visited the Gunners Mess as 2LT Stuart Pigdon in Apr 1990 (and later eventually BC 22 Bty). Another ex-CP Op from 23 Bty, Robert Green, visited the mess in Sep 90 as a member of 1 Division, Australian Defence Force Academy.
There was also the 1989 Inter Battery Footy Match hosted at Baxter. There’s date on this, but it looks like it was mid-Oct 1989. Visitors from 2 Bty included SGT Robin Thomas, BDR Steven Draper, Jack Bohmer, BDR Ivan Dobay and Sharon Dale.
There was a 23 Bty ORs Dining In Night on 8 Sep 90, but there is only a heading and no entries in the visitors book.
RAA Association Happy Hour, 1 Dec 1989
Another annual happy hour for the Association held in the Gunners Mess. Guests included: Brian Cleeman, SGT George Beale, John Stevenson (Colonel Commandant RAA 3MD), BRIG Keith Rossi (President RAA Association), CAPT John Traill, SGT Garry Rolfe, MAJ Robin Smith (retd), WO2 Bob Armstrong, MAJ Merv Taggart (RAA Assoc), Steven Draper (2 Fd Bty), Robin Thomas (2 Fd Bty), and Mudgey (2 Fd Bty).
23 Fd Bty Mixed Dining Function, 8 Sep 90
The guests included:
- LTCOL Buckridge – CO 2/15 Fd Regt
- CAPT Hill – Adjt 2/15 Fd Regt (?)
- PADRE Barry Brown – Padre 2/15 Fd Regt
The other named Bty positions were:
- BC – MAJ Roger Dalton
- BK – No entry (but it would have been Capt John Traill)
- BSM – WO2 Garry Rolfe
- BG – WO2 Frank Marschner
- GPO – LT David Edwards
Others in attendance: SGT George Beale, J. Goodwin, T. Falconer, B. Carlon, E. Muhar, S. O’Neil, BDR Wainwrigth, L (?) Campbell, S. Visser, Tony & Linda Wilkins, John and Judy Traill, CAPT Ron and Mrs Pearson, SGT Peter and Mrs Heard, Kirsten Larsen, BDR Mudge (2 Bty).
RAA Association Happy Hour, 30 Nov 90
The attendees included many who had been involved in 23 Bty or 2/15 over the years, such as: J. Mottershead, R. (Dick) King, Ed Redfern, Reg Morrell, John Traill (23 Bty), Ross Peterken (23 Bty), Dave Green, George Beale (23 Bty), Connie and Maris Sloan, Keith Rossi (RAA Assoc), Col Swindells, Andrew Davis (2 Bty), Kerry Lamb (2 Bty), Michael Womack (23 Bty), Roger Dalton (BC 23 Bty), SSGT G. R. Maugdon, LBDR Clarence, GNR Frampton (2 Bty), Gail Armstrong (2 Bty), Bob Armstrong (BSM 2 Bty), Darryl (Doc) O’Connor, WO2 Frank Marschner (BG 23 Bty), David Osborne, Lisa Beswick (2 Bty), LBDR W. T. Strong (e 22 Bty, 15 Fd Regt), Trevor Hopkins, PTE Nash, SGT Michael, T. E. Diggins (ex WO2, 23 Bty), Don Taylor.
23 Bty Wake & Time Capsule, 1 Mar 91
Many people attended this event. It was the last “hurrah” of 23 Bty as it had amalgamated with 2 Bty to form 22 Bty in anticipation of the regiments amalgamating.
The function hosted the CO, LTCOL David Forster, and 2IC, MAJ Mark Dalla-Costa.
The attendees included: David Allen (ex 3 Bty officer), Tom Nairn, Peter Campbell, WO2 Mick Hayes (SMIG 22 Bty), Gail Armstrong (ex 2 Bty), Bob Armstrong (ex BSM 2 Bty), Donald Errey, Garry Rolfe, Terry Diggines, Tony & Linda Wilkins, Mitch Kenny, George Beale, Ed Redfern, Stuart Pigdon, Col Swindells, Frank Marshchner, Peter Heard, Jack Bohmer, Roger Dalton (BC 23 Fd Bty), Reg Morrell (ex 23 Bty BQMS), Rebecca PAlin (ex 23 Bty), Mike Womack (BK 23 Fd Bty), David Edwards (GPO 23 Fd Bty), Cav, Dave Green, Elise McConnell, Sharon O’Neil (Jonesy), Harry Wainwright, John Moodie, Steve Coxon, and Jim Goldsmith. Many of these folks had been with 23 Bty at the amalgamation. Some picked up roles in 22 Bty and others were moved to other posts.
There are some great quotes on this page, including multiple “23 Bty of Old” or roles within the old Bty. Best comment goes to Jon Moodie (Harry5) “No 7 Best Gun in the Old Regiment at 23 Bty”.
Last Entries as 23 Fd Bty
On 6 Apr 1991, 2/15 Field Regiment amalgamated with 10 Mediumm Regiment to form 2/10 Medium Regiment in a parade held at Batman Avenue. With the amalgamation, the combined Bty continued to operate across both Dandenong and Baxter. The Visitors book was maintained after the amalgamation (entries up until 2008) but that’s worthy of a separate article (as 22 Bty).