Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It’s Anzac Day, the anniversary of one of the most important battles in the history of the Australian and New Zealand armies. My archives include this column which has information on the A (field) Battery Association. The battery was in the front line in Turkey when the Anzac troops launched the World War One offensive ...

ONE of the great things about the great community of classified advertising is the way it brings people together.
It goes a lot further than seller meets buyer, boss meets employee and boy meets girl. Teachers recruit students, churches recruit congregations, sport clubs recruit players and coaches, and skippers even recruit their crew.
One such skipper is Bernie McMahon, of Lerner Ave, Pacific Paradise. Bernie is a member of Noosa Sailing Club and a devotee of what he calls the original trailer-sailer, the Hartley T16.
Bernie, a defence service pensioner, discovered the joys of sailing the style of boat about two years ago.
He loves to sail not only for fun but competitively. Last weekend he was to join the fleet on Lake Cootharaba for the opening of the season.
Bernie has been dogged by difficulty in finding offsiders to race with.
"You get a lot of tourists who want to go for a bit of a cruise but it's hard to get people who want to race," he said.
Bernie expounds the charms of the Hartley T16 to all who will listen. "You can sleep in them. Some have two berths and some four. It is ideal boat for me.
"They were brought from New Zealand, it must have been in the early 50s. The bloke who developed them is about 94 now and in England.
"Every time you register one, he still gets his $90."
While recently polishing his boat, Gun Salvo, Bernie had a brainwave to advertise in the Checkout Classifieds for an offsider. He had several calls and took the first for an outing but was disappointed when the man failed to arrive for the next sail.
Bernie, who was a soldier for 12 years, likes things done properly and is peeved he didn't receive an explanation.
Neverthleless, like all military minds, he had a contingency plan with a friend lined up to join him on Cootharaba.
He looked forward to the outing because of the ideal conditions on the lake after the narrowness of the Noosa River and further limits on his size of boat in the Maroochy, where the sand bank east of Chambers Island interferes with the Hartleys.
He can launch the boat downstream at Picnic Point ramp but upstream at the Cod Hole ramp, the river is too shallow.
The Hartley can be launched at Fishermans Rd ramp but the mast can't pass under the bridge on the way to the river.
Chatting with Bernie can yield a lot of interesting detail, and when you ask about his military career you receive a volley of enthusiasm about the A (field) Battery with which he served from 1957 to 60 during 12 years in the regular army.
Bernie relishes his role as president of the A (field) Battery Association which is incorporated in Queensland to represent former members of what he says is the oldest regular unit in the Australian Army.
A quick history according to one of its biggest fans: The battery was formed in 1871 when the colonials perceived a threat from the United States and later became the first Aussie unit to serve overseas when sent to the Sudan (one chap died over there). It has served in every conflict that Australia has been in. After the Sudan it went to the Boer War, then landed the first artillery at Anzac Cove before more Great War service in France and Belgium. A new name, 2 Mountain Battery, marked the unit's entry to World War II in New Guinea and Bougainville.
The unit nearly was demobilised after the war but went to Japan with the occupation force. In 1952 it returned to Australia and in 1956 it collected the young Bernie McMahon. From 1957 to 59 it served during the Malayan Emergency and stayed in Malaysia with the South East Asian Treaty Organisation's peace-keeping force.
In 1971, an important military occasion occurred during its Vietnam posting. Three of its personnel had to return to receive the Queen's banner, replacing the well-flown King's banner it had held from early this century.
Bernie had left the unit in 1960 to join the 4th Field Regiment. He says he never recovered from Malaya.
Bernie's military mind has been working hard on preparations for the association's annual general meeting and reunion from September 25 to 27 at Maroochy River Resort. He expects most of the 50 members. And please note, if you can't get there, he'd like an explanation.
(This column appeared in Sunshine Coast Sunday nearly eight years ago).

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