February 2007
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Volume 19 Number 1

          February 2007

What's in this Issue

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President's Report

I trust that all enjoyed a break over the past weeks and that your new year has started well.

Since the last newsletter the only activity for the Association was the Xmas get together at the Victory Hotel prior to Xmas.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend but I am informed that the members who did attend enjoyed catching up with old friends.

Looking forward the Back to the Regiment function will be held 9 March 207 at St Lucia.  The details can be seen in the advertisement in this newsletter.  Don’t forget to bring some extra dollars so you can snap up some bargains from our memorabilia shop.  Remember we sell memorabilia to supplement funds in order to preserve historical items from the Regiment.  So not only do you get some great items you help the Association with its functions.

 We will be chasing up those whose membership has financially fallen due.  Apart from the small profit we make with the memorabilia this is our only source of funds to keep us going.

 We welcome back our Secretary/ Treasurer Bruce Davis from his year on full time duty in Canberra.  Service such as he undertook is, apart from interesting, gives a broad understanding of the developments of the army particularly the Reserves.

 The members of the Association pass congratulations to Ian Hanger QC OAM, Chaplain Len Eacott AM and Cannon Bruce Maughan OAM for their awards in the recent Australia Day Honours list.

 I encourage you all to attend the Back to the Regiment.  I urge you to advise Peter Morton ASAP of your attendance so we can make preparations to welcome you back.




CO's Report

Sadly this month ends my tour as Commanding Officer of Queensland University Regiment.  This has been my fastest and most enjoyable experience in the service yet!

 LTCOL Jenny Cotton is primed and ready to take over on the 1st March and she will be leading the unit through a new era of Reserve training in Defence. 

For the Unit itself, April will bring a major overhaul and refurbishment.  Under the guise of asbestos removal, the St Lucia and Witton Barracks will have almost all walls stripped, gutted and new fittings fixed.  There will be opportunities to change some of the floor plans to better facilitate training and administration in the unit.  There will be a rebirth for the tired and dangerous cells at Witton to make them usable again.  It’s all pretty exciting. 

The unit will carry on unperturbed (hopefully) in transportable buildings set on the parade ground at St Lucia.  The whole site is likely to be in flux from the end of April through to August.  This is the first significant refurbishment of the depots for some decades, and puts paid to the rumours that QUR might be asked to relocate somewhere other than our current home ….  At least for the moment. 

Since December 2006 we have had another tribe of Staff Cadets pursuing the capstone training and assessment at RMC Duntroon, and we look forward to seeing some very successful completions at the graduation ceremony in the last weekend of this month.  At this point, we have some extremely high performing individuals and are very satisfied with the way they have presented themselves and engaged with their rigorous training program.

I’d like to give my warm thanks to the QURA for your constant support and encouragement during my tenure as Commanding Officer.  I move on soon to the position of Deputy Head of Corps RACMP, but I’m sure I will see you all at future QURA Association and Unit functions.


Nan Bahr
Lieutenant Colonel
Commanding Officer
Queensland University Regiment




Collection of Photos from the History File

If you have any old QUR photos that you would like to have displayed in this section, please email them to our historian Trevor Luttrell.  If you can't scan them into en email, Trevor will scan them for you and return the originals.

QUR Regimental Parade Jan 1979

Second Row : Pte K Gorman, Cpl M Capewell, Pte A Lines

Front Row: 2Lt B Walsh, Maj I Bunce, LTCOL D Luttrell, Capt G Murray, WO1 A HAndley


From left to right

Brian Venz, Alan Press, Peter Rule, Brian Cuttriss

Camp Concert Wacol


A youthful Peter Morton on the day he was promoted Captain


A slim, trim Bill Beach sanding duckboards at St Lucia




My Story -  by Brian Smith

G’day Peter,

I have attached the story of my going into, deserting from and going back to the Legion, which I have just published in the newsletter of Amicale des Anciens de la Légion étrangère d’Australie of which I am the secretary. You may enjoy the read. If you want to publish it in the QURA newsletter then that is OK by me.
Have a great Christmas and festive season

Kind regards



Everyone has a story; ex-legionnaires are no exception. When I first became a member of the Amicale des Anciens de la Légion étrangère d’Australie (Amicale), almost everyone knew my story but as the Amicale has grown over the past 10 years there are now many who don’t.


.1 Public Servant, Canberra 1972
I was born and raised in Brisbane but this part of my story begins just after I turned 30.

The year is 1972.  I am a public servant in Canberra, having just graduated from the Australian National University (ANU) with a BA majoring in Philosophy.  I am working in the Commonwealth Public Service as a Computer Programmer / Systems Analyst.  Although I am progressing well in the Public Service, work is not my passion so I am finding more interesting outlets in other activities, mainly classical dance and rowing. 

I row every morning in the chill and the beauty of Lake Burley Griffin with a wonderful group of blokes in the ANU lightweight fours.  Then every evening, with Graham Farquhar, one of the crew, I train for two to three hours with the Bryan Lawrence School of Ballet.  Graham and I enjoy the contrast with rowing; here we also sweat and pain, but now to the strains of classical music and surrounded by beautiful women…Whenever the Australian Ballet or the Australian Opera come to Canberra we are roped in as extras, ‘spear carriers’ as they are called in the jargon of the performing arts.  Graham has gone on to become a Fellow of the Royal Society and one of Australia’s most cited scientists. 

But meanwhile my private life was in a mess.  …My French wife and I had married in 1965 and had been together nine years.  Now the relationship was obviously at an end.  With no children to make ending the marriage difficult, separation was inevitable.  It was just a matter of my exiting gracefully…
So…Finally in autumn 1973 I sign my half of our house over to my wife and early one morning walk out the door with a pack on my back and begin hitch-hiking.  I do not know where I am going or what I am going to do.  I am quite depressed and feel vaguely suicidal.  I know that it is the end of my life so far.  My sense of anger, pain, grief and failure, is palpable.  Yet along the way other thoughts impinge, no doubt trying to fill the void inside.

I recall seeing the Foreign Légion marching down the Champs Elysées with their impressive slow marching rhythm (88 steps to the minute) on French television one 14th July.  I remember at the time asking my wife’s grandfather (a veteran of Verdun and holder of the Médaille Militaire) what unit it was…’ce sont des ‘têtes brulées’ de la Légion étrangère’ and why were they marching so slowly…’qui va lent va loin’, he replies.  I also recall having heard of the Foreign Légion from Professor Peter Loofs at the ANU (He had served with distinction in Indochina, where he had earned the Médaille Militaire.) And so the Légion is a possibility but I don’t have any firm plans.  The emptiness inside still remains; still no clear focus ahead.  Sometimes I feel that, like one of the characters in Sartre’s novels, I have to cut my life in two.  I need above all, it seems, to escape myself, to make a complete break with my past.  So, after a brief stay with my father (my mother had died when I was 15) at the family home in Brisbane, I make that clean break and fly to the UK.


..2 Oil field diver, North Sea and Nigeria 1973
I loved London…it was full of museums, history and architecture.  I remember spending a full Sunday walking from one Christopher Wren church to another, admiring his lovely clean architecture, ending in the magnificent ‘St Pauls’.  I fell in love with this beautiful structure… Every lunch hour I would take my sandwiches and eat them in St Paul’s Cathedral.  It became a very special place for me.  At the time I had a temporary job delivering bank drafts by hand all over London while I waited for my commercial diving course to begin.


I found the diving course easy as I had done a lot of sport diving before.  For some reason I didn’t even mind the icy water.  After graduating I found a job with ‘North Sea Diving Services’ which was a company owned and run by Ian Fraser, who had won a Victoria Cross for his exploits as a ‘frogman’ in World War II.  At first most of my work was what was called in the diving parlance ‘rope in the wheel jobs’.  This mainly consisted in untangling cables from the propellers of boats of all sizes, mostly in freezing, ‘black’ (zero visibility) water.  Much to everyone’s surprise I loved it.
North Sea Diving Services sent me to Nigeria to work on contract to Gulf Oil at Escravos, a remote port in Biafra.  Nigeria was much harder.  Oil field construction diving is hard, dirty and dangerous.  I saw two divers suffer the bends; one became a cripple for life.  We were consistently diving at the limit of the safe depth for air (as distinct from mixture: helium/oxygen) diving and the visibility was mostly zero.  It was all very new to me and my diving course had not really prepared me for it.  Nonetheless, I found it deeply satisfying.  Once kitted up, it was magic to jump over the side and sink slowly through the (initial) blue layers, the evil-looking barracuda, which frequented all off-shore structures, looking at me curiously.  It represented for me total escape.  All thoughts of the past were gone.  There was only the present and the imperative of a job to be done.  However, at times, I got the sense: it wasn’t enough…

After four months in Nigeria, I returned to the UK.  I was asked to go to Aberdeen and do a conversion course to learn mixture and saturation diving.  Saturation diving is where the divers live in a habitat on the sea bed for weeks at a time, leaving their habitat to work at the same depth.  It saves the time, delay and expense of constant compressing and decompressing.  It was safer than what I had been doing and payed an extraordinary amount of money.  I realised then that I was at a crossroads and that diving was not enough to heal me from the past - I needed something more intense.

A couple of days after arriving back in the UK, I was having a beer with some fellow divers in a pub in Lowestoft, East Anglia, when suddenly I saw very clearly what I had to do.  The next morning I caught the train to Heathrow and took the first available flight to Paris.  I asked the taxi driver to take me to ‘Fort de Nogent’, the Légion recruiting post in Paris.  ‘T’es vraiment con’, said the taxi driver as I paid him.  I knocked on the green door and said, ‘Je veux m’engager’.  The sentry looked me up and down, ‘Donne moi ton passeport et viens par ici.  Est-ce que t’as déjà mangé?’ The sentry took me through to a small dining area where I was served, of all things, boudin and a quarter litre of rough red to wash it down.  ‘Le boudin’ is the anthem of the Légion.  It is sung on ceremonial occasions with all légionnaires present standing to attention.


..3 Légionnaire 1974-76
I was an unusual recruit.  I had a university degree, a bank account flush with money (divers are well paid), and I spoke fluent French.  I said that I wanted to join for all sorts of idealistic reasons.  I suspect that I was only accepted when I finally admitted that I was really joining for that most classical of reasons – a failed marriage!

Then the real introduction to the Légion; I remember it in vivid detail! We are shipped to Corte in Corsica for l’instruction, (basic training).  After arriving we are issued with a mountain of gear called ‘le paquetage’ which we have to faithfully account for at regular intervals throughout our Légion career.  The sergeant is issuing rifles by throwing them at the recruits.  The inevitable happens; someone drops one, followed by complete silence.  The sergeant looks over towards the supervising officer who slowly turns away.  Then, with measured tread, the sergeant walks unhurriedly over to the recruit, picks up the rifle and slams the butt into his stomach.  The recruit collapses to the ground, writhing in agony.  We get the message; no more rifles are dropped - ever!

Basic training was very demanding, but I was pretty fit and had by now been living a tough life for the previous six months, so I didn’t find the physical side of training very difficult.  What I found hard was the ‘breaking in process’, the destruction of all individuality; you became a member of a very tight group, your ‘section’.  All your pleasures and all your pains were as a member of your section.  Your life existed only as part of the section.  They used to say during basic training, ‘it’s easy to be a civilian and it’s easy to be a légionnaire.  It is only the transition that’s hard’.  It was during that basic training that I met ‘my little Irish mate’, Sean, who has remained a lifelong friend.

I volunteered for the parachute regiment because it was regarded as the elite regiment of the Légion and was sent to that jewel of a place, Calvi, a small attractive tourist town on the west coast of Corsica.  ‘La promo (promotion)’, jump training, was fun.  As we were about to board the Nord Atlas aircraft for our final qualifying jump, one of the group, Jamie, a Scotsman, turned to me and said, ‘You know, Sotton (my name in the Légion), I have now taken off in an aircraft only seven times in my life and I’ve never yet landed once…’

We were presented with our brevet (parachute wings) and posted to one of the companies of the renowned 2ème Régiment étranger de Parachutistes (2ème REP).  I was posted to the 3rd (Amphibious) Company, because of my diving background. 


At that time tradition required that newcomers be tested by having one of the ‘hard’ men of the Company pick a fight.  My opponent was Brillbough, a huge ‘Gaston’.  To put it mildly Brillbough beat the living daylights out of me.  I had no idea of street fighting and Marquess of Queensbury rules didn’t get me very far.  He then gave a repeat performance in his treatment of a French mate, Perrin, who had intervened on my behalf.  Unknown to both of us Brillbough was actually doing time in the Regimental prison and had been temporarily sprung for the afternoon by his extensive network of mates when he had decided to ‘test’ me.  Perrin and I, battered and bruised and both sporting two very black eyes, were paraded the next day before the Company Commander. 


We had decided that we would follow tradition; we would not ‘dob’ Brillbough in; we would say that we fought each other.  Fortunately for Brillbough the Capitaine believed us.  ’C’est un règlement de comptes’, said the advising Sergent-chef.  After that Brillbough regarded me as his best friend.  He was at times a handy ally. 

..4 Peacekeeping, Djibouti, 1975
In Djibouti at last we did some real soldiering.  As far as operational service goes though, it was pretty mild.  We spent most of our time out in the desert either on foot or in 4-wheel drive vehicles, patrolling the borders of Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.  The Somalis were the most aggressive and followed the progress of our patrols from vantage points on the ridges, their arms resting along their long-barrelled rifles which were slung over their shoulders.  It was commonly said that they could hit a coke bottle at 300 meters with those rifles. 


There were occasional fire fights but mainly probes and retreats, on both sides.  One légionnaire on sentry duty had his throat cut by an intruder but, as no weapons were stolen, it was suspected to be the work of a thief.  It certainly smartened up the sentries though.

Two légionnaires died from heat stroke on one of our marches: pretty tame compared with other Légion campaigns. 
I have always loved deserts…to me they have a stark, lonely beauty which I can’t get enough of.  I enjoyed our long patrols much more than time spent back at our base near the town of Djibouti itself.

Some of our patrolling was in ‘Puma’ helicopters.  These were terrific as we covered enormous distances ‘in air conditioned comfort’.  The pilots used a terrain-following protocol, flying meters above the ground and following the contours.  We would sit with open doors, no seat belts, feet braced against the superstructure of the helicopter, hearts in our mouths, grinning at each other like kids on a roller coaster.  Suddenly the ‘chopper’ would stop dead and land.  We had seconds to get out, as the Algerian-war-trained pilots would touch down and then immediately take off again.  I was lucky as, being the machine gunner, I was first out.  The last man often had to jump from a considerable height and would crumple on the ground cursing ‘ces putains d’aviateurs’.

I loved my time in Djibouti but all good things come to an end and in late February 1975, after six months in TFAI, my Company returned to Calvi and settled down to the rather hum drum existence of a barracks soldier in peacetime. 
Our regular monthly routine in Calvi started with a week of ‘Compagnie de services’, which meant that our Company provided all the manpower for running the Regiment.  We provided the 24 hour guard for the Regiment, mess orderlies for the Officers’ and Sergeants’ messes and manpower for any task that needed doing.  Everybody hated that week with a passion.  After that we would spend two weeks or so in general training activities.

Then came the part that I really loved: field exercises or manoeuvres.  Normally these would start with a parachute jump in full kit, carrying rations for four or five days.  We would then head off into the mountainous interior of Corsica and march from dawn to dark across some of the roughest and most beautiful country I have ever seen.  Before setting out we would be issued with our standard French Army ration packs, which we would go through, discarding almost everything except the cognac, cigarettes and coffee, replacing the remaining tinned junk with good food, such as camembert, eggs, paté de foie gras and smoked bacon, purchased from the ‘Foyer du Légionnaire’ (Canteen).  We would also carry a one litre ‘bidon’ (water bottle) of rough red wine to savour of an evening.  Some of the marches were hard but I loved it; they were the best part of being in the Légion.  After our week in the bush the cycle began again with a week of ‘Compagnie de services’.

I was a good légionnaire and was selected to attend Peloton Caporal (Caporal’s course) at the Légion’s training centre in Corte, Corsica.  I topped the course and was commended by the Colonel commanding the 2ème REP.
To my dismay, on my return I was posted away from my Section (this group with which I had completely identified) and all my mates, to the ‘Centre Amphibie’, which was outside the main barracks area and responsible for all marine activities.  My roles were diving instructor and ‘pilote de zodiac’ but in reality I spent most of my time with a pencil responsible for controlling the inventory of all of the marine equipment.  I no longer went out on manoeuvres with my section into the mountains of Corsica.  I loathed the ‘Centre Amphibie’.

When I approached my platoon commander to ask to be transferred back to my Section, he said that I had been selected to go on the next Sergeant’s course at Corte, that I was too valuable at ‘Centre Amphibie’ (because of my diving experience) and that I would just have to stay there.  The odd thing was that most légionnaires were envious of anyone posted to ‘Centre Amphibie’ because it was regarded as a plum job.

But then my life took an unexpected and irrevocable turning…


..5 My Big Mistake, Desertion, 1976
It began with a ‘phone call to home.  It was difficult, but possible, to call Australia from Calvi.  I spoke to my father, the ‘old man’ as I called him.  He sounded very depressed and told me that his health was failing.  He had been diagnosed with heart problems and diabetes.  He left me with the clear impression that he would not be alive by the time I finished my contract.  I resolved to see him. 


In a conversation with my platoon commander, Lt Pérushault, I gently probed the possibility of leave, ‘Tu connais bien, c’est la Légion, ce n’est pas possible’.  I started to think about the idea of going AWOL (absent without leave) to see my father. 

Out of the blue, Ian, one of my best friends from Australia suddenly turned up in Calvi to see me.  He and I had rowed together in the ANU lightweight fours.  He offered to help me ‘escape’.  I would be able to see my father.  I was sick of barracks life with ‘nothing at all (meaning, no soldiering) going on’ as my mate, Sean, put it.  I felt trapped at the ‘Centre Amphibie’.  It also appealed to my sense of adventure. 


I took my friend up on his offer to give me a lift in his hire car from Corsica to mainland France (in the car ferry) and then across France to Belgium.  It was all too easy…

I cannot explain how it came about that I deserted.  Most people have done something in life that they deeply regret, that they would love to be given another chance to do differently.  Deserting from the Légion was my big life mistake.  I would do anything to undo it…


..6 Australian Army 1976-82
I returned to Australia and lived with my father.  After being retired for medical reasons from Australia Post, his health began slowly to improve and he went on, after having a quadruple bypass and heart valve replacement, to live another ten years.

I joined the Australian Army Reserve, QUR (Queensland University Regiment), started studying again and got a job as a computer programmer with the QUT (Queensland University of Technology).  I started to put my life together and tried to forget about the Légion.

My training in the Légion prepared me well for the Australian Army.  I was promoted rapidly through the ranks and was commissioned a Lieutenant (Infantry) in 1978.  I was posted as Platoon Commander, Assault Pioneer Platoon, 9RQR (9 Royal Queensland Regiment), where I really enjoyed the challenges posed by mine warfare, field engineering and explosives.

The Australian Army Reserve was very different to the Légion.  The training was far less harsh and more intellectual.  I missed the long marches in the mountains and deserts.  I missed the comradeship that comes from shared hardship and living together 24 by 7.  But, strangely enough, the thing I missed most was the singing.  When légionnaires get together and sing Légion marching songs, it is quite magical; one is transported into a world of comrades, a band of brothers…


Only on one occasion in my time in the Australian Army, when I was invited on an exercise in the Mount Royale area near the Australian Army Infantry Centre at Singleton with recent graduates from Duntroon Military College, did I feel back on familiar territory.  This exercise was designed to develop the best of Australia’s young infantry officers; for me it was a replay of one of the REP’s manoeuvres; and I loved it.

I thought that I had forgotten about the Légion.  Then one day on lunch break from work at the QUT, I saw a copy of ‘Paris Match’.  On the front cover was a picture of my old Platoon Commander on active service with the 2ème REP in Kolwezi, where the REP carried out the last jump into combat undertaken by the French Army.  The operation was mounted to rescue French and Belgian civilians who were being held hostage by insurgents.  I bought the ‘Paris Match’ and took it into the Botanical Gardens, sat on a park bench and cried my heart out; my Regiment had gone into action and I had missed it. 


A few days later I flew to Sydney, saw the French Consul and asked what my options were for honouring my contract with the Légion.  ‘Il faut retourner en France vous présenter à la Légion.’ I resolved then and there to do just that.  The only problem was how to untangle myself from the life I had created in Australia.

With two associates I had just established our own business, Dialog Pty Ltd, which specialised in computer software services.  To add to the mix I had also fallen in love; and because of the new business, I was in debt.  I had just been promoted Lieutenant in the Australian Army and also had just committed to leading the diving component of a Queensland Museum Expedition to recover the aircraft (and perhaps the remains) of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith from its watery grave off the southern coast of Burma.

I promised myself that I would honour any commitments that I had made in Australia and then return to the Légion and volunteer to complete my contract.  I felt that I had to go back with a clean slate.  I couldn’t keep on leaving a trail of disaster behind me.

..7 Charles Kingsford Smith Expedition, 1983
It took us until 1983 to get to Burma…

On 7th November, 1935, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (‘Smithy’) and his co-pilot Tommy Pethybridge disappeared in their Lockheed Altair off the South West coast of Burma while attempting to break the London to Melbourne air speed record.  The Queensland Museum sponsored an expedition (which was financed by the public and the expedition members) to find the last resting place of these two famous Australian aviators.

The RAAF flew us and all our equipment from Australia to Burma in Hercules aircraft.  We landed in Rangoon on March 16th 1983.  The Burmese government was exceedingly cooperative and generously supplied us with a Burmese naval vessel complete with Navy divers to assist us.

We marked out a search site off Aye Island, a nautical mile off Burma’s Tenasserim coast, the area that our research had indicated was the most probable crash site.  We worked from dawn to very late at night for 10 continuous days in conditions which were as difficult as any professional diver would be asked to work in – totally black water and strong currents.  After 10 days we had completely exhausted ourselves and our finances.  We found ship wrecks that no one had known about but we did not find ‘Smithy’ or his aircraft.

I returned home to begin repaying my debts…

..8 Return to the Légion, 1990
In 1984 my son, Sean was born and his sister, Lainey 13 months later.  I had a whole new set of responsibilities. 

Ironically, the birth of my children made it even more important for me to go back to the Légion.  How could I face my children later if all I could say was that I had deserted from the renouned French Foreign Légion? What sort of a role model would that be for them?  I waited until they were of school age and then went back.

The morning before I left, Jennie, my wife, and I took the kids to a playground not far from home.  As I watched them playing, not knowing how long it would be before I saw them again, the image came to me of throwing away a piece of my heart.

I flew to Munich, where my ex-légionnaire mate Sean lived, enroute to Paris.  There was a magical period of four or five days where Sean and I were légionnaires on leave again.  We went from ‘locale’ to ‘locale’ just drinking the wonderful Bavarian ‘dunkel’ ale and talking and talking.  We had not really spent any time together since the Légion.

Then I caught my flight to Paris and onward to Marseilles.  I was carrying my original Légion uniform in my leather carryall.  I took the train to Aubagne, walked from the station to the Quartier Viénot and presented myself at the ‘Poste de Police’, ‘Caporal Sotton, matricule 152878, je suis déserteur, je veux compléter mon contrat’.

Eventually I was shown into the presence of Adjudant-chef Rémy, responsable pour le Bureau des Anciens de la Légion étrangère.  He had been a caporal with me in the REP in 1976.  ‘Je vous connais mon Adjudant-chef…Je te connais aussi…’ He explained that I had been amnestied under the law of the 4th August 1981 and that I could no longer finish my contract with the Légion.  However, if I wished to reengage for five years, then it was likely that with my good record and my service as an officer in the Australian Army that they would overlook the fact that I was over the age limit.

It was one of the most difficult decisions that I ever had to make: here was my chance for redemption, but I knew that I could not ‘desert’ Sean and Lainey.  ‘C’était un point d’honneur que je vienne me porter volontaire pour compléter mon contrat, mon Adjudant-chef, mais j’ai deux enfants de bas âge et je ne peux pas me réengager’.  Adjudant-chef Rémy used a phrase that I have only heard used in the Légion, ‘C’est correct’, meaning, that is the right/honourable thing to do.

He then asked le plastron (duty sentry) to escort me from the Légion headquarters.


..9 Secrétaire de l’Amicale, 1995-2006
When I returned from France my story was published in the ‘Sunday Sun’ of 12th August 1990.  I was contacted by Otto Wagner who was the president of the FFFLAA (Former French Foreign Légionnaires Association of Australia).  I was unaware then that this was a splinter group that had broken away from the formal Amicale.  With my fluent French and English, I was an obvious choice for secretary, so I became secretary of Otto’s group.  Otto’s group had many fine ex-légionnaires, veterans of Indo-china and Algeria.  Gradually we all began to realise that the FFFLAA should not exist and that we must reunite with the formal Amicale.

In 1995 Otto’s group was re-integrated back into the Amicale.  The incoming president Paul Kieffer asked if I would consider being secretary.  I said, ‘you know my story, do you still want me to be secretary?’ ‘Yes’, he said …’Then I would be honoured’, I replied. 


So, between the two ‘Amicales’ I have been secretary for the past 15 years.  For this I am very grateful as it has allowed me to give something back to the Légion which has given me so much.

Hindsight is a wonderful teacher, asking us to look again at something in our past that we find difficult to live with…What can I say now? Without that mistake I would not have been able to do one of the most meaningful things that I have done with my life: be the father of Sean and Lainey.


Of such stuff is life!



My Story by Brian Smith 4 December 2006



If you enjoyed Brian's story, why don't you also write something for us!!!




How the Colour's Case Was Smashed - by ???????

Received by a member (who wishes to remain anonymous - for obvious reasons)

In 1983 the Officers Mess decided that the Colours deserved a more fitting display case.  To this end, a very impressive case was designed and ordered.  It consisted of a case approximately 10 feet by 6 feet, of 1 inch thick bullet-proof glass.  It was truly an impressive display case.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t idiot-proof.

At that time, as a junior officer, I was the Assistant Adjutant, or Ack-Adj.  The regiment was running a course at Wacol.  Towards the end of the course, the Adjutant and I were tasked with taking the Colours back to the Walcott Street compound.

We took the Colours with us in a vehicle back to Walcott Street on what seemed to be a simple afternoon task.  On arrival we carried the Colours into the Officers Mess.  All we had to do was hang the Colours on the wall behind the new case.

The new Colours case had only been installed three days before, and had not yet been insured for its replacement cost.  After all, how could it be damaged? It was indestructible.

Unfortunately, it had been designed to swivel out from the wall on small castor wheels over carpet.  The Adjutant positioned himself well on the edge of the case.  I positioned myself with bum against the wall, ready to push the case away from the wall.

Needless to say, this case weighed a bloody ton and needed a good shove to get it moving.  It’s small wheels made it very difficult to move over the carpet of the Officers’ Mess.

The inevitable happened.  I shoved too hard, and the whole bloody shebang ripped out of its hinges on the far side of the case, and started to fall.  I raced to the front of it, and flung my arms out to prevent it falling.  I may as well have tried to stop an express train.  I was immediately flung backwards with the entire case crashing on top of me, showered by thousands of bits if thick razor-sharp glass.

On the way to the ground, the back of my head struck the coffee table, which was strategically positioned to exact maximum injury.  I was knocked unconscious momentarily, and blood began pumping from my torn scalp.

I was told later that the Adjutant thought that I had run away when the case fell over, and called out “Come back you effing bastard!”

Thankfully, he quickly noticed the blood seeping from beneath the shattered case, and heard a low moan which may have sounded something like “Faaaark”.

He lifted the case, allowing me to extract myself from beneath it.  We then drove to whatever the Brisbane Field Hospital was at that time, and I had a few stitches inserted in my head.

We then drove back to Wacol to report to the CO, Ian Bunce, that we/I had smashed the incredibly expensive, uninsured three day old Colours case.

I will never forget standing at attention in front of the CO, alongside the Adjutant.  The CO had his face in his hands.  The Adjutant promised that he would sell his rifle collection to help pay for a replacement case.

As a poverty-stricken university student, I briefly considered my total assets of a motorbike worth $200, and decided that silence was my best option.






Correspondence from Members

The following emails were received from members in response to invitations to the 2006 Christmas Party.  They are reproduced here to show where some of our (still active) members are serving.



From:- Michael Ahern


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks




Thanks for the invite Peter.  Dad may not have mentioned it but I am off on posting to Malaysia for a year, so will not be able to attend Christmas drinks or any other activity next year. Keep up the invites however for 2008 as you never know Army may post me back to Brisbane- stranger things have happened.


Have a Merry Christmas.

Cheers Michael



From:- Ross Williamson


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks



Would love to come to Christmas drinks but I'm in East Timor in the Oecussi enclave.

I have very few ways out of here and won't be back till January for a short break as I am posted here till after the elections.

Give everyone my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


LTCOL Ross Williamson (AUS)
SSMLO Oecussi





From:- Len Eacott


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks


Dear Peter

Thanks – please apologise for me as I will be in the Middle East AO




From:- Paul Deighton


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks


Hello Peter,

It seems like the association annual dinner went well in September – I was disappointed that I had to miss it. I always enjoy reading the quarterly newsletter to catch up on the association news and to read the activities of the members, particularly, in this latest case, the intrepid hikers along the Kokoda Track.

I will have to forward my apologies, too, regarding attendance at the Christmas Drinks. I am off to southern Iraq with the Overwatch Battlegroup next Tuesday for a six month deployment. The Battlegroup is based around a squadron from 2 CAV Regt and infantry from 5/7 RAR. Although it is an army contingent about 510 strong, there are two of us RAAFies deploying with them. Our Return to Australia date is (currently) sometime in June.

I hope the Christmas drinks evening goes well. Please pass on my regards to the members there and warmest wishes for the Christmas / New Year period.




From:- Bruce Davis


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks


Dear Peter,

At this stage I will be in Canberra.





From:- Rob VanDyk


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks


Hi Peter,

I regret that I am unable to attend the QURA Christmas Party on 1 Dec 06 as I will be on duty at AHQ.

Please accept my apology and I hope you all have a great time!

Kind regards
Rob VanDyk
CP3-7-137 / R1-4-A001



From:- Ian Crellin


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks


Hi Peter

Thanks for the invitation to Xmas drinks on 1 Dec 06. Unfortunately, I will not be in Brisbane at that time. I am on CFTS until 30 June 07 working as a staff officer in the Office of the Chief of Army in Canberra. Please pass on my best wishes to those attending.
Could I ask a favour - I would like to send a Xmas card to Tyrrel McGeever in Tasmania, but dont have his postal address or email address. We were Coy Commanders together in 3RNSWR and instructors together at 2Trg Gp many years ago, but I have lost contact with several changes of residence after he retired. Is there any chance that you might assist with either of these?

Many Thanks



From:- Rob Cumming


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks


Hi Peter

Unfortunately I can't make it to the function. I am doing CFTS at the moment at HQJOC in Sydney which is quite a change. I am thoroughly enjoying the work and living in Sydney for a while.

Rob Cumming



From:- Peter Jeffrey


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks



Thank you for the kind invitation but unfortunately I will be unavailable.

Please pass on my regards to all in the Association.

The temperature 'over here' is a far more pleasant 20-30c, we are having
some unseasonal rain (which turns the fine coating of dust on everything to
a fine coating of slimy mud!).  The locals remain restless and not as
welcoming as we might have hoped.

Have beer, or several, for me!





The following emails were received from members (not actively serving) that are currently overseas


From:- Barry Schmidt


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks


Dear Peter,

Regret that I can’t make the Christmas function. The flag fall from Montreal remains a little high. I really enjoyed the newsletter. keep the quality coming.


Barry Schmidt



From:- Dave Sallows


To:- Peter Morton

Subject:-  QURA - Christmas Drinks


Dear Peter,

Please give my apologies to The President, but whilst you lot are raiding the Presidential Card, I will be in the air to UK via Dubai. C'est la vie!

Accordingly, I wish you all "une joyeau Noelle et un bon nouveau annee" - I am taking this French business seriously after the Noumea Bastille Day Parade visit, so much so that I am taking lessons again after nearly 55 years! Gawd!

By the way, for all the members who are either members of, or are eligible to join and do so, the Nashos Association (whether Pre- or Actual Vietnam scheme service), we are organising another visit to Noumea in 2007. A good package around $1250 (return air and hotel) for the week with food and other outlays traveller's care will be the go.

Let me know if any are interested. 

All the best
Dave Sallows


War Quotes

There is a price which is too great to pay for peace, and that price can be put into one word. One cannot pay the price of self respect. (Woodrow Wilson 1916)

What did you do in the Great War, Daddy? (British Recruiting Poster 1916)

Thank God this is over and we can get back to soldiering again (troops after Armistice 1918)

What is our task? To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in. (David Lloyd George 1918)

Please God – let there be victory, before the Americans arrive (Douglas Haig 1917)

I cannot get any sense of an enemy – only of disaster (D H Lawrence 1914)

The tank was the beginning of the bullet proof army. (Winston Churchill 1916-1918)

The First World War had causes but no objectives. (Correlli Barnett 1963)

Having exhausted their own armies, the British and French stood ready to fight the last American. (Allan Millett 1984)

The Army report confined itself to a single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front. (Erich Maria Remarque 1929)

Are there not other alternatives than sending our armies to chew barbed wire in Flanders. (Winston Churchill 1914)

With a bullet through his head, he fell from an altitude of 9000 feet, a beautiful death. (Baron Manfred von Richtofen describing the death of Count von Holck, a German pilot 1916)

Gentlemen, I don’t know whether we will make history tomorrow, but we will certainly change geography. Sir Herbert Plummer, on the eve of blowing up Messines Ridge 6 June 1917)

If the Allies lost the war, the American loans would be lost also. In the last resort, the United States went to war so that America could remain prosperous and rich Americans could grow richer. (A.J.P. Taylor 1963 on the First World War)

The duty of the men at Stalingrad is to be dead. (Adolf Hitler 1943)

They’ve got us surrounded again, the poor bastards. (Colonel Creighton Abrams US Army , Battle of the Bulge 1945)

A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood (George S Paton 1942)

We got run out of Burma, and it is humiliating as hell (Joseph Stilwell 1942 , Japanese conquest of Burma)

The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts. (Omar Bradley 1952)

Although the war is over, we are in the midst of a cold war which is getting warmer (Bernard Baruch 1848)

Make no mistake. There is no such thing as a conventional nuclear weapon. (Lyndon B. Johnson 1965)

Man is preceded by forest, succeeded by desert. (Graffito 1968 on nuclear war)

It is not enough to ban nuclear weapons, for nuclear weapons can always be manufactured again. The thing you have to ban is war. ( Bertrand Russell 1987)

To win in Vietnam, we will have to exterminate a nation (Dr Benjamin Spock 1968)

I cant believe that a fourth rate power like Vietnam doesn’t have a breaking point. (Henry Kissinger 1969)

Canada helps make our napalm and then takes in our deserters. Canada has both ends of a dirty stick, and ends up with both hands dirty. (Anonymous, The Toronto Star 1973)


Proverbs of War and Conflict

-         Let those who do not know what war is go to war (China)

-         While in battle you cannot lend your sword ( Belgium)

-         No one wages war with ghosts (Democratic Republic of Congo)

-         Before going to war say one prayer; before going to sea, two; before getting married, three. (Poland)

-         Proverbs are constantly warring against each other. (Switzerland)

-         All is fair in love and war (England)

-         The town that parleys is half surrendered. (France)

-         The peace maker gets two thirds of the blows (Montenegro)

-         Peace makes money and money makes war (France)

-         An army marches on its stomach (France)

-         A gladiator only takes counsel in the arena (Latin)

-         Away from the battle are all the soldiers (Germany)

-         Three sorts of people are always to be found, soldiers, professors, and women (Germany)

-         Old soldiers never die (England)

-         A featherless arrow does not travel very far (Zanzibar)

-         Not every sort of wood is fit to make an arrow (France)

-         Beware of the returning arrow (Japan)

-         The one who carries the bludgeon owns the buffalo (India)

-         Not even Apollo keeps his bow always at full stretch (Latin)

-         Do not lift the club too high, it may fall on your head (Finland)

-         The one who will fight will find a cudgel in every hedge. (England)

-         Have a mouth as sharp as a dagger, but a heart as soft as tofu (China)

-         Dynamite comes in small packages (USA)

-         A loaded gun frightens one; an unloaded one two (Montenegro)

-         God, what things we see when we go out without a gun! (South Africa)

-         If you don’t want the gun to go off, don’t cock the trigger (Republic of Congo)

-         Beware the man with only one gun (USA)

-         Even in the sheath the knife must be sharp (Finland)

-         The spear of kinship soon pierces the eye (Cameroon)

-         While in battle you cannot lend your sword (Belgium)

-         Two swords cannot be kept in one sheath (India)

-         Good nature is stronger than tomahawks (USA)

-         One dog cannot fight (Ireland)


(Editors note: if anyone has any books with quotes/ proverbs/ sayings related to war/ conflict etc we would like a photocopy so we can use them as interesting fillers in the newsletter.)

Think on this one -

Do not blame God for having created the tiger, but thank Him for not having given it wings (Ethopia)


QUR `Back to the Regiment` Function March 2007




This annual activity continues to be a highly successful social function for the Association


Association members and their partners and guests are to RV in the Standfast Club, the soldiers’ club at the Regiment’s St Lucia depot, for an evening of good cheer with old comrades and new acquaintances from amongst the membership and those currently serving in QUR.


General Outline:

    The activity is to be conducted in 5 phases:

  •  Phase 1   Concentration

  •  Phase 2   Drinks and fellowship – some current equipment will be available for inspection

  •  Phase 3   Barbecue meal (and maybe a few brief words of welcome and appreciation)

  •  Phase 4   More drinks and the exchanging of yarns (some lies are permissible)

  •  Phase 5   Departure

Groupings and Tasks

    Groupings will be fluid and the task is to have a good time.

Co-ordinating Instructions

H Hour                 1800 hours (no problem if you can’t arrive till a little later)

Dress                     Smart casual but don’t worry about being overdressed if it’s convenient to come straight from the office.

 Assembly Area    Ample parking is available in the depot grounds in Walcott Street.

 Administration and Logistics

  •  Cost            $15 per head (includes barbecue and some drinks) - $10 for current unit members

  •  Payment    Pay on the night

  •  RSVP         1 March. Please email/phone Peter Morton

  •  Drinks        Soft drinks will be available for those wishing to avoid alcohol

  •  Rations     The unit Catering Section will be providing a gourmet barbecue

Command and Signals

  •  Executive Committee HQ will be located adjacent to the bar

  •  Name tags will be available showing the vintage of your QUR service.

Come along and enjoy a drink and catch up with old friends of QUR. Or come along and meet some new members of the Association.


Please RSVP by 5 Mar 07 for catering purposes 

email reply to  Peter Morton or phone 3425 3060



 Please check the Members Page to ensure that your membership is current.

If you pay your membership fees on a year by year basis payment is now due for 2007.


Membership status codes are:

  • SMEMB - Special Member (no fees)

  • LMEMB - Life Member (no fees)

  • PUOM - Paid Up Ordinary member (no fees but can transfer to 10 year membership for $50)

  • NEW - New member (no membership fees received as yet)

  • 2005 - 201? membership fees paid to year indicated

  • 199? - 2006 membership fees due for 2007

Annual dues are $10 and a 10 year paid-up membership can be had for $70.  

Postage of newsletter $2.50 per year

Cheques should be forwarded to:

The Treasurer

QUR Association

24 Walcott Street,

St Lucia 4067

For those members with internet banking, payments may be made direct to the QURA Bank Account.

Details are BSB 064 129, Account 0090 4500, Account Name QUR Association Inc

Please ensure your name is supplied in the payment details.




The Executive Committee encourages all members to provide a current email address to allow quick and easy communication of important notifications and reminders of upcoming events. 

If you know of any ex-members of QUR who are not in the association, please contact the Membership Registrar (Peter Morton) with any contact details that you have.


For members wishing to provide a new email address, please send an email to Peter Morton  to ensure your address is received and entered onto our contact list.




Have you considered purchasing a copy of the History of QUR magnificently complied and edited by Paul Smith?

It contains 128 pages of stories, photographs and has a coloured badged cover.

          COST :            $15 per copy.

What about a CD containing over 100 images of the history of the Regiment.

COST :            $10 per copy.

Why not treat yourself to a copy or buy copies for your friends.  These are collectors items so don't miss out.

How to purchase copies:

Ring                        Trevor Luttrell      0437 442 964

Email                    trevor.luttrell@qed.qld.gov.au

Send your payment to:

The Treasurer, QUR Association, 24 Walcott Street, St Lucia Q 4067.

For those members with internet banking, payments may be made direct to the QURA Bank Account.

Details are BSB 064 129, Account 0090 4500, Account Name QUR Association Inc

Please ensure your name is supplied in the payment details.




Back to the Regiment             9 March 2007
Anzac Day                               25 April 2007
Regimental Dinner                12 May 2007 (By Invitation from QUR)
AGM                                        14 September 2007 - ( 1900Hrs for 1930Hrs)

Christmas Function                 7 December 2007 (Victory Hotel Friday 5.30 PM)



Association Office Bearers


Position Name Bus Hrs A/Hrs Email
President Trevor Luttrell 3422 8658 0437 442 964 Trevor Luttrell
Vice President Paul Smith 3221 1275 0417 629 885 Paul Smith
Secretary/Treasurer Bruce Davis 3622 1777 3878 2920 Bruce Davis
Membership Secretary Peter Morton 3406 6820 3425 3060 Peter Morton
Newsletter Editor        
Committee Members Greg Adams 3264 5544 0422 849 659 Greg Adams
  Col Ahern 3896 9510 3278 1862 Col Ahern
  Chris Backstrom 3863 9238 3359 6262 Chris Backstrom
  Garry Collins   3359 5993 Garry Collins
  Ruth Kassulke 3119 9789 3314 6818 Ruth Kassulke
  David Ross 3227 6974 0402 904 204 David Ross
  Mal Try   3278 3393 Mal Try


End of Newsletter