50th Anniversary Commemorations of the Battles of Coral and Balmoral May 2018

From Geof Hitchings.

To 3RAR Group Veterans, first tour South Vietnam -BHQ, all companies and attached units/subunits,
From Bob Dabinett [President, 3RAR Corporation] and John Robbins [3RAR member, DVA Coral and Balmoral Consultative Committee]

The 50th Anniversary of the battles of FSBs Coral and Balmoral will be commemorated in May 2018. The Commonwealth Government made an election commitment to conduct and fund commemorative activities, and planning has now begun under the auspices of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). The commemorations will include all veterans of all units/subunits that participated in the Coral Balmoral battles.
Consultative Committee
A Coral and Balmoral Consultative Committee (CBCC) has been established, chaired by MAJGEN Dave Chalmers, FAS Client and Commemorations, DVA, and with a membership broadly representing major units, Corps and Veteran’s associations. John Robbins is 3RAR member. The CBCC first met on Thursday 31 August and will meet in Canberra about once per month.
Proposed major event
The baseline proposal is that a National Service of Commemoration will be held on the morning of Sunday 13 May 2018 [probably 1100 hrs or earlier] at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial on ANZAC Parade in Canberra. This would be followed on the same day by a Luncheon Reception for each veteran and a guest, probably in the National Convention Centre in Canberra.
·        DVA will cover all costs of the Service and Luncheon Reception for each veteran and guest.

·        Veterans will be responsible for the cost of travel and accommodation to/from and in Canberra; except that, as was done for the 40th Anniversary, two Next of Kin of each soldier killed in the battles will be invited as guests of government, and their travel and accommodation will be paid by DVA.

As a separate activity, 3RAR commemorations will be held in the period Thursday 24 May to Sunday 27 May 2018, in the battalion lines and other venues in Townsville, as arranged by CO 3RAR and his staff, in conjunction with the President of the 3RAR Corporation. Veterans will be able to attend this event  at own expense. Details are still being discussed.
Your representatives
3RAR interests and arrangements for these events are being represented by:
·        John Robbins (B /Admin Coy)[who lives in Canberra] is the 3RAR member on the Coral and Balmoral Consultative Committee and will represent 3RAR Group interests at CBCC meetings in Canberra [nominated by the President, 3RAR Corporation]. He will provide information on the event in Canberra as details develop and be the contact for Canberra events.

·        Bob Dabinett (A Coy), President of the 3RAR Corporation [who lives in Townsville] is coordinating with 3RAR on the details of battalion/3RAR Corporation activities, and will provide information on the activities in Townsville and be the contact for Townsville events.

·        As Patron of 3RAR Corporation, MAJGEN Hori Howard is providing advice and support as needed.

3RAR activities in Canberra
From informal consultation among the companies, the general view seems to be that we should not attempt a battalion reunion on the scale of the 40th Anniversary; rather, activities should be arranged by company groups as they see fit. Given that the national commemorative activities will all be held on Sunday 13 May 2018, companies could have the scope to arrange reunion activities for Friday 11 – Saturday 12 May, and then attend the commemorative events on 13 May, as they wish.

I am aware that A and B Companies have previously decided to hold their regular reunion in Canberra over the weekend 11-13 May 2018, and are booked into the Hotel Mercure, while D Company has booked a hotel with a similar intention. I am also aware that C Company is going to Darwin for a reunion in June 2018. BHQ/Spt, C and Admin may care to consider what they would like to do. The key priority is probably to book hotel accommodation; Canberra-based veterans [not many of us] might be able to assist. If companies are not coming en masse, there is no reason why individual veterans and family should not come if they wish. 

It would be useful if companies could nominate a Company Representative(s) to me and Bob Dabinett, so that we can pass on information about the events for onforwarding to all veterans – and also if you could give us a brief reply on your intentions.

I also anticipate that DVA will ask unit associations to provide lists of names and addresses of veterans wishing to attend the service and reception with a guest. This happened for the 40th and most companies have got lists based on their last reunion.

Regards. Please pass this on to people I have missed. For questions and comments, please call me.

John Robbins
phone (02) 6290 1948
mobile 0414 483 729
e-mail jrmercadier@incanberra.com.au

and, for Townsville matters:
Bob Dabinett
phone (07) 4723 8207
mobile 0419 143 498
e-mail randadabs@gmail.com