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__________ News 2010___________
Contact Webmaster (Bob de Haas RAInf - Dec '67)     ocsadmin at tpg.com.au

21 Nov 2010
As you can see above, an OCS Portsea Alumni Facebook page has been opened. Click on the link above to get you there. If not already a Facebook subscriber you will have to open an account (it's free). If you are already a Facebook subscriber, you can log in on your own account details. The Facebook account is not intended to replace this website - merely to extend the passage of information between Alumni members. It is fully realised that many Alumni members may not have or may not want to have a facebook account. That's OK - you won't miss out on information. The Class Orderly system will ensure that, and no information will be on Facebook that isn't also displayed here.
It's entirely up to Class Orderlies as to whether they may wish to create a "Group Facebook" facility for their own (or some of their own) classmates, and link it to the Alumni Facebook page.
Please keep in mind, anything put on Facebook is then the property of the World and can be wiped off at the whim of the account holder. All data, photos, etc displayed on this site are the property of the Alumni and are stored on secure servers to ensure we maintain control of our "memories". Let's hope the various facilities can work together to enrich our shared experiences we leave behind for our children and grandchildren, their families and friends.

11 Nov 2010
Even though there may not be an "up-to-date" comment here doesn't mean that things haven't been done elsewhere on the website. Yes, sometimes I can be slack and do nothing, and other times I try to catch up with the requests that come in and to upload various photos that arrive. So, here's what has been done:

Memorial Pages. There have been a number of requests for some type of "Memorial Page" on the website to commemorate the lives of our Alumni members who have passed on. With much scratching of head (and remember I don't have much hair!) I followed the KISS principle and the facility is up and running. Accessed via the "In Memoriam" link above to a "Passing Parade" page consisting of two components, the "Honour Roll" for those who have been KIA or DOW, and the list of those who have taken the "Final Parade". Each Memorial Page contains (or will contain) a photograph of the deceased member, complete with medals below and the Corps badge of preference (for those who may have served in more than one Corps. Each page also has a facility for adding a condolence or comment. I beieve a worthwhile and interesting legacy for our family generations (and interested visitors) as well as the rest of the Alumni, while we still do not appear on the list ourselves.
So, what do I need:
1. A high resolution photograph of the deceased. This can be in or out of uniform, can be either of younger or later years - but MUST be sanctioned/approved by the deceased's family.
2. A photograph of the deceased's medals (which I will place below the portrait photo), if any.
3. The preferred Corps, and
4. Accurate DOB and DOD.

I will be adding names to the current list as I have them from the various Class pages, albeit in many cases I do not have exact DOD and, in some cases, no dates at all. The names will appear in chronological order of DOD, so the positions of names will change as I get the exact info. I appreciate that some may not end up with a "Page" because of any number of reasons, but at least a name will be on the list. It won't all happen overnight, but it will happen
Could I ask Class Orderlies to start contacting families of their deceased members and start the ball rolling?
Point to note: The facility and the database containing all the comments are all resident on our own server/s.

Class Updates. Some Classes are very "tight" with their internal relationships, some Classes don't even seem to want to appear on any radar. That's a pity, because we have each been "touched" by the experience of the OCS Portsea and have shared memories of our time together in that environment. Many members of each Class never have served with any others of their Class, many have never had contact except at reunions, and many have never maintained (or even want to) contact at all. It is not my place to change members' opinions or erase bad memories, but I would like to mention that quite a number of "returnees" to Portsea have volunteered statements like "I should have come back long ago", "I'm now glad XX contacted me and convinced me to go to the reunion", and "I vowed I would not look back when I left this place, but I'm ever so glad I have now been back".
For a Class that is very "tight" and very productive, please have a look at the Class of Dec '53. Always producing Newsletters and keeping their mates informed, they are now starting to rat through their old battle boxes and family albums for any photographic memorabilia (and progressive reunion "evidence") to add to their galleries on this website. I've got to admit, the Class Orderly sends some strong messages.

Events Calendar. The Events Calendar is up and running (some browsers may take a little time showing it). Whether your event is at Portsea or anywhere else, ask your Class Orderly to add it to the Calendar. Class Orderlies can contact the webmaster to get the access details.
Note the OCS Portsea Alumni Annual Picnic Bar-b-q is on the 2nd Sunday in December. Any Alumni member in the Melbourne area at that time is welcome to attend. BYO everything - just let Rob de Haas know by 31 Nov you'll be there and the numbers you are bringing. As the area is now a "booking zone" for the Public we are required to officially book the area. If any costs are involved, I'll try to negotiate and let the interested individuals know by email. The Commandant's House is already booked so no access to that area for the day.

13 Jun 2010

Death of a Foster Mother. Mrs Rikki Callaghan, OAM of Sorrento died on 9 Jun 2010, aged 81yrs. A Memorial and Celebration of Life Service will be held for her at St John Anglican Church, Point Nepean Road, Sorrento, on 18th Jun 2010, starting at 1330 hrs, and followed by scattering of her ashes in the memorial garden of the church. Refreshments will be at the Sorrento RS&L club. Rest in Peace, Rikki.

Rikki was one of the "foster parents" to Officer Cadets, particularly foreign cadets, of the Officer Cadet School - providing a local "family" to support cadets through their intense year away from their homeland. Not only was a strong relationship built bewtween foster parents and their foreign "charge", but those relationships extended to many of the Class members. Rikki will be missed by the Class of Dec '76, and Ng Chin Huat (currently in New York) in particular.

4 Jun 2010

Apology. With reference to the last school holidays here in Victoria, my heartfelt thanks and apologies go out to the two Alumni members who offered to assist and be at Portsea as part of the "A Day In The Life Of An Officer Cadet" program run by Parks Victoria. The "program" was taken on at extremely short notice and I had little time to prepare some "aids" to assist in the program. Nor could I spend much time in the area to "brief" anyone who wanted to assist.
As it happened, I created a five minute DVD which was shown to visitors (keeping in mind the target audience was 8-13 year olds), and an extra DVD with a few drill movements explained. Luckily my son is an Army Cadet and he assisted. A good thing too, because it became "toooo hard" to get assistance from any other Cadet organisation, what with "Working with Children" tickets, compensation, transport, supervision, etc, etc.
And, in the end, although the "program" ran for almost two weeks, each day only averaged one or two visitors of the target age group.
Well, it was a worthwhile experience to get the DVD done (which will now be updated, and provided to Parks staff both for viewing by visitors and for staff education and training. After all, someone down there has to know some of the OCS Portsea history and the "antics" we got up to, to be able to pass this on to visitors almost on a daily basis. Parks staff tell me that there is a lot of interest in our old stomping grounds and how we "stomped around".

Draft Master Plan. Architectural and Landscaping in Accordance with the Master Plan. I will be attending meetings in the first half of July to put in our "bids" for what we would like to see done to preserve the ethos of the Officer Cadet School for future generations. Consequently, the Master Plan will be on display for locals (Peninsular inhabitants), interested persons/groups, including Alumni members. If you are in the area and would like to know more and discuss with staff, the opportunity is on Sunday 8 Aug from 1000 to 1500 - The Point Nepean Draft Master Plan Information Day. If you can possibly make it, please lend some support.
There will be two tours of the old cadet lines during this time, and I'm hoping that a few of the Alumni might come on down and "hang around" at A/B Block and Cadets' Mess to which we can refer visitors to speak with actual graduates/staff. A short briefing will be given at Badcoe Hall and then vistors will be directed to the two "stands" to have their questions answered. No scripting - just pass on the info as you remember it. Just two or three Alumni members in each location would be fine. Who can help? Please contact Bob de Haas on 03-9801 9528 or email.

World Parks Day at Point Nepean. Another date to keep in mind is World Parks Day at Point Nepean on Saturday 18 September (approx 1000 to 1600).
This is an "open day" for the general public and at least a couple of "A Day In The Life of An Officer Cadet" tours are planned. More numbers are expected to attend, so some assistance from Alumni members would be greatly appreciated. Again, please let Bob de Haas know if you can assist.

Return of Some Militaria to the Area. If we can arrange it, some military vehicles/armaments may be able to be permanently placed in the area - like it was when we were there. I've heard that some RS& Ls will be given some old Leopard tanks in the latter half of this year. Considering our Alumni nominally has well over three thousand members, I would suggest that the old OCS area would qualify far more than any RS&L branch!
On this basis perhaps we can lobby the organisation responsible for disbursement of old militaria. I've only just obtained the contact details - The Defence Disposals Agency, ph: 02-9393 2917. If we are successful, it will be up to Parks Vic to accept or reject our proposal, but I would rather be able to say we can have the items before we ask Parks.
Not to seem greedy, either two tanks or one tank and a field gun should be sufficient. Too much and the Parks staff would complain about painting and maintenance (lol). While we are at it, can anyone provide or know where we can obtain/beg/steal a 5-6 metre flag pole ready to be erected where the old Memorial Wall used to be (actually where there already was once a flag pole from the later '70s behind the Wall.) - if Parks approve and it conforms to the Master Plan

Duntroon Society. The Duntroon Society would like any OCS Portsea Alumni member to consider joining the Duntroon Society. There is no fee for membership and the Society is endeavouring to increase its membership and enhance the OCS Portsea history in the RMC Museum. Interested Alumni members should contact Duntroon Society ( further info and application form can be found at the Duntroon Society website).
Peter Evans, Chairman Duntroon Society Committee, (RMC Graduate - ex RASigs) gives a little more info in his email, accessible here, in .pdf format.

OCS Portsea Component of Quarantine Station Museum. A considerable amount of memorabilia is still in storage within the old Gym at Portsea, awaiting the final outcome of how the Quarantine Station Museum should look and what it will contain. There is a qualified curator available on staff and will work in with the Landscaping and Design plans within the Master Plan. Pending decisions of what the Museum Precinct will be and what it should contain, we can ask that we would like to be able to have a facade of a cadet's room built within the Museum, complete with all that such a room should contain. If you have any such memorabilia that would be suitable (remember back to how your own room looked, and what was visible, hanging on the walls, in the cupboard or on the desk and bed), please advise me, but hold onto it until called forward to go direct to the Museum. Uniforms would be at a premium - kahkis, older "Brit" style greens, newer greens, (dpcu wasn't around until after 1985) , older tunic style blues, patrol blues, "corporate" recreational dress, sports uniforms, brown and black boots AB, blancoed anklets and belt, black gaters and belt, battledress, old/ intermediate/ newer pattern webbing and poop, etc, etc. Remember there is a reason and quite a history with each change of uniform! There must be heaps of stuff tucked away and forgotten in garages and attics!
Remember, all this is subject to Parks approval and in accordance with the Master Plan that quite a number of "interested" parties will have a say in.

Unsubstantiated Rumour. There are no specific thoughts of a "hotel" or "resort" (per se) to be built in the area. Disregard any rumours about such. Obviously some sort of accommodation may well be considered, and the Master Plan will take this into consideration. Decisions about what "needs to go" have yet to be made. What construction or reconstruction also will be considered according to the Master Plan.

Access to Area. As of 1 July, access to the former OCS area will be free. Unfortunately vehicles are prohibited unless for a specific function or event, or unless special arrangements are made with Parks staff. The "shuttle" is avilable at a moderate cost to transport visitors to the area from the Tourist Kiosk at the entrance to the Park. Apart from that. bring your bike or take "Shank's Pony".


14 Mar 2010

Children's Holiday Team-building Program at Portsea. I have just received a request from Parks Victoria to assist in a program for 8-12 year olds during the school holidays (end of Mar here in Victoria). The Program aims to run short "experiences" in drill and teamwork, in conjunction with a brief introduction into "A Day In The Life Of An Officer Cadet". I've suggested that most of us are already "old farts" and that the physical aspects of the program might be better conducted by a younger age group, eg, say CPL level in Army Cadets. A good experience for both school kids and cadets! I am endeavouring to produce a DVD that explains pictorially in brief the history of the OCS, activities usually done on a daily basis, the different uniforms over the years, the concept of "leaps", sports, etc. This can be further developed as necessary for more comprehensive information progressively. I'd certainly welcome some input from Alumni members in this regard.

Heritage Architectural and Landscaping. Today I was at Portsea to be interviewed by a principal of Taylor Cullity Lethlean (look them up by clicking on the link). Preliminary interviews are currently under way, and I must say that I am extremely gratified that we (the Alumni) are considered prime contributors to ideas for the "Master Plan" for the whole area. In fact I am even more gratified and pleased that the latest Parks Victoria Newsletter (click on link) refers to our old area as "the Quarantine Station/Officer Cadet School". I passed on my (our) gratitude to the Parks' staff for the due recognition that the Officer Cadet School has now been accorded.
The interview included many questions on our thoughts about what should be retained (that which is currently not Heritage listed) within the area, how it should be maintained, and thoughts about how the area can be improved to attract visitors, what commercial endeavours could be considered to make the whole area self sufficient, etc. Keep in mind, the whole area has in the past, and will in the future incur considerable expenditure to maintain. So some sort of income must be generated in order to do that.

Some of the considerations so far:

New Zealand Christmas trees in the area between our old accommodation blocks. Are these tress still necessary? This question should go to the Kiwis, as they were responsible for their planting (early-mid sixties?). Removal of the trees, in the short term, would allow for the erection of marquees to extend the useable area within the location for functions. I've suggested the Kiwi Christmas trees lining the pathway from the accn blocks behind Badcoe Hall down to the Staff Officers Mess/old HQ area be retained and that we ask that the "plaques" that used to be at their bases, be replaced - assuming they are currently being "safe-kept" within the RMC Museum. Would the Kiwis care to respond, please?

The newer accommodation blocks. Referred to in the past as C and D Blocks, or 3 and 4 Blocks. These blocks are obviously not heritage listed, so can be removed. But, before anything is confirmed, there is the realisation that some of the Alumni spent at least half of their year in one of those blocks, or even a whole year. If you fall into this category, what say you? We have no idea what would replace them, but it would be nice to go on record that we prefer they be kept in some way, or it is OK to have them removed. Let me know, please?

Badcoe Hall and the proposed Museum (in the Quarantine building nearest Parade Ground). Badcoe Hall will stay and be firmly established with some memorabilia. A pleasant surprise - Parks yesterday received a framed photo (A3 size) of Peter Badcoe's grave in Terendak, Malaysia. I'll show that pic tomorrow, with the donor's name. Outstanding!
At some stage we will have to consider our input into an OCS component of the Museum to be established. Perhaps some display cabinets/cases , uniforms, nick nacks from our past.
Start scrounging through your trunks in garages and attics!
I doubt anything would be released from the RMC Museum, but, if you think you may have some influence, by all means go ahead and try - you would have the backing of the greater majority of the Alumni, I would think.

Other aspects. I also discussed the possibility of refurbishing the Assault Course - not for use, only for display, and even then the OH and S aspects would be a severe constraint.
* Perhaps a "viewing platform" at the top of the "scramble course" (sorry, no electric climbing chair)?
* Perhaps half of Jarman Oval being excavated to make a lagoon with resort-type huts around the periphery, hidden in amongst the T-tree. Would make a safe swimming attraction for visitors and tourist resort accommodation to raise revenue?
* Establishment of a "memorial" in place of the Memorial Wall, now well established and regarded in the grounds of RMC. Not particularly as a "memorial", but more a reminder of the various countries who contributed their members to train at OCS - with a flag pole behind it, permanently flying the OCS flag (we would have to provide the upkeep/replacement of the flags).

Costs associated with holding functions at OCS. I have dispelled the myth that retired Army Officers rely on a substantial superannuation income. Negotiations will be on-going! MTF (more-to-follow, for those who have forgotten!) as avail.


08 Feb 2010

Vale. It has been said a number of times that we are a "finite" group. The members that make up the Alumni from 1952 to end 1985 can but only lessen as the years go by. This has been only too evident already since this year started with the passing of:
Peter T Caskey, RAE, RACT - Class of Jun 1957
Bruce McKenzie Reid, RAE - Class of Dec 1959
Barry Jenkins, RAE - Class of Jun 1956
Peter Martin Hardy, RAAOC - Class of Dec 1967

Rest in Peace brothers.

Last OCS Flag. I received an intersting email from Craig Johnston (Class of Jun 1982) a little while ago offering information about the "last flag" of the OCS.
"I read with interest the post about the last OCS Flag, and would be interested to learn more about its genesis.
 
The add to the debate about just who does have the last OCS Flag I offer the following:
 
I visited the then School of Army Health at Norris Barracks (ex-OCS barracks) in early June 1986 to participate in the Australian Services Hockey Championships, being held on the old OCS playing fields, with competition participants being accommodated in the old Cadet lines.  I got to stay in my old room in the bldg closest to Shepherd's Hut (I was PL SGT 5 PL so I had the room closest to the Bay on the ground floor).
 
During the two week stay I observed that the OCS Memorial was being very well maintained by the SOAH Staff, and the OCS Flag continued to fly. Indeed, at the time I was there the flag that was flying had been the actual flag flying during the last Graduation Parade and ultimate closure of OCS some 6 months prior. This information was advised by LTCOL Vale, the CO, and his QM (responsible for maintaining the Memorial).
 
On 13 Jun 92 my class held its 10 Year Reunion on the Peninsula, including several walking tours of the grounds and access to all the buildings. The OCS Flag continued to fly above the Memorial. The upkeep of the flags and Memorial still fell to the QM right up until the SOAH's relocation to Bandiana/Bonegilla. Like any reunion we took many photos to recall old memories.
 
During the SOAH's "occupation" of the OCS precinct my Father-in-Law, Jock Richardson (RSM OCS 70-74 & SGT/WO2 Instr Oct 58-Dec 63), became friends with the last QM. During various discussions over the years Jock recalled my interest in preserving Military History in general, and OCS in particular.
 
In 1993, just prior to my posting to 1 RAR, I received a call from the QM, recalling the brief story and events surrounding the flag, and advised that it had been sent to me in the mail. With the imminent end to an Army presence and pulling down of the Memorial no further flags were sourced. The various flags used from 87- had long been destroyed after they became unusable (weather takes its toll on the Peninsula as we would all remember). This was the flag flying on the Memorial during the last Graduation Pde in Dec 85, and the last held by SOAH.
 
The flag arrived in very good condition and continues to be "flown" in my study in Canberra, from a US Army flag staff mounted in a 105mm Arty shell base made by my soldiers from SPT COY 1 RAR. The flag has attended many OCS reunions over the years.
 
As an aside, at some stage in the years that followed, a decision was made, in concert with the then CA (LTGEN Frank Hickling - first OCS Graduate to reach LTGEN and first to be appointed Chief of Army), for the Memorial to be taken apart, palletised and protected for eventual relocation. This is believed to have been done in the period 98-00. The OCS flag had continued flying above the Memorial up until it was pulled down.
 
Whilst I was the Director of Army Public Affairs in 2001 I was approached early in the year by Corporate Services and Infrastructure Group to source archive photos of the OCS Memorial to assist in its reconstruction at a new location within the grounds of RMC Duntroon. It appears that despite all good intentions and care no-one had taken detailed photos of the Memorial prior to pulling it apart, nor had any plans/sketches been done. The original plans could not be located. CSIG were overjoyed to learn that I had in my albums at home not one, but two, good colour photos that showed the exact number of bricks and rows, the location of each plaque and the shape of the Memorial. One photo from the early 1982 period, the other taken on 13 Jun 92. These two photos proved both invaluable in restoring the Memorial, and keeping up pressure for a permanent flag pole and OCS flag at the Memorial in RMC, as was the case at Portsea.
 
Regards,
"

It would appear we may have "two last flags". Keith Fraser (Class of Jun 1975) was the last ADMINO of the OCS ending Dec 1985. His "last flag" was lowered from the main flagpole. Craig's flag was lowered well after the cessation of the OCS, at the dismantling of the OCS Memorial Wall, but was the flag flown from the single flag pole immediately behind the Memorial Wall. Which reminds me - when exactly was the flag pole behind the Memorial Wall raised? It wasn't there in 1967. And where did it disappear to?
Craig, Keith, you guys BOTH have the "last OCS flag" (there is another in a frame in the RMC Museum) - unless there are others who may want to claim the same honour with a flag we don't know about?

60th Anniversary of the OCS Portsea. December 2012 will see the 60th Anniversary of the first OCS graduation. There have been a number of suggestions as to what may be organised to celebrate this anniversary, amongst them being:
* A Commemorative Stamp
* A commemorative Cast statuette of an Officer Cadet for purchase (similar to that which was presented when the OCS closed in Dec 1985
* A "Return to Portsea" (with Beating of the Retreat, Fireworks, Concert, Cocktail Parties, Dinners, over a three day period, etc, and
* A "Rock" with plaque tribute to be erected at the former Memorial Wall site
We certainly would appreciate more suggestions, and perhaps tentative indications of an interest in attending. We have the time now to prepare, but would need a number of volunteers to start the feasibility research, etc.


18 Jan 2010

Welcome to a Brand New Year - the Year of 2010. If you missed out on the information of the last couple of months of 2009, please click on the 2009 Archived page link above. Some of the photographic links appear in the column on the right.