On this day – 2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment capture the standard of the 80th Turkish Infantry Regiment during the battle of Magdhaba – 23 December, 1916

80th Turkish Infantry Regiment Standard

This Turkish Standard was captured by Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant (SQMS) Dennis Walker, of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment AIF (2 LH) during the Battle of Magdhaba, on 23 December 1916.

Magdhaba, a village in the northern Sinai desert was occupied by Turkish forces blocking the route to Palestine, was attacked by the ANZAC Mounted Division and the Imperial Camel Corps. After a night march of 22 miles from El Arish the hard fought action was secured by a bayonet assault by the 1st Light Horse Brigade, of which the 2nd Light Horse Regiment was a part, just as the entire Division had been ordered to withdraw.

Walker captured the standard of the 80th Turkish Infantry Regiment from a Turkish officer who was struggling to remove it from it from its elaborate pole and cords. In the process the standard was torn and Walker repaired it with black thread the following night.

The Standard is made of crimson silk with a gold bullion fringe on the upper and lower edges, and on the fly.

One side of the standard is embroidered in gold bullion thread with the toghra (personal cypher) of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet V (1909-1918) within a circle. The circle is surrounded by embroidered representations of four regimental flags and various military symbols, including pikes, double-headed axes and trumpets. Beneath is a scroll of leaves from which are suspended embroidered representations of five medals.

The other side of the standard is also embroidered in gold and shows two texts from the Koran written in arabic script. They translate as ‘There is no god but God‘ and ‘Mohammed, the Messenger of God‘.

The Standard is one of at least three captured in the course of the campaign in Palestine. All are now in the collection of the Australian War Memorial.

You can find out more about the successor to 2 LH, the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment here: https://www.army.gov.au/our-people/units/forces-command/7th-brigade/2nd14th-light-horse-regiment-queensland-mounted-infantry



Naval News – Missing Australian World War 1 Submarine AE1 found off the coast of New Guinea after 103 years


The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) announced today that they have discovered the wreck of the Australian WW1 submarine AE1 (shown above), which had been missing for over a century.


HMAS AE1 (originally known as just AE1) was an E-class submarine and the first to serve in the RAN. She was lost at sea with all hands near East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, on 14 September 1914, after less than seven months in service.

AE1 was discovered by a team led by the Submarine Institute of Australia on board the specialist Dutch survey ship the MV Fugro Equator (shown below). With $1 million in funding from the Australian Government and a private consortium they had commenced their search last Sunday.

Fugro Equator.jpg

They discovered that the boat suffered a catastrophic failure, probably during a practice dive, and struck a hard rocky bottom southeast of the Duke of York islands group.

AE1 Mao

The precise location of the wreck, and even details of the time it was discovered, are being kept secret to protect it from unauthorised salvage attempts.

It is understood there is no intention of attempting to retrieve the submarine, resting at a depth of more than 300 metres, which is regarded as a war grave.

AE1 Memorial Plaque

There had been several previous attempts over the years to locate the vessel, all unsuccessful. MV Fugro Equator is a specially designed offshore survey ship, that was involved in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

You can find out more about AE1 here: http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-ae1

Army News – Bell V-280 Valor flies for first time as Technology Demonstrator for Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Helicopter program


Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor flew for the first time on Monday 18 December 2017 from their facility in Amarillo, Texas.

The demonstrator aircraft is part of the Joint Multi-role Helicopter (JMR) Program, which Bell finished building in September, and had been doing restrained and then unrestrained ground runs up until this week.

Bell V-280

The V-280 Valor is a technology demonstrator for the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) program which will inform the design of a Future Vertical Lift (FVL) helicopter fleet expected to enter service in the 2030s and replace the existing fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook, and OH-58 Kiowa helicopter. The objective of the FVL fleet will be to go twice as fast, twice as far with increased agility and flexible payloads.


The way the US Army is approaching the JMR program will probably serve as a model for future major acquisition programs where prototyping is done early on and leads to the faster delivery of more capable and reliable weapon systems.

Naval News – HMNZS Endeavour (A11) de-commissions. To be replaced by HMNZS Aotearoa (A12) in 2020

HMNZS Endeavour

HMNZS Endeavour (A11), the Royal New Zealand Navy’s only replenishment ship, decommissioned in Auckland on Friday 15 December 2017 following almost 30 years in service.

Commissioned in 1988, she was the third RNZN ship to bear the name and saw operational service during Operation BIG TALK in Bougainville in 1990, Operation BEL ISI again in Bougainville in 1998 and Operation STABILISE in East Timor in 1999-2000.

HMNZS Endeavour Badge

Motto: ‘Nil Intentatum’ (Nothing unattempted)

Battle Honours: Cadiz 1596

Endeavour will be replaced by a new fleet tanker, the 24,000 tonne HMNZS Aotearoa* (A12), which will be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea over 2018-2019. The new ship is scheduled to be delivered in 2020 and is the largest ship ever built for the Royal New Zealand Navy.

HMNZS Aotearoa

Aotearoa will have twice the displacement of her predecessor, carry 30 per cent more fuel and boast state of the art design and capability features including ice-strengthening and ‘winterisation’ for operations in Antarctica.

As she is the first RNZN ship of that name, during 2017 a public competition was held to design the ship’s badge. The winner will be unveiled on Waitangi Day on 6 February 2018 with the ten (10) shortlisted designs shown below.

HMNZS Aotearoa Shortlisted Badge Designs

You can find out more about both ships here:

HMNZS Endeavour – http://navy.mil.nz/mtf/endeavour/default.htm

HMNZS Aotearoa – https://www.aotearoa.mil.nz/about-the-ship

* = The Maori name for New Zealand – the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’

Air Force News – 12 (Bomber) Squadron RAF to transition from Tornado to Typhoon and integrate with Qataris

UK Minister for Defence Procurement Harriet Baldwin announced on Thursday 14 December 2017 that 12 (B) Sqn RAF, currently equipped with the Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham, will transition to Typhoon and integrate with the Qatar Emiri Air Force in preparation for its introduction into service with the QEAF. The new Squadron will be based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

Record exercise for RAF Typhoon force

12 (B) Sqn disbanded in March 2014 only to be reformed in January 2015 at RAF Marham after the decision to disband 2 Sqn RAF was cancelled in order to allow the retention of Tornado to participate in Op SHADER, the air campaign in Iraq against ISIL (on 1 April 2015 the “new” 2 Sqn RAF became the fifth Typhoon squadron and the “old” 2 Sqn RAF rebadged as 12 Sqn equipped with Tornados).

12 (B) Sqn RAF has a long and proud history, including being the first fast jet RAF Squadron commanded by a woman, Wing Commander Nikki Thomas, who took command when the Squadron was reformed in 2015. Some more information on the history of the Squadron is shown below:

Formed: 14 February 1915

12 Squadron RAF Badge

Badge: A fox’s mask – approved by King George VI in February 1937. Based on a suggestion when the squadron was equipped with the Fairey Fox, an aircraft of which they were proud and the sole operators.

Motto: ‘Leads the Field

Battle Honours: 18

Western Front 1915-1918, Loos*, Somme 1916, Arras, Cambrai 1917*, Somme 1918*, Hindenburg Line, France and Low Countries 1939-1940*, Meuse Bridges*, Fortress Europe 1940-1944, German Ports 1941-1945, Biscay Ports 1940-1945, Berlin 1941-1945*, Ruhr 1941-1945*, France and Germany 1944-1945, Rhine*, Gulf 1991*, Iraq 2003*.

(Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard)

Roundel:     12 Squadron RAF Roundel

You can find out more about 12 Sqn here: https://www.raf.mod.uk/rafmarham/aboutus/12sqnhome.cfm

Customs & Traditions – Naval Toasts


The Wardroom of HMAS Vampire

There are many customs and traditions associated with the Royal Navy (RN) and many of these are carried on by other Commonwealth Navies, like the RAN, RCN and RNZN.

The Toasts of the Royal Navy are a set of traditional drinking toasts that take place during formal dinners and on particular days of the week.

The main toast, and the first one given following the completion of the dessert course at a formal dining in night, is the ‘Loyal Toast’ to the Sovereign. This toast was originally made seated, apparently due to the danger of low deckheads on wooden sailing ships, rather than potential inebriation!

Port Glass

There then follow special toasts dependent on the day of the week. They are:

  • Sunday –  “Absent Friends
  • Monday –  “Our Ships at Sea
  • Tuesday – “Our Men
  • Wednesday – “Ourselves” (as no one else is likely to be concerned for us!)
  • Thursday – “A Bloody War or a Sickly Season” (and a quick promotion!)
  • Friday – “A Willing Foe and Sea-Room
  • Saturday – “Wives and Sweethearts” (may they never meet)

In 2013 the RN changed the Tuesday and Saturday toasts to reflect the fact that women had been at sea for nearly two decades.

Officially the Tuesday toast is now “Our Sailors” and the Saturday toast is “Our Families“*. However, apparently the majority of personnel prefer the traditional toasts and they are still widely used.

Toasts are made from port glasses and typically given by the youngest officer present at a Mess dinner, in their capacity as Dining Vice President or ‘Mr Vice’.

The port is ‘passed’ in decanters to each person at the dinner to then fill their glass. Naval tradition is that the decanter should be passed along the table, as lifting it a on moving ship could result in spilling the precious liquid!

* – in the Royal Australian Navy the wording of the Saturday toast is slightly different – ‘Our Partners’. Since 1999, in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) the Thursday toast is ‘Our Navy’ and the Friday toast ‘Our Nation’.

Famous Regiments – The Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles (QAMR)


Formed: 1864

Country: New Zealand

Armed Service: New Zealand Army

New Zealand Army Badge

Current Role: Reconnaissance

Arm or Service: Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps (RNZAC)


Location: Linton Military Camp, Palmerston North

Unit Structure: Currently the regiment is made up of:

  • Regimental Headquarters (RHQ),
  • 3 x Sabre Squadrons [2 Regular Army, 1 Army Reserve], and
  • a Support Squadron

Equipment: New Zealand Light Armoured Vehicle (NZLAV) a variant of the LAV III


Regimental Motto: Ake Ake Kia Kaha (‘Forever and Ever Be Strong’)

Colour Patch: Amber and Black

Battle Honours: 36

Regimental March: ‘New Colonial

Regimental Days:

  • 16 September – Regimental Birthday
  • 20 November – Cambrai Day

QAMR Guidon

More information on the QAMR can be found here:



Collectable Militaria – Cigarette Trading Cards


Cigarette Trading Cards were quite popular in Victorian times and well into the 1930s, and can be bought from collectors of militaria today.

They originated from America in the 1870s. At the time, cigarettes were sold in paper packaging and a piece of cardboard was inserted  in order to stiffen the packet. The Allen and Ginter tobacco company of Richmond, Virginia realised that they could be used as a form of advertising and the trading card was born.

Beginning as an advertising gimmick, Cigarette Trading Cards soon progressed to collectable numbered series on particular themes, including sports and the military. One of my old regiments, The New South Wales Lancers, were depicted by a number of different cigarette manufacturers following their service in the Boer War. Some examples appear above.

  • Trooper Morris, New South Wales Lancers – Taddy’s Premier Navy Cut – VC Heroes – Boer War series (Trooper Tom Morris was the first Australian soldier nominated for the VC for his actions rescuing a wounded comrade at Arundel in South Africa during the Boer War in 1899. Sadly Tom never received any form of gallantry award)
  • Captain Cox, New South Wales Lancers – Gallaher Limited – The South African Series
  • Private, New South Wales Lancers – Coronel Conquerer Cigars (obverse and reverse)


Great Reads – ‘Somme Mud’ by Edward Lynch (2006)

Somme Mud by E.P.F.Lynch

I picked this book up off an eBay seller last week, following a recommendation from Lambis Englezos AM, who was instrumental in finding the lost Australian soldiers buried in mass graves at Fromelles in France in 2008. I met Lambis at a recent event on the Centenary of the Battle of Beersheba run by Military History & Heritage Victoria (MH&HV).

‘Somme Mud’ tells of the devastating experiences of Edward Lynch, an 18 year old Private soldier during the First World War when he served with the 45th Battalion AIF on the Western Front.

I will read it over Christmas and let you know what I think of the book in the new year.



Naval News – New additions to the RN and RAN Surface Fleets

HMS Queen Elizabeth conducts vital system tests off the coast of Scotland

There have been two recent significant additions to the Surface Fleets of both the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

On Thursday 7 December 2017 HMS Queen Elizabeth (R09), the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth class carriers, was commissioned in front of Her Majesty The Queen.

At almost 70,000 tons, HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy as is based in Portsmouth. She begins Operational Sea Trials (OST) in January 2018 before conducting integrated flight trials with F-35Bs from 617 Squadron Royal Air Force (RAF) later in the year in the US.

HMS Queen Elizabeth Ships Crest

The ship’s motto is ‘Semper eadem‘ which means ‘Always the same‘ and she inherits five (5) battle honours from the two previous RN ships of the same name:


CRETE 1941


BURMA 1944-45


You can find out more about her here: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/queenelizabeth

On Saturday 23 September 2017, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) welcomed HMAS Hobart (DDG 39) to the fleet.

HMAS Hobart Commissioning

HMAS Hobart is the first of three Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers (DDGs) based on the Spanish F100 class Frigate, and equipped with the Aegis Baseline 7.1 Combat System from the United States.

HMAS Hobart III Crest

The ship’s motto is ‘Grow with Strength’ which is taken from the coat of arms of the City of Hobart. She inherits nine (9) battle honours from the two previous RAN ships of the same name:






PACIFIC 1942–45



VIETNAM 1967-70

HMAS Hobart Battle Honours Board

You can find out more about her here:  http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-hobart-iii