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Military Historical Society of Australia
Victorian Branch Inc
Media Archives
MEDIA RELEASE  12 June 2009

Victorian military history and heritage buffs move to new ‘headquarters’ at the Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL

The Military History Society of Australia Victoria Branch is moving in June to a new ‘headquarters’ at the Oakleigh RSL in Drummond Street Oakleigh. 
MHSA (Victoria) president Robby Dalton said “We are looking forward to holding our monthly meetings at Oakleigh RSL with its long joint service traditions.  The military heritage environment is important to our members and the Oakleigh RSL has made us very welcome.”

The MHSA (formed in 1957) Victoria branch meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at 8 PM.   Membership comprises military and family historians, collectors, ex-service members and others with an interest in Australia’s military history and heritage.  “Most monthly meetings see guest speakers present on a range of topics”, said Mr. Dalton. “For example, this year we have heard presentations on the Charge at the Nek, Australian detention camp ‘scrip’, the early Rifle Club Movement; the battle of Long Tan, the Russian Anzacs, and on June 25, the ‘Gibraltar of the South’, about Melbourne’s fixed defences in the 19th century.”

Over Easter 2010 the Victorian Branch  will host the MHSA’s biennial conference.
Guests and new members are always welcome. 

    MEDIA RELEASE  8 June 2009

Honours list: DOUG HUNTER

DOUG Hunter’s first response upon learning he was given awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in today’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List was “immense shock”.

“I had not the slightest inkling,” he said.

“My initial reaction was that you shouldn’t be recognised for something you love doing.”

Mr Hunter has been the manager of the 8/13 Victorian Mounted Rifles Museum at Bandiana since the 1990s and he has been the president of the Albury and District Historical Society since 2004.

He spent 31 years in the Army reserve, both in Australia and overseas in New Guinea and served in Vietnam in 1969.

Returning to Albury, he went back into the Victorian Mounted Rifles and remained there until his retirement at age 50.

Mr Hunter then worked at the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation.

He took over the museum’s regimental collection in Victoria Street, Albury, prior to its move in 2000 to Bandiana.

“We have a large archive of letters, brief histories, diaries and a lot of material from families who were asking ‘what do we do with this?’,” he said.

“We don’t have many vehicles and a small collection of weapons because we have tried to keep the weapons relevant.”

Upon his retirement from the Army, Mr Hunter attended the Riverina Murray Institute of Higher Education, the predecessor of Charles Sturt University, to complete a Bachelor of Arts majoring in history.

He later completed a Bachelor of Literature with honours in strategic studies at Deakin University.

Mr Hunter has written My Corps Cavalry, the 13th Light Horse in France and The 13th Battery Australian Field Artillery 1914-1918, and is now completing The Albury Drill Hall 1885-2000.

He is also editor of the Albury Historical Society’s bulletin and is a member of the Albury-Wodonga branch of the Military Historical Society of Australia.

Most recently he has turned his focus to family history and is planning to research and write his family’s story for his children and grandchildren.

Press release of Meeting on 14th August 2009 courtesy of Waverley Leader -18 September 2009 
(Click on Press Release to read article)

MEDIA RELEASE  14 August 2009

Veteran re-united with captured Japanese flag

WWII and 39th (militia) Battalion veteran Ken Phelan VX117704 has been re-united with a captured Japanese flag signed by him and 23 mates in New Guinea in 1945. 

Kokoda Historical founder and trek master David Howell bought the flag on ebay just minutes after speaking to Mr Phelan on the phone, only to realise that Mr Phelan's name was on the flag. 

Mr Howell said "I couldn't believe the coincidence - I went from talking with Ken on the phone to the computer, saw the flag and then saw his name on it. It's a small world indeed."

Mr Howell had been put in touch with Mr Phelan to help with Mr Howell's forthcoming presentation 'Kokoda - Then and Now' at the Military Historical Society of Australia's August meeting.

In an emotional moment, Mr Howell reunited Mr Phelan with the flag last Thursday after 64 years. 

The original owner of the flag was fellow 39th-er Mr Ken Brown VX115999, who survived the war but passed away some years ago.  The flag was offered for sale by his daughter who wished the flag to go to a good home.

The original 39th Battalion was disbanded in late 1943; quite a few of the men then joined the 2/2nd (AIF) Battalion. The 2/2nd returned to Australia and trained on the Atherton Tablelands until returning to operations in New Guinea's Aitape-Wewak area where this flag is believed to of been captured.  Mr Phelan verified his signature on the flag but cannot place the exact circumstances of where the flag was taken from.

The 27 August MHSA meeting is to be held at 8 pm at the Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL at Oakleigh.  It will feature Mr Howell's presentation and flag and will be attended by Mr Phelan.  The free presentation, open to the public, will also be attended by Carl Johnson, who compiled the book Mud over Blood, stories from the 39th Battalion.

David Howell (L) and Ken Phelan (R) with the Japanese flag

MEDIA RELEASE  10 October 2009

'That Ragged Mob' 

Groundbreaking new book about Victoria's Boer War Bushmen

The launch of Boer War aficionado Robin Droogleever's latest book 'That Ragged Mob' - the story of the 3rd and 4th Victorian Bushmen Contingents raised for South Africa in 1900 - will be hosted by the Military Historical Society of Australia at the Oakleigh Carnegie RSL in Drummond Street, Oakleigh at 8.00 pm on Thursday 22nd October 2009. Author Robin Droogleever will make a presentation on the Contingents and be available for book signings.

The raising of the Bushmen Contingents in Australia was met with a mixture of cynicism and optimism. It was thought that men without militia training would be a disaster on the battlefield. They might even shoot each other! The optimism lay in the faith many had in the character of the Australian bushman - his riding skills, self-sufficiency, adaptability to extremes of climate and living conditions, his courage and his pride. As it turned out the optimists were right.

'That Ragged Mob' tracks the recruitment, organisation and exploits of the men of the Victorian 3rd and 4th Contingents who were recruited from across Melbourne and country Victoria. It looks at their courage, humour and weaknesses. These men fought at major battles such as Elands River and a host of minor skirmishes, enhancing their and Australia's reputation. The story relies upon the uncensored words of the men who were there.

The book also examines a controversy arising from their service - the 3rd Contingent later came to be called 'The Unrewarded' because it received not a single decoration, not even a Mention in Despatches, while the 4th Contingent became known as 'None but the Best' because it became the most highly decorated Victorian Contingent!

Over 200 descendants have assisted Mr Droogleever to complete 'That Ragged Mob'.  In this respect the book is as much a tribute to those families as it is about a period in Australia's military history which has long been overlooked. As a result, it will be of great interest to local historical societies, genealogical societies, military history groups, medal collectors, military historians, and of course, the families of those who served.

'That Ragged Mob' is 720 pages in length (Trojan Press), in hard cover format with dust-jacket, indexed, and profusely illustrated with photos not seen before. Included is a detailed biographical roll on each man who served, as well as relevant references to the Victorian nurses that accompanied the 3rd Contingent.

For interviews, Mr Robin Drooglever can be contacted at 9891 6032 or can be emailed at

MEDIA RELEASE 10 November 2009

'Fromelles and Pheasant Wood'

Lambis Englezos to talk on the history of the battle, the research and most recent work at the site…

Mr Lambis Englezos, AM is well-known as the amateur historian and school teacher responsible for discovering mass war graves of Australian and British soldiers from World War 1 near Fromelles in France.  He became a member of the Order of Australia this year after being recognised for "service to the community through research and advocacy roles" relating to that discovery.

On Thursday 26th November at 8.00 pm, Mr Englezos will make a presentation to the MHSA's meeting at the Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL in Drummond Street, Oakleigh. The presentation is open to the public. 

The location of the Fromelles mass burial site was first indicated by Melburnian Mr Englezos' amateur historian research efforts.  It took him over five years to convince sceptical bureaucrats and professional researchers that the burial pits existed.  Now our lost Diggers will be recovered and remembered.

More details on the current state of the Fromelles-Pheasant's Wood excavation can be seen at

Daily Mail UK article on Fromelles

Click on this link to read an article in the British Daily Mail.

MEDIA RELEASE  23 October 2009

"MHSA Victorian Branch Committee member Lt.Col. Neil Smith thanking author Robin Droogleever for his excellent presentation on the 3rd and 4th Victorian Bushmen Contingents to the Boer War on 22nd October 2009.  Almost 80 people attended the presentation and book launch of 'That Ragged Mob' at the Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL."
                              MEDIA RELEASE 23rd February 2010

Diggers and Greeks

Greek-Australian author and military historian Dr. Maria Hill will be one of the highlight speakers at the Military Historical Society of Australia national conference at Box Hill in April 2010. She will be presenting on the almost forgotten Australian campaigns in Greece and Crete.

Placing the human dimension in front of the campaign story, Dr. Hill will show why 83% of the Australian soldiers captured by the Italians and Germans came from the Greek and Crete campaigns, but how the relationship between Diggers and Greeks saved over one thousand Australian lives.

She will also explain why the campaigns have been ignored over the years and why a campaign medal was never issued for the operations in Greek and Crete; even to the point of Australian servicemen for many years not being allowed to wear the Greek government decoration on Anzac Day. 

Dr. Hill's new book 'Diggers and Greeks' will be available at the Conference, which will be held at the Box Hill RSL over 3-5th April 2010.  A Visiting Fellow at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Dr. Hill is one of a number of interesting speakers at the Conference, which draws academic, professional and amateur military historians alike to discuss a wide range of topics from the colonial period to the war in Iraq.

The Conference is open to members of the public who may wish to attend in part or all of the Conference. Programme details and Conference registration can be found at

Dr Maria Hill