Military Historical Society of Australia
Victorian Branch Inc
  Troops embark for the Middle East WWII

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                                         MEDIA RELEASE 1st March 2010

Oakleigh Commemoration

Grant for joint project to remember WWI war dead

The Department of Veteran Affairs has awarded a $3,000 'Saluting Their Service' grant to a joint project initiative of the Military Historical Society of Australia's Victoria Branch.  The project, which also involves both the Oakleigh and District Historical Society and the Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL, commemorates the service of Oakleigh men who did not survive WWI.

Project lead and MHSA member Mr Andrew Kilsby said, "The project is in three parts - research into the service histories of the men listed on several honour boards and plaques in the Oakleigh district; a commemorative booklet; and an exhibition of related memorabilia and photographs of these men and their lives.  Oakleigh enlisted about 10% of its population of 1914, but over 60% of those became casualties, affecting the entire community."

So far, 68 men have been identified on the existing rolls.  However, there are a number of other Oakleigh men who were not recorded on rolls.  The project will try and identify and list separately these men through pay and service records. The exhibition, to be set up at the Monash Federation Centre with the help of the Oakleigh and District Historical Society, will run from 1st October to 31st December 2010. Ms Helen Gobbi, part of the project team, will manage the exhibition and is calling for support from the local community.

"These are 68 stories which need to be told", Ms Gobbi said.  "We hope that families who might have memorabilia like photographs, medals, diaries, letters and such like, would contact us during this research period as well as about the exhibition later this year. The project should also help to re-establish the Oakleigh memorial plaques to those soldiers and help us all to remember the supreme sacrifice made by those men in WWI."

Details of the project can be seen at the MHSA Victorian Branch website:

The Project Lead is Mr. Andrew Kilsby - 03 9563 0089 or email
The Project Research Lead is Mr. Peter Beckett - 0419508585 or email
The Oakleigh Research and Exhibition Lead is Ms. Helen Gobbi - 03 9563 2823

About the 'Saluting Their Service' commemorations grants program
The Saluting Their Service commemorations grants program supports projects and activities which directly commemorate Australia's servicemen and women who served in wars, conflicts and peace operations. The grants also promote appreciation and understanding of the role those who have served have played in shaping the nation.
The program is designed to preserve our wartime heritage and to involve people throughout the nation in a wide range of activities and projects.  Modest grants are available for projects which meet the aims and objectives of Saluting Their Service.

Studio portrait of 241 Private (Pte) Alfred John Smith, 23rd Battalion, of Oakleigh, Vic. Pte Smith enlisted on 18 February 1915 and embarked aboard HMAT Euripides on 10 May 1915. On 25 January 1916 he died of sickness at Malta

Picture courtesy of the AWM Collection
MEDIA RELEASE 20th August 2010

Another special night from the MHSA
Beneath Hill 60

Beneath the killing fields of the Western Front, another war was taking place, a deadly game 30 metres down, played between thousands of troops. These were not infantrymenů but miners. Their mutual goal was to tunnel beneath 'no man's land', under the opposing lines and destroy the German enemy from below. Unfortunately, the Germans had the same idea and were digging in from the other side.

Over 4585 Australian miners took part in this secret subterranean war, fighting under stress and conditions that terrified even the most hardened infantryman on the surface. Their extraordinary story has never been told until Beneath Hill 60 - the action packed story of Australia's cat-and-mouse underground mine warfare of WWI.

Will Davies, series producer and writer, is author of Beneath Hill 60, the companion book for the highly successful feature film of tunnel warfare under the Western Front in WWI.  Will Davies will be the special guest of the Victorian Branch of the MHSA on Thursday 26th August 2010 at 8 pm.

Will's presentation will include film 'shorts' and will tell how he came to write the story of the Australian tunnellers who 'blew up' Hill 60. He will tell their story and offer insights into the book-writing and film-making craft. 

A limited number of copies of Beneath Hill 60 will be available for sale and for the author to sign. Only 50 seats are available so please register as soon as possible.

The presentation will be held at the Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL, Drummond Street, Oakleigh.  Registered guests are welcome; gold coin donations welcome.

The MHSA Victorian Branch Inc., see

To register for this event, please contact the Hon. Secretary Andrew Kilsby on 03 9563 0089 or 0408 342 795 or email

Will Davies' more recent work with a military flavour include:

29th September 2010

'Saluting their Service'
Oakleigh WWI Commemoration Exhibition

An exhibition to salute the service of 68 Oakleigh men who died on service during WWI opens on Tuesday 5th October at the Monash Federation Centre at 3 Atherton Road, Oakleigh.  It will feature images from the Australian War Memorial collection, digital images and a range of unique WWI memorabilia. A companion book, called 'fallen leaves', listing the local and service histories of the men will also be available.
The exhibition and book are part of a community project of the Victorian Branch of the Military Historical Society of Australia (MHSA) in cooperation with the Oakleigh & District Historical Society (O&DHS) and the Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL (O-CRSL).   It was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Rotary Club of Oakleigh.

Research and writing for 'fallen leaves' and development of the exhibition was carried out by members of the MHSA and the O&DHS, led by Andrew Kilsby, Helen Gobbi, and Peter Beckett. Project leader Andrew Kilsby said "This was a very satisfying but unrelentingly sad project. Oakleigh borough enlisted over ten percent of its small 1914 population.  Of these, 68 men, or more than 20 per cent of those enlisted, died on active service. Many others who enlisted were wounded or returned traumatised by their service." 

"The Oakleigh experience is a prism on that of Australia as a whole. Eleven men died during active service at Gallipoli.  On one dark day for Oakleigh, five men died on the first day of the battle of Fromelles in 1916, all in the same battalion and all within metres of each other. The impact of the war on this small community was enormous; a story repeated hundreds of times across Australia over 1914-1918."

The exhibition will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays each week from 10.00 am to
5.00 pm until late December 2010.  Admission is free.

For more information about the Exhibition, contact the Monash Federation Centre on 9563 2823 or email

For information on the MHSA Victorian Branch Inc. go to  or email or telephone  the Secretary at 0408 342 795.

Studio portrait of 241 Private (Pte) Alfred John Smith, 23rd Battalion, of Oakleigh, Vic. Pte Smith enlisted on 18 February 1915 and embarked aboard HMAT Euripides on 10 May 1915. On 25 January 1916 he died of sickness at Malta (AWM Collection)

17th February 2011

Establishing a Memorial - Recovering History
Lt Colonel CE Umphelby, Australia's highest ranking fatality,
Anglo Boer War, 1900

Garth Benneyworth presents his findings of 20 years archival research in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia, including the physical terrain of South African battlefields that Lt Colonel CE Umphelby traversed. Garth will outline how he recovered the history of Umphelby's wartime service and circumstances surrounding his death at Driefontein. The final section will detail the current situation of Colonel Umphelby's grave, neglected and at risk of destruction, yet Garth presents a way forward to address this matter of concern for Australia's military heritage

Garth Benneyworth holds a Master of Arts in Heritage Studies. He is a former Councillor of the Executive Council of the Nelson Mandela National Museum, appointed by the South African Government in 2003, served until 2006 and is a founding member of the Cape Town City Chamber of Commerce in 1994. A Rotarian of Hunters Hill Rotary Club, Sydney, Garth is employed with a leading service provider to the disability sector in New South Wales.

In South Africa during 1994 - 2008, Garth's consultancy provided strategic research and project management capacity to the heritage and tourism sectors. Clients included government agencies and multi national corporations. In 1998 - 1999, Garth developed the Magersfontein Battlefield Museum exhibition, identified an historic site where the South African and British governments unveiled a national cenotaph to indigenous victims of the Anglo Boer War, and developed interpretive media for numerous other battlefields, including Elands River. During 2001 - 2008, Garth located the historic and forgotten terrain of 8 indigenous concentration camps from the Boer War, including approximately 2500 graves. He researched and jointly managed the first ever archeological surveys of indigenous concentration camps from the conflict. Other projects include social and political research into pre-colonial history, 20th century urban history and South Africa's liberation struggle.

                                        NZ Stolen Medals recovery
                                                3rd May 2012

Following the successful prosecution and imprisonment in 2011 of Keith Davis, the former Museum Registrar, The NZ National Army Museum are keen to recover the remainder of the known medals misappropriated by him. A list of the missing items is attached. Any information please to Adam Moriarty:

Adam Moriarty /  Curator of Heraldry / National Army Museum
PO Box 45  /  Cnr State Highway One & Hassett Drive
Waiouru 4861
New Zealand
P.  0064 6 3876911 extn 218  /  F.  0064 6 3876319

To download list right click on NZ Recovery list link and save (in PDF format)