Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape




QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - Saturday 15th November 2003


Anstead Day”


A celebration of the birthday of Reg HARPER,

in the company of his wife Vera, members of their family,

& friends at their home at Anstead near Brisbane





[Reporter: Gerry PECK; Photographers: Margaret PECK & Vera HARPER; ‘EadItter: George MILLIE]




On the 15th November 2003 the Far East Old Farts Association, a small group of we ex-Brats of the Arborfield persuasion, enjoyed the culmination of seven-and-a-half months of planning, scheming, procuring and conniving in respect of one of our number.


It had been decided that it was high time Mr. Reggie HARPER, once of intake 51A at AAS Arborfield, was in receipt of the necessary accoutrements and regalia to permit him to take his place amongst his peers on ANZAC Day parades. As befits men of that rare and very special ilk, no stone was left unturned in the determination to obtain every item on the list of desired objects and then some!


Reggie had been the recipient of some very harsh treatment at AAS1, due initially to the fact that he was ill-equipped by education to conform to the required standards demanded during technical training. Well equipped to handle the military aspect, by dint of experience as an Army Cadet NCO, Reggie was unable to handle the demands set by trade and educational training. It never occurred to the powers that were, at Arborfield, that a recruiter had “cooked the books” to secure an entry to AAS for Reg in order to round off his quota!



Bisley 1950 – Army Cadet

Arborfield - Army Apprentice


RSM McNally recognised the problem but was unable to sway the then Chief Instructor, to permit a transfer to a Junior Leaders’ unit, instead the gentleman instigated a “make or break” regimen for Reggie. To his credit, Reg entered into the spirit of the thing and met pressure with pressure, sorely outnumbered and outclassed, however he eventually broke after just over two years of unremitting pressure. It was our intention to make sure that we, his peers, were going to atone for the cruel intransigence and massive indifference shown to Reggie by the establishment at AAS at that time.


1. See: MémoireReg HARPER [click BACK to return to this page]


Reggie, now 68 years of age, is a successful businessman who, despite the loss of a leg, refuses to retire and draw a pension. A proud man and a much loved husband and father, he is worthy of all the respect that we, his erstwhile peers, were prepared to bestow upon him.


The Organisation:

As a group, we first had to agree what we wanted to do for Reggie, and then had to get his wife Vera and his family on side with our plans; this was easily accomplished. The next step was to ascertain what Reggie was entitled to by way of paraphernalia; this too was done. Then we had to decide what parts were to be obtained by family and what by ourselves; again an accord was easily reached. Then we had to procure the “necessaries” and here George MILLIE just excelled himself, turning up desirable items from the most unlikely sources! The last of the items we set out to acquire – the Cold War Victory Medal - is still in the pipeline, but we still managed to acquire two others that he is eligible to hang from his chest, and every other item we managed to locate in time.


The ‘Investiture’:

George and Marion MILLIE over-nighted at Kingston with my wife Maggie and I and we set off westwards around midmorning on Saturday, making our way towards Reg and Vera’s five-acre property at Anstead, which entailed a ferry trip across the mid-reaches of the Brisbane River. By 11.30 hrs all had turned to; that penchant for punctuality, drummed into us at Arborfield, still holding good for a span of over sixty years in one instance within our group.


Present were Roy Dusty ASHMAN (42C), George Pacemaker MILLIE (49B), Phil HUTCHINSON (53A) and myself, Gerry Greg PECK (53B/54A). Maggie PECK and Marion MILLIE were likewise in attendance. Also present were all of Reggie’s family, many friends and his immediate neighbours.


Dusty, the doyen of our group was the M.C. for the occasion, and as one would expect from a highly-ranked Mason, he was just the ticket in this role! He set up the exercise as a photo shoot for we ex-Brats and as Vera had already made sure Reggie was clad in grey slacks and pale blue shirt, he walked all unsuspecting into the trap! He was somewhat abashed to see the four of us in our full regalia and was hesitant about being snapped with us but Dusty “pulled rank”. He then observed that Reggie really was a rather scruffy looking object and asked for someone to do something about it!



Awaiting the order: “Get on parade!”



Parade Commander: “A/T Harper! Why aren’t you in uniform?”

Roy ASHMAN inspected the troops and then addressed the assembled spectators:


“Ladies and gentlemen, our hostess Vera has invited us here today to join with her Family in celebrating the birthday of our genial host and friend Reg. She asked that the Members of the FEOFA wear their “Reggie-mentals” so that we might have photographs taken in our belated celebration of Armistice Day and the day of Reggie’s birth. This we have done with one exception, our host Reg. Now, I feel that this is very remiss of him, but being of a good nature, and so that he will not feel too much adrift from us, with the organising skills of our Jeep member Greg, the outstanding Quartermaster skills of our member George MILLIE, and the contributions of Reg’s family and his friends of FEOFA, I, of the senior Intake of Arborfield here present, have great pleasure in presenting him with this item of our esteem.”


(Roy ASHMAN) – “I now call on Phil HUTCHINSON of 53A to step forward.”


Phil HUTCHINSON then fronted up and after a short and amusing ad-lib speech, adorned Reg with an AAS pattern ‘B’ Coy tie!


1 - The AAS Tie



The presentation of the tie



Reg’s son, Tony ties the tie around his father’s neck.



Phil HUTCHINSON makes his prepared oration


“Reggie, I have been invited to present you with this gift, an AAS ‘B’ Company tie, as a token of the high regard in which you are held by all the Members of FEOFA. I have to tell you mate, that there was fierce competition regarding who would present this tie to you, as one and all were really keen to get their hands around your neck! Only joking old son. Congratulations!


“Small step in the right direction,” quoth Dusty, “but more needs to be done!” Suiting word to deed, if you’ll pardon the pun, he then launched into a nicely crafted short speech which culminated in Dusty and Vera dressing Reggie in a blazer, tastefully adorned with an AAS blazer-pocket badge and anodized AAS pattern buttons.


2 - The Blazer, complete with AAS Badge and Buttons



The presentation of the blazer gifted by the Harper Family,

complete with badge and buttons gifted by members of FEOFA.

George MILLIE & Tony HARPER assist Reg as he nervously struggles with the buttons …


… Whilst the rest of the parade looks on.





Reg, you’re almost fit to be seen in public!”


(Roy ASHMAN) - “I now call on George MILLIE of 49B to say a few words.”


Poor Reggie stood there like a stunned mullet, only to see George step very smartly forward and deliver a rousing and moving little speech that again endorsed our admiration, respect and love for Reggie as a friend and fellow ex-Brat. This was followed by the presentation of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and the Regular Forces Service Medal, both of which were pinned on by members of Reggie’s family.


3 – The Medals



The presentation of the medals – Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal from FEOFA, and Regular Forces Medal from the Family, with the accompanying speech by George MILLIE:


Reg, there are no superlatives in my vocabulary that adequately express the high esteem in which we hold you, and the place you have filled in our lives. Thus I quote the first verse of the poem The Thousandth Man by Rudyard Kipling:


One man in a thousand, Solomon says,

Will stick more close than a brother.

And it’s worth while seeking him half your days

If you find him before the other.

Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend

On what the world sees in you,

But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend

With the whole round world agin you.


In this small gathering of like-minded souls, because of our shared experiences we are each other’s Thousandth Man. Your friendship has enriched my life in the same way as those who are present before you. Please accept this collective gift, it being a tangible sign of our respect, admiration and brotherly love. May you wear it with pride “For old time’s sake”.


Reg’s son, Tony pinned the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and his daughter Lisa the Regular Forces Medal, to their father’s blazer.





Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal

Regular Forces Service Medal

Cold War Victory Medal


(Roy ASHMAN) - “Last, but by no means least, our Jeep member Greg.”


Totally “gob smacked” by this time, poor Reggie was then subjected to a short speech by me, outlining the reason that we had done as we had. I then had the absolute pleasure of presenting him with a black beret, complete with AAS cap badge.


4 – The Beret with AAS Cap Badge



The presentation of the beret and badge by Gerry PECK …



… with the accompanying speech:


“I was privileged to be the first amongst us ex-Brats here gathered, to meet Reggie. He sought me out, sight unseen, to ask my help in answering some questions that had been bothering him for years. This presentation is as much a part of my answer, as were those first words with which I responded to you Reg. I recognised you immediately as one of our ilk, a former Arborfield Brat in truth. This affinity that I felt towards you was so strong that it was as though I had discovered an elder brother that had somehow been denied to me.

This gift that I now present to you on behalf of all of us here present, of that rare and very special breed, represents the love, esteem and admiration that we have all come to feel for you. It affirms your place amongst us; it is symbolic of our recognition of you and of our unqualified welcome to you. As with all of the regalia today presented, we forswear you to wear it with unfettered pride.

I would like to add just a few words from the Soldiers Poet, Rudyard Kipling:


Now this is the Law of the Jungle –

As old and as true as the sky;

And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,

But the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk

The Law runneth forward and back -

For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,

And the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. 


Reggie, I salute you!




Before he could recover his wits, George was on him again like a gull on a raw prawn, this time to present a “shooting” medal, not for target shooting, as was usually the case but for line shooting! He said:


“We have done with the formalities, and it is now high time to look at the other side of the coin. I have been burdened with the responsibility of presenting one of our number with a special award. This finely-crafted medal is presented annually to those who have demonstrated outstanding marksmanship in the category – shooting a target. On this suspicious occasion it is being presented by The Far East Old Farts Association in recognition of outstanding marksmanship in the special category – shooting a line!”

(expectant pause)

Reg – may you long continue to bring laughter to our throats and, at Gerry’s behest, tears down our legs.”




The “Shooting-A-Line Medal”

The deep red colour of the riband reflects that Reg was in ‘B’ Company


While he still had tears running down his leg from this, Marion MILLIE stood up and presented each of us with a pottery mug, tastefully decorated with an appropriate legend:




I then applied the coup de grâce, by presenting Reggie with a bugle, reminding him as I did so of the effect his strident calls had on us at Sparrowf@rt of a winter’s morning. I told him not to fret about where he could place it, as all four of us were well qualified to fill him in on that little detail. Poor lad nearly lost it then but he stiffened that trumpeter’s lip!



The bugle


Reggie HARPER, now smartly dressed in what will from this moment hence be known, in a hysterical sense, as “Reggie-mentals”, was now informed that he was presentable enough to be snapped with the rest of us.








REME cap badge, 1st pattern, King’s crown

REME cap badge, 2nd pattern, King’s crown





RE cap badge, Queen’s crown






Gerry PECK

AAS cap badge, Queen’s crown

REME cap badge, Queen’s crown



“Hello, sailor!”


After a swag of photos were taken, we showed our complete disdain for whatever was being said in Chepstow by belting out “The Reds” in exemplary fashion, after which we settled down for a day’s serious eating and drinking.


If I might presume to speak for all of us thus present to toast and roast Reggie HARPER, we are proud and privileged to be his friends, he is a gentleman and a man of immense integrity. The joy and gratitude with which he accepted that which we presented to him made the 15th November 2003 a day that none of us will ever forget. It gave all of us tremendous buzz and really set the scene for the hammering that the “Wobblies” gave the Kiwis later in the day when the Rugby semi-final was decided.


Just a totally bonzer day. “Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy! Oy, Oy Oy”!





[George MILLIE]


Collective gratitude is extended to the following individuals who made a valuable contribution to ensure that this very special occasion was an unqualified success:


Reg Harper


For just being himself - his courage, infectious good humour, generosity of spirit, forbearance, valued friendship, and perhaps above all, his demonstrated inability to "blow his own trumpet".

Vera Harper


For the acquisition of the blazer, her generous hospitality & superb catering, the use of the Harper residence - jocularly known as “Harpers’ Bizarre” - for the occasion, and photographs.

 Gerry Greg Peck


For the original concept, his tenacity in locating and securing a blazer badge when the usual source of supply was revealed by AOBA to be unreliable, the acquisition of the Regular Forces Service Medal, the bugle, and his authorship of this report.

Margaret Peck


For sewing the badge and buttons on the blazer, the production of the special cushions used for the presentations, her invaluable assistance during the investiture, and photographs.

Marion Millie


For the acquisition and surprise presentation of the “Old Farts” commemorative mugs.

George Millie


For the acquisition of the beret, cap badge and buttons, and the “Shooting A Line Medal”.

Roy Dusty Ashman


For performing with inimitable good humour the role of Parade Commander and Master of Ceremonies.

Phil Hutchinson


For his magnificent short-notice off-the-cuff speech that he delivered during the presentation, and the part he played in the proceedings.

Reg & Vera’s daughter Lisa Harper,

son Tony Harper

& his wife Lisa




For the acquisition of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (and one other yet to materialize), and their proud and loving participation in their father’s “Investiture”. Mention should be made of Tony’s unselfish forfeiture of a unique opportunity to witness live the Rugby Union match between the victorious Australian Wallabies, and the vanquished New Zealand All Blacks, played in Sydney.

The Harper Family,

extended family,

friends & neighbours


For their attendance, some members having to conquer the tyranny of distance to be there.


In conclusion, it is fitting to commend the several children who were in attendance. Their welcome presence was a joy, and their behaviour beyond reproach.


Published: November 2003





counter customizable free hit