Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company

ENewsletter Edition No 82 May 2024

Dear Gunners (Readers) - 

Welcome to Airburst No 81 April 2024

The RAAHC Board met on 25 May2024 and managed to plough through a busy agenda.

In light of the cancellation of the Combined Arms Heritage Leaning Centre, the Temora Aviation Museum has been contacted with a view to extending the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU ) which allows the ANZAC Centennial Gun (ACG)to be displayed at their site. Temora agreed to an extension for two years as they have plans for the area of the ACG display. They have agreed to a two-year extension to allow us to try and find an alternative display location. We will need to consider alternative locations or other alternatives for the ACG. Comments/suggestions welcome.

 A volunteer researcher for Virtual War Memorial Australia, has contacted the RAAHC seeking to use information with which to honour those who have served for Australia in any war. Volunteers develop a profile on them which includes personal details, service history, links, documents, decorations, memorials and photos. Once the profile is completed and cleared by the team at the Memorial it can be viewed by the public on their website. An example of their work can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

The Virtual Memorial is working on the profiles for the 41 Australian soldiers who died in Afghanistan, and have sought permission to include the image of the 4th Regiment, RAA memorial in their profiles. The researcher has requested to use information on Captain Bryce Duffy from our website to develop the profile for Captain Duffy for the Virtual War Memorial Australia.

Permission was granted.

National Volunteer Week 2024 was celebrated from the 20 May-24 May 2024. To all our volunteers a grateful thankyou for investing your time and energy whatever your role.

Paul Camilleri, our Webmaster is beavering away at the RAAHC website. A redeveloped website will be launched soon. Keep your eyes out.


Ian Ahearn


Battle of Coral/Balmoral

Fifty-six years ago, Sunday 12 May 1968 was Mother’s Day in Australia. Shortly after mid-night on the morning of 13th May 1968, in a scrubby area just north of Saigon in South Vietnam north of Saigon, a small group of Australian artillery and mortar men were on the brink of making military history. They were about to face a firestorm unlike any other that was experienced by Australians in Vietnam before or after them.

In the early hours of 13 May their position was attacked and partially over-run by a large force of well-trained and heavily armed regular soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army. Outnumbered and outgunned by the enemy, supported by helicopter gunships and a flying weapons platform known as “Spookie”, the Australians would fight back fiercely and eventually prevail in an all-out engagement that was part of The Battle of Coral/Balmoral.

During the twenty-six days of the battle the gunners would incur multiple casualties while still managing to provide accurate howitzer support for infantry units under attack. For their actions during the Battle, the members of 1st Australian Task Force (Fwd) received the Unit Citation for Gallantry (UCG). The gunners of 12 th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery (RAA, Including A Battery 2/35th US Artillery and 161 Field Battery Royal New Zealand Artillery, were included in the award while the 102nd Field Battery, RAA, in addition to the UCG, would also receive the Honour Title “Coral”.

Above: FOXTROT gun replaced on 13 May 1968

Below: BRAVO gun on the morning of 13 May 1968

"Spookie" gatling gun firing during the first attack on Coral

North Vietnamese Army dead being collected on the morning of 13 May 68,.

'A' Battery 2/35th US Artillery firing from Coral. Photograph taken from a 102nd Battery gun platform.

A "Duster"-tracked armoured vehicle equipped with dual 40mm Bofors was present during the 16 May attack.

The type of Command Post constructed by the battery in SVN

The 102nd battery Command Post was hit by a NVA mortar round on the 16 may attack.

The Battery Q Store CORAL

Lieutenants Lowry and Ahearn buiding their weapon pit.

Sergeant Leslie John Stephens Gun Sergeant DELTA gun awarded the Military Medal for his actions on the 13 may 68 attack on Coral

Army's first live-fire of advanced surface-to-air missile system

18 November 2023

The Australian Army has conducted its first live-fire of the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) at the Woomera test range in South Australia.

The firing by the 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, demonstrates the modernisation of Army’s land-based integrated air and missile defence capabilities towards a fully integrated and more capable Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Chief of Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart said the event was another step forward in preparing Army to meet the challenges outlined in the Defence Strategic Review.

“The firing of this world class capability is a significant milestone for the modernisation of Army supported by defence industry partners,” Lieutenant General Stuart said.

“NASAMS will enable Army to be interoperable with the wider ADF and coalition militaries to provide integrated air and missile defence. “NASAMS is currently used by more than a dozen militaries, including the United States and Ukraine, and is a mature and proven surface-to-air missile system.

The new capability comprises an integrated system between a Kongsberg launch platform, a

Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM missile and the highly capable radar from CEA Technologies. It will replace current legacy RBS-70 man-portable air-defence systems. NASAMS is a highly capable, modern air and missile defence system that will provide protection to the ADF and its partners from current and emerging air threats including indirect weapons, uncrewed aerial vehicles, air-delivered weapons and aircraft.

Head of Land Systems Division, Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, Major General Andrew Bottrell, highlighted defence industry’s significant role in advancing Army’s capabilities

“Land Systems Division’s collaboration with Raytheon Australia, Kongsberg and CEA

Technologies is testament to the knowledge, skill and commitment of all teams to deliver this highly complex capability,” Major General Bottrell said.

NASAMS will be operated by 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, based in Woodside, South Australia. The project will also deliver 16th Regiment new facilities at Edinburgh Defence Precinct, with relocation scheduled for late 2025.

PTE Nicholas Marquis


STRIX - Vertical Take-Off and Landing Uncrewed Air System

iBAE Systems Australia has teamed with local industry to present Australia’s first domestically designed, manufactured and armed VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) Uncrewed Air System (UAS).

STRIX is being developed by BAE Systems Australia and Perth-based Innovaero and was launched at the 2023 Avalon Airshow in Geelong, Australia. 

A hybrid, tandem wing, multi-domain and multi-role UAS capability, STRIX could be used for a variety of missions including air to ground strike against hostile targets and persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). It could also act as a ‘loyal wingman’ for military helicopters.

Designed to carry up to a 160kg payload over 800km, STRIX has a collapsed footprint of 2.6m x 4.5m to be transported in standard shipping. Its VTOL capability means STRIX could be used without relying on an airfield. It could also be operated from a helicopter to expand the mission set and protect aircrew in high-threat environments.

CLICK HERE to see more



I wish to extend my personal greetings and best wishes to all Gunners of the Royal Regiments of Artillery, serving and retired, and their families, across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth on this year’s Artillery Day, 26th May 2024.

As you are all aware, in August 2023 His Majesty The King graciously agreed to adopt the role of Captain General of the Royal Regiment. I wrote to convey our Loyal Greetings to His Majesty following this announcement on behalf of all ranks of the Royal Regiment of Artillery and was privileged with an audience, alongside the Regimental Colonel and Royal Artillery Sergeant Major, in December. His Majesty expressed his interest and enthusiasm in all the Regiments’ wide-ranging activities, and we look forward to his first visit to Larkhill. I know that I speak on behalf of all members of the Royal Regiment, both serving and veteran, in acknowledging the great honour of having our Monarch as the head of our Regiment.

The Royal Regiment of Artillery and Commonwealth Royal Regiments of Artillery remain preeminent within their respective armed forces. The requirement for our equipment and capabilities in conducting modern warfare is strictly in focus in Eastern Europe, and our contribution to training the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been significant.

I am conscious that some of our family are, for whatever reason, struggling. This is when our Regimental charitable networks come to the fore. It does not matter how long somebody has served; the timeless adage, ‘Once a Gunner, Always a Gunner’, should never be forgotten and we must all look after our Regimental Family when crisis looms.

I wish all Gunners, serving and retired, home and abroad, and their families, my very best wishes for Artillery Day on 26th May. Keep your guard up, stay safe and continue to honour our motto, ‘Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt’ – ‘Where Right and Glory Lead".

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Did you Know?

Gallipoli Truce

One of the most heart breaking, and emotional events of the Gallipoli campaign was the truce agreed by the British Empire and Ottoman combatants on May 24, 1915. This unique event was the only officially sanctioned cessation of hostilities to have occurred during the Great War.

As the fighting neared a month long, the numbers of soldiers from both sides who had died in 'no man's land' were reaching catastrophic levels. After an Ottoman attack on the 19th of May, nearly 3000 lay rotting between the trenches.

After several days of difficult negotiations, a nine-and-a half-hour truce was agreed upon for the 24th of May to allow the respectful burial of the dead on both sides to take place. Throughout the day, parties of men roamed through 'no man's land', identifying and burying the dead. Officers met and communicated through sign language, and enemy trenches were covertly examined for future attacks.

It is notable that the only officially sanctioned ceasefire of the war was due to public health needs.

Cutler Research Centre (CRC)

The CRC continues to focus on:

a. Maintaining and improving the CRC collection, assets and eHive catalogue

b. Responding to Requests for Information as coordinated by the RAAHC History Director

c. Aligning the collection in accordance with RAAHC policy

d. Improving CRC procedures and processes e. Digitising appropriate CRC documents .

The CRC has responded to several significant request for information (in association with other members of the RAA Historical Committee). One response received a donation of $150 to cover our time and effort. In addition, the RAAHC continues to receive small periodic payments for sales from our auctioneers for excess items (per our RAAHC retention policy) passed to them.

The Content Management System, (eHive) records show that there have been >330 visits to the site since 1 March.

In June 2022 the RAAHC signed a MOU with the National Library (NLA) NLA under a Trove Collaborative Services Trial that linked our CRC collection (via eHive) to their data base. This trial has now finished and the NLA has approached the RAAHC to continue our participation with Trove, with free membership, by signing a Trove Collaborative Services Agreement to become a Trove Partner. The offer has been accepted.

To view the online CRC CLICK HERE

Gunners Around the Nation & The World

View the websites/ Newsletters from various Artillery associations around the nation and overseas:
RAA Association Victoria Newsletter - Cascabel
Locating Surveillance and Target Acquisition Association - Website
131 Locators Association - Website

Royal Australian Artillery Association (NSW) -Website

Australian Artillery Association - Website

The Royal Canadian Artillery and The Royal Canadian Artillery Association.  Royal Canadian Artillery

PO Box 171
Cremorne Junction
NSW 2090 Australia

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