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Around the Water Cart.

Hugh Thompson Jnr, a former US military helicopter pilot, had died, aged 62. On 16 March 1968, Thompson and his crew came upon US troops killing civilians at the village of My Lai in Vietnam. He put his helicopter down between the soldiers and villagers, ordering his men to shoot their fellow Americans if they attacked the civilians. "There was no way I could turn my back on them," he said later. Mr Thompson, a warrant officer at the time, called in support from other US helicopters, and together they airlifted at least nine Vietnamese civilians to safety. Fellow soldiers shunned Mr Thompson for years over his actions. (A platoon commander, Lt William Calley, was later court-martialled and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the killings. President Richard Nixon later commuted his sentence to three years' house arrest). In the 1980s, Clemson University Professor David Egan persuaded people to lobby the government to honour the helicopter crew. Mr Thompson and his two colleagues were finally awarded the Soldier's Medal, the highest US military award for bravery when not confronting an enemy. (BBC News, 12 Jan 06, courtesy of Anthony Staunton).

Rear Admiral Sir David Scott (5 April 1921--20 January 2006) served in ten British submarines in peace and war, commanding five of them. When second in command of HMS Seraph in 1943, he took on board at Holy Loch in Scotland a large canister marked "optical instruments". When off the Spanish port of Huelva, he was informed that it contained the body of a man dressed as a major of Royal Marines. The body, of an unidentified man who has died of pneumonia, was the subject of Operation Mincemeat. Sir Bernard Spilsbury, the renowned pathologist, had assured the operational planners that the body exhibited all the characteristics of drowning. On it were carefully devised high-level documents purporting to show that the Allies were planning to invade Southern Europe through Greece, while holding Sardinia and Corsica. Only two officers -with the remainder of the crew in ignorance--launched the body close inshore in a half-inflated RAF life raft. The documents found their way to the Germans, altering their plans to reinforce Sicily, the actual invasion point. Later, Scott commanded Meteorite, an ex-German U-Boat driven by high-test peroxide (HTP), which conferred high underwater speed with no need for air, but which was actually a death trap. A number of explosions eventually proved that HTP was not a suitable propellant for submarines or torpedoes. (Obituary, The Times, 24 January 2006).

Joe says: In the March 2006, Water Cart, I mentioned a dearth of first-person material relating to Operation Jaywick, the September 1943 attack on Japanese shipping in Singapore Harbour. Joe is indebted to Mat G Hardy of Sinclair Knight Mertz Consulting who has referred us to the transcript of an interview with Horde Young, a (the only?) surviving member of MV Krait's crew. Mat interviewed Horde for five hours in 2004 as part of the Australians at War Film Archive Project. Not all of the interview relates directly to Jaywick; some of it has to do with Horde's previously and subsequent career. The interview is at http/ Thank you, Mat. Incidentally, Horde was quite upset at the way the raid had been portrayed by historians in various books over the years, with particular acidity reserved for Lynette Silver. His main beef was with her portrayal of Ted Carse as being a little bit mentally unstable and accusations of his drinking on the mission.

Patricia Hammond lives at Lara, Victoria. She is related to the English nurse, Edith Cavell, whose statue is located in the Domain at Melbourne. Patricia would like to know who erected the statue, and when. Contact her at, Journal of the Victorian Branch, June 2006.)

Attention Light Horse and medal collectors. David Leigh-Sewell is seeking his grandfather's WW1 trio to 854 Alvin Leigh-Sewell, 13th Light Horse Regiment. He has another 13th LHR group to trade for them. Telephone 0415 686 936. (Despatches, Journal of the Victorian Branch, June 2006).

HMAS Diamantina, the last of the River Class frigates of WW2, is now located back in the heritage listed South Brisbane dry dock, after a six-week stint in the Brisbane River while the enclosure was restored. Built at Maryborough, Queensland, the 91 metres Diamantina was launched in April 1944 and served in the Pacific. (Miles Vetus, Newsletter of the Queensland Branch, May 2006).

During WWI, firing squads executed five New Zealand soldiers, one for desertion, and four for mutiny. Two of them, Pte John King and Pte John Joseph Sweeney, while members of the NZEF, were actually Australians. In 2000, in a move that caused wide controversy among military historians in New Zealand and elsewhere, the NZ government officially pardoned the five soldiers and announced that their previously forfeited medal entitlements would be restored. The medals of the three NZ-born soldiers were presented to family members in Wellington in August 2005. The NZ Defence Department enlisted the help of the Directorate of Honours and Awards of the Defence Department in Canberra to locate the families of Ptes King and Sweeney. Their medals were presented to family representatives in a ceremony at the NZ High Commission in September 2005, in accordance with the Pardon of Soldiers of the Great War Act (NZ) 2000. (Le Grognard, Newsletter of the ACT Branch, August 2005). Joe says: The Canadian Government intended to take a similar step, but faced with protests from a large number of veterans' organizations apparently resiled from an earlier decision. While the British government has taken no such action, a "Shot At Dawn" Memorial was erected in June 2001 at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, Staffordshire in memory of 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers executed for desertion or cowardice during WWI. More about this memorial in the next Water Cart.
Joe said he would give you more on the WWI digger's kit issue
(Sabretache June 2006). Before he went off to war, the soldier
was also issued with:

Bag, kit universal 1
Blankets, GS 2
Bottle, water, enamelled 1
Brush, hair 1
Brush, shaving 1
Brush, tooth 1
Cap, comforter 1
Carrier, water bottle, with shoulder strap OR
Infantry equipment set 1
Comb 1
Disc, identity 1
Dressing, field 1
Fork 1
Holdall (Housewife--small sewing kit) 1
Knife, table 1
Knife, clasp with marlinspike, tin opener, & lanyard 1
Razor, in case 1
Sheet, ground 1
Soap, piece 1
Socks, pairs 3
Spoon 1
Tins, mess, mounted style OR dismounted style 2
Towels 2

Thanks to INTREP, correspondent of Le Grognard, Newsletter of the ACT Branch, for this item. Joe says: would anyone care to enlighten us on the use or misuse of the "Belt, abdominal" included in the previous list of clothing?
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Title Annotation:Hugh Thompson Jr., US military helicopter pilot, Rear Admiral Sir David Scott
Author:Furphy, Joe
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Previous Article:The Shout Victoria Cross sale.
Next Article:Peter Nolan. Possums and Bird Dogs: Australian Army Aviation's 161 Reconnaissance Flight in South Vietnam.

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