Last week, in Part 1 of my review of the Army Museum of Western Australia, I showed some of the exhibits from the Tradtions, Pre-1914, World War One, Prisoner of War and World War 2 Galleries. This second part focuses on the Post 1945 Galleries and the Guns & Vehicles section which includes the larger exhibits not displayed in the main exhibition building.
Click on the photographs to enlarge the images and read the caption information which provides more detail about what is shown in the photographs.
The POST-1945 gallery examines the Army’s involvement from the Occupation of Japan, through the Korean, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam conflicts up to contemporary operations in the Middle East. Also included are exhibits related to the various humanitarian and United Nations deployments as well as uniforms from the locally based Citizen Military Force (reservist) units.
Australian Army Sergeant in the 65th Infantry Battalion serving with the BCOF forces in Japan c1947. Photo: Julian Tennant
Babysan was a comic created by American artist Bill Hume while he was stationed in Japan in the 1950s. The comic depicts American sailors interacting with a pin-up style Japanese woman named Babysan. The title comes from the word “baby” an affectionate term Americans use and “san” which is an honorary term used by the Japanese. It translates literally to Miss Baby. The comic became incredibly popular with United States service members in Japan by mixing good humor with culture, language, and sex. Photo: Julian Tennant
British Commonwealth Occupation Force shoulder patches worn by Australian troops during the occupation of Japan. Photo: Julian Tennant
Korea c1952. Australian soldier wearing the distinctive Rising Sun cap badge on the peak of his US issue cap. Photo: Julian Tennant
Malayan Communist (CT) peak cap. These caps were not standard issue and rarely seen. Photo: Julian Tennant
After covering the occupation of Japan, Korean War and Malayan emergency of the 1950’s the galleries then turn their attention to the army units based in Western Australia.
Australian Special Air Service Regiment soldier in summer dress, circa 1980. Photo: Julian Tennant
Cabinet display featuring the Officer’s Service Dress Winter tunic worn by Major Doug French of the Royal Australian Regiment, 5th Military District presentation plaque and Australian Army insignia. Photo: Julian Tennant
3 Troop, A Squadron, 10 Light Horse Regiment soldier wearing a Tank Suit. Behind him is an original 10th Light Horse recruiting board c1976. Photo: Julian Tennant
Hat Khaki Fur Felt (better known as a “slouch hat”) worn by Major General Ken Taylor AO when Honorary Colonel of the Pilbra Regiment. Photo: Julian Tennant
Insignia detail of St Patricks College Cadet Unit c1965. Photo: Julian Tennant
Army Cadet Corps insignia worn in Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
The galleries then turn their attention to the 1960’s with it’s Vietnam War displays which feature some interesting items related to members of the Perth based Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in Vietnam. SASR, which was first raised as a Company based at the coastal suburb of Swanbourne. The unit first deployed on operations to Borneo prior to its service in Vietnam and this is the one gap that I noticed in the displays. However, I’m not sure if this is an omission on the part of the museum or just me missing something as I tried to take in everything on display.
Zippo lighter given to Sgt. Kim Pember of 2 SAS Squadron (Australian Special Air Service Regiment) after the squadron completed its second tour in Vietnam. Photo: Julian Tennant
Special Air Service Regiment beret belonging to Ian ‘Bagzar’ Stiles who served with 3 SAS Squadron (Australian Special Air Service Regiment) during both of their tours of Vietnam and then went on to serve with the Rhodesian SAS. Note the British made anodised beret badge and distinctive fawn coloured headband which was used on the SASR berets of the period. Photo: Julian Tennant
Vietnam gun pit diorama in the Post 1945 gallery at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Vietnam mortar crew diorama in the Post 1945 gallery at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
The POST 1945 Gallery then transitions to more recent operations including humanitarian support operations, United Nations deployments and Australia’s commitments to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Australian ‘digger’ wearing the uniform and equipment of the INTERFET deployment to East-Timor, 1999. Photo: Julian Tennant
United Nations Transitional Authority Cambodia (UNTAC) Mine Clearance Training Unit patch and English/Khmer phrase book from the UN deployment to Cambodia in the early 1990s. Photo: Julian Tennant
Items belonging to Major General Ian Gordon whilst commanding the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNSTO) in 2009. Also included is the beret and badge worn whilst he was a Lieutenant Colonel in Commando of UN Operation CEDILLA 1991 in the Western Sahara (MINURSO). Photo: Julian Tennant
Australian Special Forces Survival Kit and ‘Most Wanted’ playing/identification cards from the invasion of Iraq 2003. Photo: Julian Tennant
Military Police sergeant in Iraq. Photo: Julian Tennant
The final section is referred to as GUNS AND VEHICLES and is spread around the main parade-ground plus the other covered locations external to the main building. The exhibits featured in this section range from heavy mortar’s and artillery pieces to armoured cars, tanks and other vehicles. Of particular interest in this section is the Australian Special Forces Amphibian Mk3 Commando Kayak which replaced the German made Klepper Aerius II in 1988. I was also surprised to see one of the Mercedes Unimogs that had been converted by SASR as a support vehicle for use in Afghanistan and I suspect that this may be the only one in a public collection in Australia.
2 Pounder Anti-Tank Gun manufactured by the GMH factory at Woodville in South Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Leopard AS1 Main Battle Tank at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Tanks and AFV’s at the front of the main building of the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
25 pounder gun and Centurion tank in the background at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
25 pounder casket carriage used for formal state funerals. Photo: Julian Tennant
M113A1 MRV (Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle) which coupled the turret from the Scorpion FV101 light tank with the M113A1 Armoured Personnel Carrier for use as a fire support vehicle for Cavalry units. Between 1979 and 1996 a total of 45 M113A1 MRVs served in the Australian Army. Photo: Julian Tennant
This is a well laid out and interesting museum, with clear descriptions of the exhibits, supported by a staff of volunteers including many ex-servicemen who are happy to chat to visitors. Being largely volunteer run, the opening hours are a little restricted, being from 10:30 until 15:00 (last entries 13:00) from Wednesday to Sunday. There is no on-site parking for visitors, but it is not too difficult to find parking in the surrounding streets. If you’re relying on public transport, several buses leaving from the Fremantle train station pass close by or it’s an easy 20-minute walk from the station. An important point for visitors to note is that all adult visitors must be able to show appropriate photo identification (passport, drivers’ licence etc) prior to entry.
The Army Museum of Western Australia
Fremantle, Western Australia, 6160
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