The Army Museum of Western Australia will be reopening to the public on Wednesday 2nd September, albeit with limited access hours.
The Army Museum of Western Australia will be reopening to the public on Wednesday 2nd September, albeit with limited access hours. The museum will be open Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays 10.30am – 3pm (last entry 1pm). However, the museum will not yet be open on the weekends.
To see my two part review of the museum and dozens of photographs go to this post for part one which covers the exhibits up until 1945 and here for the post 1945 galleries and external displays.
For more information about current visiting conditions, visit the museum website.
View of the Pre-1914 Gallery at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
19th Century British Army artifacts in the Pre-1914 Gallery of the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Hat badge, shoulder titles and collar badges of the 11th Australian Infantry Regiment, 1903 – 1912. Photo: Julian Tennant
3 badges made by a Prisoner of War from silver foil used in cigarette packets. These were made in 1944 by Sgt K.T. Sneider, a Czech POW. The cord represents the Czechoslovkian national colours. Top to bottom – RAF Pilot Wings, POW Parachute club and a Czech Air Force Badge. Photo: Julian Tennant
A soldier of the 2/16th Australian Infantry Battalion late 1942/early 1943. He is armed with a Thompson submachine gun and is dressed in the transitional uniform of khaki trousers and dyed shirt. By September 1943 when the battalion commenced operations in the Markham Valley, the Thompson had been replaced by the Owen submachine gun and jungle green trousers. Photo: Julian Tennant
Liberator M1942 Pistol. Manufactured for the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) for use by clandestine forces during WW2. A very crude and cheap weapon to produce (approximately 1 million were manufactured between June August 1942), the Liberator is a single shot smoothbore pistol intended for close range use. Photo: Julian Tennant
Entrance to the POST 1945 GALLERY at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Korea c1952. Australian soldier wearing a mix of Australian, American and Canadian uniforms and armed with an Owen Machine Carbine. 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
Army Cadet Corps insignia worn in Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Vietnam mortar crew diorama in the Post 1945 gallery at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Japanese made Australian Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) patch. These patches were introduced in 1967 and the majority were made in Japan. Later, a small quantity were made locally in Vietnam, however the majority of AATTV members used this Japanese made patch. The locally made variation is extremely rare due to the small numbers manufactured and collectors should be cautious when acquiring these patches as they have been extensively copied and generally do not resemble the original ‘local-made’ patches. Photo: Julian Tennant
Australian Special Air Service Regiment soldier in summer dress, circa 1980. Photo: Julian Tennant
Military Police sergeant in Iraq. Photo: Julian Tennant
Australian Special Forces Survival Kit and ‘Most Wanted’ playing/identification cards from the invasion of Iraq 2003. Photo: Julian Tennant
Mine warning sign and shirt worn by Corporal Steve Danaher (RASIGS) whilst deployed to Cambodia as part of the UNTAC mission in 1993. Photo: Julian Tennant
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
The Army Museum of Western Australia Artillery Barracks Burt Street Fremantle, Western Australia, 6160
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These Australian SAS parachutist wings are amongst the most prized in my collection for a couple of reasons. Apart from their scarcity, they were given to me by Andy Russell who was serving in the SAS at the time and on 16 February 2002 unfortunately became the first Australian to be killed in Afghanistan, when the LRPV vehicle he was travelling in struck a mine. He left behind his wife Kylie and Leisa, his two-week-old daughter whom he had never met. Lest we forget!
Andy gave me the wings in late 1998 not long after he returned from a deployment to Kuwait as part of a US led coalition known as Operation DESERT THUNDER. Contrary to popular myth, this was the first operational deployment by an Australian Special Air Service Regiment unit to the region. No Australian SAS troops had taken part in the first Gulf War although some of the Navy clearance divers of CDT4 who conducted important operations in and around the coast of Kuwait during that conflict had served as sailors in the water operations element of the SAS counter terrorist squadron prior to 1994. In the aftermath of the war, the United Nations sent UN Special Commission inspection teams to Iraq to monitor their weapons program and check for evidence of WMD’s. Two SAS signallers from 152 Signal Squadron, corporal’s Mal V. and Mark S. formed part of one of these teams in 1993 but that was the extent of the Australian SAS involvement with Iraq and the region up until that point.
Then, in late 1997 Iraq began to deny entry to these teams and in response, a coalition led by the USA formed with the initial intention of mounting air strikes to enforce compliance. In February 1998, the Australian Government announced that it had responded to a request from the USA to participate in the coalition. Part of that response included elements of 1 SAS Squadron (A and B troops along with their integrated 1 Sig troop from 152). The squadron was bolstered by the attachment of a troop from the NZ SAS, which formed D troop. This ANZAC SAS force set up camp at a large Kuwaiti air base known as Ali Al Salem.
The squadron’s roll was primarily to undertake combat search and rescue missions (CSAR) into Iraq to rescue downed aircrew and other coalition personnel. A secondary mission was to undertake tactical surveillance and response operations on the Kuwait- Iraq border and a third role was to provide a quick response force (QRF) capability to respond to small scale Iraqi raids. Familiarisation and preparatory training began immediately but two weeks after arriving, the UN struck a deal with Saddam Hussein and the planned air strikes were put on hold. The operation was renamed Operation DESERT SPRING and preparations continued until May when the squadron was reduced to a troop and then returned to Australia in early June.
At the time, Andy Russell was serving in A troop, which was 1 Squadron’s air operations / freefall troop. Whilst deployed to Kuwait, the troop had 20 sets of these ‘desertised’ SAS wings made up by a US army tailor. The wings were never meant to be worn, nor would they ever be permitted to do so. They were sold/distributed within the troop as a memento of the deployment and like many of the sub unit patches so often seen, inject cash into the troop ‘goffa fund’ which was used to buy soft drinks, beer etc for troop functions.
With only twenty examples made, it is definitely one of the rarest Australian SAS badges, but for me, they are even more special having come from a friend who was doing what he loved best, but taken before his time.