103 Medium Battery 1975
Laurie Skinner in Vietnam
3.7 inch Mark 3 Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun - Live Firing North Head Manly
No 53 of 1974 Gun Course - School of Artillery 1974
Anti Aircraft Radar No 3 Mark 7
Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, Memorial, Canberra ACT
25 Pounder New Guinea 1944
     
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GUNNERS MEMORIES
1986

1986
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 The Dining In Night - Resit!

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By Graham Hampton.

The time of year if memory serves me right was mid to late 1986 at 8th/12th Medium Regiment.   We achieved (unintentionally of course) what we believed to be a first of its kind.   Many have been made to resit an SI on course or even god forbid redo the entire course again.   Many have been made to perform their duties on guard again due to being found asleep against the wall somewhere deep within the Regiment in an isolated dark place.   However the 8th/12th Medium Regiments Sergeant's Mess was made to resit an entire Dining In Night due to our somewhat rowdy behaviour.

It all began like any other Dining In night.   Dress up in our Mess Kit, some with medals hanging proudly on their lapels.   Prior to taking our seats we of course had pre dinner drinks in the mess bar where we chatted about this and that as we often did to pass the time.   The Dining Vice President mingled amongst us advising all "5 minute to go" which was our notice to ensure that we attended the toilet prior to taking up our seats in the dining room essentially locked up for a period of up to 3 hours of compulsory idle chatter in a dimly lit room waiting for the head table to take the first mouthful of anything before we could commence ourselves, in which case if you were the last to be served it was probably cold or near enough to being cold.

The night started well and the Dining Vice President was a newly promoted Sergeant as is often the case, what a learning curve.   Among those that were present as I remember it were people like Fred Gebbett, Graham Floyd, Andy Devine, Al Green (RSM & Dining President), Jim Sprice, John Butt, and many many more.   The official guest for the evening was the Battery Commander of Headquarter Battery, Major Hugh Polson (I think).

The evening right from the beginning seemed to go on and on and on between courses however what made it worse was that the drinks waiters were seen on a less seldom basis than one see's an eclipse.   Therefore when we were fortunate to see a drinks waiter one tended to take the full bottles from him and request even more.   From memory I had a stash of some 2 red and 3 white at my feet, others were more adventurous than I whilst some simply stuck with the 1 bottle.   Now imagine if you will with a plentiful stock of wine the evening started to become engaging with loud and humorous discussions occurring not only between those that sat around you but also those on the other side of the U shaped dining setup.   At one point I remember Fred Gebbett the then BSM of 103 Medium Battery asking the Dining Vice President (who was a newly promoted Sergeant of 103 Medium Battery) to "come over here" and as only a newly promoted Sergeant attending his very first dining in night would do, he got up and went over to his BSM.   I distinctly remember the Dining President and RSM of the Mess asking the Dining Vice President to return to his chair and "Take 2" was also spoken loudly.   Not long after that approximately 15 minutes at most Fred Gebbett once again call out to the Dining Vice President to "come over here" and yet again the Dining Vice President left his seat and enroute to his beloved BSM was ordered to return to his chair and "Take another 2".   This went on until I think he eventually received a total of 8 extras which the other more senior Sergeants were most appreciative of.

With the night was coming to an end and I had accumulated not only a belly full of wine but a wide selection of bottles at my feet.   The Dining President stood up and invited the Guest (the BC HQ Bty) to coffee in the anti room.   Unfortunately for me when we all stood up I knocked over at least 3 bottles of wine which spilt quickly out of their bottles backwards under my chair and into the narrow passage between my chair and the wall behind me which incidentally was the chosen route for the Dining President and his Guest to exit the dinner.

You can imagine the Dining Presidents face when he passed through this flood bound area behind me and gave me a concerning look to say the least thinking that I had urinated on the floor under my chair.

The night continued on and I some how survived to wake up in my bed the next morning at home remembering bits and pieces of the evening before.

The following Monday the BSM HQ Bty Graham (Flood) Floyd entered my office just two offices from the RSM's office and advised me that the RSM wanted to see me.  Prior to departing Flood asked if I had urinated on the floor at the dining in night which brought back a range of memories of which this was not one of my actions.   Enter the RSM's office only to be asked the same question.  After some lengthy discussions I emerged with 7 extra Duty Officer duties and advice that we would be re-sitting the dining in night and I had best be on my best behaviour.

The seven extra duties completed I attended the re-sit of the dining in night and again have never attended such a sober, quiet and quick dining in night in all my life.   The principal topic of discussion was "has any other Mess ever re-sat a Dining In Night?"   To this day I have never known any other mess to be required to do so.

History in the making!

Those wishing to assist me with who was in attendance on the night please contact the webmaster and let me know so that they can be listed.   In particular who was the Dining Vice President and the Guest (BC HQ Bty).   One final thing - once the BC HQ Bty found out about the re-sit he actually asked the RSM if he was required to attend as well!!!

POST SCRIPT !

The following script was forwarded to me via email and the writer, Warrant Officer Class One (Retired) Jim Sprice ex Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant of 8/12 Medium Regiment has requested to remain anonomous.

I donít know why or how, but I read with interest your story of the re-sit Dining In Night of the 29 August 1986. Why?   You may ask. Because I was one of the causes of that event taking place and due blame should be placed at the feet of WO Class 1 Al Green. He allowed us to be plied with too much alcohol on the night of the original sitting which if memory serves me right was only about 4 weeks prior to the re-sit.   How come I should remember the date of the re-sit?   Why it was my last night in the Army and at 12 Midnight my uniform was torn from my body and I believe that Al Green may have had something to do with it and at some stage I was hand cuffed.

Letís go back to the original Dining In Night.

I was sitting at the top of the right table next to the King table. To my right and at the extreme left of the King table was sitting the RAEME WO1 whoís name I canít recall.

On the Monday after the Dining In, I heard there were extra duties handed out to all and sundry by the RSM and on conversing with the RAEME WO, I asked him what were all the extraís for. He told me that the RSM could not control his mess because of all the Yahooing.   Gee thatís a bit odd I said, normally things quieten down after the RSM sayís something. The RAEME chap said the RSM spoke on many occasions but there was one bloke that could not keep his big Blah shut and the Sgtís just kept up the loud banter. I said oh yeah who was that, he said a WO1, who was that, I again enquired and he said YOU. 

I went up to Alís office and said to him that I believe I owe you an apology and volunteered my services for extra duties. He said donít worry about it youíll get yours. I thought that all would be forgiven because I had just given him a brand new dress uniform that I did not get to wear.

Well he made me Dining President for the night and I was later told it was the quickest dinner any one ever had for a formal dinner and the rest is history.

 
A Field Battery in Vietnam - Gunner Tiffy
Sergeants from the No. 1 Queensland Volunteer Artillery
Artillery In Action At Heilly France - Circa 1918
Members of 102 (Coral) Battery in Vietnam
Gunner Claude Rubin Winduss (Second from Left) in World War 1

         
         

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