By Bronwyn Bandy
Reginald Amos Bandy was born in Subiaco, Perth Western Australia on 14 July, 1922 the 4th child of 6 born to Tom and Annie Bandy from Victoria Plains. Younger brother to Stan, Thora, Doris and older brother to Shirley and Beryl.
Growing up on the farm was a lot of work and fun. Feeding animals at the beginning and end of the day and helping on the farm, riding his favourite pony Toby and sleeping under his “wagga” (a couple of wheat bags sewn together and suffer with wool and rags, covered and quilted) along with Stan on the house veranda. When he turned 12 he stopped going to school and worked full-time on the farm with his father Tom and his brother Stan. Stooking hay, growing watermelons, oats and barley, raising pigs and sheep. When things were quiet the family helped out neighbours with ploughing, seeding and grading the roads for the Victoria Plains Roads Board. One neighbour commented “Tom, one day you will work those boys to death” Tom replied “If they don’t like it they can leave anytime”. Dad found fun in and around the farming community, the dances, the sports days and the picnics, having good mates for hunting trips and swimming in the local billabongs and spending the occasional money.
Being the second son in the family dad knew the farm would never be his so he needed to leave the farm to find his own life. Dad went to Perth with a couple of mates to see what they could find, ending up at the recruitment office they made a bee line to the Navy, the Navy did not need any more men, they didn’t qualify for the Airforce, but the Army Recruitment Sergeant said they were big enough and signed them up. Needless to say Annie and Tom were devastated.
Joining the army was a great adventure for Dad and his mates, training with 11,000 other men in 1941 and was subsequently posted to a Reconnaissance Unit on the Australian mainland patrolling for arms and enemy submarines off the coast of WA based at Mingenew. Dad patrolled the coast from Guilderton to Jurien Bay in Western Australia where 10 foreigners were caught passing messages to both German and Japanese Submarines.
In 1943 all units were converted to AIF to oppose the Japanese in New Guinea with Dad arriving on an adapted Sydney Ferry with tons of concrete ballast poured in for stability, it was a rough trip. Once Dad had arrived he was posted to a US Army Landing Unit in Finschafen, New Guinea. By Late 1943 Dad was posted back to an Australian Landing Craft Unit loading and delivering up and down the New Guinea coast, servicing other Army units including ferrying prisoners of war to Mushu Island. Dad met a young Japanese officer behind the wire who said the he heard the Australians were going to Tokyo and asked Dad to deliver a letter to his mother who had not heard from her son in many years. Cheekily Dad asked what would be in it for him. The Japanese officer drew a map to where all the Japanese pay was held along with military script. So Dad and his mates filled all the mortar shells they could with Yen and script. This money was used the whole time He and his mates were in Japan.
After WWII, Dad was given the choice of back loading all the equipment in New Guinea or volunteer to go to Japan. You guessed it he was posted to Moratai Japan with the 67th Battalion which then became the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment in 1947. The Battalion trained for British and Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF) duties in Japan, patrolled key buildings such as the Emperors Palace and helped clean up Hiroshima after the Atom bomb. They inspected every hole and tunnel and prison looking for people, contraband and valuables. Lot of valuables were found and turned over to BCOF Administration. Because money was plentiful allowing them to really enjoy the beer halls and Dad give his rations of hot chocolate with milk and lollies to mothers with children. Yes, Dad did deliver the Japanese officers letter to his mother. The whole village came out for the reading of letter from a son they thought was lost.
Early 1950 rumours of war in Korea, initiated training for another war and by February of that year Dad was at war again with 3RAR who had joined the UN Force attached to the British 27th Brigade alongside the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Middlesex Regiments. Landing in the South at Pusan where 3RAR were loaded on to trains and sent to the front. In 3RAR’s first 6 months in Korea they fought 7 battles, lost 100 KIA and 50 wounded. Dad was acting as Platoon Commander at the Battle of Kapyong and in his own words described it as “Not a nice place to be”. They were outnumbered at least 100 to one. How they survived the harsh conditions living in fox holes in the ground in -48 degree winters and 120 degree summers and still being able to fight with little or no food and limited ammunition I don’t know. 3RAR was known as “old faithful” as they rescued the Americans several times. Once in the battle of the Apple Orchard where the Chinese had captured the 187 Airborne Regiment who were to be beheaded at dawn. But they were rescued because the Chinese sentry was asleep and 3RAR was able to surprise them. And again in Choisin saving the marines from a trapped situation between the sea and the Chinese.
In 1951 his tour of duty finished in Korea, he went back to Japan and then later, in December 1952 to Australia where his parents enforced a Manpower decree to the government as Grandpa Tom had become ill. Dad was posted to 6 Recruit Training Company Perth, training reinforcements for Korea. Dad was to help on the farm, when he wasn’t training National Servicemen and CMF Officers and NCOs. During this time he felt very conflicted, as a way to support his family he pressed on in the Army.
During this time he asked a childhood friend Reg Butler to get him a date. His mate Reg asked his then girlfriend Cec Bogue if she could being along her younger sister Patricia. They went to a Rodeo and the rest they say is history. Marrying in 1953 at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth and starting out life living on Mrs Liddle’s Veranda with a new broom and a fire brush and shovel. In 1954 Dad and mum bought a small house from Dad’s sister Beryl in Harold Street Highgate WA.
It didn’t take long for the children to come along with Susan born in August 1955 and Hayden in October 1957. Now the family moves to Tate Street Bentley and Bronwyn is born in December 1960.
In 1961 Dad is posted to Battle Wing Canungra Queensland as an instructor. The family is growing again with the arrival of Clayton in late December 1962. Some of our fondest memories are of watching the men march to training at the back of the houses. Each child being patted on the head as they marched along. In 1963 Dad is posted to South Vietnam with the Australian Army Training Team where he worked with the South Vietnamese Rangers. He has spoken little of this time in his life and Service.
Dad is one of the very few Australians who were awarded the General Service Medal with Vietnam Clasp, the predecessor to the Australian Vietnam Medal. Returning to Australia in 1964, Dad served as a Senior Instructor at the Infantry Centre and was then promoted and posted as RSM, 11th Battalion, and CMF in Western Australia. He was the original RSM setting up the unit from scratch and in doing so influenced the lives of many young professional men by day and strong dedicated soldiers by night.
In 1968 he was posted as RSM to 7RAR where he trained and took the Battalion back to South Vietnam in 1970 for both his and the Battalion’s second tour. Dad and the CO were lovingly known as Uncle Reg and Uncle Ron. The wives and families knew if they needed help or assistance with living a military life they could contact the Uncles for help. Dad is still know as Uncle Reg to many. Returning home in 1971 Dad was posted as RSM Infantry Centre. Given a choice of postings to both the USA or UK dad and mum chose the UK, where dad took up the post of RSM of Australia House, London from 1972 to 1975. Life in England was very entertaining from Consulate celebrations to changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace from the inside, graduations at Sandhurst Military College and Garden parties with the HRH the Queen and Prince Philip. The highlight of being in England was receiving his Member of the British Empire Medal from HRH Queen Elizabeth II in the Buckingham Palace Ballroom.
Dad and mum also organised for many camping holidays to the continent or Scotland and Ireland. Having Diplomatic plates on the car was a blessing until Dad decided to go to Spain where we were turned back due to a coup. The family enjoyed our jaunts and holidays seeing the monuments of Europe, or ABC as we coined the phrase “Another bloody Castle, Church or Cathedral”.
Coming home to Perth Dad had a choice of ways to travel home, so Dad and mum chose to drive down the cote d’Azure to Genoa in Italy and take a first class passage to Perth on the Lloyd Triestino’s Marconi. This became the first civilian cruise Dad had taken, he really loved it and later took long cruises on QM2 more than once.
Coming home to Perth Dad was posted as RSM Western Command and the family moved into Seaward Village at Swanbourne. Dad’s last task was to train the Royal Guard of Honour for the arrival and departure of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip from Perth Airport. Dad yelled at a reporter on the tarmac who was very taken aback by being told off and wrote a great article in the West. “The man with the short back and sides voice” It was a great article about dads service. Dad retired from the Army in July, 1977 having completed 37 years’ service. He saw active service in three wars over multiple tours and besides the MBE was also awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and Conspicuous Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He was also awarded five foreign awards and three citations giving him a grand total of 25 medals, citations and awards.
Before undertaking his last task as an RSM. Dad and mum bought a big house in Queens Park but within 10 years all the children had left home. Dad sold the house with a handshake, much to the real estate agents horror. So they down sized to a new unit in Cannington.
Susan was the first to be married initially in Italy as her husband Peter who is from Genoa and later married in the church next door in 1976. 1979, Hayden Married Therese after meeting her at catholic teachers college in Sydney. Clayton left early in 1982 to follow the family tradition of joining the Army. Bronwyn went to work as cook and housekeeper in the Murchison region of WA. Clayton married Sandy in 1987.
Dad was a great family man whether it was teaching us to go over the obstacle course at Canungra, running in the rain as he worked on his fitness to go with 7RAR, to navigate around the continent of Europe without getting lost, showing us how to place a bet on at the TAB or playing Rickety Kate and Yucca in a tent in Germany. But if there was a task to be done in true military style there was a drill for it, we lovingly call it the “Reg Bandy School of” whether it was erecting a tent on holidays, learning how to use the cutlery on the table, making your bed and polishing your shoes, chopping and stacking wood or gardening it was undertaken with due diligence under his watchful eye. And we loved him for it. He was a keen golfer until his health problems got in the way, you can’t carry a dirty big pack around the world and not have back and leg issues, opting instead for bingo and follow the horses with a few tips from his mates.
His greatest love was the arrival of the Grandchildren, from fixing toys and repairing swings and seats at kindy to attending assemblies, looking after them at holidays, taking them to movies and always going to a proper restaurant where he taught them how to behave and eat like gentle people. The relationships he forged with his grandchildren benefited both camps as Dad became adored for his straight talking and life skills advice. Always telling them to follow their dreams, so Elizabeth moved to Melbourne and became a Collingwood supporter, Claire eventually moved to Sydney, Kristian moved to London, Jon went bush, Frances also found herself working up north, Stephanie and Zachary haven’t flown the coop yet but we know they have had long conversations about their hopes and dreams with Dad. Shortly before his passing Dad was delighted to welcome his first great grandson Caleb, Son of Elizabeth and Tim in February this year.
Dad always had a great sense of humour sharing times of laughing with and at us, he was also a chocoholic keeping a stash of at least 12 blocks of chocolates in the cupboard and some under his pillow. We all knew where it was kept, even the dog knew.
After retiring his connection to the Army was really important to him, attending as many reunions as possible, renewing friendships and as he said “meeting up to tell stories and lies”. The last reunion was 7 Battalion 2009. He was proud of his service and the friendships forged and maintained over his life time.
In closing we firmly believe Dad was born a warrior for his life in the Army, from all accounts Dad was always hard, fair and helpful, He was demanding of himself as well as those around him always giving all he had, of his thoughts, actions, strength, compassion and care binding us all together in a community around himself.
Thank you for coming today.
We encourage story telling at the wake and look forward to hearing the connections you have to him.
Service Details for Reginald Bandy 1940-1977
1940 Joined the Army as Manpower was sent back to the Farm at Gillingarra for harvest and seeding until May 1941
1941 June was moved into camp at Melville 6 to start Corp training with 25th Machine Gunners, and guarded the Canning Dam until November 1941. December 1941 was moved to Northam Camp to complete Corp Training with 11,000 other Infantry men.
1942 February as only night leave was granted the whole camp went on strike. After meetings with the powers to be, the Army was to get 1 ½ days leave a month to be taken at Christmas.
1942 Coastal patrolling from Guilderton to Northampton in Western Australia. 10 foreigners were caught sending messages to German and Japanese Submarines. Posted to a Reconnaissance Regiment attached to the 1st Armoured Division at Mingenew WA to train for the Middle East.
1943 All units were converted to Infantry for service in New Guinea. Sent to Jungle Training School at Canungra for one month. Sent to Finchaven New Guinea joined the US Army Landing Unit, landing and supplies.
1944 Posted to Australian Landing Craft Unit. Serving up and down the New Guinea coast.
1945 WWII ended and sent to Morati, joined the 67 Battalion later becoming 3 Battalion RAR. Trained for British and Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF).
1946 Moved to barracks just outside of Hiroshima Japan. Patrolled our A.O. and helped clean up and control Hiroshima.
1950 February rumours of war in Korea. Started training for Korean War
September 3 RAR joined UN Force in Korea attached to British 27th Brigade with Argil and Southern Highlanders and the Middlesex Regiments. The first six weeks in Korea we fought 7 battles, lost 100 KIA and 50 wounded.
1951 April the Battle of Kapyong. Not a nice place to be.
September tour of Duty finished and moved back to Japan to train soldiers for Korea. December I was returned to Western Australia, after some leave I was posted to 6 Recruit Training Company to train soldiers for Korea.
1953 Training reinforcements finished was posted to 17 National Service Training Battalion as a Platoon Commander.
1957 Posted to CMF Brigade to instruct NCO’s and officers in CMF courses. 1960 Posted to the Battle Wing at Canungra as an instructor.
1963 Posted to AATTV in Vietnam to train Officers and NCO’s for the Ranger Units
1964 Posted as RSM to 11 Battalion CMF Unit WA.
1965 Posted to General Wing the School of Infantry as Senior Instructor
1968 Posted as RSM of 7 Battalion, including the second Tour of Duty with the Battalion.
1971 RSM Infantry Centre, Ingleburn N.S.W 1972-1975 RSM of Australia House, London UK 1975-1977 RSM Western Command, HQ Perth WA
1977 June RSM Royal Guard of Honour for the Departure of the Queen and Prince Philip from Perth Airport.
1977 July Retired from Service
39/45 Star Pacific Star Defence Medal
A.S.M 39/45 Korea Medal
U.N. Service Medal
A.A.S.M. 1945/75 Korea, Japan, Vietnam Clasp
G.S.M. Vietnam, Vietnam Medal Vietnam Star
A.S.M. 45175 Japan Clasp
C.S and G.C.M Medal D.F.S.M.
Peace Medal Korea Air Medal U.S.A.
Honour Medal 1st Class Vietnam Honour Medal and Clasp Vietnam Service Medal.
U.S. Presidential Unit Citation
U.S. Meritorious Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation