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Military Historical Society of Australia

Queensland Branch

General meetings are normally held six times a year on the second Saturday of January, March, May, July, September and November. Most meetings have guest speakers and so far they have all been of a high standard and presented by people with significant backgrounds. After a light lunch members display items of military historical interest in a Show and Tell session. The January and July (AGM) meetings are always held at Maryborough. Due to the geographical spread of membership four meetings are usually held at Bundaberg, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. In 2011, for first time, a meeting was held at Toowoomba. Meetings held away from Maryborough are organised by members within the region where it is held and they excel themselves in good preparation, good speakers and good tucker!

After each meeting the Secretary promulgates the minutes to all members which includes details of the presentation given by the guest speaker and information regarding the items discussed in the Show and Tell session which is well received. Some of the material shown has a very significant background which creates a lot of interest and further discussion.

The Queensland Branch is already planning for the 2014 biennial conference. Approaches have been made for a key speaker and the focus will be the involvement of the Australian Military Forces in WWI from 1914 to the end of 1915. This conference will be held at Maryborough and the Branch is confident that due to the centenary of the commencement of WWI, there will be a very good attendance.

The Queensland Branch encourages any Queensland and NSW corresponding members to consider joining the Branch and take advantage of their services and hospitality.

The Queensland Branch has close links to the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum, in fact, the Museum is the Branchs headquarters!

The Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum has 6000 items of military and colonial memorabilia, which form displays of exceptional quality. The Museum holds the largest private museum collection of Victoria Crosses in Australia and has two of the most historically significant medal groups to Australian soldiers for the Vietnam War - 1964 to 1973. They are those of Keith Payne VC OAM who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in Kontum Province on 24 May 1969 and Lt-Col Harry Smith SG MC who commanded Delta Company 6RAR during the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966. In addition, the Museum also holds the Gallipoli VC of Major Herbert James VC of the Worcestershire Regiment. The Museum is also proud to hold Tim Britten's Cross of Valour for the Bali Bombing in 2002. This one of the five Australian Cross of Valour Medals, the only one anywhere in a Museum.

The Museum's Long Tan display includes three of the four Imperial gallantry award groups. They are Lt-Col Smith's as well as those of Bob Buick MM and Ron Eglinton MM. The Museum also holds the MM group to Jock Rutherford which was the first MM to 6 RAR in their 1966-67 tour. Jock was a Section Commander in B Coy and was awarded his MM for Operation Hobart on 25 July 1966, 24 days before Long Tan.

In addition to this unique collection of awards, the Museum exhibits many other significant medals, uniforms and period costumes as well as historic vehicles and scale models of ships and aeroplanes. For the art lover there is trench art, paintings, murals, wood sculpture and relief carving. Pianists entertain visitors with everything from old wartime favourites to jazz and recent popular music.

In addition, there is a 2000 book library, primarily of Australian and New Zealand military history. The library also holds a large collection of serviceman's diaries and their newspaper and periodical collection includes The Sydney Mail from 1915 to 1918 and The Queenslander Pictorial from 1914 to 1927. In addition, they have a detailed computer cataloguing system, all in a comfortably appointed and air conditioned Research Room housed in a magnificent heritage listed structure built in 1879. Research facilities, including photocopying, are available for researchers and family historians.

Keith Payne VC OAM Becomes Honorary Member of Queensland Branch

The Queensland Branch of MHSA is honoured and privileged to have Keith Payne VC OAM accept Honorary Membership of the Branch.  His distinguished military career is a significant example of military history.

Keith PayneKeith joined the army in August 1951 and was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in September the following year, serving with his unit in Korea between April 1952 and March 1953.  He was promoted to corporal and joined the 3rd Battalion in February 1960.  He served in Malaya with this unit and in 1965, now a sergeant, he joined the 5th Battalion.  His next posting was as a WO2 to the Field Training Wing of the Officer Training Unit at Scheyville, NSW.  In February 1967 Keith was posted to Papua New Guinea where he served with the 2nd Pacific Islands Regiment.  He returned to Brisbane in March 1968 and in February 1969 was appointed to the Australian Army Training Team in Vietnam.

In May 1969 he was in command of the 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion when attacked by a strong North Vietnamese force.  Although wounded, Keith organised his troops into a defensive perimeter and then found isolated and wounded soldiers, rescuing some and organising the rescue of others.  Keiths action that night earned him the Victoria Cross, which he received from the Queen aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in Brisbane.  He received the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star from the United States and the Republic of Vietnam awarded him the Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star.

In January 1970 he was posted to the Royal Military College Duntroon as an instructor.  He retired from the army in 1975, but saw further action as a captain with the Army of the Sultan of Oman in the Dhofar War.  On return to Australia, Keith became active in the veteran community, particularly in counselling sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.  This earned him the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2006.

He now lives in retirement in Mackay with his wife Flo.  Keith and Flo have five sons

Details of Keith Payne's medal group

Keith Payne medal group

Description of Keith Payne's medals from left to right

1. Victoria Cross (VC). Highest decoration for gallantry in the face of the enemy in the British Empire. One of the four awarded for Vietnam & the last one awarded to an Australian.

2. Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Awarded in 2006 for service to the Veteran Community.

3. Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975, with clasps for service in Korea, Malaysia, Thai-Malay and Vietnam.

4. Korea Service Medal 1950-53. Served in Korea with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment between April 1952 and March 1953.

5. United Nations Medal Korea. Instituted by the United Nations in December 1950.

6. General Service Medal 1962, with clasp Malay Peninsula. Served with the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.

7. Vietnam Medal 1964-1973. Awarded to all Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women who served in Vietnam.

8. Australian Service Medal 1945-75, with clasps for service in Korea, Papua New Guinea and South East Asia. Awarded for non-warlike operations.

9. Silver Jubilee Medal 1977. Awarded by Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate her 25 years accession to the throne. All living recipients of the VC are automatically entitled to this medal.

10. Golden Jubilee Medal 2002. Awarded by Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate her 50 years accession to the throne. All living recipients of the VC are automatically entitled to this medal.

11. The Centenary Medal 2001. Awarded to persons who have made a contribution to Australian Society or Government.

12. Defence Force Service Medal. Awarded for 15 years efficient service in the Regular Armed Forces with an additional clasp for each 5 years service.

13. National Medal. Awarded for 15 years diligent service.

14. Australian Defence Medal. First awarded in 2006 to members of the Australian Defence Force who have contributed to the nation by serving for an initial enlistment period or four years whichever is the lesser.

15. Meritorious Service Medal (EIIR). Awarded on 8 Oct 1974 for 22 years meritorious service in the Australian Army.

16. Long Service & Good Conduct Medal (EIIR). Awarded on 4 Dec 1969 for 18 years Long Service & Good Conduct in the Australian Army.

17. Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) (USA). This is the highest award given to a foreign serviceman by the United States Army. Only awarded for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force. This is the only award of this medal to an Australian or New Zealand serviceman for the Vietnam War.

18. Silver Star (SS) (USA). Awarded for gallantry against an opposing armed force. Total of 21 awards to Australian servicemen for the Vietnam War.

19. Cross of Gallantry with bronze star (CG). Awarded by the Republic of Vietnam to 128 Australian servicemen.

20. Vietnamese Campaign Medal with 1960 clasp. Awarded to all Australian & New Zealand servicemen & women, by the Vietnamese Government, who served in Vietnam for a period of at least 6 months.

21. Dhofar Campaign Medal. Awarded by the Sultan of Oman for service as a Captain in the Dhofar War in 1975.

22. Dhofar Victory Medal. Awarded by the Sultan of Oman in 1975 for victory in the Dhofar War.

23. Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal. Awarded by the Malaysian Government in 2005 to recognise all servicemen and women who served in operations in Malaya/Malaysia for at least 90 days between the date of Independence 31 Aug 1957 and 3 Dec 1966.

Page last updated on: 11/07/2011