Vietnam Veterans’ day 18 August 2014. Lest We Forget.

Vietnam Veterans’ day 18 August 2014. Lest We Forget.

Simmo & his AATTV mates wouldn’t stand for this destruction

Middle Head in Sydney presents a succession of winding plateaus and spurs culminating in a jutting headland that points to the open sea between Sydney Heads.

The stratified sandstone slopes are steep, cracked, warped and uplifted over millions of years, and they’re covered in bushland.

There is also a profusion of military heritage buildings scattered around the place leaving no doubt that this has long been a military precinct.

The oldest fortification of gun batteries dates back to the 1870s. There’s the submarine miners depot at Chowder Bay (1891), World War I military hospital, and the World War II barracks in 1949 converted to the Australian School of Pacific Administration.

Then there are the brick buildings of 10 Terminal, designed and built to house important wartime communications work. They were built in 1942 with hard to come by materials, and camouflaged to hide them from snooping eyes at sea.

These buildings were later used by the Army School of Intelligence and then, a significant fact this, by Australia’s first Vietnam War contingent, the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV).

The AATTV, Australia’s most decorated unit with more than 100 commendations including four Victoria Crosses, trained and was headquartered in those old brick 10 Terminal buildings.

And now the government wants to knock down the place.

Simmo wouldn’t be happy.

Rayene Stewart (Ray) Simpson, who died in 1978 at the youngish age of 52, had been with the first Australian contingent to arrive in Saigon on 3 August 1962.

He was a 43-year old Warrant Officer, no spring chicken, with the Australian Army Training Team in Kon Tum Province when, on 6 May 1969, he rescued a wounded fellow warrant officer and later fought alone against heavy odds to cover the evacuation of a number of casualties.

For his valour, he won the Victoria Cross and a number of other decorations. His home base was 10 Terminal. The one they want to knock down. The Sydney Harbour Trust’s Executive Director Geoff Bailey claims the buildings are derelict. They might be neglected but they are certainly not derelict.

There is a better plan for it. Better than destruction. A plan with relevance and vision. Julie Goodsir, vice president of the local Headland Preservation Group, has spelled it out. “We see the administration building fronting Middle Head Road as the HQ of the partnership,” she says. “It would feature the defence history for the whole park, including the attack on Sydney by the Japanese submarines….

“It would be a starting point for an experience exploring the tunnels, walking the defences, learning about the military involvement as well as the natural environment.

“Part of that history is 10 Terminal – built at a time in Australia’s history when our very survival was most threatened.”

Simmo would reckon that’s the kind of outcome he served his country for

So do his AATTV veteran mates.

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2 Comments on "Vietnam Veterans’ day 18 August 2014. Lest We Forget."

  • Nick Hese says

    Both my father and myself served in 10 terminal at Middle Head. It should be preserved to show its Military connections, not sold off to greedy developers out for a quick buck

  • Larry Green says

    I was stationed at HQ 10 Terminal Regiment from 1983 to 1985 as a Supervisor of Terminal Operations. Middle Head is a unique area, as far as Military History is concerned and should be preserved as such. There are many fortifications in the area that should be refurbished as monuments to the people who manned them during many conflicts, including WW 2.

    Don’t let the area fall into the hands of greedy developers!

    Cheers,

    Larry Green

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