W3 Company - News  Pūrongo

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Remembering ALL Our Fallen

2015 Reunion project to collect photos of all
our deceased veterans headstones

displayed against their name on the Company roll
- see examples 

email the photo here 
 [do close-up photos for best detail]

link to more news beginning July 2015 - news archive

W3 Reunion 2015 - read about the W3 Coy 45th reunion   13 - 15 November 2015 in Timaru
update or confirm your email address for notices about the reunion  -  first newsletter at this link

Commemorating John Gurnick 3Pl - died of wounds 29 May 1970

John was cover scout for 3Pl on 29 May 1970 when a booby trap was missed and he and Chris Kennedy were wounded, John dying of his wounds within a short period.  Chris recovered after a period in 1AFH and returned to 3Pl for the remainder of the tour.

A brief description of the event is here, the after-action report here, and the timeline here.

MIA Pte Trevor Philip 2Pl - webmaster [30 May 2015] updated
Veterans in Australia are reporting the Ginge's email address is bouncing, anyone help re-establish contact please..?

updated thanx Dick Bennett and Colin Fraser, contact with Trev has been established, he has not presently got computer reception at his property near Goulburn.  He advised Colin that he will be at the Timaru reunion.

Something Different - Vietnam Battle Map - webmaster [19 May 2015]
A team of Australians are working on a project to record every contact involving 1ATF over the 10-year period of the ANZAC involvement, building an interactive map that shows where, when and why contacts occurred.

Background - As currently configured, the ‘Australia’s Vietnam War’ website provides a unique, interactive method of studying a major component of Australia’s war in Vietnam.  The Website is the product of many years of work, starting with the creation of the 1 ATF Contact Database in the 1980s.  Work on the current website commenced in late 2012 and the team looks forward to extending its capabilities in preparation for the 50-year anniversary of the 1 ATF campaign.  Ultimately, they hope to help shape the way information is collected and analysed in future military operations, to shorten decision cycles and save lives.  At the moment, it only deals with the combat operations of the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF).  The Team led by Bob Hall ex 8RAR hopes that vets will contribute to the program by providing more information on any contacts they were involved in and other info such as photographs etc.  These facts will provide a unique data base for  future analysis.  Whilst the official launch is not until 27 May 2015 it is available now and participation is welcome.  Before the launch a “Grunts” guide  on how to drive the program will be included. 

W3 Effort - I have been using the site for a week and have added most of the W3 website timeline research notes for December 1969 and January 1970.  I say most because the filter used requires you to search under their criteria and the proffered detail sometimes doesn't make much sense so some elements of the Company can't be identified.  Anyway have a go, read our entries and if you register you can add notes about contacts you were in J

The website is here:  https://vietnam.unsw.adfa.edu.au/
[unsw = University of New South Wales Canberra; adfa = Australian Defence Force Academy]

:UNSW Canberra is the Canberra campus of The University of New South Wales and is located at the Australian Defence Force Academy.  UNSW Canberra has provided undergraduate and postgraduate education to the Australian Defence Force at ADFA since the Academy opened in 1986:

When you enter the site click on the link 'Battle Map' which will take its time loading given the size of the existing database and I suspect a very slow link.  The filter on the left of the map looks like this:  note the spaces in the units involved field and by just changing the pl number and the operation name you can trace most of your time in the bush.  Refer to the W3 website history for the operation names.

I will carry on and add the remaining entries from our timelines as opportunity allows - send your comments here

Farewell to the Huey - webmaster [13 May 2015]
A bunch of about 30 veterans scored their last ride in a Huey early in May when three aircraft made a farewell visit to Christchurch before their decommissioning in July.  Among the veterans was Blue Caldwell 1Pl - the farewell flight was airborne for around 20-30 minutes and involved low level passes along the beach and time above Banks Peninsula.  The distinctive sound of the Huey will be missed by veterans, I remember at Parade 98 in Wellington watching veterans weep when the aircraft made an unexpected fly past at the end of the Sunday morning church service.

Veterans Support Act [VSA] Explanation - AVM Robin Klitscher (past National President RNZRSA 2008) [25 April 2015]

Veterans have been struggling with some parts of the new Veterans Support Act 2014 [VSA] which replaced the War Pensions Act 1954 [WPA] at the end of 2014.  The following explanation is for all who may be concerned ......

It's perfectly reasonable that questions should arise as we transition from the old War Pensions Act to the new Veterans' Support Act.  But we might also need to take care that we're not just jumping at shadows.  And we might need to remind ourselves that the main reason we have a new Act is that the old one was no longer working.  It had been constructed for a different age, and was old, creaky and well past its use-by date.  Because large parts of it were no longer relevant to modern circumstances, it needed to be replaced entirely.

There seem to be concerns that reviews of existing conditions require the veteran to transfer from the old War Disablement Pension to the new Disablement Pension - that is, from the provisions of the War Pensions Act 1954 to the provisions of the Veteran's Support Act 2014.  Some even wonder if this might be a plot to save money to the disadvantage of the veteran.  The reason for the requirement to transfer upon review is pretty straightforward, and has nothing to do with saving money.  Section 276 of the Veterans' Support Act 2014 says "The War Pensions Act 1954 .. and the Veterans' Affairs Act 1999 .. are repealed."  That means the WPA 1954 no longer exists in law.  There is therefore no way that an assessment (or re-assessment) can be done under the provisions of the WPA 1954 because they no longer exist.

"Why not?", you might ask.  Again the reason is straightforward.  One of the shortcomings of the WPA was that it calculated impairment levels for multiple disablements by simply adding them together.  This meant that consistency could be difficult to achieve overall.  But it also meant that impairment levels could accumulate to above 100% (sometimes well above), which was just plain irrational.  How is it rationally possible to be more than 100% disabled?  Further, it led to arguments about the extent to which ratings above 100% could or should be compensated, not to mention the practice of "capping" compensation for aggregations at
certain levels in excess of 100%.  In contrast the whole-body assessment system contained in the new legislation avoids such artificialities by calculating multiple disablements on a proportional scale up to a more natural and understandable maximum of 100%.  Obviously, however, one can't expect to have a bad knee and hip assessed on the former cumulative scale, and a bad back added to the result under the new whole-body scale.  The two systems don't mix, so it's a matter of one system or the other, not
both.  Therefore new assessments (or re-assessments) can only be done on the whole-body basis prescribed in the new Act.

But that doesn't mean everything in the WPA 1954 is thrown out, either.  Far from it. Transition is provided for in s. 277 of the VSA 2014.  It says "The application, savings, and transitional provisions set out in Schedule 1 have effect for the purposes of this Act." 
Now, before we go any further, let's not misunderstand the word "savings" in this Section. It has nothing to do with monetary savings, but is purely legal jargon for parts of the previous Act that are "saved" into the new Act.  If we turn to Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the VSA we see those savings listed.  I won't repeat them all here, but the guts of it is that all allowances, grants, concessions and loans that applied under the WPA 1954 will continue unchanged under the VSA 2014.  Among other things these savings also preserve rights of appeal under the WPA that hadn't been completed at the time the VSA commenced.  And we see that under Clause 12 of Schedule 1 and the Explanatory Note included in the Veteran's Support Regulations, entitlements including Attendant Allowance, Clothing Allowance, Travel Allowance and Recreational Travel Concession will be sensibly tidied up into what will be called the Veterans' Independence Programme (VIP).  The legal basis of VIP is in Sections 138 to 157 of the VSA 2014.  But it won't take full effect until Scheme 2 commences on 7 December 2015. Meantime the RNZRSA will of course be watching the development of the VIP very closely, especially in regard to Clause 13 of Schedule 1 which says that the rates for veterans who had already qualified for these allowances etc under the WPA 1954 will not be less than those that were payable under that Act.

Next, let's look at Part 2 of Schedule 1.  It deals with other aspects of the transition.  Again I won't repeat it all here, but the main
points are that all permanent WDPs previously payable under the WPA will continue unchanged, and that payments to individuals under the new legislation must not be less than existing ones under the WPA.  Importantly, it also says specifically at Clause 6(6) of the Schedule that "a veteran retains his or her entitlement to receive a disablement pension .... even though an assessment .... indicates that the veteran's degree of whole-person impairment would not make the veteran eligible for a disablement pension ..."   Basically what that means is that the payment rate made to a veteran who transfers from a War Disablement Pension to a Disablement Pension will be unchanged if the accepted disabilities are permanent.  In that case the rate of disablement pension paid under the VSA will not be less than what was paid as a WDP under the WPA.

Less commonly, however, some accepted disabilities are categorised as "temporary", even under the WPA.  This allows for the possibility that the condition might respond to rehabilitation or treatment.  Where such a condition does respond favourably, it is possible that the payout could be reduced upon re-assessment.  But that's not new either.  It's no different from the present situation under the WPA, where a re-assessment after treatment could result in a reduced temporary pension (or if a WDP is found to have been granted incorrectly in the first place).  There is much, much more in Part 2 of Schedule 1, covering terminal conditions, surviving spouse pensions, children's pensions and even the Veterans' Pension.  But the most important aspect of all of this is that VANZ simply cannot arbitrarily reduce payments already made under the WPA 1954.  If they tried to do so they would be breaking the law.  Any concerns that an economy drive might be under way by reducing payments in transition from the old Act to the new are groundless.  It can't happen without changing the Veterans' Support Act itself, and that's not on the table.

What it all boils down to is that, if you need a disablement assessment, or a re-assessment, the new VSA whole-body system will apply because a mix of the old cumulative system and the new whole-body system isn't possible.  Normally, because the final figure is no longer unlimited but has to fit into the range up to 100% tops, a reduction in your numerical disablement rating can be expected.  But, for the same disabling condition, the savings and transitional provisions outlined above mean that compensatory disablement pensions will *not* be reduced by reason of the conversion itself, but will remain unchanged.

And so it's difficult to see anything to fear in transitioning from a WDP to a DP.  Because the WPA 1954 no longer exists, a review of an existing impairment can only be done under the VSA 2014.  And, in law, VANZ cannot reduce an existing permanent WDP payment at whim.  The transition also affects the way in which changes in the need for aids or appliances such as hearing aids or spectacles are handled.  Obviously, a bid for more capable aids or appliances implies that the underlying accepted condition has worsened and needs re-assessment.  And so the requirement to transfer from a WDP to a DP to enable re-assessment to take place makes sense because it can no longer be done under the WPA.  But we need also to remember that the savings and transitional provisions in Schedule 1 prohibit VANZ absolutely from reducing what was payable under the WPA for the same category of impairment.  That is, under the transitional provisions deliberately written into the new Veterans' Support Act, it's hard to see that the change from WDP to DP is a risk for the veteran in terms of reduced disablement payment.  If such a case does come out of the woodwork, it will need to be argued on the facts at the time.  But we should bear in mind, too, that it's not impossible for a re-assessment under the whole-body VSA to increase the payment above what the WPA provides.  And so the clear intention is that veterans should be protected from arbitrary reductions in the course of the transition whilst also providing for them to benefit from any advantages that might result.

Another change that's occurred with the repeal of the previous WPA is that referring to the War Pensions Claims Panels is pointless.  They have been disestablished.  In effect they have been replaced by carefully-worded Statements of Principle which provide comprehensive templates for the assessment of claims.  Originating in Australia, the SoPs come in two flavours for each of several hundred named disabling conditions.  One stream is based on routine service which relies on the 50-50 balance of probabilities standards of proof.  In fact it's actually called the "balance of probabilities" stream.  The other stream is based on war or emergency service and is called the "reasonable hypothesis" stream.  It deliberately weights the required standard of proof heavily in favour of the veteran - in broad statistical terms, to the tune of about 9 to 1 in favour of the veteran.  That is, the reasonable hypothesis SoPs are constructed so that if there is a 10% chance that the proposition is true, then it will be accepted as true.  This is a close parallel with what many called previously - and inaccurately - the "reverse onus of proof".  The point of mentioning this is that in considering the implications of reviewing an accepted condition, veterans might find it useful to consult the relevant SoP, or to take advice on interpreting it.

Finally, as I have said elsewhere, there is no likelihood that I know of that disablement pensions might be taxed.  These are compensatory payments, and as such are not taxed.  Payments such as the Veterans' Pension and other income replacement payments are already taxed, so there is no additional threat there either.  Much of the recent Hansard in this matter is no more than politicians blowing smoke.

Robin K

Vietnam Veterans (Neville Wallace Memorial) Children’s & Grandchildren’s Trust - CHAIRMAN’S REPORT [25 April 2015]
It is my privilege to present this report on the activities of the Vietnam Veterans (Neville Wallace Memorial) Children’s & Grandchildren’s Trust for the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014.  During the past year the Trust received $4030.00 in donations and this, combined with capital gains from our equities portfolio, saw the Capital Fund increase by over $34,000 to $537,651.  I particularly acknowledge the generous donation of 500 copies of the book ‘A Duty Done’ by the Royal Australian Regiment Association.  The books are being marketed on our behalf to the New Zealand Vietnam veteran community by Major General (Rtd) Maurice Dodson and I thank him for the time and effort he has put into this.  We are already starting to see the results from this reflected in the Capital Account.

Since its inception the Trust has made a total of 462 grants ranging in value from $159 to $2,500.  In 2014 we awarded a total of 24 bursaries (c/w 33 in 2013) with an average value of $524.  The assistance given continues to be wide and varied encompassing the whole gambit of education, sporting and cultural endeavour - 88% of the bursaries awarded went to first time applicants (up 6%); 92% went to applicants resident in New Zealand; 29% were to the children of Vietnam veterans (down 7%); female recipients comprised 67% of the total (down 6%); 64% were aged <20 years of age; 7% were aged between 20 and 30 years and 29% were aged 31>.

Our website www.evsayouthtrust.org.nz continues to attract considerable interest and, to date, has received in excess of 39,000 ‘hits’.  I acknowledge the professionalism of our webmaster Wayne Cribb.  Wayne is a barrister who has an interest in website design.  He works for gratis and we thank him for that.  I am pleased to advise that the website is now fully sponsored by Jimmy Jacks Ribshack in Paihia.  I acknowledge the ongoing support we continue to receive from NZ Post by way of standard post-paid envelops.

During the year we welcomed George Mathew to the Board as well as Anita Killeen as our Honorary Legal Adviser.  I thank everyone for their valued contributions to our work.  The Trust is in good shape.  We can face the future with confidence.

Ross Miller, MNZM, JP
30 March 2015

Sunray at Gallipoli 2015 - webmaster [25 April 2015]  [updated by Evan 4 May 2015]
Brig (rtd) Evan Torrance [with Tom O'Reilly] was photographed resting on the summit of Chunuk Bair 24 April 2015. 

Evan [age 78] and Zilla Torrance were part of a 113 strong tour party who laid a wreath at Chunuk Bair on 24 April.  Evan had told the group that two All Blacks had died at Gallipoli; Albert Downing on 8 August and Henry Dewar on 9 August, both had arrived on 8 August as members of the 5th Reinforcements and their names are inscribed on the Chunuk Bair Memorial panels.  Evan's father Andrew Torrance was in the same draft and landed 9 August 1915 - one of 300 reinforcements for the Otago Infantry Battalion [note that Downing died the day he arrived - Ed]. 

From a Timaru newspaper clipping: Evan  was thinking about his father Andrew who landed at Gallipoli aged only 18.  "The only time he spoke to me about his experiences in the First World War he mentioned that they were never too far away from the Turks, the food was dreadful and all they had was bully beef, biscuits and water was just so short".  Andrew contracted dysentery and was evacuated but fought on the Western Front until gassed at Passchendaele.  He died aged 82.


ANZAC Day 25 April 2015 - webmaster [19 April 2015]

As we lay there together men smitten with fear
For the lives of our comrades we know are so near
Now crouching behind the little thin trees

Fear in our stomachs and prayers from our knees
Men tensed for action on the tips of their toes
Awaiting the bullets from the guns of our foes

But our mines they say are the first to be fired

The first foe is killed and the rest have retired.

We engage them with small arms and started the sweep
Chasing them further where the jungle is deep

The action is over and it seems pretty short
But tell that to the men who have just fought.

They’ll say it was endless and likened to hell
But whatever they say it all ended well.

Andy 1Pl

we will remember them


RSA Fight For Our Flag - Bob Upton [14 April 2015]
The New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill was introduced to the House in March and an announcement was made that the closing date for submissions on the Bill is Thursday, April 23.  The RNZRSA is championing the current flag on behalf of concerned members and will be making a submission to ensure their voices are heard.  They also want the Government to hear the voices of all New Zealanders who think, as they do, that the referendum process is flawed and costly, and that the current flag is the right choice for New Zealand today and into the future.  The flag represents the history that makes us uniquely Kiwi.  It unites our present with our past and encompasses the heritage that shaped and formed the pioneering and innovative people that we are today. It is our flag.  Let's make sure it stays that way.  On Sunday, the RSA issued a press release encouraging Kiwis to email or write to their local MP asking them to vote against the Bill, or make a personal submission to the Select Committee.  The RSA also launched a new page on the RSA website - rsa.org.nz/Community/FightforOurFlag - to give people the resources to do just that. 

The current flag is part of the Vietnam story.  If you agree with the RSA position why not email or send a letter to your MP asking them to vote against the Bill..?  You can use sample letters from the RSA website or write your own.  Direct people to rsa.org.nz/Community/FightforOurFlag for information on the RSA position and how they can help.

Noticas Fatal 312920 Gnr Michael John Sullivan RAA - Coy HQ FOO Party - webmaster [30 March 2015]
Gnr Mick Sullivan passed away in Australia on 12 March 2015, near Ballarat in Victoria - more details of the funeral have been requested from our other FOO party colleagues. 

Our 4 Fd Regt FOO Kevin O'Brien offers this tribute "Mick was a gunner when we first went to W Coy but after a couple of ops, I was able to get him promoted to LBdr.  He performed exceptionally well in the contact on Long Son Island and was sent out on several patrols with the spare radio with approval to provide fire support if needed.  Before joining W Coy, he was involved in a major fire fight, where he initiated contact when deployed as the sentry.  Great young soldier. Missed by us all".  Colleague Bob Brumm remembers Mick as a champion country boxer in Victoria before joining the army.

Canadian Interest in W3 website - webmaster [24 March 2015] updated
A Canadian army officer with the Canadian Directorate of Army Doctrine recently approached the webmaster for permission to use the W3 website as a reference site while re-writing the Canadian Army 'Jungle and Forest Operations' manual.  Major Murray Robertson has worked with Kiwi's in Bosnia and visited New Zealand.  Major Robertson describes the website as excellent [
J] and sees it as balancing the mainly American experience widely available in North America.  Approval was freely given subject to attribution of source.

Jim Cutler's [unsolicited] comment:  It is simply not proper that it takes a Canadian to tell us that the W3 Coy website is "excellent".   So, for all those W3 Coy members (and others) who regularly 'check in' to the website to see what's new, I must say on your behalf, what an excellent job Bruce Young is doing for us.  Thank you Bruce, and long may it continue! [yeah J]

As an aside, in all my service after Vietnam, I had the pleasure to work alongside many fine Canadian officers; especially in the MFO (Sinai) and in Sarajevo (UNPROFOR). Of all the Western nations' armies, I think that we are most akin to the Canadians.  They think and act very much like Kiwis.

Veterans Support Act [VSA] Changes to War Disability Pension [WDP] - webmaster [14 March 2015]
Veterans need to be aware of nuances and changes to our WDP conditions in relation to the passing of the Veterans Support Act last year, especially the cross-over if having further claims or treatment - start by reading these two documents [courtesy Viet Vets net] and take up any concerns with your VANZ case manager or local RSA welfare officer;
Commemorating David Wright 2Pl - died of wounds 19 March 1970
Pte David Wright [left] succumbed to secondary infections [likely renal failure] from his earlier wounds in January and died in Concord Repatriation Hospital Sydney on 19 March 1970.  Dave had been well enough by early March 1970 to be writing from Concord to friends in W3 and his death was sudden and unexpected, so sudden that a last letter was received in SVN after news of his death.

Dave is buried in Esk Valley South Canterbury; his grave will be visited during the W3 2015 Reunion in Timaru.

Reunion 2015 - Newsletter 1 - webmaster [7 March 2015]
I have posted Reunion Newsletter 1 at this link on behalf of the Reunion organising committee.  A copy has been sent to the W3 email distribution list.  You require Adobe Reader to open the newsletter, get a free download at this link.
Waiouru - shrinking town soldiering on - webmaster [21 February 2015]
At the link is a story on the current state of the community we knew as Waiouru Camp, thought you might be interested - Manawatu Standard
NOT the first Reunion Newsletter - webmaster [1 February 2015]
The reunion organisers report they are still approaching motels in the area near the Timaru RSA to organise accommodation deals and expect to have these settled by mid-February.  There will be a meeting with the RSA mid-February to settle arrangements and meal costs.  By mid-March the anticipated first Reunion newsletter should be available.

If the veteran or their family have advised their current email address the Newsletter will be distributed by email.  Otherwise the website will offer the newsletter from a link on the reunion website page and people who use the website automatic update option will receive an email whenever the website welcome page is updated - note that update email addresses are separate from the veteran email notification and not available to the webmaster.

Email Address Bounces - webmaster [4 February 2015]
the email address for the following people has bounced [meaning no longer receiving email] - if you are in contact with the veteran or their family please request an updated email address be forwarded to here:
Brown J Leatham ü Nissen
Brown P ü McConkey Paki
Clifford ü Morrison ü Preston ü
Goggin ü Mortimer Rowsell
Gorman Mullen Shields
Illingworth Nicolle Yandall

the current emails are necessary for forwarding updates on the W3 45th reunion this November

Noticas Fatal 981277 Pte WAG [Gene] Illingworth 3Pl - webmaster [8 January 2015]
Warren passed away Wednesday 7 January 2015 after a long battle with cancer.  His funeral is on Monday 12 January 2014 at 1430 hrs at Beauchamp Crematorium Chapel, 167 John F Kennedy Drive Palmerston North.  For further details please refer to Dominion Post of 8 January.

Tributes here   V4 Coy has been advised, Warren came to W3 from V4

Evan Torrance [15 January 2015] - On Monday I attended the funeral of Gene Illingworth who according to the service sheet would answer to Buddy, Gennie Weenie, WAG, Illy, Jumpy, Junior, Punung [?? Philippines] or Gene. The service was conducted by Mark Donaldson (All Black 1977-1981) and attended by friends and whanau that filled the Chapel and adjacent Reception Room.  Ngatoko Kupe, Dave Gundersen and I represented W3 and we were joined by a few other ex-Vietnam Vets, one of whom had travelled to Palmerston North from the Far North.  Gene was 67 and he and his wife Jaqui had six children all being present with their offspring to give him a heartfelt humorous farewell.  Gene's three year army service that included four months with V4 and six months with us was recognised with the reciting of the Ode and the playing of the Last Post.

Website Statistics - webmaster [1 January 2015]  raw data
In 2014 the W3 website had its best year for readership with 31981 unique visitors, a roughly 50% increase from the previous year [19537 in 2013 and 15834 in 2012] perhaps reflecting that the website is being noted as a reference in other published research. 

While figures differ month to month I have chosen December figures as illustrative [highest month ever and reflecting the upward trend in visitors].  Generally visits duration figures show 85-90% of visitors leave within 30-seconds [6152 in December 2014] which suggests Google displays the website as a first option during random searches, but e.g. in December 507 visitors engaged for longer than 2-minutes with 291 reading on for greater than 15-minutes including 74 who stayed for over an hour.  Based on these figures W3vietnam.org.nz is a relevant reference website.

The first table illustrates different statistics for visitors:  unique visitors is based on different IP addresses [same computer multiple visits equals one] - No of visits is a computer who has not linked to the site in the previous hour - pages is the total of times a HTML [web] page has been viewed [but does not count PDF or other files or images], while hits show total of everything viewed or downloaded [page plus all images on page are counted] and bandwidth is the amount of data downloaded and read each month.

Who is reading W3vietnam.org.nz?  The second table illustrates the wide range of countries finding the website with the US consistently the largest source of visitors.  New Zealand monthly downloads were down from December 2013 [212.39Mb] averaging 113.35 Mb/month for 2014 with the highest months being January [198.20 Mb] and June [121.36 Mb]:

Other Growth:  In December 2014 the website disk space consumption on the host servers reached a data limit requiring data to be either cleaned up [delete some] or additional disk space purchased.  With a major revision of content completed a year ago and a reunion to look forward to in 2015 a hosting plan upgrade was desirable and has been organised at no additional cost.

link to more news from before January 2015 - news archive