Return to the regiment: Lt Les Peterkin & the Governor-General
25 July 2019
Les Peterkin, 85, lectured at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in the 1960s, teaching a generation of young education officers bound for Papua New Guinea in the finer and more brutal arts of physical education. I particularly recall his fiendish rope course, at which I failed. Les is also a noted ceramic artist and his Super 8 movies of PNG in the 1960s recently featured in PNG Attitude - KJ
NEWCASTLE – Last Saturday I attended the 119th Regimental Dinner of the Sydney University Regiment hosted at Saint John’s College.
Let me explain. Four years ago, when I rejoined the Ceramic Collectors Society in Sydney, of which I had been president in the late 1970s, I met Paul Simadas, who has just finished his term as president.
Lt Colonel Paul Simadas is a professional soldier and was commanding officer of the Sydney University Regiment from 2000 to 2002.
So things fell in to place when I told Paul that, after my national military service in 1953, I served for three years of CMF training as a piper in the Sydney University Regimental Pipe Band.
Two notable events happened during that time. On the 4 February 1954, the Sydney University Regiment lined both sides of Parramatta Road outside the university to stand ceremoniously at the Present Arms as Queen Liz and Phil went past in the royal procession. (I was certain she waved at me!)
Then in February 1955, the Sydney University Regiment headed off to annual camp in Singleton. Two days later the heavens opened and Singleton had its worst flood in history.
It was horrendous in camp as well. We soldiers spent almost the entire two weeks engaged in flood relief. One of my jobs was to dig a big trench to bury about 500 chooks that had been drowned at Singleton Convent.
But back to the dinner. It was a right royal occasion let me tell you, mainly because of the presence of Australia’s new Governor-General, General David Hurley, now Honorary Colonel of the Regiment.
Paul introduced me to him fairly early in the evening when everyone was being treated with nibbles and drinks in the anteroom downstairs. The G-G was very easy to talk to and I reminded him that I was present when he invested my brother Geoff with his Order of Australia Medal last year.
The G-G said how much he enjoyed doing investments and he was also intrigued to think that I joined the Sydney University Regiment just before he was born.
As it happened, I was the most senior attendee. Even Rev Fred Nile was there, but the well-known NSW politician is three months younger that I.
You’ll note that the delicious menu included lamb shanks! Napoleon said soldiers march on their stomachs.
I left the Sydney University Regiment after three years and joined 33 Small Ships Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers, at Chowder Bay, being commissioned in 1957.
But that’s another story.
You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.