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Should training accidents count for the roll of honour?

By 9 February 2011 19

belona

The Herald Sun has a story on the mother of the late Lance-Corporal Mason Edwards who wants her son to be included in the War Memorial’s Roll of Honour here in Canberra after he died in training for his third deployment to Afghanistan:

The Roll of Honour records the names of those who have died on active service while a member of the Australian Defence Force and within the designated period of a particular campaign.

The Australian War Memorial, run by an independent council chaired by General Peter Cosgrove, is responsible for decisions on name additions.

A spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said the Australian War Memorial council tried to make decisions consistent with criteria set when the Roll of Honour was established for deaths during World War I.

“Lance-Cpl Edwards’ contribution to the service of our country will never be forgotten,” she said.

His name is listed on a memorial at Sydney’s Holsworthy Barracks.

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19 Responses to Should training accidents count for the roll of honour?
#1
Captain RAAF9:42 am, 09 Feb 11

It might sound harsh but no, his name does not belong on the roll of honor. You open this floodgate then you better be prepared for a deluge because a lot of servicemen and women have died during training in Australia.

Members that have died in training should be remembered at local memorials, at their units or base, not at the AWM, or better still, the AWM can build a memorial outside in the gardens and have it dedicated to all those lost during training, but again, it’s going to be costly if you want to put everyones name on it.

Having your name on the roll of honor is not an award or a prize, nor is it a convenience because lets face it, everyone eventually visits it and sometimes quite often and I’m sure we’d all like a central repository for all our military dead, so people seeking to have their loved ones name who was killed during training in Australia put on it should not be thinking it’s something they are entitled to, cos it aint!

The names on it are of those that died ‘on active service’, you start including those killed during training and you’ll get a lot of brave and well deserving soldiers, sailors and airmen but you’ll also get a goodly amount of dickheads that are not worthy of the roll and this will cheapen the entire wall and what it represents.

Personally, I wish we had gone down the path the United States did, with a National Cemetery like Arlington so that our dead can be laid to rest in a place where all Australians could pay their respects and I think you’d struggle to find too many soldiers that wouldn’t want to be interred there.

#2
PBO10:01 am, 09 Feb 11

I will stand against you on this one Captain, The fact that these people have died whilst in service to this country should be grounds enough for their names to be placed on the roll. I do agree however there would be some questionable entries.

#3
Thumper10:02 am, 09 Feb 11

What Captain RAAF said.

But by all means have a seperate memorial elsewhere. The week my dad joined his SQN a P2 toasted a wing and went down with all crew killed.

http://www.hawkesburygazette.com.au/news/local/news/general/flyovers-mark-anniversary-of-tragedy/1424208.aspx

#4
Hosinator10:22 am, 09 Feb 11

Captain RAAF said :

Personally, I wish we had gone down the path the United States did, with a National Cemetery like Arlington so that our dead can be laid to rest in a place where all Australians could pay their respects and I think you’d struggle to find too many soldiers that wouldn’t want to be interred there.

Agreed, nothing like a white cross to show the kiddes what sacrifices are required of our men and women of our armed services to protect this country.

Captain RAAF, on a separate note and probably opening a can of worms here, any thoughts on the SASR soldiers from the 1980s who are requesting compensation for injuries sustained during training?

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/sas-fights-for-recognition/story-e6frf7l6-1111114298316

The background being that their unorthodox training methods paved the way for the SASR from the mid 90s to be effective operationally and avoid injury as the guys in the 80s/90s did the hard yards in terms of developing tactics for dynamic entry, the use of explosives etc.

Now they are asking to be compensated for their training injuries by the Defence force the same as what they would be if they had sustained injuries during an operation.
I know this opens up the rest of the military to claim the same, but could they limit it to just the SASR?
The issue being that these guys really had to set aside army guidelines to achieve the results in training that they were after, to ensure that when they did go operational that their tactics would work successfully in the field.

#5
Captain RAAF10:46 am, 09 Feb 11

‘We broke a lot of rules’ statement from the CO won’t help their cause.

If what they did wasn’t in writing, from the very top and was just an unspoken expectation to carry out whatever training was deemed necessary, then Army and Gummint can just wash their hands of the problem, citing that rules and regulations were not followed and place the blame squarely on the chicken stranglers.

There are a lot of military professions that require members to do pretty stupid things because there is no other option, happens all the time in every arms corps, every day (though less than it used to happen). I remember man-handling a piece of Artillery that normally required 2 or 3 people minimum by myself because it was a rapid cease-fire, get the hell outta dodge situation and there was no-one else around to help me, it was just one of the perks of the job and you sucked it up like a big brave boy.

I have no doubt that the SAS boys did some real hard core sh*t in the line of duty whilst training but this gets the nod you’ll find a long line of Infanteers, trail apes, engineers and probably a few stores clerks all lining up for the same kind of consideration.

The army of the 80′s and 90′s did not look after it’s troops.

#6
bigfeet11:25 am, 09 Feb 11

It’s a difficult one.

My uncle is on the Roll of Honour at the AWM and his death was as a result of a training accident.

In fact his unit has 64 names listed and about 95% are accidental deaths. The others died of illness.

#7
Captain RAAF11:32 am, 09 Feb 11

bigfeet said :

It’s a difficult one.

My uncle is on the Roll of Honour at the AWM and his death was as a result of a training accident.

In fact his unit has 64 names listed and about 95% are accidental deaths. The others died of illness.

Were they in Australia?

#8
Davo11111:58 am, 09 Feb 11

I agree with Captain RAAF, no i dont think they should be included in the roll on honour. There really should be two lists – those who were killed in battle (roll of honour), and those who died while in service

#9
bigfeet12:12 pm, 09 Feb 11

Captain RAAF said :

Were they in Australia?

Yes. Mostly Victoria, Tasmania and Bass Strait.

It was a training unit for conversion to twin engines . Mainly Hudsons and Beauforts.

#10
homeone12:19 pm, 09 Feb 11

Isn’t it that the serviceman was on ‘active duty’ at the time ie in a place that would qualify them for a RAS badge (or todays equivalent if that changed) the measure?

#11
PBO12:55 pm, 09 Feb 11

homeone said :

Isn’t it that the serviceman was on ‘active duty’ at the time ie in a place that would qualify them for a RAS badge (or todays equivalent if that changed) the measure?

Excellent point, There was a SASR fellow many years ago who was gored to death by an elephant in Borneo during a training exercise. I always wondered if he was on the roll.

#12
Captain RAAF1:22 pm, 09 Feb 11

bigfeet said :

Captain RAAF said :

Were they in Australia?

Yes. Mostly Victoria, Tasmania and Bass Strait.

It was a training unit for conversion to twin engines . Mainly Hudsons and Beauforts.

Ah, there’s the rub, it was during WW2. A world war has far greater theatres of operation than say, the Vietnam war.

#13
bigfeet7:09 pm, 09 Feb 11

PBO said :

[Excellent point, There was a SASR fellow many years ago who was gored to death by an elephant in Borneo during a training exercise. I always wondered if he was on the roll.

He is.

http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/roll_of_honour/person.asp?p=563802

This happened during an operational patrol though, not a training excercise.

#14
LSWCHP9:39 pm, 09 Feb 11

I agree with Captain RAAF. I also know from personal experience that the profession of arms is a hard and inherently risky business, unimaginable to those who haven’t been there. For this reason I think that it would be A Good Thing for our nation to honour those who have died while training for war with a memorial of their own.

#15
musician10:41 am, 12 Mar 11

I am writing an essay about the Kapooka Tragedy on 21 May 1945, in which 26 lives were lost in an explosion whilst training with hand grenades. This was a training accident, and these men are included in the Roll of Honour.

The rules seem to be inconsistent if LCpl Edwards is excluded.

#16
BerraBoy6811:24 am, 12 Mar 11

I have always thought the rules governing the AWM list are inconsistent. After all, people died in Vietnam of injuries/illness unrelated to war (e.g. heart attack) and are listed, but those that die through gunshot wounds, etc. in training for their next rotation overseas miss out.

How would the AWM decide what to do if Australian anti-terrorist troops are killed in Australia taking on terrorists intent on killing civilians? After all there is a ‘war’ on terror and our anti-terrorist soldiers by definition would have died in the line of duty? It’s the same argument used, justifiably IMHO, by survivors of the Blackhawk disaster in seeking compensation for their injuries.

On a personal note my older brother and one of his mates died serving his country (England) during a a military exercise in 1983. He has no memorial other than his grave and we’ve never tsought to have one created.

In the Australian, context however, I think the AWM needs to have a serious re-think about it policy in relation to Australian troops. As a suggestion, why can’t the AWM start another wall in another section that lists those killed while actively training for war?

#17
smont7:37 pm, 13 Nov 12

Captain RAAF said :

It might sound harsh but no, his name does not belong on the roll of honor. You open this floodgate then you better be prepared for a deluge because a lot of servicemen and women have died during training in Australia.

Captain RAAF, you really need to check your facts before you go gobbing off. My grandfather was killed in a crash during a RAAF training flight in NSW during WWII, and his name (and names of many like him) appear on the Roll of Honour at the War Memorial. Can you enlighten me as to how having the name of a brave airman training to go to war against Nazi aggressors ‘cheapens’ the Roll?

#18
Masquara9:30 pm, 13 Nov 12

smont said :

Captain RAAF said :

It might sound harsh but no, his name does not belong on the roll of honor. You open this floodgate then you better be prepared for a deluge because a lot of servicemen and women have died during training in Australia.

Captain RAAF, you really need to check your facts before you go gobbing off. My grandfather was killed in a crash during a RAAF training flight in NSW during WWII, and his name (and names of many like him) appear on the Roll of Honour at the War Memorial. Can you enlighten me as to how having the name of a brave airman training to go to war against Nazi aggressors ‘cheapens’ the Roll?

I don’t like the expression “open the floodgates” when it comes to this issue. I also wonder how we should go about honouring the poor men who returned with what was called “nerve damage”, such as the Victorian fellow who hammered his wife and daughter to death a few years after returning from active service in WWI. Such an utter tragedy of war.

#19
LSWCHP9:43 pm, 13 Nov 12

smont said :

Captain RAAF said :

It might sound harsh but no, his name does not belong on the roll of honor. You open this floodgate then you better be prepared for a deluge because a lot of servicemen and women have died during training in Australia.

Captain RAAF, you really need to check your facts before you go gobbing off. My grandfather was killed in a crash during a RAAF training flight in NSW during WWII, and his name (and names of many like him) appear on the Roll of Honour at the War Memorial. Can you enlighten me as to how having the name of a brave airman training to go to war against Nazi aggressors ‘cheapens’ the Roll?

Way to revive an ancient thread.

Be that as it may, I greatly respect the sacrifice your grandfather made, but the way I see it, the institution is the Australian *War* Memorial, and the Roll of Honour is there to commemorate those who were killed in action.

I think there’s a substantial difference between being on a training exercise and having things turn pear shaped, versus lying in a shell scrape with the machine gun fire cracking over your head, and then making the decision to deliberately stand up and walk into that fire where things eventually Don’t Go So Well for you.

As I commented previously, I believe a separate memorial would be appropriate for those killed in training.

If it matters, I used to be an infanteer, as was my father and his father. The names of members of my family may be found on that wall at the AWM.

And finally, I have to say that I miss Captain RAAF. I hope he’s well.

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