Chief Garrard

Vernon B Garrard TX1442 1950s Photo taken in the 1950s.

 

The following account of Vernon Garrard was written by his son-in-law Norm Andrews:-

"Vernon Garrard, known as "Chief", was born as the youngest son in his family on May 24, 1912, and was raised in Launceston, Tasmania, during the Great Depression.

He joined first the Militia in 1935, and then the Permanent Army, serving on the guns at Fort Nelson in Tasmania, and later moving those guns from Fort Nelson to Fort Direction, Tasmania.

Prior to that move, Chief was selected to go to the United Kingdom with the Australian Coronation Contingent for the CORONATION of KING GEORGE THE SIXTH IN LONDON, May 1937.

Upon his return to Australia, he served in the Permanent Artillery following, and was enlisted into the 2nd Australian Imperial Forces in 1940, where he quickly became a Gun Sergeant on 18- and 25-pounders.

After the war, Chief stayed in the Permanent ARMY, until he transferred to the Australian Regular ARMY.

Chief was discharged from the ARA in 1950; after a short break, he joined the Citizens’ Military Forces, and was promoted to Warrant Officer Class TWO.

Chief completed his service in that rank and was discharged in 1960.

He applied for a long-service medal, and was knocked back because, "he did NOT serve in any ARMY long enough"!

In actual fact, Chief had served from 1935 – 1960, with a short break of just a few months in the middle.

Chief had many mates in the ARMY; Captain Frank Adlard was one, along with many others and his gun crew; Bdr Rod Green, Gnrs Frank Osborne, Bob Walduck and Dan Green.

After the war, the gun crew regularly met together on the 13th - 14th July each year to recall and celebrate an action at “Tel el Eisa”, El Alamein, on Hill 26.

The events that transpired were: No. 3 gun Freddie troop 58th Battery had a close shave with firstly a German Stuka aircraft, which knocked out the gun.

This was promptly repaired by the British Field Workshop REME, but was however followed by a full-scale attack by German Panzer tanks, which had broken through the Infantry lines, and were attacking tanks of the Royal Tank Regiment.

The order came down: “Gun control, drop camouflage nets. Load with A P (armour piercing).” It seemed obvious that we would get the first tanks over the crest, but were certain to be overrun.

For some unknown reason, the Panzers, after driving to within some few hundred yards of the crest of hill 26, broke off the attack and withdrew – much to the relief of Chief’s Gun No 3 gun crew.

With the strength of the German Panzers – knew we’d be over-run
No mercy for Gun Crews – in the path of advancing Hun!
A mate then said, “A bottle of King George 1V Whisky
Is in the tool section of [the ammunition] trailer – for emergency only!”
Then added, this could be the last chance of this crew
To sample, and enjoy it! The very best Scottish brew!”

The bottle was passed round hand to hand until it was empty.

The company, on hearing about the story after the war, each year donated the gun crew a bottle of KING GEORGE IV Whisky for the July reunion."

(The complete poem can be read in the article The Fortified Gun Crew pages 312-3 of the unit history.)

Mentions of him in the unit history pages 74-5, 200, 229 and 312-3.

The following press cutting of the Anzac Day March 1980 at Launceston, depicts two members of the 2/8th.

Anzac Day March 1980 LauncestonIn the Front row: Unknown boy; Lt John G. Cuff 2/8th; Chief Garrard 2/8th; Unknown boy; Unknown. Norm Andrews thinks it was a combined artillery group in the march.