Ron Ware

Ron had two numbers reflecting his permanent army service TP4794 and then the 2/8th TX1539.

 

Ron Ware home on leave Launceston March 1943Ron Ware home on leave Launceston March 1943. The caption is from the second edition of his book, page 130.


From the Secretary Helene Riedl: Ron Ware was born at Zeehan, on the west coast of Tasmania on 26.06.1917. He lived at Hobart, Tasmania at the time of his enlistment at Brighton Camp, Tasmania on 22.05.1940. Lance Bombardier, Ron Ware was discharged from 16th Bty. 2/8th Australian Field Regiment on 15.11.1944

Ron has published a truly worthy memoir, entitled “Flies, Fleas & Sand” which is excellent reading for those who want to grasp an idea of the conditions & experiences of the Regiment from Enlistment, to the Middle East, at Mersa Matruh & later, at El Alamein. Ron has been a wonderful help in compiling a most precise history of those days for us all & for the ability to remember, so well, those men who did not make it home.

Ron Ware has asked us to include this memoir for our Web Site : October 2009, the 67th Anniversary of El Alamein

“Somehow, I remember always wanting to be involved in Military Service, due to some extent no doubt, by listening to the WW1 Diggers. I began my service by joining the Military Cadets in Launceston, aged 16 years, progressing to the Militia at 18 years & serving from 1935 until June 6th. 1939, when the Federal Government decided to increase the number of permanent Coastal Artillery Personnel by 29

The required height for this enlistment was 5 feet 7 inches. I could only manage 5.65 – even letting my hair grow ! Some alteration to the paperwork by permanent medical staff got me through on the second measurement – irregular it possibly was & I was grateful to those involved. Personally I was of the opinion that half an inch in height was not going to impair my usefulness as a soldier….……so 29 “bods”, including yours truly, arrived & were quickly billeted & allocated our bunks in the barracks at Fort Nelson

Later, the guns were transferred to a new position at Fort Direction, where my promotion to “Gun Layer” came through in January 1940. Although we were all mates, my closest friend in all those days was Bombardier Brian Lord & we managed to share our leave together. Brian stayed on in the Army after the war, retiring at age 50 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He has been deceased for many years.

Brighton Camp in Tasmania was a real shocker in Winter – unlined barracks walls, galvanized iron & plenty of air between the floorboards. This insured that all & sundry suffered colds & ‘flu. Thick fogs & frosts did nothing to alleviate our discomfort. It was there that I began my training as a Signaller, later as a specialist sig. throughout the remainder of my service

In May 1940, at my own request, I along with 12 other members were seconded to the AIF – Australian Imperial Force - & taken on strength with the 16th Bty. 2nd/8th Australian Field Regiment. In November, the Battery moved to Puckapunyal in Victoria, to join the 15th Bty. & sailing for the Middle East service in November 1940, which included El Alamein in October of 1942

In the desert in the Middle East, I was mainly at Observation Posts or O.Pip. We were a party of five – mainly stayed together for long periods & became true mates. The team was made up of Capt. Dick Collins OPO; Gnr. Alan Kinghorn OPO, AC; Sig. Eric Atkinson; Gnr. Ben Fenton – Carrier Driver, & myself as sig.

One incident in my Egyptian experience was actually at El Alamein & is worthy of mention – how to get lost in the desert without warning ! Usually, two members occupied a forward observation post during the day, entering before dawn & leaving at dusk so as not to give our whereabouts to the enemy. On one occasion, I was on my own having closed down communications with our carrier prior to returning to it & the rest of the party, several hundred yards away. Suddenly, a thick sandstorm was followed by heavy rain, which blotted out the daylight & it became night. I was completely lost.

I stayed this way for a couple of hours before finally following a cable which led me back to the carrier, only to find that Alan Kinghorn had gone out to look for me. He finally returned, having been lost himself. At the time, this was a very frightening experience, quite unimagineable in terms of general experience

We returned to Australia in February 1943 & were then posted to the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland for “jungle training” in preparation for Borneo, in the South West Pacific.

I was finally discharged as medically unfit on 15.11.1944

There were many friends & “cobbers” in the Battery, especially in Don Troop. To name only a few, there were: Eric Atkinson; Tom Crisp; Lew Croome; Alan Kinghorn DCM; “Pop” Woolnough; John Stott; Stewart Stevenson; Stuart Harrison; Guy Drake; Ron Wells; Don Elliot; Charles McKinnon; Cam Craw, Bill Bowtell, & so on ……………………".

Observation point log, Pt.33, Tel-El-Eisa, Al-Alamein July-Nov 1942

The following images have been taken from an observation point log book. This log book was kept at Point 33, Tel-El-Eisa, Al-Alamein during the period July to November 1942. It was Ron's officer Alan Kinghorn who gave Ron the log. Alan Kinghorn wrote many of the calculations found on the right hand pages.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinThis image was loosely inserted with the log book in an envelope. This type written explanation was compiled after the war.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPage 1 of the log book.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPages 2 and 3 of the log book commencing 11 Jul 1942.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPages 4 and 5 of the log book.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPages 6 and 7 of the log book commencing 15 Jul 1942. The entry at 08:35 means that Regiment or Brigade recalled for fire on the pregistered map target DF2.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPages 8 and 9 of the log book commencing 16 Oct 1942. The abbreviation NMS means No movement seen. The first entry at 10:35 reads "MT Activity on track & skyline ridge". The abbreviation MT means Motor transport.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPages 10 and 11 of the log book commencing 18 Oct 1942.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPages 12 and 13 of the log book.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPages 14 and 15 of the log book.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPages 16 and 17 of the log book.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPages 18 and 19 of the log book for 21 Oct 1942 and 22 Oct 1942.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinPage 20 the last page of the log book for 23 Oct 1942 and 24 Oct 1942.


Observation point coded message, Al-Alamein 1942

Whilst at Al-Alamein, Ron received a wireless message. It was coded, so he had to firstly write it down then decipher it. He had no paper at hand so wrote down the message on the back of a letter he received from Beth Harris.


Observation point log book Al-AlameinThe wireless message is in pencil at the top of the page. At the bottom of the page is his explanation written later in ink.

This is a transcipt of his explanation:

"The coded message in pencil I received by wireless in morse code. After deciphering, it told us, the OP party to move forward in our Carrier & set up an OP. within 2 hundred yds of the German Afrika Corp at Point II near "Sidi Abdul Raman Mosque". This was during the last day of the battle at Alamein. The question you will ask, did not they have pads to write messages on. The answer I dont think we did & this letter from Beth Harris happened to be handy Ron".

The Battery Major initiated the message at 01:30 and later gave it to a signaller to transmit by wireless.

This is a transcript of the wireless message hastily written down in pencil:

"Harry Blast foolscap main exotic narrative uplift rubicon rosary Borax Cromwell Lay day Cromwell hiccup rose before first light 0 Lay millener report if this message not understood T.O.O. 0130 first Received 0340".

The abbreviation TOO means Time of receipt of this message. The code word millener stands for Line. The numeral 0 is actually a circle with a dot within.

The code was then deciphered as:

"Report on road pt ?671? 03047 before first light 0 Lay line Harry D.A.F 5".

The undecipherable numerals around and including 671 should read 11 as that was the map reference. The numeral 0 is actually a circle with a dot within. The word Harry is probably identification of the person sending the message.

In April 2014 the War Diary of Alexander Theodore Hansen was placed on this website. The section Miscellaneous Signals in the diary throws some light on the codes used.