Home' Army News : September 17th 2009 Contents 50 YEARS OF SERVICE
4 -- ARMY NEWSPAPER, SEPTEMBER 17, 2009
Paper continues to be read all over
Stalwarts: Newspaper veteran Pete Kelly (above and top left) and
original editor Hal Richardson.
IJOINED the paper in February 1963 as
a private clerk, posted to M Building,
Victoria Barracks, in Melbourne, where
the unit had been located, however, it
moved to the Administrative Building in
Canberra just before I arrived in Melbourne,
where I was the sole rear-details member, tidy-
ing up loose ends, before joining the unit in
Canberra in April 1963.
It is worth noting that our set-up in the Admin
Building was one very small office containing
two desks and two phones. One desk was driven
by the editor, former World War II POW and
Korean veteran Hal Richardson. The other desk
was shared by the clerk and sub-editor.
We were producing a miserly eight pages an
issue in those early days. Funding was incredibly
tight. The paper was produced in hot metal and
'blocks' (the metal plates that produced the pic-
tures and reverse heads) had to be logged and re-
used wherever possible. If we ran out of 'block
funding' we had to appeal to the PR officers in
various states for a portion of their funds.
There were no direct phone links outside
Canberra and all trunk calls had to be booked (by
an officer), and the telephonist would ring you
back when she connected your call.
The unit had no photographic ability. All
requests for photos had to be directed through
the DPR Technical Section. It is of interest that
the then WO2 Bill Cunneen was a member of the
Tech Sect and I completed a photographic course
under his wing in 1964. Bill, of course, is still
clicking away for the paper.
The unit moved to several different offices
before being shuffled to Campbell Park in
Canberra. There we gained phone access all over
Australia by direct link. This was a huge factor in
speeding up production.
In Campbell Park the unit strength was
increased to include the editor, sub-editor, ser-
geant reporter, two corporal reporters, admin WO
(later an officer) and the clerk who could be a
private or corporal. The rank structure was later
varied and we had a WO reporter.
The unit was eventually moved to
Pete Kelly recalls his
21-year career at the
paper, during which he
served in every position
from private to major
Northbourne House where our travel allowance
was cut and we were given a Holden station
wagon for the fortnightly trips to put the paper
to bed in Sydney.
By the time I left Army as its editor in 1985,
we were still producing the newspaper with
typewriters and copy paper. Still using express
post to send the copy to Sydney, still using
carbon paper for duplicates as we had no pho-
tocopier, there were no mobile phones and no
computers, but we had a camera on permanent
loan from the Tech Sect.
All signals still had to be submitted through
the Signals Centre in Russell Offices, where
there was a lack of any sense of urgency.
On and off, I served in the Army Newspaper
Unit for 21 years, in every appointment, from
private to major. In those 21 years, practically
nothing changed. We grew from eight pages a
fortnight to 16, produced only one issue in full
colour (for the Queen's visit) and technology
passed us by. So important was that issue that
the editor at the time, Derek Roylance, sent a
copy to Buckingham Palace.
The best thing that ever happened to Army
Newspaper Unit in my time was the posting as
admin officer of Capt George Chinn, DCM.
George had been the RSM of the SASR and
of 6RAR during the Battle of Long Tan, as well
as a member of the AATTV where he won his
DCM. He was among the most respected sol-
diers and officers in the Army.
George Chinn brought a sense of credibility
to the unit and he was able to open doors that
had been long locked to us.
He thoroughly enjoyed his time in Army and
was often heard to answer the phone -- "Army
newspaper, Scoop Chinn speaking."
When Hal Richardson retired in 1977,
George and I decided that Hal should be rec-
ommended for the MBE for his services to the
newspaper. We had left our run a bit late for
that year's Queen's Birthday Honours List,
but George used his many contacts to rush the
recommendation through. He came back and
said, "Gough's changed the bloody system and
Hal will get a new award called the Order of
Australia". I said that Hal hated Whitlam and I
would not be surprised if he refused to accept
the award. George then threw himself into
ensuring that Hal received the MBE he so richly
deserved. He was successful, but later admitted
he had to use every favour and threat he could
Strangely, though, George and Hal did not
hit it off. Both were WWII vets, both had served
in Korea and both were very strong personali-
ties who frequently clashed. But, even when
George was in the right and Hal would not back
down, George never pushed the issue. He always
reminded folk that Hal had spent three years
and 10 months as a very unwilling guest of the
Japanese Imperial Army.
When I look at Army newspaper today (on
the net) I am amazed at how it has progressed.
The marvels of technology available to the
unit today were totally unheard of in my time.
The members of ARMY have every reason
to be intensely proud of their unit and their
It stands tall for its technical production,
appearance and content.
Hal Richardson, the crusty, dedicated soldier
and journo, who gave birth to the first issue of
Army in September 1959, can look down from
his heavenly barracks and be justly proud of the
50-year-old paper he nurtured and which is now
middle-aged and going like a bloody rocket.
It makes one wonder what the next 50 years
holds for Army.
Gotta' be a carton: MRTF 2 mortar men LCpl Chris Freeman, left, and Pte Simon
Harding check out their front-page photo on the previous edition of the newspaper.
Photo by Cpl Rachel Ingram
Happy birthday: Fifty years young and still informing soldiers about their community -- diggers
in East Timor check out a recent edition of Army.
Photo by LAC Christopher Dickson
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