Home' Army News : November 24th 2011 Contents NEWS 5
Army November 24, 2011
By Cpl Melanie Schinkel
MORE than 250 past and present
Royal Australian Army Medical Corps
(RAAMC) personnel from units across
the country gathered at Gallipoli
Barracks' Duncan Oval for the presen-
tation of the new Governor-General's
Banner on November 4.
The Queen Mother's Banner was
marched off the parade ground for the
last time before the Governor-General's
Banner was blessed, consecrated and
dedicated by principal chaplains of the
Australian Army during a Drum Head
Until her death in 2002, the Queen
Mother was Colonel in Chief of the
RAAMC. His Royal Highness the
Duke of Edinburgh presented the
Queen Mother's Banner to the corps
at Government House on February 28,
In 2007 then-Governor-General Maj-
Gen Michael Jeffery took up the appoint-
ment as Colonel in Chief. Governor-
General Quentin Bryce accepted the role
Upon accepting the prestigious role,
Ms Bryce agreed to personally present
the corps with its new banner during a
Drum Head Ceremony in 2011 -- a tradi-
tional two-hour service that is unlikely to
be performed again.
"I am honoured and proud to be here
today as your Colonel in Chief. This
corps has a special place in all our hearts.
On behalf of my fellow Australians, I
thank all members of the RAAMC," Ms
Bryce said at the ceremony.
"Thank you for your selfless duty
across 108 years -- for your fearless-
ness in combat, your compassion for the
wounded and your acts of bravery in sav-
ing the lives of fellow soldiers. Thank
you for your healing hands.
"This has been a dignified and
moving ceremony. The banner has
been blessed and consecrated. May it
be a source of strength and a symbol
of the courage and commitment of this
esteemed corps -- the RAAMC."
In response to Ms Bryce, parade CO
Lt-Col Jocelyn King said the RAAMC
was honoured to accept the Governor-
General's Banner into its care for safe-
"Following a tradition centuries old,
the banner will be a focal point for all the
men and women of our corps," Lt-Col
"It will serve to remind us of our duty
to our sovereign and our country. It will
remind us of the great sacrifice of those
who have passed before us.
"Assembled members of the
RAAMC, our corps has a history built on
the service and honourable duty of those
who have passed before us. Step forward
from this day in the great traditions of
Maj John Smith, 2IC of 2GHSB, the
Enoggera-based unit which hosted the
event, said his personnel had rehearsed
and worked tirelessly to ensure it was a
"I've been on the ground making
preparations for this event for the past
five months. The whole Qantas deba-
cle put us through some turmoil because
soldiers arrived late, so it was a mas-
sive effort just to get everyone here on
Duncan Oval for the parade," Maj Smith
"The guard was made up of RAAMC
members from ARes and ARA units from
all over Australia including Adelaide,
Darwin, Townsville and Sydney.
"For many of these soldiers, young
and old, this historic day will be remem-
bered as a career highlight."
The Queen Mother's Banner was laid
up during a church service at Gallipoli
Barracks' All Saints Chapel the follow-
ing afternoon and will remain on dis-
play in the chapel for future generations
Historic day for medics
DURING the parade, the RAAMC's
iconic mascot, Simo the donkey,
played a pivotal role in reminding the
corps and its guests of the heroic and
humane deeds of Pte John 'Simpson'
Pte Kirkpatrick served as a
stretcher bearer of 3 Field Ambulance
and used donkeys at Gallipoli to carry
wounded soldiers from the battlefield
to the beaches for treatment and
evacuation. He worked tirelessly under
appalling conditions and without regard
for his own safety. Ultimately, he was
killed performing these duties on May
Simpson and his donkeys became
legends of Gallipoli and their deeds
stand in the highest traditions of the
RAAMC. The donkey was designated
RAAMC's official mascot in 1981.
Advanced medical technician
and mascot handler Pte Andrea
McPherson, 2GHSB, said Simo, 21,
served as a representation of Simpson
and his donkeys during the presenta-
tion of the Governor-General's Banner.
"Simo has an absolutely fabulous
nature -- he's bombproof and loves
the Australian Army Band Brisbane.
When the music starts he instinctively
marches," Pte McPherson said.
"There have been a few RAAMC
mascots over the years, but the halter
and rug Simo is wearing today have
been worn by all of them, so there's a
lot of history in this equipment."
She said she scored the job as
Simo's handler because of her previ-
ous equine experience.
"Before I joined the Army I worked
with race horses. As part of my ser-
vice, I feel really proud to be Simo's
handler. The corps has never had a
female donkey handler before -- I'm
"My job is to keep Simo nice and
calm. Together, we've had a few tasks
to do during this parade. Primarily I just
make sure he's in the right place at the
right time. When he's not involved it's
important to keep him out of the way
but still visible to the audience.
"Simo's just such a placid, lovely
donkey. I think his good nature demon-
strates why Simpson chose donkeys to
carry casualties off the battlefield."
On the anniversary of Pte
Kirkpatrick's death in 1997, the RSPCA
National Council awarded the RSPCA
Purple Cross Award to Murphy -- one
of his donkeys. Simpson used a team
of donkeys but the medal was symboli-
cally awarded to Murphy in recognition
of them all. The award is for an animal
that have performed outstanding acts
of bravery towards humans.
New banner: The RAAMC Governor-General's banner is unfurled for the first time on Parade at
Gallipoli Barracks. Inset, Governor-General Quentin Bryce meets corps members during her inspection
of the parade.
Photos by LAC Benjamin Evans and Cpl Andrew Eddie
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