b March 2016 d - St Mary`s College
12 Werona Street
Sunnybank Qld 4109
Dear Old Boys
Our next Brisbane meeting will be held at ‘The Public Service Club’, Level 1 Function Room, 84 William
Street (cnr Stephens Lane), Brisbane on Friday 11th March 2016, from 12 noon through until about 2.00
pm; but feel free to drop in anytime from 11.00 am on, as your commitments dictate and join Old Boy mates
in convivial fellowship. If travelling by train to the Central Railway Station, there is a free City Loop bus
from Stop 8 opposite Central Station in Ann Street which allows you to alight at Stop 103 in the Government
Precinct, just outside ‘The Public Service Club’ at 84 William Street. The bus services on this route are every
Tentative dates have been booked for our Brisbane meetings in 2016, so please reserve them as ‘Claimer
Dates’. As well as the 11th March,, the dates are 13th May, 15th July, 16th September and the 18th November.
Two meetings will also be held at Buderim again this year, about mid-year and early December. The firm
dates for these gatherings will be advised in due course. All Old Boys are most welcome at all these events.
At our Brisbane Sub Branch Christmas function on the 20th November 2015, thirty six Old Boys were
welcomed to the gathering by Sub Branch President Bryan McSweeney. Bryan gave a special welcome to
Fr Hal Ranger and former St Mary’s Principal Br Barry Buckley.
Old Boys who have taken up Life Membership recently include Rev. Fr. James Byrne (1949–1953), Greg
Cavanagh (1980–1987, Jim Davidson (1955–1963), Trevor Conley (1955-1963) and Denis McClure
(1955 and 1962/63) who was on hand to receive his Certificate at the November meeting.
The Committee would like to extend our apology to Mrs Jan Dredge for the error in the Eulogy for her late
husband, James Joseph (Jim) Dredge, on Page 3 of our November 2015 Newsletter when we referred to
Jan’s Christian name incorrectly as Pat.
Recently deceased include Mrs Shirley Stephen (RIP 9/11/2015), wife of John (Scholarship 1958) and
sister-in-law of Kevin (RIP) and Eileen, Errol Hohn (1950-1959), brother of Keith (RIP 1/5/2015) and
Noel, Ross Remeeus (1954-1963), Margaret (Quinlan) O’Grady, Vince Dorge, father of Mark, Greg and
Paul, and Noel Adcock, husband of Kathleen.
The Committee would also like to extend our warmest gratitude and best wishes to Sandra Brock. Sandra
has been the unsung hero behind the TBOBA Newsletters for 15 years. She has taken Dan’s written notes
and converted them into the fantastic Newsletter for our members reading pleasure. Unfortunately Sandra is
moving on to undertake her Master of Arts & Cultural Management degree at the University of Melbourne.
We can only hope the standard of the Newsletter doesn’t decline as we try and fill the gap left by Sandra’s
11/3/16 11.00am – 2.00pm
21st March –
Brisbane TBOBA Sub Branch Meeting – 1st Floor, Function Room, ‘The Public
Service Club’, 84 William Street (cnr Stephens Lane), Brisbane
TBOBA Annual General Meeting – Clive Berghofer Arena – St Mary’s College,
Herries St, Toowoomba
TBOBA Lawn Bowls Day at Stafford Lawn Bowls Club for Kevin Lee Memorial
Trophy. To nominate contact: Laurie Blacka (3359 5365), Terry Gesch (3359 9228)
or Eric Howe (4632 2191).
22nd April –
St Mary’s College ANZAC Commemoration Ceremony
Annual TBOBA Luncheon at North Toowoomba Bowls Club – For reservations
please contact Eric Howe on 07 4632 2191
(07) 3278 9682
(07) 3345 4404
(07) 3395 1813
T.B.O.B.A. (Brisbane Sub-Branch) Meeting – 20/11/15
Laurie Atzeni (Hon)
Jack Davis (Hon)
Fr Paul Chandler
Fr Tyrone Deere
Bro Kevin Dwyer
T.B.O.B.A. Meeting – Buderim 4/12/15
Fr James Byrne
John & Jan Cantwell
Fr Tyrone Deere
Darel & Chelle Sterling
Jim & Carmel Stokes
Glen & Adrienne
Dr Keith Wilkinson
Annual Membership Fee
($10.00) for Calendar Year 2016 is now due / or
Life Memberships are available
Cheques as donations towards the Indoor Sports Complex should be made payable to
‘Br. Baptiste O’Sullivan Building Fund’.
They are fully Tax Deductible and will be receipted.
Annette Drew for the
recognition she has
deservedly received in
The Catholic Leader
Joe received recognition separately from the State Awards
Committee and other schools in the district.
In 1990 Joe joined the Darling Downs Area Award
committee as secretary and treasurer. For the next nine
years he offered the Bridge Award to students which built
confidence and resilience and was a great introduction to
the Bronze level of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Annette, wife of John
Drew (1956-65), was
Leader of the Year 2015 for her work as the Centacare
Community Services’ disability support service Manager.
Annette believes people with disabilities are a shining
beacon in Australian society and has made it a lifelong
commitment to make their dreams come true.
In the years following Mr Jones became a volunteer for the
award and the District Area Award committee. He was a
registered expedition’s instructor, the area award
coordinator, secretary of the AAC and records keeper.
• Celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary on the
27th December 2015 were Francie (McGovern) and
Graham Swenson. The celebrant for the wedding at Our
Lady of Lourdes, Newtown was Rev Fr John Clancy. The
bridal party was Beryl Arnell, Eleanor McGovern, Roy
Arnell (RIP) and Neville Card. Graham and Francie
celebrated their 50 years at the Sheraton Resort Gold Coast
with their family. Daughter Lisa, her husband Tony and
their children Lily and Hannah from Brisbane and their
son Leon with his wife Kate and their children Vada and
Arlo who travelled from Perth. This was a cherished
celebration and a wonderful time was had by all.
The former youth worker joined Brisbane agency
Centacare in 1986 when government funding helped boost
a new project giving people with disabilities independent
Accommodation arrangement on Brisbane’s Southside.
Thirty years later she manages a team offering supported
accommodation services through Centacare Community
Services. Her dedication to the vulnerable earned her the
title of Australia’s most inspiring Catholic professional at
the Community Leader Awards this year.
• Another couple, Rae Elizabeth (Gower) and Patrick
McErlean had their Golden Wedding Anniversary on the
15th January. The celebrant for their wedding in St
Patrick’s Cathedral on 15/01/1966 was Rev. Fr. William
Henry, Pat’s uncle, then Parish Priest at Laidley. Elizabeth
and Pat have five (5) children, Marylu (Mrs Duncan
Lloyd), Tim, Kate (Mrs Tony Zantiotis), Annabele and
Marcus and three (3) grandsons.
• Joseph Michael Jones was a student at St Mary’s from
1948 to 1957 and returned to the College as a teacher for
20 years from 1964 – 1984. He was also T.B.O.B.A
Secretary in 1972 and is Life Member No 9 of our
He was on hand from 1973 to 1985 when the Duke of
Edinburgh Awards operated at the College. The Leaders
were Ron Hamilton, Joe Jones, Brother Tim Cosgrove
and Mick Fitzgerald. Many Participants adopted Football
Referring – Rugby League as a skill.
• Syrena and David Scott (1947-1955) celebrated the
birth of their third grandchild, Archie Patrick on
9/11/2015. The little chap is the son of Dane and
Katherine (Scott) Carmody. Dane is the assistant coach
with the AFL Sharks on the Gold Coast. David is Life
Member Number 85 of our Association and the couple
have resided at Yengarie near Maryborough for some
In November 2015 Joe was presented with an award by the
Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey and former MP Mr
Larry Anthony for recognition of his 42 years of volunteer
service, encouragement and support to participants and
volunteers of the Darling Downs community of the Duke
of Edinburgh International Award.
• Life Member Bill Moloney (Yr12–2001) is on transfer
with the Education Department from Gladstone to a
position at the Toogoolawah State High School. The
family will live in nearby Esk. Bill is the son of Peter &
Felicity and grandson of Mick and Edna.
Joe and Ron Hamilton first began the award at the school
in 1973 where Joe organised and directed a bottle drive
over three months to raise funds for equipment. About
$240 was raised through the collection of “tallies” 10c a
• A Reunion for the 1945-1954 Class is proposed for
August 2016 and coordinators of this event, John Bagget
(3357 9349) and Justin McErlean (46343625) did an
early mailout on the event to former classmates before
Christmas and are expecting an enthusiastic response from
the group who last met in 2006.
Ron ran all expeditions while Joe handled Physical
Efficiency activities. The two met the Duke of Edinburgh
in Toowoomba on October 25th 1973.
Between 1973 and 1985, the school achieved one gold,
seven silver, and thirty seven bronze levels and Ron and
resorts there. After a few days back in their Newport
home in Sydney it was off to Mick’s 1950/1959 Class
Reunion in Toowoomba on the 14th November which
was a great success.
Sadly about two weeks later Mick’s eldest sister,
Margaret (Quinlan) O’Grady, passed away in Hervey
Bay, and was buried there on 4/12/2015.
• Another Old Boy, Michael Purcell (Year 12 – 1977)
and his wife Cathy (Stenzel) were also at Twickenham
for the Rugby World Cup Finals.
• On the 15th November
2015 there were combined
celebrations for the 60th Anniversary of St Anthony’s
Parish School and the 50th Anniversary of St
Anthony’s Church in Harristown. The new Parish
began in the 1950’s under the leadership of Rev Fr
Paddy McMorrow with Old Boy Fr E’Brian
O’Dwyer the first curate.
Mick & Margo at Twickenham October 2015
• For our Old Boys’ Sydney Co-ordinator, Mick
Quinlan and his wife Margo the last months in 2015
involved considerable travel. After organising tickets to
the Rugby World Cup they set off for London in late
September with a stop-over in Dubai.
Committed Parish committees under the likes of
Arthur Ledbury, Frank Bowdler and the Atzeni
family led the fund raising to bring their dreams to
reality and enable the school to start in 1955 under the
tuition of the Presentation Sisters. Many old boys, like
Paul Canning, received their early education at St
From London the couple flew to Malta, visiting
numerous churches, the War Museum, the WWII
control bunkers from where the Sicily landings were
controlled, and the island of Gozo.
The celebrations on the
day began with Mass
Fathers Hal Ranger,
and the current priest
director Fr Hermi
Then it was back to London for the Australia v England
rugby game at Twickenham which Australia won. The
atmosphere was fantastic. The next match, also at
Twickenham, Australia v Wales, was very close with
Australia hanging on for the win.
Before the quarter finals, Mick and Margo flew to
Bordeaux to catch up with friends and visit some
wineries. They then spent the remainder of the week in
Sarlat in the Dordogne region.
A founding member of
the school staff, Sister
carried in procession
the lantern, the symbol
They came back to London for the South Africa v
Wales and Australia v Scotland games. South Africa
had an easy win while Australia had a cliff hanger
against Scotland – with Australia awarded a
controversial penalty on full time which gave them
victory by one point.
of Nano Nagle’s order of nuns.
The rich history of the church and school was traced in
photographic displays, various memorabilia, original
documents and a PowerPoint display. After mass there
was a barbecue lunch, musical items, games, raffles and
stalls held in the school grounds.
They spent the next week in the Honfleur region of
France at the mouth of the Seine, a lovely old historical
town; but quite cold. There was a day trip to Caen to
visit the WWII memorial, and a night in Paris before
flying back to London to witness the Rugby semis.
New Zealand beat South Africa and Australia won their
match against Argentina to set up an Anzac final.
Speakers at the event included Principal Paul Ryan,
State Member for Toowoomba South, John McVeigh,
and Mrs Vivienne Ruffini (nee Atzeni). Mrs Ruffini
painted a picture of the new Parish in the 1950’s and
how her family helped build the church. She was
married in the old church, her children and some of her
grandchildren had received the sacraments in the new
church, and one of her daughters was a teacher at St
Anthony’s School. Her husband, Raul, helped fashion –
and later restore- the church pews.
The week before the final was spent at Oxford touring
the Colleges and their facilities, Blenheim Palace –
birthplace of Churchill and his grave at nearby Bladen.
Back in London the couple went to the final, won
convincingly by New Zealand. Australia played poorly
in the first half and gave the Kiwis too big a start.
The flight back to Australia, again via Dubai, gave
Mick and Margo a couple of days to visit beaches and
• Old boy Tony Gollan plans to retire his 9yr old
gelding Temple of Boom which finished its career running
fourth in the Magic Millions Sprint. Temple of Boom won
just on $2 million in prizemoney and claimed 11 wins, 9
seconds, and 7 thirds from 64 starts. It was Temple of
Boom that gave Tony his first Group 1 victory with the
Galaxy at Randwick in 2012 and it was at that race where
he met his future wife Jane who was working as the
personal assistant to Gai Waterhouse.
Peter Sheridan – A Versatile Volunteer.
Life Member Peter Sheridan was born in Toowoomba in
1930, the son of a prominent Toowoomba builder Jack
Sheridan, and attended St. Mary’s College from 1939 to
1947. Peter represented the College in the First XV Rugby
side and in Athletics and Tennis teams and he was Dux of
the College in his senior year.
After further studies he worked in various capacities
during his professional life, ranging from a role with the
Main Roads department and a spell as Shire Engineer in
Mitchell and Oakey, and eventually as the owner of a pet
goods wholesaling business.
• The reunion committee for the St. Mary’s Class of
1950 – 1959, Graham Swenson, Pat Costigan, Justin
Lunney and Michael Quinlan, were pleased with the
turn-out at the Federal Hotel/Motel Toowoomba on
Saturday 14th November 2015 – 50 years to the month
since the class sat the Scholarship exam. A meet and greet
was held in the afternoon in the private bar and this gave
some who were unable to attend the night function the
opportunity for an “old boys” get together with lots of old
Upon retirement in 1995 and wishing to make himself
useful in the community he joined the University of the
Third Age (U3A) as a student of the German language.
Peter’s mothers side of the family had emigrated from
Germany in 1863, so there was a little family history
involved in Peter’s choice of a subject.
The dinner get together with wives and partners was very
much enjoyed by all who attended. A few short speeches,
photo opportunities and a wonderful recitation of the “Old
School Days” written and recited by Barry Gordon was
appreciated by all.
He rapidly built up his skill in the language thanks to the
efforts of his tutor. Peter continued learning German in an
intermediate class but became aware there was no class for
beginners who had no prior German language knowledge.
He volunteered to tutor elementary German even though
he had no teaching experience.
Those in attendance included, Kerry Byrne, Brian
Carter (A M), Vern Chardon, Tony Collins, Pat
Costigan, Fr Tyrone Deere, John Englart, Barry
Gordon, John Hackett, Pat Kane, Cor Kooyman,
Justin Lunney, Mick Quinlan, Brian Scott, Merv Sleba,
Lionel Stower, Graham Swenson, Frank Thygesen, and
Around this time an acquaintance pointed out to Peter that
a number of older people who had played tennis in their
youth were keen to get back into the sport, but lacked a
club. Peter took the initiative and established a U3A tennis
group and co-ordinated it for 3 years. It still continues to
the present day.
Apologies were received from Damien Strofeldt, Martin
O’Sullivan, John Keightley, and Glen Wiedman.
As if that was not enough Peter went on to teach Sudoku
for a year in 2014, proving yet again that variety is the
spice of life. When asked why he took on such diverse
tutoring roles Peter replied “Just so I can help others –
there is nothing more satisfying. For me, it goes without
saying that we have an obligation to share our knowledge
and skills with others”.
U3A Toowoomba recently held a luncheon to thank the
small army of volunteer tutors who give of their time and
efforts throughout the year to provide a wide variety of
classes and activities for members.
• In the four day tour match between the Cricket
Australia XI and the West Indies at Allan Border Field in
December 2015, the Cricket Australia side won by 10
wickets. The Captain of that team was wicketkeeper /
batsman James Peirson, the grandson of Jim Long (19431947) and grandnephew of Pat (1943-1949) and Tom
(1946-1950). James scored 64 of the team’s total of 444
runs and managed two caught behinds in each innings of
the West Indies team.
• Life Member Joe O’Neill (1966-1974) and a leading
syndicator of racehorses through his business “Prime
Thoroughbreds” was pleased with the success of the 4yr
old Hudson Eagle in the Myer Magic Millions Sprint,
valued at $965,000, during the Magic Millions Carnival at
the Gold Coast on 9/01/2016. Hudson Eagle was ridden by
Melbourne Cup winning jockey, Michelle Payne.
James has also been prominent for the Brisbane Heat in the
Big Bash League competition, again as wicketkeeper /
opening batsman. He made 51 runs off 36 balls for the
Heat in their match against the Adelaide Strikers at the
Gabba on 8/01/2016 and against the Sydney Sixers on the
10/01/2016 he hit one of the biggest sixes onto the roof of
the Sydney Cricket Ground.
ANZAC 100 Years – Two stories of St Mary’s Old Boys – “Lest We Forget”
Money claimed often went towards paying for the younger
members of the family to attend the Saturday matinee at
the local cinema.
THE BATTLE OF SLATER’S KNOLL 1945
Two stories by war historian John Telfer.
In late February 1945, the battle for Bougainville reached a
significant change in Japanese military tactics to prevent
the Australian 25th Battalion from gaining a foothold in
the area. On 5th March, after crossing the Puriata River the
Australian 7th Brigade were given the task of routing
entrenched Japanese forces off a strategic piece of jungle
called Slater’s Knoll and after fierce fighting they achieved
The Japanese, under the command of Lieutenant-General
Akinaga, intensified their attacks in order to regain the
Knoll and over 1500 Japanese troops kept storming the
area and as reported in despatches,
“Wave after wave of screaming Japs came at them and
were hurled back, the dead bodies piling up around the
Australian defences. Bayonet charges amid sustained
Japanese machine gun fire as well as fierce hand to hand
fighting saw the Japanese attacks pushed back time after
It was in this chaotic atmosphere of battle in the steaming
jungles of Bougainville that saw one young Australian
infantryman stand out for his courage and leadership under
these trying conditions, which won him the Military
Medal. His name was Sergeant Stephen James Sullivan
and this is his story.
Steve and his brothers did the normal things that young
boys do growing up in a country town by being involved
in local sport but would always give their mother a portion
of their wages to help with family expenses. However, in
1939 society in Australia changed dramatically when
Prime Minister Robert Menzies committed Australian
troops to the Middle East in support of Great Britain.
At this time Steve had met a young Toowoomba girl
named Daphne Briskie and after a period of courtship they
were married on 9th November 1940, while Steve was
working as a Yardman /Bar Tender at the Exchange Hotel
The Sullivan men quickly answered the call to military
service with the older 5 boys joining the army after serving
in the Citizen Military Forces. They became known as the
“Fighting Sullivans”( based on the American version of
the Sullivans of United States Navy fame in 1942.)
Brothers Frank and Eugene ended up POW’s. Steve was
called up for training with the CMF often referred to as
“Chockos”, a rather derogatory term used by regular army
volunteers who had fought in the Middle East and saw
CMF soldiers as just chocolate soldiers. However, Steve
eventually enlisted in the AIF on 16th July 1943, possibly
because many conscripts did to escape that slur.
Stephen was born on 25th July 1917 at Pechey,
Queensland, the second son of James and Sylvia Sullivan
of Newtown, a suburb of Toowoomba, Queensland. He
was from a large family consisting of 6 girls, Mary, Eileen,
Sylvia, Daphne, Bernice and Joyce and 6 boys Jack, Steve,
Eugene, Frank, Victor and Terry who all lived in Campbell
Street. They were a very close knit catholic family of
which one sister Mary, joining a religious order.
On 21st February 1942, Steve marched into Cabarlah
Barracks to begin training and then on 29th August
embarked on HMT “Katoomba” to head for Port Moresby
in time to serve with the 25th Battalion in the Battle of
Milne Bay where the Battalion, fighting in atrocious
conditions, pushed back the Japanese advance and inflicted
the first ever land defeat of Japanese forces.
Things were not easy for a large family as they grew up in
the Depression years and although they all received a good
education, the 6 boys, all attended St. Mary’s Christian
Brothers College, but they had to leave school as soon as
they were allowed to in order to work in helping to support
the large family. Most work available in those days was in
rural occupations and the eldest boys found whatever work
was available with graziers doing tasks that involved
heavy work clearing land, and helping with the wheat
harvest. This entailed heaving bags of wheat with working
hours usually from dawn to dusk. Steve helped supplement
the family income in those hard times by using his skill as
a crack rifle shot to kill birds that the local council had
placed a bounty on, such birds as swallows and sparrows.
On 25th October 1944, Steve was promoted from Corporal
to acting Sergeant and three weeks later embarked on
HMT “Santa Monica” bound for Torokina in Bougainville
where Steve was to experience both his hardest and finest
hours. The conditions in Bougainville were perhaps worse
than Milne Bay. The Battalion had to endure Japanese
snipers and mortar shells apart from the heat, incessant
rainfall, mud and slush and disease bearing insects. It was
referred to as a “Hell hole”.
When the Battalion was allotted the task of securing and
defending the strategic Slater’s Knoll in March – April
1942 to 1945. His 25th Battalion, which were awarded
Battle Honours, distinguished themselves in battle with
another Toowoomba boy in Peter Hall also winning a
Military Medal in the siege at Slater’s Knoll.
1945, the fierce hand to hand combat and bayonet charges
by the estimated 3,000 Japanese Imperial Army’s 6th
Division, were supressed by the courage of soldiers like
Steve Sullivan when he performed his heroic deeds at the
Knoll. This is how his courage was described in the
citation report written by his Commanding Officer
Lieutenant – Colonel J. S. Kinna on 5th March 1945:
“During a company attack on Slater’s Knoll in
South Bougainville Sergeant Sullivan commanded a
section of medium machine guns providing covering fire
during the advance to the objective. Slater’s Knoll
dominated all approaches and the enemy had a Juki
medium machine gun and light machine guns dug in on
In order to maintain accurate and sustained fire,
Sergeant Sullivan stood, heedless to danger and an easy
target, in full view of the enemy and ably directed the fire
of his section. This action contributed in no small measure
to the success of the attack and the objective was seized
and consolidated. Throughout the operation Sergeant
Sullivan’s conduct and devotion to duty was most
exemplary and inspired all who observed it.
Subsequently, Sergeant Sullivan was in charge of a
small party moving along the Buin Road to Battalion
Headquarters. The enemy attempted to ambush the small
party but Sergeant Sullivan kept up a sustained fire from
his rifle while directing their withdrawal. He inflicted
casualties, remaining behind until all his men had been
safely extricated before retiring himself.
His cool action exerted a steadying and resolute
influence on the party and prevented casualties and
information of falling into the hands of the enemy.
In these actions Sergeant Sullivan again
demonstrated the qualities of out-standing leadership and
courage which have contributed so much to the efficiency
and morale of his section during operations in which they
have been engaged.”
When he returned to civilian life Steve was first employed
as a ranger at the Clifford Park racecourse, Toowoomba
and later had that same role at Eagle Farm, Brisbane until
appointed the Race Day Starter there.
Steve and his loving wife Daphne had two children,
Stephanie and Brian, and in his later years lived in the
north-side Brisbane suburb of Bray Park.
Stephen Sullivan passed away in May 2003 at the age of
86 after a life of high adventure in his military service in
World War 2, and people like him have become the pride
of the nation in this Centenary year of the Anzacs, and he
can be written into the military history of his country with
pride and be classified as a true Anzac
Stephen James Sullivan
With the Japanese in retreat on Bougainville in full swing
by late July 1945 when they had lost 620 killed and over
1,000 wounded, whereas the Australians had only lost 189
casualties, the men of the 7th Brigade on Slater’s Knoll
were withdrawn and by the 4th August 1945, Steve’s war
was over and he embarked from Torokina on HMT “Santa
Monica” bound for Newcastle for some much needed rest.
On 19th November 1945 Steve was posted back to
Queensland for discharge thus ending a military career that
saw him face the terrible condition of Bougainville and
survive, to return home to his family in Toowoomba.
Service Number: QX55815
Unit: 25th Australian Infantry Battalion
Conflict / Operation: Second World War, 1939-1945
Award: Military Medal
Steve Sullivan was indeed a genuine Australian hero who
did his Battalion, his nation and his family great credit, and
the awarding of the Military Medal was a just reward for a
man with his courage and commitment to his men, in the
steaming jungles of Milne Bay and Bougainville from
He got through his information and then set out back
laying a new telephone line. He arrived opposite his
Company to find it completely encircled. He telephoned
back to Headquarters and then made a complete
reconnaissance of enemy positions. On his information
was based the plan for attack next day.
Private Hall’s action enabled the Company to be
relieved and undoubtedly saved the lives of several
WARWICK’S HERO OF SLATER’S KNOLL
• Private Peter Joseph Hall, M. M. A.I.F:
Peter Hall was born in Toowoomba on 17th January
1924, the third son of William “Skinny” Hall and Mary
Hall (nee Gabbett). The family of four brothers and
four sisters produced three Catholic priests, Frs Bill
Frank and Pat, and two of the girls entered the convent
as nuns, such was the strong catholic faith of the Hall
After the war Peter married his sweetheart Maureen
Heeney in Toowoomba in 1948, and moved to
Wallangarra where he took up employment with the
army in the Army Stores Depot there and where his
first of 4 children, Christopher, was born. They
eventually raised five children after moving to
Warwick, where they lived in Gore Street for many
Peter was educated at St Mary’s Christian Brothers
College in Toowoomba where he completed the
scholarship exam after Grade 8. His first job was as a
shop assistant and clerk at McGovern’s Grocery Store
and he did the usual things that teenagers do by playing
football with his brother Jack at the St Patrick’s Rugby
Union Club, and being an active member of the
Toowoomba Young Catholic Workers’ movement
where he rose to the position of President.
Peter became a very active participant of the Catholic
Church in Warwick as a member of the St Vincent
DePaul Society, and was highly respected around
Warwick where he found employment in clerical and
accounting duties at Cresswell Ford, the Butter Factory
and Cribbe and Foote.
Peter entered the army as a conscript on May 13, 1943
and completed a period of training that included the
Jungle Training Centre at Canungra, before embarking
on board HMAT “Duntroon” bound for Port Moresby
in New Guinea. He enlisted in the A.I.F on 12th August
The war affected Peter’s health severely, as the period
at Slater’s Knoll gave him a lifetime of malaria attacks
and scarlet fever. This eventually took its toll on Peter’s
heart and at the very young age of 45, Peter passed
away on 22nd March 1969 as a result of these war
induced conditions, and now lies at rest in the Warwick
In New Guinea he suffered from malaria and spent a
period of time in the 2/9th Australian General Hospital.
On release he attended further training with 3 Division
Intelligence from January 2 – 16, 1944 in Cairns before
being sent to Madang for further specialist training and
then on April 29 1945 he was sent to Bougainville
where he was in the thick of action against Japanese
forces which saw him in the action that won him the
The legend of Peter’s
courage on Slater;s
Knoll in 1945 will
never be forgotten in
Peter achieved one of his finest hours at the Battle of
Slater’s Knoll with the famous 25th Battalion AIF, to
which he was transferred in New Guinea.
In his action, Peter was awarded the Military Medal for
bravery, one of many awarded to the men of the 25th on
that day so that they became one of the most decorated
army Battalions in the months of early 1945.
Slater’s Knoll is situated in Southern Bougainville, it
became the scene of ferocious fighting by a superior
number of Japanese seasoned infantry veterans who
harassed the Australian forces who had to withstand
suicidal Banzai charges by screaming bayonet-charging
forces, committed to dying for the Emperor.
Peter Joseph Hall
Peter’s action that day is a story of bravery and
initiative where he put his life on the line to save his
company of possible decimation by a surrounding
Company of Japanese troops. Peter’s story and how his
citation read is:
Service Number: QX56727
Rank: Private (later Sergeant)
Unit: 25th Australian Infantry Battalion
“When the telephone line between his Company and
Battalion Headquarters was cut, Private Hall
volunteered to attempt a breakthrough to reach another
Company where he could telephone to Headquarters.
Conflict / Operation: Second World War, 1939-1945
Award: Military Medal