Stolen Valour

Stolen Valour

Surname: Donovan
Christian Names: Steven James
Country: Australia
State or Province: QLD
City or Town: Ipswich
Case Notes:

Steven James Donovan is now purporting to be a spokesman for a group who are calling themselves the "Sydney Discovery Project", and putting forward some dubious claims of knowledge of the location of the HMAS Sydney, sunk in mysterious circumstances off the West Australian coast in 1941.

Their alleged "known" location is hundreds of kilometres away from the area generally accepted by long standing researchers to be the actual site.

 

Enquiries about Donovan and the Sydney Discovery Project have brought to light a number of media reports and statements from ANZMI supporters about some of the bizarre activities of Steven James Donovan.

In Brisbane's "Courier Mail" on 24 April 2002, the paper reported that the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) declined to prosecute Donovan for wearing bogus military decorations. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confiscated the bogus medals and sent a brief of evidence to the DPP, who eventually decided not to prosecute Donovan. The DPP decision drew criticism from the Queensland RSL. The newspaper goes on to state that in May 2001, Donovan was accused of stealing a statue of a Fallen Soldier from an Ipswich memorial, then hacking down plants that he later claimed were "obscuring the view" of another monument, and defacing a sandstone memorial by painting it with coloured paint, effectively ruining the sandstone.

Another report from the "Courier Mail" on 7 February 2005, details how Donovan contributed articles to a locally funded colour brochure entitled "Ipswich's Wartime History in Our Streets".

The brochure had to be withdrawn after printing because of factual errors made in the brochure. Donovan claimed he was not the sole contributor and denied any knowledge of the errors. The chairman of Ipswich Heritage (and town councillor) Paul Tully, said that it was astounding that Mr Donovan, an impostor well known to genuine Ipswich veterans, was ever consulted or allowed to contribute to such an important historical document.

ANZMI has statements from persons who verify that over at least four years, Donovan has made many and varied claims to military service, including being a commissioned officer in the Special Air Service

(SAS) and as a peacekeeper in Cambodia, Somalia, and Western Sahara.

Steven James Donovan's real military career is somewhat less glamorous than his inflated claims. His records show:

Service Number: 183101

Enlisted: 27 January 1985

Discharged: 15 February 1994

Rank and Unit on Discharge: Trooper, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. (Private soldier equivalent)

There is nothing to suggest that Donovan's real military service was anything other than honourable, and once again we see a genuine serviceman who should be proud of contribution to Australia attempting to enhance his service with fanciful claims and false medals.

Steven Donovan has again appeared in the public eye, this time purporting to represent a group called "Sydney Discovery Project" and has made claims that he knows the location of the wreck of HMAS Sydney, sunk in 1941. He has approached the Curator of WA's Maritime Museum with his claims, however the Museum is reluctant to accept these claims without further proof.

The claims that this group knows the location of HMAS Sydney go back some time. Among the public records are mentions of "Sydney Discovery Project" on the ABC's "Stateline" program in South Australia on 11 March 2005. This program was repeated in Queensland on 1 April 2005, essentially unchanged from the SA edition. In the TV interview, Dr Mike McCarthy, of WA Maritime Museum states that the group has not provided the museum with any verifiable information, and whilst not dismissing the claims out of hand, he is waiting on further information from the Group.

Again and more recently, on 17 January 2006 the "Bulletin" weekly news magazine published a letter to the editor written by "S. J. Donovan, Sydney Discovery Project, Brisbane Qld" with more opinions on the fate of HMAS Sydney.

The location of the wreck of HMAS Sydney and the fate of the 645 crew is a matter of national concern, and even more important to the families of the deceased crew members. The Sydney Discovery Project is one of the many organisations, both official and private, that are researching the true facts. When one of these groups has a spokesman who is a known military impostor, it would be very prudent to demand concrete evidence of that group's findings before allocating public funds to them, and raising hopes of families who have never learned the fate of their loved one.

Recent advice from the Office of Australian War Graves confirms that ownership of the wreck of the HMAS Sydney is vested with the Australian Government in line with Australian legislation and the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) even if the shipwreck is found in international waters.

Australian States have a system of control under the Historic Shipwrecks Act, 1976 and are responsible for monitoring access to these sites.

In addition, the Minister for Environment and Heritage has publicly stated his intention to immediately declare HMAS Sydney an historic shipwreck and a protected zone as soon as the actual site is discovered.

A reputable search group is currently analysing data from an extensive aerial search.

If any person or group, including Donovan's, has intentions of exploiting the wreck site or somehow gaining financial advantage from either government funding, salvage rights, or commercial dive use, they will be badly disappointed.

 

This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the  Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations.

 

Surname: Sangster
Christian Names: Perry Stuart
Country: Australia
State or Province: Unknown
City or Town: Unknown
Service: Citizen Military Forces
Case Notes:
 

 

Perry Stuart (Lofty) SANGSTER has associated with veterans for many years, as a member of various motor cycle groups in the Northern Territory and South Australia, including the H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) in Darwin, Alice Springs and Adelaide, Australia Patriots M/C and Southern Cross M/C.  Sangster has regaled members of these clubs with stories of his extraordinary service in South Vietnam, with the SAS (Special Air Service) and the U.S. 5th Airborne, and of the war wounds he received to his back and legs.

His further claims of having served in Somalia and Gulf War 1 have been dismissed as the ramblings of a complete fool.

Sangster's story, as told to his wide circle of friends and acquaintances, is as follows:

He served in the Regular Army as a  Royal Australian Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (RAEME ) mechanic, but later transferred to SAS. 

He served in Vietnam with SAS and the U.S. 5th Airborne, fighting at the Battle of Long Tan, and being decorated for his exploits during that battle. 

Sangster has 'dodgy' knees and other serious health issues that he attributes to his service in Vietnam.  He further attributes his severe medical problems to the shrapnel that has been removed from his back and legs.

He is unable to claim benefits for the injuries he received in Vietnam, under the Veterans Entitlements Act, which is administered by the Department of Veterans' Affairs. 

His records are sealed due to the extremely sensitive nature of his duties with SAS and the U.S. 5th Airborne. 

He cannot disclose details of these covert operations because some of them are very close to criminal activities. 

His service file and medical file are unavailable to him, so he cannot prove his present disabilities are caused by the shrapnel wounds to his back and legs. 

The only evidence he holds for a veteran's claim is his discharge certificate, but that unfortunately doesn't show his "special service" deployments.

Sangster wears the ribbons of the Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) , Vietnam Medal and Vietnamese Campaign Medal, on his leather vest.  He also wears a SAS cap badge and SAS para wings on the vest, along with a Vietnam Veterans Association (VVAA) embroidered patch and a number of patches identifying membership of various motor cycle organisations.  His Harley Davidson motor cycle is adorned with a sticker on the rear mudguard, depicting the Vietnam War service ribbons he wears on his vest, and he has RAEME badges affixed to the bike.



 

Now that you have read what Lofty Sangster has to say, let's look at the facts. 

Perry Stuart SANGSTER was born in Adelaide on 21st November 1946.  During his schooling at Prince Alfred College he served in the School Cadets for three years, attaining the rank of Cadet Sergeant, prior to being discharged from the School Cadets  when he left school. Sangster was educated to Intermediate Certificate standard ( 3 years of High School)  and took up an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic at Somerton S.A. in 1964.

The above information was taken from Sangster's Army records and the Personal Data Sheet he completed when he enlisted in the Australian Military Forces.


 



Sangster didn't enlist in the Regular Army, he enlisted in the Army Reserve, then known as the Citizens Military Forces.  Perry Stuart SANGSTER joined the RAEME - LAD (Royal Australian Electrical & Mechanical Engineers - Light Aid Detachment) of the 3/9 SAMR (South Australia Mounted Rifles) on the 25th January 1965, being issued service number 446655.  His service concluded when he was discharged on the 22nd May 1968.

Sangster's only military service totalled three years 4 months, as an Army Reservist, during which time he held the rank of Craftsman, the RAEME equivalent of Private.


 

Sangster regularly travels between Darwin, Alice Springs and Adelaide practising his occupation of diesel mechanic.  He attends biker rallies and regales all present with his tales of heroic deeds and moans about his war ravaged health, for which the government gives him no support.  The more alcohol he consumes, the more heroic the deeds become and the more bitter his rhetoric against the government.

Many people over the years have taken pity on Sangster and have tried to help him apply for a Disability Pension from the Department of Veterans' Affairs, but have been fobbed off with the story that 'his records are sealed'.  On at least one occasion we are aware of, he was advised by a concerned ex-serviceman that all service records are available after 30 years, so he could now apply to have his records released, enabling him to extract evidence in support of his claim for a Veterans' Affairs pension.  Sangster claimed that his records contain such sensitive information that they are sealed for longer than 30 years.

Knowledgeable ex-service personnel have been suspicious of Sangster's claims for years.  Very few have challenged Sangster, who is somewhat intimidating at 6' 4 (193 cm) tall, and those that have done so got the 'sealed records' story.

Apart from the erroneous, romantic, 'James Bond' notions that files are 'sealed forever', there are too many inconsistencies in Sangster's yarns to deflect suspicion by veterans, who have made numerous reports to ANZMI in recent years.

The action at Long Tan has been so heavily researched and written about, that anyone claiming to have been involved can be found out very easily, from the mountain of evidence available.

Any person claiming to have been awarded conspicuous bravery or service awards or decorations relating to their military service, can also be easily checked out, by searching the following web address: 
http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au

Sangster seems to have watched the wrong movies, or scrambled the information he has acquired from movies or books, to support his fantasies.  His constant referral to his service with the " U.S. 5th Airborne" is a dead giveaway to any service  personnel who have ever had anything to do with the U.S. Special Forces  There was no such unit.

Sangster tells everyone that his activities with SAS and U.S. 5th Airborne, are top secret, and 'hush-hush', because he participated in activities bordering on the criminal.  Fair dinkum!!!  Would any self respecting small time criminal tell anyone he participated in crimes, but he can't tell you what they are?  That Sangster admits any of the rubbish he spruiks has already breached any security that might have once existed.  So, what did you do in the war Lofty?

Many veterans are aware of the extremely wide contacts that ANZMI maintains with ex-service organisations in Australia, New Zealand and Internationally.  Claims made of SAS service can be quickly checked against nominal rolls and confirmed or refuted, by ANZMI simply sending an e-mail.  Similarly, claims of service with overseas units, like the U.S. 5th Airborne, are just as simply and quickly confirmed or refuted. 

If any visitor to our ANZMI site is suspicious of stories they have heard from any individual 'super soldier', e-mail us at: 
information@anzmi.net   and we will assist you to establish the facts, or offer you advice on where you can search for the information you seek.

Falsely claiming to be an ex-serviceman and wearing non-awarded service medals or ribbons are both criminal offences under the Defence Act and are punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.

DEFENCE ACT 1903

Impersonation and Service Medal Offences

Section 80A creates an offence of falsely representing oneself to be a returned soldier, sailor or airman.

Section 80B creates an offence of improper use of service decorations.


We at ANZMI have been aware of Sangster's claims for some years, but until now have not been able to obtain statutory declarations from witnesses, to support the information we had in our possession.  We carry out research and obtain documentary evidence, e.g. service records, to support all claims we make on the site.  When we have compiled sufficient evidence to overwhelmingly prove our case, we then contact the person we have investigated, offering them the opportunity to deny the claims made against them, or to provide evidence such as their service records, to prove their innocence.  If suitable evidence is provided we abandon the case, otherwise, we ask that a written apology, addressed to all units and service personnel involved, be sent to ANZMI so we can forward it to the people concerned, for their acceptance, or otherwise, of the apology.. 

Only after this process is conducted will we consider displaying a person on our 'Cases' pages.

Sangster was sent a letter from ANZMI as outlined above.  We decided to extend the time we allow for an answer to our communications to a full month, in recognition that Sangster's work often takes him away from his base.  We have not, to this date, received any reply from Sangster, either by post or e-mail.  Should Mr Sangster offer suitable evidence in the future that his claims are true, he will immediately be removed from the site.

If Lofty Sangster ever tells you his tales of heroic deeds, and/or his hard luck story of being abandoned by the government, which refuses to give him treatment for his war disabilities, just tell him you have seen the facts on the ANZMI website, and suggest he might like to avail himself of professional help to sort out his personality disorders.

Should anyone tell you their records are sealed, locked up, under a 100 year secrecy embargo, or never to be revealed, the first words you should think of is........."bloody b......t".

While we may never know the full nature of some SAS operations, or who carried them out, those personnel had a parent unit, and their records from that unit are available after the 30 years secrecy embargo.  

Scroll down to our Brian Day story, we have his complete SAS records and we would have Lofty Sangster's as well, if he ever served in the unit.

This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the Vietnam Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations.

 

Surname: Herriott
Christian Names: Harry Francis
Country: Australia
State or Province: Qld
City or Town: Cairns
Service: Army
Case Notes:

Harry (Hal) Francis Herriott gave many interviews to reporters with false tales about his war service and on the 15th April 2006 he gave this story to the Cairns Post.

 

Statements from the newspaper.

"Mr Herriott fought in Greece, Crete, Syria and Papua New Guinea with the 2/11 Infantry Battalion".   -   At no time did he "fight" with the 2/11 Infantry battalion.

"They dropped 3,000 German paratroopers on us, we were 500, and it was 10 days of hand to hand fighting. No quarter given none asked a defiant Mr Herriott said"  -   He was not there on 20 May 1941 when German paratroops opened Operation Merkur (Mercury) on Crete, Herriott was 1,000 kms (600 miles) distant at 1Aust. Convalescent Depot , Kafar Vitkin, Palestine where he remained until 26 May 1941.

"We joined the Freedom Fighters in the Mountains"- "We wore German uniforms and boots, used German weapons and ammunition"  -  Obviously he did not.

"For five months Mr Herriott fought with the Antarties Freedom fighters, living in caves and stone huts by day and ambushing the Germans by night"  -  All of his time is accounted for from 9 April 1941 when he departed Egypt for Greece. He was in Australian Army Service Corp (AASC) units and in hospitals during this five month period.

"Mr Herriott and six other fellow infantrymen escaped Crete on a small fishing boat still wearing German uniforms"."Picked up at sea by a British submarine"     

Herriott claims to have been "picked up" five months after the 20 May 1941.  During the relevant months Herriott was, from 27 Sep 1941, in hospital with catarrh, jaundice and boils........ From 13 October 1941 with Services Training Regiment...... On 24 October 1941 transferred to Petrol Company AASC, 6 Australian Division until 13 January 1942 when he was transferred to No. 2 Company AASC.

His claim of fighting in the mountains and leaving Crete on a fishing boat is remarkably similar to this recently published story.

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/verbatim/stories/2004/1011693.htm

The 2/11 Battalion, which Herriott was very briefly a member of, fought a heroic battle alongside New Zealand, British and Greek troops against German paratroopers during Operation Merkur (Mercury) at Retimo, Crete, commencing 20th May 1941.  

Below is an eyewitness account of the opening of the operation from an ordinary soldier who was there

"It was a spectacle that might have belonged to a war between the planets. Out of the unswerving flying fleet came tumbling lines of little dolls, sprouting silken mushrooms that stayed and steadied them, and lowered them in ordered ranks into our consuming fire. And still they came, till all the fantastic sky before us was filled with futuristic snowflakes floating beneath the low black thundercloud of the processional planes - occasionally flashing into fire as if struck by lightning from the earth."

"These little dolls were highly trained and motivated German paratroopers of General Kurt Student's XI Air Corps. For ten days they and the elite mountain troops that were sent to reinforce them hunted and were hunted by the Australian, New Zealand, British and Greek soldiers, as well as Cretan farmers, townspeople and police. Fighting was savage and bloody, with little quarter given or asked. Men fought to the death in solitary duels or in major engagements. Their bodies cluttered the narrow streets of the towns or lay among the olive trees and creek beds of the countryside.

Herriott is stealing the honour and valour of Soldiers of the Battalion while never having to endure the same hardships. He was not part of the unit at that time, he spent only thirty-six days with the 2/11 whilst it was inactive in Egypt, three months before it was deployed to Greece and Crete.

He joined the army on 26th April 1940 at Northam in Western Australia. After training he arrived in Palestine on 13 October 1940, then completed a Signals Instructions course and was sent to Australian Imperial Forces Staging Camp, Line of Communications at Beit Jurja on the 8 Jan 1941.   

On the 18 January 1941 Herriott marched into the 2/11 Battalion at Amiriya Egypt, was promptly marched out again on 23 February 1941 and transferred to Petrol Company Aust. Army Service Corps, (AASC), he then remained with AASC units until his discharge in Victoria on 7 September 1945. 

On 9 April 1941 Herriott embarked for Greece from Egypt as part of the 17th  Brigade Composite Company AASC.  
On 2 May 1941 he was admitted to 2 Australian General Hospital which had already been evacuated from Greece in late April 1941 and relocated back in Palestine. Apart from perhaps travelling via Crete during evacuation from Greece he never served on Crete at all. He remained in 2 Australian General Hospital Palestine until 16 May 1941.
He was then transferred to 1st Australian Convalescent Depot Palestine where he stayed until 26 May 1941andon release from the Depot he was transferred to Services Training Regt AIF  (This unit is shown to be located in the Middle East).  

(Operation Merkur 20 to 30 May 1941)

How likely then is his statement?"When we went to Greece we went to Kalamia and were evacuated from there on a Royal Navy cruiser that dropped us off at Crete, they must have got the records wrong or assumed I came back on another ship."
He did not address the "picked up by submarine" claim.
We can only rely on his service records that say he was in Palestine (Middle East) during the Battle for Crete, if they're wrong it's up to him to have them corrected. We, however, believe them to be correct.

Between early May 1941 and January 1942 he alternated between hospitals, (always a non-battle casualty) the Services Training Regiment and Number 2 Company AASC until he embarked for Ceylon then onto Fremantle Western Australia, arriving on 28 Jul 1942.

On 30 Nov 1942 as a member of the AASC he again departed Australia and arrived New Guinea 4 Dec 1942. On 20 Dec 1942 he was evacuated (non battle casualty) on the hospital ship MV Duntroon and disembarked at Gladstone Queensland on 6 January 1943. He did not "fight" with the 2/11 Battalion in Papua New Guinea either and spent only 16 days there as a member of the AASC. After evacuation from Papua New Guinea he spent the rest of his service in Australia.

Whilst Hal Herriott, through rewriting the history of his service, thought he was a "hell of soldier" it is obvious from reading his service record that he was in fact the "soldier from hell".   He clocked up at least twenty charges for offences and spent a great deal of time in and out of hospitals with non-battle caused injuries or sickness spending more than three hundred days on sick lists.   For the majority of his service he could be described as troublesome and well below average. Herriott has been living off his dishonourable stories in the Atherton, Queensland area for many years. He presents himself as a heroic Infantry soldier when in fact he has the track record of an ineffective burden on the Australian Imperial Forces during time of war.  

Late news to hand says that his friends at the Returned Services League Club where he is a committee man and former Secretary, subsidised a trip to Crete for him to attend commemorative events as a representative of the Battalion that fought so bravely in defence of the island and subsequently endured many hardships including imprisonment in German Stalags.   As is usual with our exposures of RSL executives, we discovered that some of the members of Herriott's club were suspicious of his tales of service and great valour but nothing came of this.  The RSL could apply to have him charged with obtaining financial benefits by deception but they won't and we don't suggest they do. 

Herriott has made three trips to Crete and Greece as a 2/11 Battalion representative and was in Greece only last year for another memorial service.  We are reliably informed that he has another trip already booked to Greece where he will present the Order of Australia Medal to a Greek citizen.   The Australian Embassy there would be interested in this story of ours because they fully believed his yarns about the Battle for Crete and the aftermath and had arranged enough trips, commendations, medallions, awards and recognition from the Greek, Crete and British governments to be highly embarrassed about this deception. 
The forthcoming OAM presentation will be the final insult, if it goes ahead.

The Commonwealth could also have him charged with offences under the Criminal Code because what he has done is deceive Commonwealth Officers, ie Embassy staff, to gain benefits, but they won't and again we don't suggest this be done. Removal from his possession of all deceitfully gained awards made by foreign governments would be sufficient. Perhaps a better home for them would be Western Australia where the 2/11 Battalion was raised rather than on his chest and in his living room.

Wannabes beware, obtain benefits by deception and you could find yourselves in a lot more trouble than you ever imagined.

31Jul 2006

"They must have got the records wrong" (Hal Herriott 20 July 2006) 

"The war records must have been stuffed up....there is no truth to the allegations as far as I'm concerned" (Hal Herriott 26 July 2006)

Herriott has rejected our allegation that he is an impostor, read the Tablelander (25 July 06) and Cairns Post (26 July 06)  newspaper reports.

 

 

Note 13 trips to Crete, 10 more than we knew of.

"Outcry" "Herriott in hospital" We can't find any evidence of any "outcry" this reporter writes of, he appears to be the lone voice.  A report from the Atherton area tells us that most people there agree with our version of events because they've been suspicious of Herriott's wild tales for years.  We've yet to receive any other reports from Cairns but it could be due to total disinterest.  Herriott booked himself out of hospital on 26 July 2006 without undergoing an amputation and doubts have been cast on this "leg amputation" being the reason for his hospitalisation in the first place.   This deemed ploy to gain the sympathy vote was published twice in two days by the Cairns Post but it won't work, too many people are aware of Herriott's ways now.

 Herriott says his Army records are wrong, what else would he say? This is a standard first response from a wannabe who has been caught out.  We can't find any other Herriotts, or names with similar spelling, on the WW2 nominal roll who served with the 2/11 Battalion or the Australian Army Service Corps, 6th Division, also there are no similar names with Harry Francis as the first and second names.   His Army records from April to September 1941, which is the period he says he was on Crete, involve entries showing him to be elsewhere and were made by many clerks and were initialled by almost as many officers as being correct. Could they have all made the same mistakes? Not likely. Just one example is his admission to, and discharge from, 1 Aust. Convalescent Depot in Palestine, two entries made on 17 and 27 May 1941 by two different clerks and signed off by two different officers. Would he have us believe this was a conspiracy to disguise the fact that he was actually on Crete fighting a guerilla action dressed in German uniform?   Perhaps some people who know Herriott heard some stories of him being on an "X-List". This sounds a bit like something special but being on that list only meant the soldier was absent from his parent unit, in Herriott's case a Service Corps Petrol Company, and we know exactly where he was and it wasn't near Crete. Herriott was on seven such lists during his Army service and always due to hospitalisation or convalescence.

 Perhaps Herriott could produce two Japanese swords he reportedly stole and lodged in a Sydney bank for safe-keeping. They are said to be the ancient family samurai swords of the Japanese Commander of the 18th Army and his aide who surrendered to an Australian General near Wewak, more precisely Cape Wom, New Guinea in August 1945. This theft is said to have  occurred just before the surrender ceremony.   History tells us that this particular Japanese surrender, there were others, took place on 13 September 1945 but Herriott had moved the month forward to August to suit his own needs i.e. his discharge date.  We remind you of what we wrote in the initial story.           On 30 Nov 1942 as a member of the AASC he again departed Australia and arrived New Guinea 4 Dec 1942. On 20 Dec 1942 he was evacuated (non battle casualty) on the hospital ship MV Duntroon and disembarked at Gladstone Queensland on 6 January 1943. He did not "fight" with the 2/11 Battalion in Papua New Guinea either and spent only 16 days there as a member of the AASC. After evacuation from Papua New Guinea he spent the rest of his service in Australia.  (Herriott discharged from the Army on 7 September 1945, five weeks before the surrender)

Representing the 2/11 Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division. The cost of this trip was heavily subsidised by his RSL club.

Photo, May 2005, Crete. When this photo was first published by the Tablelander newspaper the caption was "Kairi WW2 veteran Hal Herriott is comforted by Colonel Mark Blatherwick, British Military Attaché to the British Ambassador to Greece after the Rethymno (Retimo) memorial service"

Cairns Post 28 July 2006. Quote from the Minister for Veteran's Affairs, Bruce Billson.

Perhaps a few of our readers could heed Mr. Billson's urging. If anyone has genuine doubts as to the validity of a person's war service, take the information to the nearest DVA office and let us know the outcome via our guest book but please don't name names.

This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the  Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations.

 

Surname: Bayley
Christian Names: Graeme Maurice
Country: Australia
State or Province: Victoria
City or Town: Melbourne
Service: Army
Case Notes:

 

Graeme Maurice Bayley

Thanks to the press and a 4 RAR veteran, another Ex-Service Organisation "Executive" has been exposed.  It was not enough that this man served as a genuine veteran, he felt a need to wear more than his legal entitlement regarding war service medals and to lie about how long he spent in Vietnam.   May he reap the recognition he deserves.


 

Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance - August the 18th 2001, guest speaker - Graeme BAYLEY voiced to all in attendance: " It is time for Vietnam veterans to move on, the past is the past.  There is no point dwelling on it" 
A very easy thing for him to say because he didn't endure what the majority of Vietnam Veterans had to endure and by this we mean a long time away from family and loved ones in a strange country embroiled in a nasty war.

BAYLEY was a senior member of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA) and the several hundred Vietnam Veterans in attendance heard his advice echo around the pillars of the most sacred edifice in Victoria - after all - he was an invited guest speaker, and why would anyone doubt his credentials?

In March 2006 ANZMI was contacted by several irate members representing the 4th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment,  these veterans had been handed newspaper clippings of BAYLEY's appearance as guest speaker five years earlier, and the target of their anger was BAYLEY wearing  a medal he had no entitlement to - and still wears - the "Vietnamese Campaign Medal" awarded to veterans who served more than six months "in-country" - 



 

"on the front line within 5 months"
The period between his enlistment and arrival in Vietnam was 8 months which disproves this statement. His claimed 5 month  time frame was a virtual impossibility for anyone of his rank and Corps. 
BAYLEY enlisted (was conscripted) on 1 May 1968 and arrived at 1ARU, Nui Dat, Vietnam, 6 January 1969.   He spent 40 days at this Reinforcement Unit, a notably long period of time.  20 to 22 days was the norm for Infantrymen who displayed any ability since capable reinforcements were always required by the Battalions as soon as possible.

"serving 9 months with the 4th Royal Australian Regiment"
He was posted to the 4th Battalion on 18 February 1969 and began his return to Australia on 19 May 1969. The length of this posting was 3 months and totally denies his fanciful claim.   Had he served on Operations Federal, Overlander and Stafford with the Battalion, he could have spent a total of 58 days in the bush but we don't have any definitive information on his actual duties within the unit. Not all Infantrymen posted to Battalions went outside the wire on warlike operations.

"He found fitting back into life at home was easier for him than others"
BAYLEY departed for Australia with 4RAR aboard HMAS SYDNEY on 19 May 69....why?
His total Vietnam service was 4 1/2 months, a lot shorter than the majority of Infantry tours which were 1 year.  The reason for this is unknown but what is known is that some Infantry posted to Battalions took the option of an early return with their unit while many more were posted out to other units to complete a normal tour.
There is no indication that BAYLEY suffered from any disability which may have prompted this early return, it would appear that he took up the option.

ANZMI contacted BAYLEY and requested he clarify the situation - as he is a genuine veteran he was given ample opportunity to prove or disprove his illegal wearing of the medal - he neglected to reply to our correspondence and now will remain on the CASES page as evidence that the Veteran Community will not suffer this type of offender.
Should he offer an apology to the relevant people and units, it will be treated as all others have been.

If not for the alertness of a 4 RAR veteran this charade would have continued unreported.  BAYLEY would be fully cognizant that he commits an offence against the "Defence Act" each time he "medals up" - here is an opportunity for the VVAA/RSL to recommend charges be laid....or will they close ranks around him?

Graeme BAYLEY - you have been exposed by your own battalion mates as a poseur and a fraud - may you reap what you have sown.

Allegedly there is a lot more to this man and his dealings with Veterans that cannot be published by us. We look forward to some interesting guest book entries about Mr Bayley.

Updated 27 Aug 06
 

GRAEME BAYLEY wrote...."Would you please consider removing me from the cases file" Our answer is yes, we will, but only if a majority of Veterans agree that we should.

BAYLEY sent the following email as a reply to correspondence from us.  In it, he offers information on how he came to be in possession of  the Vietnamese Campaign Medal and offers an apology.

He was asked to reply before 6 July 06 but his first email reply of 30 June was not addressed correctly and obviously wasn't received by us. Further emails, one with the same apology and an admission as to "the error of his ways", were sent to the correct address after his story was published on 15 August 06. We contacted him to make sure we had copies of every email he sent to either correct or incorrect email addresses.

We find it very difficult to believe that a person who has been involved with ex-service organisations as long as he has would be unaware of the requirements and protocols surrounding this award. 

"Given to me by a regular Army mate" The Australian Government didn't give him one but his mate did so he feels he can legally wear it. What a bloody ridiculous statement.

He was "the Secretary of the Melbourne Sub Branch of the VVAA for about 8 years" and apparently not once in that time did he become aware of the requirements for the award nor the protocols.

"Because I took no notice of protocol, or learning what was right or wrong with medals I now apologize............"

Pull the other one Mr BAYLEY.

He also said that he has no idea where the statement about him being on the "frontline" 5 months after his call up date came from. It was published in the newspaper, he would have read it and anyone else who read it would reasonably believe it came from him, if it was an incorrect quote he'll have to take it up with the editor and have a retraction published.

Nowhere in his emails does he fully address this statement from the news article "serving 9 months with the 4th Royal Australian Regiment"
He asked us why he would lie about his time spent in Vietnam when there is a possibility of being found out because the Vietnam Veterans nominal roll is freely available.

The answer to this is, in our experience we've found that lies about war service became very difficult to explain after the first nominal roll was published in 1996, wannabes were caught in a trap of their own making and had to carry on with their charades. They're sometimes executives within ex-service organisations, as BAYLEY was or still is, and more often than not they resort to threats of litigation against anyone who questions them.

With regard to his ,now admitted, very short tour, he did tell us that he asked a 4RAR Company Clerk where he would be posted to next as the Battalion was leaving Vietnam, he was informed that it was Battalion policy to take married veterans home at the completion of the tour and therefore he had no choice in the matter.

We looked into this supposed 4RAR policy and can find nothing to support his claim. This explanation is more than highly unlikely and we stand by our version of events which is that he opted out of the war while others fought on.

This is from another email and should be taken into account when considering this person's apology.

"I am a genuine man who is proud of my service, albeit short, in Vietnam with 4RAR.I am now aware of the error of my ways in wearing the Vietnam medal, however it was not worn with any intention to deceive, but to be a constant reminder of an event that took place between me and a very close colleague in a contact with the enemy"

The issues here are:

1...For many years, possibly 19 years, BAYLEY wore the Vietnamese Campaign Medal while never having served the required 6 months in Vietnam to be recognised by the Australian Government for the award. An offence punishable by law.

2...By wearing this medal and by allegedly making false statements to the press, he enhanced his war service in the eyes of others by claiming to have been fully trained and "on the frontline within 5 months" and also by extending his 3 months in a fighting unit to 9 months.

His apology is made to any member of the veteran community who is genuinely upset by his behaviour.

Any Veteran of any conflict who wishes to personally accept or reject his apology should email us at information@anzmi.net

Please provide your correct name and where served as only replies from genuine Veterans will be taken into account, if you had your name removed from any nominal roll, your reply will be ignored, sorry. Your city or town should be noted as well, thank you.

Replies from ex-service organisations will count as one reply. Personal details will not be published, your anonymity is assured.

If you can still read this on or after 1 October 06, you'll know the result of our poll.

______________________________________________________________________

Dated 30 June 2006 but incorrectly addressed, re-sent by BAYLEY and finally received at ANZMI ON 22 August 2006.

Dear Sir

In response to your letter received today I put the following to you for consideration.

I heard about this complaint about a month ago and was waiting for the people involved to to approach me about it, as I would have expected fellow VV's to do, however, as usual they have opted to take the cowards way out.

I know the original problem was started by a group of people involved with the Goulburn Valley Veterans Service Office.

I would be very surprised if the complaint originated from the 4RAR Association as I am not a financial member, and cannot remember ever being one and also I hace attended Charlie Company reunions since 1987 and my medals have never been an issue.

I would like to give you some of my history before I go into the wearing of the medal in question.

I have never been an executive member of the GVVVA, however I was it's welfare officer and pension officer for some time.

I was in fact the Secretary of the Melbourne Sub Branch of the VVAA for about 8 years before moving to Shepparton. Again, medals were never an issue there.

I am extremely disappointed in this matter as I have prided myself on the work I have done in the area of welfare and pensions for veterans. I have worked tirelessly for their benefit and have had a lot of success in both the pension and welfare areas both here and in Melbourne and it hurts me to think that fellow vets don't have the courage to face me, but prefer to take this course of action. It hurts even more that they have chosen to hide behind the 4RAR Association's banner.

I had, until a month ago never given much thought to my medals and the dates stated in your letter are correct and therefore I am not entitled to wear the Vietnam one. 

I can remember this medal being given to me by a regular army mate who was in my section. He also gave me a miniature of the same medal. I put these medals, plus the original one in a draw and did not see them again until the Sydney welcome home in 1987.

With the passing of time and concentrating on other work in the veteran community, the wearing of medals did not rate highly with me.Obviously, I was wrong.

Because I took no notice of protocol, or learning what was right or wrong with medals I now apologize unreservedly to any member of the veteran community who is genuinely upset by my behavior.

In closing, I congratulate you on the work you do and assure you that I never intended to deceive anybody.

I trust this explanation is satisfactory.

Yours sincerely

Graeme Bayley

This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the Vietnam Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations

 

Surname: Walter
Christian Names: Russell
Country: Australia
State or Province: Victoria
City or Town: Cobram
Service: Army
Case Notes:

Russell Walter

As a "guest speaker" at a Probus meeting in a rural part of Victoria yet another RSL Executive has been exposed as a bogus veteran - this sort of behaviour only serves to further besmirch the already damaged reputation of Australia's only true veterans' league....how much lower must the RSL be dragged before 100% justice is dealt out to those who offend ???

 

The rural Victorian tabloid "Cobram Courier" on Wednesday 15 February 2006 on its social page "Roundabout" printed details of Cobram Men's Probus Club engaging a guest speaker Russell WALTER who "spoke of International Intelligence.  Mr WALTER had led an eventful life flying 65 missions "spotting Cessnas" in Vietnam, pursuing a nursing career in 2005, before retiring to live in Barooga".

WALTER is a member of the Cobram Barooga RSL and spent almost two years on the Sub-Branch Executive Committee as Secretary.  During this period it is alleged WALTER advised those who queried his rank that he left the Army as a Major, others state he advised he was a Colonel.
With the article of his supposed Vietnam service published in the local paper, veterans began questioning the bona fides of their past RSL Sub-Branch Secretary - a glaring anomaly was his lack of command of  written English, something a commissioned officer in the Australian Army prides himself on.

ANZMI was contacted and a subsequent thorough investigation into WALTER's military history revealed that yes, he did indeed serve, he was a National Serviceman who enlisted on 24 April 1956 and was Discharged 20 March 1957 medically unfit with clinical notes attached to his file as follows: "This disability is likely to remain for such a period as to prevent the resumption of training within a period of five years - DDMS S Comd". 

WALTER was allocated to the corps of Ordnance as a Private soldier, posted from 20 National Service Battalion to 3 Stores Company and spent his 11 month Army life plagued by medical problems. 

With all the evidence at hand WALTER was contacted and asked to explain his claims of  being an Army Officer and Pilot. His replies are below including his apology directed at us. We don't accept or reject apologies, in this instance it's up to the Veteran Community at large. We will monitor all replies for or against and advise the outcome around the end of September.
________________________________________________________________________

----- Original Message -----
From: Russell & Kaye Walter
To:
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 4:26 PM
Subject: reyour letter dated 27-06-06


 

    Dear Sir,
 
                 With refence to your letter dated as above i wish to inform you that at no time did i state when giving an address to a Probus club did i ever state that i was a VIietnam Veteran, nor that i flown thirty mission over Veitnan, at the time i was in Loas fling for a private air line,nor did i state that i was a major or Lieutenant Colonel.
 
                  Therefore i offer all the Vietnam veterans/R&SL,my  apologies for any misconstrue over this matter.
 
                                                                                                                                 Regards RUSS WALTER

___________________________________________________________

WALTER has denied fraudulently representing himself as a veteran - an offence under the Defence Act.
This man served his country albeit in a restricted manner - was awarded a National Service Commemorative Medal and in due course will be awarded the Australian Defence Medal, obviously he felt the need to embellish his service - and the ensuing embarrassment will be down to him.

_______________________________________________________________________

----- Original Message -----

From: Russell & Kaye Walter
To:
Sent: Sunday, July 02, 2006 1:23 PM
Subject: apologies

Attention  XXXXXXXXXXXXX
 
  Dear Sir.
 
              Further to your mail on 24.06.06 and my email of 28.06.06,as some 48hours has has passed i have had time to reflect on my actions of the past and in doing so i can say what a bloody fool i have been,and what injury i have caused our veteran veterns.
 
             As such i wish to again apologies to you,your members,dependants,and i can only say how bad i feel about my past mistake's.I have always held the Veitnam Veteran vets i the highest regards, and have not and would not like you think i would have a bad  word to say of them.
 
            I will not belong to our local RS.L. sub-branch nor any other branch and will not renew my member ship when it expires, once again please accept my honest apologies and if it was at all possable in the near future i would like to meet you face to face as men and discuss this matter.
 
                                                                                              Yours truly Russ Walter
________________________________________________________________________

 

----- Original Message -----
From: Russell & Kaye Walter
To:
Sent: Wednesday, July 05, 2006 2:44 PM
Subject: re your email
 
Thank you for your email of to day,as i informed youi did work for a private company, but i am not in a situation whereby i am unable to disclose this inforemation to you,but i will give you some back ground of my self.
 
In 1961 i join the Chief Secreatary,s Office attached to the office of the State Insurance Commision as an investorgator reporting back to the Crown Law Dept,later i was transferred to Comberra and then went to the firm that employed whilst i was oversea,s,i spent some six month,s in Laos when i waseffected with astomach infection and was sent back to australia where some 8/10 of my stomach was removed, i would have no objection to yougeting my medical.
 
M y wife has in the time i have known me all way,s called me Colonel.
 
When i was over in Laos i was called the Major.
 
My Medals are  1 Commonwealth National Service Medal, amd the National Service Association Medal {SA] Branch INC. And id dose amaze me that the person who informed you of myMedal,s was not aware that the Medal,s were not Service Nedal,s as would be found on any of your menbers as quite a nimber of national service menbers wear same when attending servce,s.
 
                                                                                           regards Russ.I
________________________________________________________________________

He apologised and then feeds us malarkey about being some sort of spook in Laos. We can't believe a word he says now.

"My Medals are  1 Commonwealth National Service Medal, amd the National Service Association Medal {SA] Branch INC."

The medal on the right was not awarded for service, it is a purchased National Serviceman's Association trinket, much favoured by those who never served overseas but feel they have to wear something on commemorative occasions as if they'd actually been somewhere and done something . If worn at all, it should be on his right breast and well below any Next of Kin medals that may be worn,where such things belong.

This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations.

 

Surname: Van Der Klooster
Christian Names: William
Country: Australia
State or Province: NSW
City or Town: North Richmond
Case Notes:
 

 

 

 

William Van Der Klooster, born in 1947, at North Richmond, NSW, was seen at Katoomba RSL Club, NSW on Anzac Day, 25th April, 2006.  He was wearing an Australian Naval Officer's uniform showing the rank of Captain and with numerous ribbons indicating overseas service.  He was also wearing metal "pilot's" wings and metal insignia on each shirt collar as well as being in possession of a Naval Officer's peaked cap (Captain or higher).  Was this man a real naval officer?  No he was not and he had been arrested charged and fined for a similar offence prior to this.

On 25th April 2006, Anzac Day in Katoomba, New South Wales.  Veterans have been to the dawn service and the Anzac Day parade and many of them are now enjoying catching up to mates and reminiscing.  It was like that at the RSL Club however there was one exception. William VAN DER KLOOSTER was at the RSL Club relaxing, playing the poker machines and going to the restaurant the same as other members.  He also, like other members, was wearing uniform.  He was wearing Naval Officer's uniform and in such a manner so that others could interpret or believe that he was actually a serving naval officer.

Was this man a naval officer? No, he subsequently admitted to the NSW Police that he was not, nor ever had been, a member of the Armed Forces.

This is not just a story of a wannabe pretending to be a returned serviceman.  It also shows the disdain in which veterans are being treated by the authorities when wannabes seek to steal their honour.

Patrons of the RSL Club who saw William Van Der Klooster were suspicious. 

A serving Naval Officer who had attended the Anzac Day parade in uniform and then attended the RSL described William Van Der Klooster as wearing what appeared to be an officer's Summer white working uniform and was suspicious because uniform for Anzac Day had been promulgated by signal as 'Winter ceremonial with medals'.  Van Der Klooster was wearing shoulder boards of the rank of Captain, a number of medal ribbons, but no medals, white shorts and stockings and white training shoes and had with him a naval officers cap with braided peak.

An executive of the RSL stated that he had been advised by another member that Van Der Klooster had stated he was a serving naval officer.  The executive described Van Der Klooster as wearing white shorts, white military belt, white shoes, white long socks, white short sleeve shirt, naval rank boards (Captain) numerous ribbons indicating overseas service, metal 'pilots' wings and metal insignia on each shirt collar and had in his possession a naval officer's peaked cap (Captain or higher).  The RSL Executive asked Van Der Klooster to accompany him to the administration area and then called police.  When police attended Van Der Klooster was identified and admitted that he was not a member of any Military Service and had purchased the uniform and ribbons from various Sydney stores.

The NSW police apprehended Van Der Klooster and took him to Katoomba Police Station. (Police Reference: Event No 29224686) This was recorded at the RSL by CCTV, a photo of which has been extracted.

The photo is not good but the only one available.  The photo depicts two apprehending police officers in the background, Van Der Klooster in the white naval uniform and various RSL Club officials and patrons.

As the Defence Act 1903 is Commonwealth Legislation, the NSW Police contacted the Australian Federal Police (AFP) who is responsible for prosecuting such offences.

The RSL executive was subsequently advised by the apprehending police that they contacted the AFP and were told that they, the AFP, would not be able to prove an offence as they couldn't prove that Van Der Klooster "..actually intended on people believing that he was an actual returned serviceman.." and that he was"...simply dressing up to enjoy the day.." The executive was further advised that the NSW Police had been told by the AFP that this offence only carried a penalty of $200 and that Van Der Klooster had been convicted and received a similar fine some years ago. This was sufficient reason for the NSW Police to release Van Der Klooster without charge.

The RSL executive took this event very seriously.  This man, William Van Der Klooster, posing as a returned serviceman, dishonours all those veterans who have served their country.  It is also considered such by the legislature who make it a serious offence under the Defence Act 1903. section 80A 'Falsely representing to be a returned soldier, sailor or airman' and section 80B 'Improper use of service decorations'. Each of these offences has a penalty of 30 penalty units ($3300.00) or imprisonment for 6 months, or both.

The executive complained to the AFP, outlining the events that occurred at the Katoomba RSL involving Van Der Klooster, explaining the alleged response from the AFP, believing that if this was the case they, the AFP were guilty of gross negligence in their duties stating that "the Government has recently taken a firm stand on military impostors where they have increased penalties considerably.  On one hand we appear to have the government bleating to the media on how they intend to fix the problem (higher penalties) and on the other, we appear to have the government enforcers totally ignoring the issue"He advised the AFP that he was happy to assist in any way to have this matter finalised.

  The AFP replied with the following email:

Dear Mr XXXXXX 
I refer to your correspondence dated 6 May 2006 in which you requested information on the Australian Federal Police policy on situations where we receive reports on persons wearing military attire and/or medals which they are not entitled.    

I wish to inform you that whilst the AFP has the primary responsibility for investigating criminal offences against the Commonwealth, the number of offences referred to the AFP exceeds our investigative capacity. The AFP must therefore ensure that its limited resources are directed to the matters of highest priority and the decision to accept or reject matters for investigation is guided by this precept.  The AFP is not resourced to investigate every complaint or allegation made, even when there is sufficient information to suggest that there is a breach of the law. 

Each case is assessed and a decision is made whether or not to allocate the required investigative resources. Each matter reported must be balanced against all other new referrals as well as ongoing investigations and commitments. This decision is made in conjunction with the AFP Case Categorisation and Prioritisation Model (CCPM), available on our website www.afp.gov.au.

The AFP cannot comment on any action taken by the NSW Police in relation to this matter.  
 

Federal Agent

Team leader Client Liaison Team

Sydney Office  

9 June 2006

That is the response to a complaint by a senior RSL executive member.  That response is not unexpected but it is still disappointing that when you have an offence  where the legislature have recently increased the penalties to $3300.00 and/or 6 months imprisonment and (as you will see) declared that this is considered serious and that the honour of veterans must be protected, and yet the investigating Authority did not have sufficient resources to arrest an offender where he is caught in the act, detained, with available and willing witnesses and CCTV footage, a situation known in police parlance as 'a walk up start'. Its a sad joke.

Following the AFP's response to the RSL executive, ANZMI again contacted them.  This time we received a similar response with a new twist.  The following email was received from the AFP:

ECONOMIC AND SPECIAL OPERATIONS
Locked Bag A3000 Sydney South NSW 1232

Telephone 61 2 92864720 Facsimile 61 2 92864718

www.afp.gov.au

ABN 17 864 931 143
 
Dear Mr 

I refer to your email sent to Federal Agent XXXXX  XXXXXX dated 14 June 2006.

I advise that the AFP does not have a specific policy in regards to "..Investigating any matters that may be detected as offences under Sections 80A and 80B of the Defence Act 1903".

Whilst the AFP has primary responsibility for investigating criminal offences against the Commonwealth, the number of offences referred to the AFP exceeds our investigative capacity. The AFP must, therefore, ensure that its limited resources are directed to the matters of highest priority and the decision to accept or reject matters for investigation is guided by this precept.  The AFP is not resourced to investigate every complaint or allegation made, even when there is sufficient information to suggest that there is a breach of the law.

The AFP evaluates all matters that are referred for investigation in accordance with its Case Categorisation and Prioritisation Model (CCPM).  The CCPM is used to provide a transparent, objective and consistent basis for evaluating and comparing AFP operational activities from a range of perspectives including:  the gravity/sensitivity of a matter; the current investigational workload of the AFP; and the availability of resources. Each case is assessed on its individual merits and a decision is made whether or not to allocate the required investigative resources based on the CCPM and the current availability of resources.

I appreciate that it would be disappointing to the legitimate RSL members whom Mr XXXXXX and others represent when decisions are made not to proceed on matters such as these.

I understand that the Department of Veterans' Affairs has an Investigations area that may be able to provide you with an alternate remedy for the investigation of matters such as these.  Perhaps you might consider referring this matter to the Department at the following address:

Directorate of Honours and Awards

T - 1 - 49

Department of Defence

CANBERRA ACT 2600

1800 065 149 

 Regards

Federal Agent XXXX  XXXXXXX

Coordinator

Operations Monitoring Centre

Sydney Office

14 June 2006

ANZMI contacted Danna Vale M.P to ascertain what was the actual background relating to the increases in penalties for offences against Sect 80A and 80B of the Defence Act 1903.  Mrs Vale referred ANZMI to her speech when introducing the legislation into parliament.  In this speech on the 26 March 2003 she states in part, relating to increasing penalties from $200 fine to a maximum penalty of $3300 and/or six months imprisonment for breaches of sections 80A and 80B of the Defence Act, that these changes reflect the gravity of the concern of the government and the wider community with practices that are unlawful, deceitful and disrespectful of our veterans and service personnel.

Danna Vale said, "Person falsely claiming defence service they did not undertake or complete, or medals or decorations they were not entitled to, are disrespectful to real veterans and defence personnel.  Our veterans and service personnel are held in the highest regard by our community.  Their service and sacrifice deserves strong protection from those who wrongly seek to claim the same honour and respect.  The government delivers this protection through these increases in penalties".

For veterans who have served their country this has to be a frustrating situation.  On the one hand we have a previous minister for veterans' affairs saying that wannabes are disrespectful to real veterans and defence personnel who are held in the highest regard by our community. "Their service and sacrifice deserves strong protection from those who wrongly seek to claim the same honour and respect.  The government delivers this protection through these increases in penalties". Then we have the law enforcement organisation responsible for enforcing commonwealth legislation saying that they do not have the resources to provide the protection promised by the government.

Senator Ellison appears to be the appropriate minister to answer this dilemma so we asked him:

The Hon. Christopher Ellison

Minister for Justice

3rd July 2006
 Dear Sir,

I am a member of Australian and New Zealand Military Impostors. (ANZMI)  We are a veteran's group dedicated to exposing persons who fraudulently portray themselves to be returned servicemen or fraudulently wear service decorations.  You will find our web site at www.anzmi.net

For sometime now we have been providing evidence of people who commit offences contrary to the Defence Act 1903 to the appropriate authorities but to no avail.  A recent occurrence was a matter that occurred at Katoomba, New South Wales on Anzac Day, 25th April 2006. A person was detected in the RSL following the Anzac day service.  He was wearing the uniform of a Naval Officer and many overseas campaign medals.  Veterans at the RSL soon detected that this person was a fraud. In fact he was not, nor had ever been, a member of the Australian Armed Forces. The NSW Police were called and they detained this person. As this was a Commonwealth matter the NSW Police contacted the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

It has been reported to us that the response from the AFP was that they were unable to do anything. The reasons they gave were totally incorrect.  In fact they appeared not to know the seriousness of the offence, advising the NSW police that it only carried a $200 fine when in fact the penalty is 30 penalty units ($3300.00) or 6 months
imprisonment or both.

In frustration the president of the Katoomba RSL contacted ANZMI for advice.  We were able to advise of the section, penalty and facts in issue for the relevant two offences committed by this false pretender. On our advice he contacted the AFP.  His complaint to the AFP is attached at Annexure A.

The reply he received from the AFP was to the effect that the AFP couldn't handle such cases as they were under resourced.  That reply is attached at Annexure B.

This is a surprise considering the speech given by Danna Vale in parliament on the 26 March 2003 when introducing the Defence Legislation Amendment Bill 2003, 2nd reading. In this speech she said in part:

"The first relates to changes to increase the penalties for improper use of service medals and decorations and for false representation as returned service personnel. These changes reflect the gravity of the concern of the government and the wider community with practices that are unlawful, deceitful and disrespectful of our veterans and service personnel.

The bill increases the penalty for wrongly claiming to be a returned soldier, sailor or airman, or for wearing a medal or decoration to which a person is not entitled, from a $200 fine to a maximum penalty of $3,300 and/or six months imprisonment. The Defence Act already makes it clear that an exception to this penalty is where a family member, who does not claim to have been awarded the medal or decoration, is wearing the medal or decoration. The bill also increases the penalty for destroying or defacing a medal or decoration from a fine of $200 to a maximum fine of $6,600 and/or 12 months imprisonment.

Persons falsely claiming defence service they did not undertake or complete, or medals or decorations they were not entitled to, are disrespectful to real veterans and defence personnel. Our veterans and serving personnel are held in the highest regard by our community. Their service and sacrifice deserves strong protection from those who wrongly seek to claim the same honour and respect. The government delivers this protection through these increases in penalties".  The full speech is attached at Annexure C.

ANZMI contacted the AFP in relation to this matter and in answer the AFP repeated that they were under resourced to deal with such matters however, they advised that the Department of Defence had investigators and may be able to assist.  This reply is attached at Annexure D.

This was also a surprise, although we are aware that there are now many commonwealth departments who have their own in-house investigators, it was our belief that they were there mainly to investigate fraud or impropriety involving personnel of their own departments.  We are aware however, that it is possible for such investigators to investigate offences against the act administered by that department; we are not sure whether it would be appropriate as often there are cases that involve not only offences against the Defence Act 1903, but also other legislation.

A case in point is another matter involving a veteran who has not only committed offences against the Defence Act 1903 in wearing medals of valour not conferred, but also, by deceit, dishonesty and forgery in having such awards recognised by the Defence Department, has probably committed a variety of offences contrary to the Criminal Code, 1995 (Cmth).  A copy of the report of that matter, which was recently forwarded to the Department of Defence, is attached at Annexure E.

Sir, we seek your advice on this issue. Who is the appropriate body to investigate such matters.  As was stated by Danna Vale when introducing the penalty increases in the Defence Act 1903 The service and sacrifice of veterans deserves strong protection from those who wrongly seek to claim the same honour and respect.  Since these penalty increases were introduced the government has failed to provide that protection.  To increase a penalty without a corresponding policy to investigate and prosecute is not protection.

Yours sincerely 

XXXX XXXXX 
ANZMI

To this date we have had no response from the Minister and in the meantime we have wannabes such as William Van Der Klooster, by their actions, openly insulting the veteran community, men and women who have put their lives at risk to serve the country.

The penalties in the legislation relating to wannabes were increased because of concerns expressed by the veteran community.  In fact they, the veteran community, have been conned.  Wannabes are free to insult veterans with impunity.  It is now time for the veteran community to advise their local members that they don't like to be conned and that this legislation must be given teeth in the way of proper, adequate law enforcement resources and policy.

  13 Oct 2006  Extract of the Blue Mountains Gazette on line

This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the Vietnam Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations.

 

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