Ancient Zodiacs, Star Names, and Constellations: Essays and Annotated Bibliographies

Personal Background


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Micro-biography

The portrait above was hurriedly sketched by an American art student, Earl Sipes, in near darkness at the White Horse Pub, Oxford, England, in 1978. (It appears Earl Sipes is presently (2014) a Senior Associate at Brown Craig Turner (a multi-disciplinary design studio). Also, he is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art.)

Concisely

I am since 2015 a retired occupational health and safety professional (almost 40 years experience), and also amateur historian, amateur astronomer, writer, public speaker, skeptic (and skeptical activist), atheist, book collector, and bookworm (and music and movie buff). Since my early teens I have been consumed with a passion for knowledge. Though having 2 postgraduate degree qualifications and having been a sessional lecturer (off and on) over a period of some 15 years at 3 different tertiary schools, and published on OHS, I have declined to refer to myself as an academic and (now, since retirement in 2015) independent researcher/scholar. Whilst my professional vocation has been Workplace OHS consultant, lecturer, and trainer; my avocation for some 55 years has been has been researching and writing on ancient descriptive and mythological astronomy, especially on the origin of the constellations and constellation lore.

Me at Sorrento Beach. Date unknown. Too young to remember details.

Early Years

I was born in Geelong, Victoria on 31/10/47. Geelong is situated on the shores of Corio Bay in Port Phillip, approximately 75 kilometres (45 miles) southwest of Melbourne. My father Thomas [Tom] William Thompson (17.06.1908-13.06.1988) was a maintenance painter/sign-writer with Elders Woolstore (Elder Smith / Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort (Elders GM)). He was a gliding enthusiast, keen photographer, and very much interested in the early history of aviation. (He was also a projectionist, showing films at children's parties, etc.) My mother Elsie Mavis Thompson [nee Ricketts] was a housewife who made (very good) wedding cakes for extra income. (She had 1 sister (who also remained in Geelong), who managed to survive cancer through opting for radical surgery.) Historically our family originated from Ireland and England. I recollect that my father had 1 brother (Arthur) and 1 sister (Dorothy who was known as "Doff," because young children couldn't pronounce 'Dorothy'). When I was in my early teens his brother, Arthur Thompson (who lived in Melbourne), suicided by drowning. His wife's name was Edith Eyleene May Dunbier. From memory his she was called by her second name Eyleene. They had 3 sons, Graeme (the eldest), Richard, and Peter.

When I was born my parents were living at 92 Elizabeth Street, Geelong West. After my sister was born we moved. After living in Central Geelong (in Little Malop Street (now part of Cultural & Civic Precinct), next to the Police Station (with Police Lane dividing the police building from a side fence) and opposite the Geelong Regional Library, and Johnstone Park), then Western Beach Road very near the corner of Gheringhap Street, near Cunningham Pier (on the Beach Front 10-15 minutes walk from Central Geelong), we moved back to 92 Elizabeth Street, Geelong West. That is how I recall the sequence. A brief description of the Geelong West house: Weatherboard period home on an allotment of 450sqm/4,842sqft approx. The home comprises L-shaped Baltic Pine hallway, living room, sunroom/study, three bedrooms, kitchen/meals (walk in pantry), bathroom with claw-foot bath, closed-in porch and bathroom/laundry with separate toilet, plus off street parking for 2 cars. In November 2011 it sold for $327,000. (Geelong West is now a much sought after residential suburb. In 1922 Geelong West became a town and in 1929 Geelong West was proclaimed a city. In 1992, Geelong West city became part of Greater Geelong city. The name continues, however, as a suburb.) I cannot recall what school or schools were attended when living in the city and at Western Beach. We may have lived in Geelong West originally. (The sequence of where I lived in Geelong until just after my mid teens is now difficult to recall. On reflection the sequence of locations may have been (1) Geelong West (perhaps 6-8 years), (2) Western Beach Road (for a few years only), (3) City (for a few years only), and (4) Geelong West again (perhaps 4-6 years. I have only a vague recollection of catching buses to school from Western Beach and the City. I think the fare was 5 pence for the distance I travelled.)

At the other end of Elizabeth Street in Geelong West was the (independent) Pix Theatre. It operated from the 1950s through until the early 1990s. (Before being a theatre there was a biscuit factory on the site.) I can remember for 10 pence getting 2 movies, a newsreel or two, a serial or two, and a cartoon or two. The Saturday Matinee was the best deal. (My favourite serial was Captain Video.) The Pix Theatre also showed films that fitted school curriculums. I can remember seeing Joan of Arc. Village Cinemas purchased the Pix Theatre and closed it down. An activity was collecting and swapping comics. A large number of comics were usually taken to a movie theatre for swapping. The Pix Theatre was a friendly place with a tolerant owner. Cinemas in the city employed 'bullies' to quiz young patrons about their age and the price of the ticket paid. From memory if you were under 12 years the ticket was a cheaper price. If it was thought you were over 12 years but had purchased an under 12 ticket you were refused admittance unless you had a regular ticket. It was very subjective.

Among the most exciting comics for me was The Australian Chucklers' Weekly (which has recently been reprinted, original copies are rare). It covered a wide variety of topics and readers advertised things to sell and swap. I was disappointed I never had a complete Meccano Set. I can remember sighting Sputnik 1 from the backyard in Central Geelong. (The date for this would have been October 1957.) The date 1956/1957 is also recalled because sometimes in the early evening I would walk a few blocks into the city centre and watch, for an hour or two, the newly introduced television through shop windows. Changing shop windows equaled changing channels. Television was introduced into Australia in 1956/1957. My favourite early television show was The Mavis Branston Show which aired on the Seven Network from 1964 to 1968. It was a weekly one hour satirical sketch comedy revue series with a regular cast of actors. I can remember George Hooper & Company nearby on the southwest corner of Ryrie Street and Gheringhap Street, opposite the Post Office. It was a counter service grocery store. It was always good for 'broken biscuits' (which were far cheaper). If they didn’t have any then they would unhesitatingly go out the back and break some whole biscuits to suit the size of the order. My first experience of a self service grocer was when living in Geelong West. The house in Central Geelong - perhaps likely constructed pre 1920s - was demolished and a small arts theatre was constructed (now the Geelong Performing Arts Centre). The house at Western Beach (and the adjoining house which my father also owned) was demolished to enable the Elders Wool Store to be extended (if still existing today the combined value of both houses would be around $3,000,000). The beach address was 92(?) Western Beach (Road), Western Beach; near the corner of Western Beach (Road) and Gheringhap Street. (Dalgety's Woolstore was located on the opposite corner.) None of these houses had an indoor toilet. At Geelong West I can remember a wood burning stove for cooking, initially an ice box (ice block refrigerator) being used to keep food cool, and also use of a wood heated copper tub and wringer to wash clothes and squeeze the water from them. Home delivery of blocks of ice was not uncommon up till the 1950s. As was home delivery of bread and milk using horse pulled carts. The Elders Wool Store at the beach address has been demolished and the land is currently used as a car park for the Deakin University Campus located at 12 Gheringhap Street.

Geelong had an extensive tramway system from 1912 to 1956, when the service was replaced by buses. All tram tracks were removed.

View of Geelong Harbour from our weatherboard house in Western Beach Road. The rear of the house led to a laneway. Date of photograph unknown bur perhaps circa 1955. (If so then we lived at Western Beach Road before moving to Little Malop Street. I viewed the (October) 1957 Russian Sputnik from the backyard of Little Malop Street.) There are 2 piers visible in the background. The most distant pier is Cunningham Pier (The Pier Geelong) - which is still not suitable to receive cruise ships. The photograph appears to have been taken with a Kodak Box Camera or similar. I forget the date I was given a Kodak Box Camera. The persons in the photograph are mother, brother or myself, and sister.

The white arrowhead (top left) points to our house in Little Malop Street next to Police Lane, Central Geelong. Date of photograph is unknown but perhaps circa 1950. The 'central' building in Johnstone Park comprised the Art Gallery and Regional Library.

92 Elizabeth Street, Geelong West, circa 2010. The concreted driveway is 'recent.' The concrete footpath that was in front of the house has gone.

Elizabeth Street, Geelong West milk bar 1950 (approximately number 64) - located a very short distance from our house. Diagonally opposite at the time was a butcher's shop (which later became a fish and chip shop).

The Palais Royal Theatre (Palais) on Moorabool Street hill, (297 Moorabool Street) was - at one time - the main dance venue in Geelong. The parquetry dance floor was thought to have been one of the biggest in Australia. The Palais was also one of Geelong's few live music venues in the 1960s. At one time the Palais was also used as a cinema. The brothers Don and Laurie Slack ran the Palais until they sold it in 1972. It is presently (2016) a Bingo Centre but is undergoing redevelopment.

I attended (the still existing) Manifold Heights Primary School (when class rooms were still heated by log fireplaces) and then Geelong West Technical School (now closed, and the premises established as Western Heights College). I recall living in Geelong West when attending Primary School and also when attending Technical School. Whilst at Technical School the astronomy display I made (including a display board and a small handwritten book) and the refractor telescope I put together won a science competition initiated by the school. For a number of years I had a stutter.

The display board and refractor telescope. The exercise book is not visible. The small refractor telescope was constructed from a variety of items.

My father was a pioneer of gliding in Australia (his close friend Percy Pratt (a New Zealander was another) and helped to found the Geelong Gliding Club (the first gliding club in Australia) in 1929. Percy Pratt was the driving force for founding the Geelong Gliding Club and my father Thomas/Tom (Tommy) W. Thompson was one of the founding members. He remained a gliding instructor and club official all his life, with the various Geelong-based gliding clubs that came and went. The Geelong Gliding Club was formed in June 1929 but lapsed circa the mid 1930s. In 1941 the Geelong Sailplane Club was formed but it became inactive during the early 1950s. The Geelong Gliding Club was formed in 1954. Air strips variously used were Belmont Common, Little River and Bacchus Marsh. (Also, I recall, Lovely Banks and Batesford.)

Tommy Thompson slope soaring with a Zogling Primary Glider at Tower Hill, Easter  1931. The image is a edited photograph of a more complete photograph displayed in a locked glass cabinet at the Australian Gliding Museum, Bruce Brockoff Annexe, Bacchus Marsh Airfield. I have been informed that a short movie record exists of the event. It is somewhere in the Australian Gliding Museum Archives.

See the complete image of Tommy Thompson slope soaring at Tower Hill, Easter  1931: http://victoriancollections.net.au/items/50e8af792162ef11ac055acb

A wonderful portrait of my father seated in an early glider appears in Gliding in Australia by Allan Ash (1990).

Percy Pratt (23.7.1888, Wellington-22.5.1968 (also erroneously given as 1969), Auckland) was also an aircraft designer. He designed, built (at Belmont Common in Geelong) and sold, at least 1 single-seat monoplane. Percy Pratt was, for some time a market gardener and had, if I recall correctly, a small farm at Bacchus Marsh circa the 1950s. (He lived for a short time at Geelong West in a house on an adjoining block owned by my father. He spent some of his remaining years as caretaker at the Black Stump (?) Caravan Park (on the Victorian coast?) but finally returned to New Zealand.) The Geelong Gliding Club closed down in the mid 1930s.

During World War II my father was part of the Australian Army units involved in the defence of Darwin. He was part of the historic army truck convoy to Darwin.

When the Geelong Gliding Club was restarted in 1954 my father was an instructor there. He spent a lot of weekends gliding in Victoria (including Benalla), and even South Australia (which had a sophisticated gliding centre) on occasions. His 2 great interests were gliding and photography. A lot of my early teens were spent involved with activities with the Geelong Gliding Club. Another involvement was amateur astronomy.

I became an avid reader of books when I was in my early teens and joined several libraries. It was in my teens that I also started my passion for collecting books.

In 1975 I attended what was to be the last Sunbury Music Festival (Sunbury Rock Concert). It was a 3-day concert but I left prior to Deep Purple appearing on the last day. It was cold, wet, and muddy, and this limited the crowd size. This meant that the concert organisers could not pay their bills. Deep Purple had the sense to require up-front payment in order to appear (and literally flew in, played their gig, and flew out).

Genealogy

Father: Thomas William Thompson (17.6.1909, North Brighton (Melbourne)-13.6.1988, Geelong West); married my mother 14 July, 1945 in Geelong. My father's occupation was Painter & Decorator & Signwriter. His parents: Robert Thompson (1.7.1872, Duck Pond (Lovely Banks)-1945, Geelong), and Ellen Lavinia Groves (1883-1964, Geelong). Both Robert Thompson and Ellen Thompson are buried in Geelong West Cemetery. Their children were: (1) Thomas William Thompson (1909-1988), (2) Dorothy Mavis Thompson (1.12.1911, Geelong-27.8.1985, Chelsea), and (3) Arthur John Thompson (16.9.1914, Cowies Creek, Corio-11.1.1964, Flinders (by drowning)). In 1935 Dorothy Thompson married Stanley Thomas Hill (1906-1978) in Melbourne and it appears they had no children, and they were later divorced. In 1970 she remarried to George James Wisseman (1911-1997), who had a son (and daughter?) from a previous marriage. Dorothy Thompson is buried in Geelong West Cemetery. Arthur Thompson married Edith Dunbier in Melbourne (7.12.1940). They had 3 children, Graeme John Thompson (1941- , a motor mechanic), Richard John Thompson (1947-2008, an accountant), and Peter Leonard Thompson (1948- ). Arthur Thompson served with the RAAF (fighter pilot?/maintenance ground crew?) during WWII, and afterwards worked as a Aircraft Mechanical Engineer with Trans Australia Airways. He is buried in the Geelong West Cemetery. The parents of Ellen Groves were Henry Mark Groves (1837-1924) and Ellen Knight (1845-1925). The parents of Henry Groves were Mark Groves and Caroline Styles. The parents of Ellen Knight were Henry Knight and Hannah Dean Baker.

Mother: Elsie Mavis Ricketts (29.6.1913, Newtown-21-3-1990, Geelong Hospital). Her parents: Arthur William Ricketts (14.1.1885, Ceres-22.7.1964, East Geelong (buried in Ballarat), and Elsie Amy Rowe (1886 Ballarat-1960). Their children were: (1) Elsie Mavis Ricketts (1913-1990); (2) Olive Ricketts (1915-2010); John William Ricketts (1917-?); Beryl Ricketts (1919-2009) (married Ian Wood? a motor mechanic/service station proprietor?); Arthur Colin Ricketts (1921-1923). The usual residence was 30 Marshall Street, Chilwell (Geelong). Arthur Ricketts was a Boiler Attendant at the State Electricity Commission. (Arthur Ricketts had at least 1 brother, Leonard George Ricketts.) The parents of Arthur Ricketts (and Leonard Ricketts) were William Walter Ricketts (1859-1945) and Sarah Wood (1862-1939). The parents of William Ricketts were Joseph Ricketts and Mary Ann Weaver. The parents of Sarah Wood were William Wood and Elizabeth Aitchison. The parents of Elsie Amy Rowe were John Rowe (1862 Ballarat East-1900) and Mary Ann Morsehead (1867 Ballarat East-1930 130 Fyans Street, Chilwell, Geelong). John Rowe, engine driver, married Mary Ann Morsehead, tailoress, 6 Aug 1885 King Street, Ballarat East. (Mary Ann Morsehead remarried to John Hocking Sampson in 1909, and they had 4 children.) The parents of John Rowe were James Rowe and Jane Lugg. The parents of Mary Morsehead were James B. Morsehead and Amy Stevens. Jane Lugg (born circa 13 Dec 1834 St Buryan-?), daughter of John Lugg and Thomasine Trezise Grenfell, married James Rowe (born circa 3 Jul 1834 St Just in Penwith), son of John Rowe and Elizabeth Clements), gold miner, 13 Mar 1861 Wesley Chapel, Melbourne. Thomasine Trezise Grenfell (born circa 24 Jun 1808 St Just in Penwith), daughter of John Grenfell and Jane Trezise, married John Lugg, shoemaker, 12 Jul 1834 St Buryan, Cornwall in the presence of William Lugg and Thomas Jelbart. Jane Trezise (born circa 2 Nov 1778 St Just in Penwith), daughter of John Tresise and Elizabeth Williams, married Jakeh "John" Grenfell, miner, 21 July 1804 St Just in Penwith in the presence of Thomas Tregear and John Tregear. John Tresise (born circa 5 Aug 1750 St Just in Penwith), son of John Tresise and Mary Edwards, married Elizabeth Williams (born circa 25 December 1742 St Just in Penwith; daughter of George Williams and Faith Rowe, 9 January 1774 St Just in Penwith by banns [?], both of this parish, in the presence of Thomas Tregear and George Williams. (The genealogy information for Elsie Amy Rowe was kindly provided by David Trezise.)

David Trezise (Brisbane) has kindly informed me (13-June-2016) that: "Jane Lugg is descended from a John Trezise who lived in the most westerly town in England, St Just in Penwith, Cornwall. ... [T]housands of Cornish people ... sailed away to make a better life for themselves overseas. The great Geelong rover Nipper Trezise and his son Ian have similar St Just roots.... . My [David's] ancestors went to South Australia in 1877 and settled in Moonta (little Cornwall) where Thomas Trezise was an engine driver for the copper mine. Nipper's family went to Ballarat to mine gold. We ... all have some ... DNA from our St Just connection but our common ancestor must be six generations back." Also (15-June-2016): "Using DNA research I] I have found that I descend from a people that lived in what is now Denmark 4200 odd years ago. They were most likely Bell Beaker folk who travelled around Europe trading, perhaps amber from the Baltic area for tin and gold in Britain. ..." Up till the Norman conquest Britain was part of Scandinavian culture. Britain only became part of European culture with the Norman conquest in 1066 CE. The Bell-Beaker culture (circa 2800-1800 BCE) is the term for a widely scattered 'archaeological culture' of prehistoric western Europe. The origin of the Bell-Beaker culture is presently thought to have been the Iberian Peninsula (what is now Spain and Portugal).

Leonard George Ricketts was the paternal grandfather of Jean White (née Ricketts). Beryl Ricketts (Wood), my mother's youngest sister, had 2 daughters, Janice (eldest daughter) and Margaret.

Brother: Robert William Thompson (1945/1946- ). Sister: Marilyn Ann Thompson (1951- ).

Robert Thompson (1.7.1872-21.7.1945) was born in Duck Pond, Lovely Banks, Geelong, and died in Geelong. He was the 9th child born to James and Margaret Thompson. From 1899 to 1904 he worked as a Farmer, Farm Worker, and Gardner in Western Australia. In 1904 (13 June) he married Ellen Groves in Perth. Their first child Margery was born in 1905 and died in 1906. From 1905 to 1906 he worked as a Miner in Boulder. From 1907 to 1909 he worked in Geelong and Melbourne (Victoria) as a Gardener. In 1909 their second child (my father) was born at South Road, Brighton (Melbourne). In 1919 he was working at the Geelong Cement Works; first as a Labourer and then as a Timekeeper. By 1936 at least he was living at 92 Elizabeth Street, Geelong West. He died in 1945 in the Geelong Hospital. (From memory he was severely injured in a major accident at the Geelong Cement Works.) The parents of Robert Thompson were James Thompson (17.3.1829-27.5.1911) and Margaret Davidson (1.5.1837-19.4.1908). James Thompson was born in Moy, Parish Clonfeacle, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and died in Geelong (Geelong Hospital), Victoria, Australia. He is buried in Geelong Western Cemetery. James Thompson and Margaret Davidson were married 1856 (7 August), and immigrated to Australia. Margaret Davidson was born in Charlemont, Parish Clonfeacle, County Amagh, Northern Ireland, and died at 104 Hope Street, Geelong West, Victoria, Australia. It is thought that James and his wife Margaret moved into the home of their son George Thompson (1879-1958) in 1907. She is buried in Geelong Western Cemetery. They sailed from Liverpool (England) to Geelong (Australia) on 25.12.1856 and arrived on 7.4.1857. They had 12 children; 4 girls and 8 boys. James Thompson's father was John Thompson (1798-1879). Margaret Davidson's father was Walter Davidson.

(My thanks to Anonymous in the Murray Region, NSW who kindly sent me detailed ancestry information (taken from the web) in early October, 2013. The information has been immensely helpful. From memory it was Richard Thompson (1947-2008) who began detailed investigations (circa the 1970s) into the genealogy of the Thompson family. Richard Thompson died in May 2008 of cancer.)

World War II service details for Thomas Thompson. Why he was in Perth in 1941 (at least) is unclear. He was in Geelong in 1937 (at least). The 2nd Cavalry Division (which was established in 1942 and which was based in Victoria) quickly became the 2nd Motor Division and then quickly became the 2nd Armoured Division. It appears the name conversions occurred in a matter of a few months.

Booklet on the WW2 history of the 2nd Cavalry Division Australian Army Service Corps. It eventually became the 2nd Armoured Division. The 2nd Armoured Division was retained in Australia.

DNA profiling

Regarding the controversial topic of "genetic genealogy." Thanks to the courtesy of David Trezise (Brisbane) the following information for distant family on my mother's side results from my DNA profiling done in the later half of 2016 through a reputable laboratory in Texas, USA (Family Tree DNA, Houston, Texas).

John Tresise (born circa 5 August 1750, St Just in Penwith, son of John Tresise and Mary Edwards) married Elizabeth Williams (born circa 25 December 1742, St Just in Penwith; daughter of George Williams and Faith Rowe) 9 January 1774, St Just in Penwith. Children: John born circa 30 January 1774, St Just in Penwith; Jane born circa 2 November 1778, St Just in Penwith. Jane married Jakeh (or John) Grenfell (born circa 9 June 1761, St Just in Penwith) 21 July 1804, St Just in Penwith. My line is through Jane Grenfell. Her brother John married Elizabeth Hicks, 13 February, 1808 St Just in Penwith, and they had children. Some of his ancestors ended up in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria. One of John's sons, baptised in 1811, is buried in Moonta Cemetery. (St Just is a town and civil parish in the Penwith district of Cornwall, England. The town of St Just is the most westerly town in mainland Britain.

Regarding ethnicity results. I have European DNA. A breakdown of places in Europe my DNA has come from: (1) Country: Britain, Spain, Italy, Greece, Norway, and Finland. (2) Region: North Atlantic, Baltic, West Mediterranean, and a small amount of West Asian DNA is suggested. (2) Primary population source: West Scottish; secondary population source: Spanish.

Results of SNP tests undertaken

A1141-, A1539-, A1541-, A2116-, A2117-, A2118-, A2119-, A2120-, A2296-, A2297-, A33-, A34-, A35-, A37-, A5291-, A5306-, A5911-, A5919-, A718-, A7367-, A848-, A849-, A850-, A851-, A853-, A855-, A856-, A859-, A861-, A953-, BY144-, BY150-, BY153-, BY154-, BY2747-, BY3133-, BY3134-, BY3135-, BY3136-, BY3137-, BY3138-, BY3139-, BY3140-, BY3141-, BY3142-, BY3143-, BY3144-, BY3145-, BY3147-, BY3148-, BY3149-, BY65-, CTS4554-, CTS4931-, CTS6838+, F144-, FGC10116-, FGC10117-, FGC10121-, FGC10124-, FGC10125-, FGC10127-, FGC17059-, FGC17603-, FGC17830-, FGC18441-, FGC18447-, FGC18451-, FGC19437-, FGC19633-, FGC19637-, FGC19639-, FGC19642-, FGC19643-, FGC19782-, FGC20021-, FGC21480-, FGC21484-, FGC21491-, FGC23770-, FGC25396-, FGC28987-, FGC28989-, FGC28993-, FGC28994-, FGC28995-, FGC28998-, FGC31128-, FGC32576-, FGC32902-, FGC32904-, FGC32905-, FGC32907-, FGC32910-, L1065+, L743-, PF5236-, PF5721-, S6198-, S690-, S691-, S695-, S697-, S701 *, S703-, S709-, S7361-, S7362-, S7364-, S7367-, S7370-, S7372-, S744-, S756-, S764-, S9767-, Y12534-, Y15102-, Y15476-, Y15477-, Y15478-, Y16252-, Y17075-, Z16325-, Z16326-, Z16328-, Z16329+, Z16330+, Z16331-, Z17611-, Z17612-, Z17613-, Z17614-, Z17615-, Z17617-, Z17619-, Z17620-, Z18058-, Z8432-

DNA markers comprising make up of Y chromosome

For me the L1065 marker formed circa 3600 years ago and the Z16329 marker formed circa 1050 years ago. Males having the R-L1065 marker are related along their paternal lines and share a common Late Bronze Age ancestor from circa 3600 years ago. The R-L1065 haplogroup is very common in Scotland but may have come originally from Ireland. It is indicated I may be distantly related to Kenneth McAlpine (King Kenneth McAlpin (born 810-died 858), a Scottish king). Due to the paucity of ancient records almost nothing is known about persons living between MacAlpine's reign and about 1100 CE.

I am part of this branch on the haplogroup tree: R-P312 > L21 > DF13 > Z39589 > L1335 > L1065 > Z16329. (R1b-L21 Haplogroup.) (Marker L1335 (also known as S530) is a branch of haplogroup R1b (also known as haplogroup R-M343). What constitutes an association between a marker and a population is not settled. Markers are not necessarily population specific. Scottish DNA Project Blog: "This SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) is a marker which notates the group commonly known as STR47-Scots or the 'Scots Cluster'. The marker is found particularly in western Scotland, but also as far north as the Orkney Islands and Sutherland. There is also a cluster emerging in Wales.") As I have tested negative for Z16331 the only surname in the block with exactly the same subclade (a subgroup of a genetic haplogroup) as me is "Murray from Ireland." John Murray, Los Angeles, whose results appear, informs me (October 2016) that his great grandfather was Scots Irish from Ireland. Because I don’t have his DYS426=13 he judges that our most common ancestor has to be beyond 300 years back. A Thompson ancestral village in Ireland does not readily appear in records. Also, the SNPs are odd because there are very few people who are positive for all 3 and even fewer that are positive for the first 2, but not the 3rd.

 

In Matheson's birth index study of the 1890 census, with the number of 1890 births cited following the name (in parentheses), the counties with the highest result for Thompson are: County Antrim (101); County Down (55); and County Armagh (23). Thompson means "son of Thomas." Thompson DNA Project Website: "DNA testing is making connections between families with Thompson surname variants used in different areas of the world including Thomson, Thomsen, Thomason, Thomazin, Taweson, MacThomas, MacTavish, MacCavish, Macomish, Macomb, McComas, McComb, MacCombie, and reasonable spelling variations." John Murray advised (October 2016): "Here is the L1335 list. I am listed with a McCormick and a Stevenson. In addition, I know of a Greer from both the Murray and McGregor list. Finally, there is a Murray on the y-12 list and a Murrin on the Murrin list who must have these as well because I share close STRs with them. ... I am pretty certain that our common ancestor has to be beyond 300 years because you don't have my DYS426=13. Only the other Murray and maybe the Murrin ... do." From MacLysaght, The Surnames of Ireland: "Thom(p)son Though of comparatively recent introduction this is the second most numerous purely non-Irish name in Ireland. It is mainly found in Ulster. Without the intrusive P, Thompson is Scottish." From Black, The Surnames of Scotland: "THOMPSON, 'son of THOM,' q.v. with intrusive p. This spelling is more commonly found in England." From Bardsley, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames With Special American Instances: "Thomson, Thompson.--Bapt. 'the son of Thome,' i.e. Thomas (v.Thom). The p in Thompson is, of course, intrusive."

According to DNA test results Jennifer Bush (Melbourne) is my second cousin. Her grandparents' lines are Urquhart, Hughes, Newling and Swann. One Newling married a Thompson. The Newling/Thompson connection (courtesy of David Trezise (Brisbane)): James Thompson (1829-1911) married Margaret Davidson (1837-1908) 7 August 1856 Moy Church, Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Their daughter Mary Jane Thompson (1863-1937) married Arthur Edgar Newling (1866-1946) 5 August 1891 Geelong. Mary Jane’s brother Robert Thompson (1872-1945) married Ellen Lavinia Groves (1883-1964) 13 June 1904 Perth, WA. Their son Thomas William Thompson (1909 North Brighton, Melbourne-1988 Geelong West) was my father.

Education

I went to Manifold Heights State School (Strachan Avenue, Manifold Heights, and then to Geelong West Technical School (Minerva Road, Herne Hill). Corporeal punishment was frequently used by some teachers. A leather strap was used to strike a hand or both hands. I remember that the eccentric (and controversial) Percy Cerutty (1895-1975, a world leader in athletics coaching) gave a talk to students. It was given outdoors to groups of students. I studied electrical engineering at the Gordon Institute of Technology but didn't like it that much. After a second attempt involving several years of studying lighting engineering in the late 1970s (at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) I decided to look for a more interesting career path. I later obtained 2 post-graduate qualifications in OHS (plus an undergraduate qualification).

Career Path

One job I had was working on the Westgate Bridge project (after the collapse when the construction project was restarted). I worked there for some 3 years. One of the more intriguing social activities was known as 'cabaret.' They were held regularly, usually on a Friday. It was rare to return to the same hotel lounge twice to hold a 'cabaret.'

Circa 1980, due to due to chance and circumstances, I changed careers and started working in occupational health and safety. My first job in OHS was at the Williamstown Naval Dockyard. It was a very convenient job location. I was living in a Flat in Nolan Avenue, Brooklyn at the time. The 12-month all-injury count was excessively high. Alcohol was a problem. (Williamstown Naval Dockyard was similar to the 'Wild West.' The continual high rate of misuse/abuse of safety and related equipment by the workforce was disappointing. Also, I found the conduct of the unions to OHS disappointing. My support for unions being influential in OHS largely disappeared. In spite of this the maintenance of safety and relate equipment provided, and instruction/training on its use, always exceeded the relevant Australian Standards.) I remained there longer than any other OHS person (approximately 3.5 years). At that time the dockyard was finishing with the half-life refits of the old WWII type of River Class frigate and was involved in the construction of several Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7) Class guided missile frigates. These well designed and impressive warships became used more as a general purpose destroyer than as an escort vessel. I was the OHS Coordinator at Carlton and United Brewery, and also the National OHS and Security Coordinator at W. R. Grace and Company, later taken over by Sealed Air Corporation. I left some months after the takeover even though my job was secure, and returned to VECCI. During the early 1990's I lived in a Flat in Adelaide (Birchmore Close, Plympton), South Australia for several years and taught (sessional lecturer) occupational health and safety at several Technical and Further Education Colleges (including Douglas Mawson Institute of TAFE). I also worked as an OHS Consultant for the South Australian Employers' Federation, the South Australian Employers' Chamber, and the National Safety Council (South Australian Division). My senior degree (MAppSc(OHS)) obtained from University of Ballarat) is in occupational health and safety (and consisted of both course work and research). I also have tertiary qualifications in computer technology, and workplace training. My focus is implementing simple, direct strategies to reduce high injury rates in large organisations. The strategies I implemented at CUB resulted in an expectation of only 4-5 lost-time injuries per year (from 150 lost-time injuries per year). The strategies I later implemented for the Australian operations of W. R. Grace and Company resulted in similar outcomes. My basic approach was to identify what was commonly going wrong and then implement design, engineering, ergonomic, and systems solutions. Having to deal with aggressive and incompetent/inept management people whose prime concern was business profitability was also problematic. Many people still believe that workplace health and safety is a personal responsibility and a behaviour problem rather than understand it is an employer/management responsibility for effective hazard management to ensure people are not exposed to risk of harm. Some people still believe that injury is a "punishment" for doing something wrong - and blame the injured person for the circumstances of their injury.

After 10 long years in occupational health and safety consulting and training (Principal Consultant/Team Leader) at the Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) (during which I introduced numerous improvements and consolidated their reputation - during that period - for quality OHS services). I was glad to join ERGOSH Safety Management Services in September 2007. From circa 2012 I remained there on a part-time basis due to semi-retirement - but finally quit in September 2015. For the last 5 years I had been providing regular consulting and training services to Vasey RSL Care but that ended when I quit ERGOSH.

The unprofessional attitude of employers to OHS and to the OHS professionals they employed has remained widespread. Managers felt they could choose to personally decline support for OHS. It was believed it was up to the OHS professionals they employed to 'police' the employees in the workplace and stop them engaging in risk-taking behaviour (so long as productivity was not interfered with). A classic example is senior managers at one company asking me to make a list of some 20-30 possible activities that would be circulated among managers who would then choose which activities they would be prepared to endorse. I simply refused; explaining that they would only tend to choose activities that minimised their direct role and responsibilities and focused on employee safety awareness 'training' and motivation. I was hoping for at least management OHS training and an improvement in supervisor injury investigation (i.e., their actual involvement instead of traditional complacency and hostility to such). The end result - against my strong advice - was the imposition of a workplace 'safety competition' with personal prizes based on low injury reporting by department. Little was done to effectively reduce the actual level of risk in the workplace. I managed to get the safety competition stopped when the manipulation of it became too blatant to be ignored. A 3-day in-house OHS training course for managers was stopped by senior management after managers objected that the course was about management responsibilities for OHS; not learning about employee responsibilities for their own safety. They refused to concede that mangers had any responsibilities for OHS. They also claimed that I was trying to pass my responsibilities on to them. It was only the eventual high cost of not doing OHS - money that the company could no longer afford - that motivated changes. Decades later I trained senior managers of other companies who exhibited the same attitudes to OHS and OHS professionals. Managers tended to believed that they would only have OHS responsibilities if they received OHS training - if they had no OHS knowledge then they were sure they could not have OHS responsibilities.

The degree to which a lack of professionalism, lack of competence, and lack of ethics exists within the sphere of OHS is concerning. I have been surprised by how many OHS students/practitioners/consultants settled for mediocrity. Another concern is that OHS is becoming heavily bureaucratised and modified by non-safety systems such as quality assurance. Also, people with no 'hands on' experience in reducing workplace injuries are dominating approaches to OHS. We are seeing a return to the 1920s 'philosopher's stone' of complex safety systems and complex safety audits. The belief seems to be that an effective "trickle down" outcome will necessarily occur. "Folklore" approaches to OHS management have still not been eliminated and seem to be quite confidently held by people (including OHS practitioners). Many people involved on OHS never extend themselves beyond what they are exposed to in academic courses, training courses, and attendance at seminars. That is a real problem as a lot of the information is dubious or not practical for achieving effectiveness. Most people can't do effective analysis to know if they are being effective beyond chance expectation. Being harmed at work is a crime of violence. It is the employer who controls the design of the workplace, the systems of work, and the budget and resources for activities. The situation is not helped by managers who only care about how things look, not how they really are.

Within the sphere of OHS consulting and training, the innovative material and approaches I have developed have been quickly adopted by other persons involved in delivering OHS consulting and training. A training concept I developed at VECCI for the WorkSafe Victoria 5-day OHS course - involving the training activities being constructed around scenarios in a fictional workplace - has now been taken up WorkSafe Victoria for this course. Unfortunately the design of it is clumsy.

Home

I disliked living in Geelong and currently live close to Melbourne. Geelong was proclaimed a town in 1838. Geelong is a waterfront/port city located on Corio Bay and the Barwon River. By 1936 Geelong had displaced Ballarat as Victoria's 2nd largest city. In the mid 1960s it had a population of 100,000. Two key industries were the Ford Motor Works and the multitude of Wool Stores. Wool became Geelong's most important industry. It was a major wool-shipping port for the wool industry of the Western District until the collapse of the wool market. Two other early industries were a fertilizer plant (Incitec Pivot's phosphate fertilizer factory) and a whiskey distillery (Corio Whisky Distillery). Later major industry were the Alcoa Alumina Refinery and textile industries and a salt works. During the 1970s I lived in Queensland twice; once for 1 year in Townsville (late 1960s) and then for a shorter time in Brisbane (early 1970s). Later I lived in Adelaide for several years (early 1990s). In Geelong, the Ford Motor Works (built 1925), the multitude of Wool Stores, the Alcoa Alumina Refinery, and the textile industries are now all closed.

Griffiths Book Store

During my teens I spent many hours browsing in Griffiths Book Store (W. J. Griffiths Pty. Ltd. Booksellers, Stationers, Office Supplies), 96-98 Ryrie Street, Geelong. This marvellous book store has ample space and well stocked shelves. It was established by William Griffiths by at least 1930 and closed perhaps circa 2000. It had very friendly staff but not the cheapest prices. At that period Ryrie Street and nearby Moorabool Street were a hub of activity. The centre of Geelong is no longer busy - business and shopping activity has transferred to Belmont.

Military Service

During the Vietnam war era I was conscripted (1969) into the Australian Military for 2 years. Date of so-called "enlistment" was 9 July 1969 and date of discharge was 8 July 1971. When the army first set eyes on me I was immediately sent from the back of the hair cut queue to the front. During 1970/71 (29/4/1970 to 1/5/1971) I served as a combat soldier in South Vietnam and also didn't like it that much. My recollection is that I was on leave until my discharge date once I returned from South Vietnam. The Vietnam war was an utter waste of human lives.

Great Britain and France were among the countries that refused to send combat troops in support of the Americans. Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Philippines, and South Korea did. If I remember correctly the South Korean snipers were highly regarded.

My 3 months recruit training was at Puckapunyal Army Base (near Seymour) and my unit training (2RAR (ANZAC Battalion)) was at Lavarack Barracks (Townsville). At Townsville our Battalion training was conducted by 4RAR, recently returned from South Vietnam. During recruit training I declined the opportunity to undertake officer training at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, ACT. Unit training lasted for 9 months and involved extensive exercises at Canungra and Shoal Water Bay. (Canungra Warfare Centre located behind the Gold Coast. Canungra is also spelled Cunungra.) High Range outside Townsville was another training area. Training at Townsville was carried out by 4 RAR. I received training as a machine gunner (M60 Light Machine Gun) and as a signaller. I also discovered that I was a very good shot, which meant for nothing when your body was shaking. I was one of the few to pass through Canungra training with a perfect score for rifle shooting. (Basically the Snap Shooting Range.) The 12 months of training in Australian for a tour of duty in South Vietnam mismatched actual requirements. Particularly lacking was suitable training in small section tactics. Also, equipment was not the best quality. It was not unusual for a platoon to operate at half strength. It is true that you never forget you military identification number.

By the summer of 1967 there were over 500,000 US military personnel in South Vietnam. Over the course of the undeclared war over 50,000 US military personnel were killed. The South Vietnamese troops were poorly trained (infantry field skills were lacking) and equipped, and often not regularly paid. Also, they were retained in the military for the duration of the war. The US military operated mainly from huge bases situated along the coast from the Mekong Delta to the Demilitarized zone in the north (some 1600 kilometres (1000 miles)). The usual tactic was to launch "search and destroy" missions against the Viet Cong. Usual Viet Cong activities included tax collection, recruitment, terrorism against peasants (including killing of particular people - including children), selective attacks (which usually showed great determination), placement of mines/booby-traps, and construction of bunker systems and tunnel systems.

At the time of my service in South Vietnam the 1st Australian Task Force in Phuc Tuy Province basically comprised 2 infantry battalions, an artillery regiment, an APC squadron, a tank squadron, a Special Air Service Squadron, a reinforcement wing (basically infantry), and service support elements. The basic strategy involved nonstop patrolling from the Nui Dat base camp, staying out for long periods and aiming to dominate the countryside. Fire support bases were also established with patrols operating from them. The Australian base at Nui Dat was considered to be in the middle of Viet Cong territory in Phuoc Tuy province. Any American aircraft landing at the air field kept is engines running and stayed no longer than 2 minutes. The 2 nearest villages, Long Tan and Long Phuoc were both considered to be Viet Cong strongholds.

New Zealand artillery is the best for accuracy.

The 2nd Battalion RAR (or at least part of it) was flown by Quantas (in a chartered passenger jet) to South Vietnam, with a stopover of several hours in Singapore for a meal. Civilian shirts (at the insistence of the Singapore government) and tropical dress pants were worn. Personal weapons were issued upon landing at Tan Son Nuit airport, and then trucks were boarded for the journey to Nui Dat.

I served with 2 RAR (on their 2nd tour, May 1970 to May 1971) for 1 year in South Vietnam. 2 RAR had the title of ANZAC Battalion, with New Zealanders serving with the Battalion. 2 RAR arrived in South Vietnam with 3 rifle companies 'A, B and C'. 'W' Company Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR), already halfway through its tour, and 'V' Company arrived from Singapore in May 1970, completed the 5-company ANZAC Battalion. 'Support' Company was augmented by 2 New Zealand mortar sections, 2 pioneer sections and a Kiwi Second-in-Command. During the Vietnam war the military base of the 1st Australian Task Force was located at Nui Dat (a hill surrounded by rubber trees), in Phuoc Tuy Province. It was considered an ideal location.The 2nd tour by 2 RAR was focused mainly upon 'pacification', which sought to provide security for the South Vietnamese state by seeking out and destroying the Viet Cong in their bases areas and also isolating them from the ordinary civilian population. In 12 months of operations against the Viet Cong (including D440 and D445 Viet Cong Battalions), 2 RAR lost 13 soldiers killed and 68 wounded. For a brief time I operated with 1 Platoon, 'A' Company, which in March 1971 engaged 2 companies of D445 Battalion for 4 hours in the Tan Ru area of Xuyen Moc. 2 RAR had its origins as 66 Australian Infantry Battalion, which was raised on 16 October, 1945, at Labuan in Borneo (South West Pacific) before joining 34 Australian Infantry Brigade on the island of Morotai in the Molluccas archipelago of Indonesia. The Battalion was raised by volunteers who came mostly from the 9th Division, 2nd AIF.

One of the great Australian infantry battalions serving in South Vietnam was 5 RAR. Their unit books regarding their 2 tours explain all that they went through.

Among the finest military personnel to serve in the Vietnam war were the American 'Dustoff' crews - helicopter medical evacuation crews. The unarmed medevac version of the Huey UH-1 helicopter were called "Dust Offs." They had a crew of 4. It was not unusual for them to be fired upon. They would unhesitatingly fly into a 'fire fight' (hot landing zone) - shooting from 'small arms' as they did so (they usually had no gunship support) - and hover in order to begin winching up a casualty on a Stokes Litter. Once the winch wire was deemed connected (a casualty was in the Stokes Litter), it was never cut free because of any incoming fire. Needless to say the "Dustoff" crews were shot/shot down on a number of occasions. About 30 percent of personal forming "Dustoff" crews (including medics) became casualties. Not well known - and likely long forgotten - is that Spain had a 'Dustoff' helicopter operating in the Vietnam war. However, no major Western allies supported America's involvement in the Vietnam conflict.

Most of my experiences were with patrolling, ambushes, and 'road blocks.' Major concerns when patrolling or moving to an overnight ambush position were mines, booby traps (punji sticks placed in concealed pits) and walking into ambushes. The suspicion of walking into an ambush only occurred once on a clearing patrol. There was a quick decision to withdraw before an ambush could be successfully initiated. Road blocks were interesting for seizing prohibited amounts of rice (exceeding personal quotas) that likely formed part of movement of Viet Cong food supplies. The most interesting 'road block' involved sighting another one operating in the distance. Our interpreter later informed us it was being operated by the Viet Cong as a 'tax' collecting operation. Near the end of the tour I was again involved in operations in the Nui Dinh and Nui Thi Vai Hills. My 7.62 SLR rifle had constant gas regulator problems and would only operate on a gas setting of 9. To compensate I also usually carried a M79 40mm Grenade Launcher. It was a rather flimsy item. A preferential munition for the M-79 grenade launcher was a so-called beehive round (similar to a shotgun shell with buckshot).

The deemed ideal posture when patrolling was to move with your feet constantly slightly above the ground (avoiding contact with the ground altogether) and having you head lower than your toes.

During service in South Vietnam I was involved in the largest mine incident in Phuoc Tuy province during 2 RARs tour of duty 1970/1971. This occurred during the course of Australian troops providing an escort for a fire mission by American M109 self-propelled 155-mm howitzer vehicles. The fire trail we moved down was mined and the mines (specifically designed and packed with quantities of explosive to destroy heavy vehicles) had pressure sensitive switches designed to be triggered by heavy vehicles. The right track of the lead Armoured Personnel Carrier I was on went over a mine but only the M109 vehicle immediately following in our right track had the weight to trigger the mine. It was effectively destroyed by the explosion and ensuing fire. The particular incident temporarily halted our movements as sweeps were conducted in an attempt to locate further mines. Also, surprisingly, a Little Bird (Loach) light helicopter landed amongst us - the American officer on board wanting to make a first hand appraisal of the situation. His appraisal was: You are on your own - good luck. Later that day another M109 vehicle and also an escort vehicle were destroyed by mines, when we were moving back up the fire trail. Later during the tour I was involved in the capture (toward nightfall) and destruction (the next day) of a large D445 hospital bunker system in the Rung Sat swamps bordering Phuoc Tuy province. During the pursuit of one group of a small force of Viet Cong withdrawing from the bunker system I had the unpleasant experience of being drawn into a 'killing ground' designed into the bunker system. The tunnel entrances inside the bunkers (and likely the tunnels also) were so narrow that only the leanest people would be able to wiggle through. Equally concerning was the fact a large group of D445 remained close to the bunker system and our group until we were extracted by helicopters the following day. The bunker system was destroyed with 'plastic explosive' charges brought in early the next morning by engineers. Half of the bunker system was destroyed whilst we remained in the other half - the size and weight of debris raining down was concerning - and then time delay charges were set so we could be a considerable distance away when the remaining half of the bunker system was destroyed.

During the process of extraction from one area, and my laying coloured smoke to indicate our position for extraction, the response from one helicopter pilot was he could see 2 instances of the particular coloured smoke in the area.  It was my first and only experience of the Viet Cong throwing matching coloured smoke. I promptly threw another coloured smoke. To add to matters the helicopters were overloaded - too few sent for the number of persons to be extracted - and could not gain altitude. (The helicopters were overloaded with crew and door mounted machine guns and ammunition and could only take limited other personnel. Another limiting issue for helicopters was air density due to heat and humidity.) The pilots wanted to set us down again but promptly realised how immediately hostile we were to that idea.

Our withdrawal from one patrolling area was based on the Americans dropping napalm to a time schedule, regardless.

Whilst anti-personnel mines and booby-traps were a constant concern, the greatest danger was 'friendly fire,' - especially when operating in 'free fire zones.' Fear of friendly fire was constant when patrolling. I experienced several episodes of this involving helicopter gunships, artillery, and heavy calibre machine gun fire. Such episodes contribute to fine tuning one's understanding of fear. Losing contact between people when patrolling and then moving to meet up again was also highly dangerous. Curfews meant little and increased risks. On one occasion when at a Fire-Support Base (Night Defence Position?), and assigned to be part of a small road block at a nearby main road until nightfall, a bus travelling after curfew ignored all signals to stop and accelerated past. One of the crew of a Centurion tank that was assigned to be with us simply began firing with either a 50-calibre or 30-calibre machine gun into the back of the disappearing bus. We were later told that a civilian bus had reported being attacked (by Viet Cong) as it was racing to beat the curfew. Nobody on the bus was injured but the bus was badly damaged.

Particularly disconcerting is moving by night into an ambush position only to be then fired upon by someone in the distance using a heavy calibre machine gun and having several hundred rounds of ammunition to "spare." The advantage of night is that if you don't move and you don't return fire (and advertise yourself with rifle flashes) then you can't be seen. Operating in Free Fire Zones also "invited" random attacks by helicopter gunships or random artillery fire (even though our presence in the area was made known to other friendly forces). Having been subject to both experiences I can assure that they are "eyebrow raising." Being subject to artillery fire is unforgettable. Any sound resembling it still creates dread. The helicopter to remain on the friendly side of was the heavily armed Bell AH-1G Hueycobra gunship. If they saw you and flew closer to investigate it was best to remain visible to them and signal back. A hands high open stance was most effective.

A truck convey I was part of was delayed for part of a day whilst engineers completed removing explosives from a bridge we needed to cross. The Viet Cong had simply floated downstream at night with the current and placed substantial explosives on the framework of the bridge. This type of activity was not uncommon.

The daily radio serial (on American Forces Radio) "Chicken Man, The Wonderful White-Winged Week-End Warrior" would be played loud over speakers at locations down to the size of Fire-Support Bases. Everything came to a halt for "Chicken Man."

For a while I was a sparring partner for a private seeking a competition title as a light heavyweight boxer. His arm reach greatly exceeded mine. Every time he punched me back into the ropes I would attempt to wrap my arms around them and refuse to step away from the ropes. Every time people would unfailingly unwrap my arms and push me back out into the ring saying: "You have him worried killer."

Jungle warfare is particularly difficult and demanding. It is basically small-unit war. Jungle is densely vegetated forest, characterised by high rainfall, high temperature, and high humidity. Jungles limit the number of combatants. It is rare to operate in a group that is larger than 12 people. Most platoons were operating at half strength anyway. A degree of confusion is a natural part of activities. It is impossible to see more than 1-2 metres when operating in actual jungle or thick vegetation. This also made negotiation and navigation difficult, as well as moving quietly and not showing evidence of one's presence. The most frequent activity was small force patrolling by day and small force ambushing at night. The purpose of patrolling was simply to find the enemy. Reconnaissance patrolling was not usual. Making contact with an enemy patrol and mines were the common dangers. Guarding the perimeter at night whether patrolling, ambushing, at a Fire-Support Base/Night Defence Position, or at Nui Dat was another constant activity. Picket duty could be nerve-racking, especially when fatigued. Noises were not uncommon and could be due to animals moving at night. Firing a rifle at night would identify where you were with muzzle flash - an invitation to be shot. Some people would actually smoke when on picket duty. Moving at night in open terrain during the monsoon season was difficult not only to navigate but to stay together as a group. Apart from darkness there was intense rainfall and frequent thunder claps and lightning strikes. The lightning strikes provided the opportunity for people to check that were still moving with the group. After dark anyone who went outside the perimeter of the night defence position was in danger of being shot when returning - even when moving through the picket position. A night defensive position involved platoon-sized or larger units set-up sleeping and defensive positions in a circle. Claymore mines and trip flares were positioned outside of the perimeter and a 2-person picket (guard position, usually rotated every 2 hours) placed where judged best to detect external movement. There was only a requirement to carry 140 rounds of ammunition (I usually carried 240 rounds). Firing had to be controlled otherwise ammunition could be expended in a matter of minutes.

Patrols were usually single file columns. Because of jungle density movement was usually along trails. It was more usual to run than walk. Training in Australia was about walking off trails and forming a spread out formation. Patrolling in South Vietnam was about running along trails and being closely bunched-up. Otherwise it was rather easy to lose the person ahead when operating in jungle/thick vegetation. In such circumstances it was usually only possible to see 1 or 2 persons ahead and 1 or 2 persons behind. Constantly listening for sounds that could indicate nearby enemy movement was important. Communication was through whispers and hand signals. Operating in swamps was the most disagreeable activity. The mud and slush made it tedious going. Leeches were a constant issue. It was not unusual to make stops to remove leeches. One technique for exiting from a helicopter was to simply leap from a low height onto soft ground. Once I was first out but landed on very soft ground and both feet became struck in the mud. No one else followed me out. The helicopter simply flew further on and somebody else repeated the process - onto firmer ground. It is not a good feeling to be firmly stuck in mud and isolated from the support of others.

The first and last persons in a combat movement formation are the forward scout and 'tail end Charlie.' Placement was somewhat ahead and behind the formation. My usual allocated task when on patrol was 'tail end Charlie' (a South Vietnam term for rear guard) a person who brings up the rear in a group/formation (the rear rifleman). The last rifleman in an infantry section - protecting the rear. The 'tail end Charlie' ensured there was no encroaching danger and that every man was accounted for.

Lack of sleep was a constant issue; especially when double picket duty was required during the night. When waking another person for picket duty I would return to the picket position with them to ensure they didn't simply return to sleep and later claim they were never woken.

Deployments were usually by helicopter, but also by Armoured Personnel Carriers, and sometimes trucks. Resupply in the field was always by helicopter, so a Landing Zone had to be identified/planned. Unloading a helicopter was usually under 2 minutes (simply because they usually took off after 2 minutes).

An amazing night-time sight, called 'watching the movies', was watching an AC-47 Specter Gunship operating. They were a WWII era C-47 transport plane fitted with 3 mini-guns pointing out on their left-hand side. Each mini-gun fired 2000 rounds per minute and made heavy use of tracers - hence an aerial light show. The Gunships were known as Puff the Magic Dragon or Spooky. They mostly operated at night and would fly in a circle around an area of interest.

Included among the bases I visited that were connected with American operations: Bear Cat Fire Base (Headquarters for the American 9th Infantry Division); Biên Hòa Air Base; Tan Son Nhut Air Base; Da Nang Air Base; and 83rd Evacuation Hospital (?) at Qui Nhon (or perhaps 93rd Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh).

At the time of my discharge from the army I had a serious boot/foot rot affecting both feet. The skin on both feet was splitting open and separating from the underlying flesh. (It took several years for the condition and scars to suitably heal. I mostly wore sandals for this period of time.) The condition was caused by constant damp feet (wet socks and boots) and the frequent need to keep my boots on.

Due to the kindness of the 2 RAR Operations Officer, Major 'Tan' Roberts, I was able to fly back to Australia from Saigon. I marched in the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Parade in Sydney in October, 1987 and attended the later concert. It was probably the only occasion when veterans from all infantry battalions and all tours in South Vietnam assembled together. Numbers estimates vary but 1 estimate is some 36,000 veterans were present. From the stage I made a short thank you speech to the concert crowd on behalf of 2 RAR. In October, 1992, I also marched at the dedication of the Australian Vietnam forces National Memorial in Canberra. It is estimated that some 25,000 veterans were present.

Some 45 years later I am still subject to hypervigilance - a consequence of their being no 'front line,' a VC could be anywhere and could appear from anywhere.

Over all objections raised, atheism was placed on 'dog tags' as OPD - Other Protestant Denominations. This really annoyed me. From memory my 'dog tags' eventually had NR - No Religion. On padre remarked to me that "We get a few like you." Supposed talks by padres were actually sermons. Any attempt at critical discussion was unwelcomed and it was usual for padres to hint at repercussions in order to stifle atheistic viewpoints. Exemption from attending church services was possible but was treated as an excuse to harshly punish the exemptors with undesirable duties. It was expected that all soldiers would attend church services as part of their duties. In South Vietnam one 2nd Battalion rifle company warned off padres from organising blessings for them before they went out on operations. Two consecutive blessings had been followed by 2 consecutive deaths.

Accommodation when at the Task Force Base at Nui Dat. Hiding beer between the sandbags forming the walls was common. Also, storage pits were dug under the floor boards as a more secure method against detection. My own solution was to store beer in the officer's lines in their accommodation area.

Taken at Task Force Base at Nui Dat shortly before boarding a Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter to go a Fire Support Base. The flak jacket positioned on the end of the pack makes the pack look bulkier and heavier than it was. The multiple water bottles add to the weight.

At Essendon after flight from Saigon via Sydney, 2 May 1971. I am wearing the Vietnam Medal ribbon and the Vietnamese Campaign Medal ribbon. I was not as yet wearing the Returned from Active Service Badge, or Infantry Combat Badge. The Infantry Combat Badge was not issued at the time I left South Vietnam. I am also entitled to wear the Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975 (Clasp - Vietnam).

Australian Travel

Prior to military service I spent 6 months hitchhiking around Australia and New Zealand. As the road to New Zealand is permanently covered with water I had to fly. My budget was $8.50 per week. Travelling to New Zealand was like a wonderful trip back in time. During my visit to Tasmania I visited Hobart (State) High School and was kindly shown school records relating to the attendance of Errol Flynn, who later became a famous Hollywood actor. Whilst in Tasmania I also met Judith Durham (who was born in Hobart), who had been the lead singer for The Seekers, and her husband (?, they married in November 1969) Ron Edgeworth (1938-1994), and through her courtesy I obtained free admission to her Hobart concert.

Photograph of Judith Durham and Ron Edgeworth enjoying a roadside picnic in Tasmania. I met them when walking past whilst hitchhiking my way to Hobart. From memory the year was 1969. Shortly afterward I left them Judith Durham kindly requested Thomas "Tommy" Reilly (1919-2000) - when he stopped at their picnic site - to look out for me down the road and if I was sighted to give me a lift to Hobart.

Overseas Travel

During the 1970's I twice travelled around the world visiting some 70 countries in all. My first trip was westward to Britain via southeast Asia and then eastward overland (through Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, etc.) back to Australia. My second trip was eastward to Britain via Tahiti , Easter Island and South America and then westward via North America back to Australia. On both trips I was a member of the Youth Hostels Association. At several Youth Hostels in Europe the staff were simply bullies.

On my westward trip I travelled through southeast Asia with the intention of going to Japan. I left Australia circa September 1971. However, at Bangkok I obtained a ticket on a British Airways charter flight to London. (The best commercial flight I have had.) I first arrived in England on 1 December 1971. I finally left England on 29 January 1973 to return to Australia. I arrived back in Australia circa early May 1973 after flying from Calcutta. On my later eastward trip I left Australia in early February 1978. Some 6 months later I left New Zealand on 15 July 1978 to return to Australia.

During each trip I visited hundreds of second-hand/antiquarian bookshops. I also made use of the British Museum Library. (Staff who assessed my request for usage right were very considerate.) My favourite was Watkins Books in London when it was still run by Geoffrey Watkins (1896-1981), the son of John Watkins. It frequently had rare freethought works. The best for identifying and holding books for me for a very protracted duration were Blackwells in London (the book was held for some 12 months whilst I travelled overland back to Australia) and Second-Story Books in Washington (the book was held for some 6 months). During my first world trip I also worked in England for several years (Brindley Fabrics, Mayfair?). I 'flatted' in Earl's Court, London. My prolonged stay in London proved invaluable for antiquarian book purchases. Whilst in England I became acquainted with Egerton Sykes (1894-1983) the eccentric British Atlantologist. I greatly admired his private library (now in the USA), built up again after he abandoned his original library in Poland at the beginning of World War II. Whilst journeying in the north of England (hitch-hiking) I met a veteran of the Battle of Arnhem (a glider pilot?).

At the start of my 1st trip circa October 1971 - travelling westward - I witnessed cock fighting in Portuguese Timor (the birds were fitted with razor sharp spurs), and a Balinese trance dance performance. Also, a Balinese performance of the Ramayana epic.

I arrived in Thailand in time for the bloodless November 1971 coup d'état carried out by the Thai armed forces. It was a very quiet affair. A radio announcer was changed and 2 tanks were positioned outside the royal palace for a while.

At the boat waiting station in Stranraer, Scotland, I inadvertently caused a bomb scare when I left my backpack there and walked to the nearby town of Stranraer for lunch. When I returned the building was deserted except for police waiting in concealment. In Belfast, Ireland, I also learned that photographing a fortified Police Station also drew immediate attention from the military.

When hitch-hiking my way to Scotland I met a veteran of the Battle of Arnhem who, from memory, served with the Glider Pilot Regiment. The Glider Pilot Regiment suffered the highest proportion of fatal casualties. After the Battle of Arnhem the 1st Airborne Division had effectively ceased to exist.

During my 1st trip I visited a number of sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury. I visited the British Museum on multiple occasions. I very much liked the helpful staff. During my visit to Nepal I (when I had become rather ill) was able to sight Mount Everest.

During my time living and working in London the music scene/concerts were quite interesting. Three key concert venues were (1) Roundhouse, London (a circular structure - former railway shed converted to concert venue), (2) Imperial College London, and (3) Wembley Arena. At the Roundhouse on 26-3-1972 I saw East of Eden and Manfred Mann (who was merely appearing there to do a live recording). At Imperial College London on 20-5-1972 I saw Camel (a progressive rock band formed in London in 1971/1972) and Amazing Blondel (a Lincolnshire progressive acoustic folk band who reinvented Renaissance music, but much of it composed by band members). At Wembley Arena on 30-6-1972 I saw Alice Cooper's Killer Tour, and on 4-12-1973 I saw Slade (English hard rock band formed in 1966 - at one time the biggest rock band in the world). (In my view nothing compares with the front row seat I had for the McGarrigles (Kate and Anna) concert at the Dallas Brooks Hall (Dallas Brooks Centre) in Melbourne.)

A lesson in behaviour of people occurred in June 1972 when a BEA Trident crashed at Staines south of London shortly after taking off from Heathrow Airport. 118 people were killed. The news media reporting the airplane crash requested that people stay away from the area and keep the motorway and roads free for emergency vehicles. Within a few hours all roads to the crash site were jammed by sight-seers traffic. People simply flocked to the area and created a massive traffic jam which hampered rescue workers. Emergency vehicles, ambulances, and rescue teams were forced to travel across the land, breaking down fences, in order to be able to reach the crash site. Hundreds of sight-seers remained throughout the night, further hampering rescue teams.

At some time I experienced a Hovercraft Channel crossing. I forget which company and which Hovercraft. They were noisy and could not operate in bad weather. Crossing ('flight') times were typically 40 minutes between Ramsgate and Calais. There was also a service between Dover and Calais.

The only snowball fight I have ever experienced took place some distance outside of Athens in Greece. It was a surprisingly cold winter. There were several surprisingly cold winters experienced during my years of stay in London and travels in Europe. During one winter trip to France I noticed that water in public fountains had frozen and also hundreds of birds had frozen to death.   

When I returned to Australia from my 1st trip I weighed 9.5 stone (60 kilograms).

My 2nd world trip - travelling eastwards - was begun/undertaken in 1978. Whilst in the USA on my 2nd trip I visited the offices of The Truth Seeker in San Diego and spent several hours with James Hervey Johnson (1901-1988) its publisher and editor from 1964 to 1988. He was a bigot under whose stewardship The Truth Seeker deteriorated. He declined to let me view the freethought collection. An arson attack in 1981 destroyed the building and the Truth Seeker Company's immense freethought library and archives.

During one on my trips to New Zealand I visited an ailing James Hanlon in Auckland. James Hanlon (1899-1986) was at one-time president of the (New Zealand) Rationalist Association and long-serving editor of the New Zealand Rationalist. The journal always maintained high editorial standards. 

During my 2nd world trip I included time to visit (1) Easter Island (2 weeks), (2) Machu Picchu (in the Cusco Region of Peru), (3) Tiahuanaco in the Bolivian Andes, and (4) the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona (also (5) the Grand Canyon and (6) Niagara Falls (actually 3 waterfalls)). Just prior to travelling to Arizona I was in Maryland when a tropical cyclone moved through. It proved to be far more powerful than the cyclone I experienced in Brisbane (Australia) some years earlier. I also visited the San Diego Science Center and sat through a show at the IMAX Dome Theater there. It was quite impressive.

When in South America I travelled through the Andes mountains by bus along the Yungas Road to Bolivia. It was known as 'The Death Road.' (On entering Bolivia we had 4 passport checks in less than 1 hour, at military roadblocks.) Yungas Road (now known as Old Yungas Road) was named the 'world's most dangerous road' by the International Development Bank in 1995. More than 200 people die yearly in trucks, cars, and public buses due to the roads’ sharp turns and steep cliffs. At times we were close to driving off the edge - one of the double set of rear wheels on the bus was over the edge of the road. The Yungas Road has vast drops of up to 1000 metres on one side and a sheer cliff face on the other side. A number of passengers were pleading with the driver to slow down. To calm my adrenaline levels I would have been happy to get off the bus and walk. The scenery was breathe-taking. An alternative road has now been built to provide a safer option.

Whilst in Bolivia I visited the town of Potosi (situated at an altitude of 4200 metres) which has (had) an underground mine. Unfortunately it was closed to tourists at the time and I didn't wait the few days for the usual tourist descents into the mine to recommence.

Whilst in Cusco I visited (1) Sacsayhuaman, a huge walled/fortress complex on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, and (2) Tambomachay/Tampumachay (also known as "The Bath of the Inca"), an Inca site located near Cusco, the market town of Picac and also climbed the nearby Inca ruins, and (4) Ollantaytambo, a town and an Inca archaeological site (with impressive stonework) in southern Peru some 60 kilometres northwest of Cusco. I also managed a visit to the nightclub/disco in Cusco. Whilst in Lima I took part in an evening demonstration/civil protest in the city square which ended when the appropriately attired riot police used tear gas and promptly followed that with a baton charge. I was impressed with how fast the protesters could run and also with how readily willing nearby shopkeepers were to shelter protesters from pursuing police.

While in South America I visited the jungle city Iquitos (the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon, a former 'rubber boom' city) on the banks of the Amazon River. The Peruvian port city of Iquitos is located on the Amazon River in the Peruvian rain forest and cannot be reached by land. This required a plane flight - the only other means of access is by boat. (From memory I flew to Iquitos from Pucallpa on the banks of the Ucayali River in the Amazonian rainforest.) Whilst visiting Iquitos I journeyed upriver (by boat and then canoe) to a small Yagua Indian village located off the Amazon River (Peruvian Amazon, northeastern Peru) and spent part of the day shooting darts from a blowgun (pununa). The target was a post placed some 15-20 metres away. The Yaguas are noted for their blowgun skill, and use of curare. They are also former headhunters. I was somewhat alarmed by how much of the jungle in the area had been logged.

During my 1st trip I gained respect for the Greek tourist police. During my 2nd trip I became acquainted with the newly formed, and very likeable, Peruvian tourist police. I believe I appeared on a poster promoting them (At their invitation I took part in a photographic shoot for this purpose.)

During my overnight flight from Columbia to Mexico the aircraft flew through a severe lightning storm and my recollection is the aircraft was struck by lightning. There was also severe turbulence and the whole experience was rather alarming. I could not understand why we were flying through such a severe storm.

The British and USA consular offices were always considerate and supportive. The Australian consular offices were not.

At the so-called Gate of the Sun (a one-piece stone archway) at Tiahuanaco in western Bolivia. Exact date unknown but likely mid April 1978. The height is approximately 12,500 feet (3810 metres). Tiwanaku's Gateway of the Sun (supposedly a calendar, at least promoted as such by tour guides) is a doorway some 3 metres in height with intricate carvings. It appears to have been the entryway to a building. In 1825 it was moved by General Sucre (during the Wars of Independence) to its current location. Its original location is unknown.

At Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. Date unknown but likely late June/early July 1978.

Gliding Interests

Over several years - during my teens - I spent most weekends involving myself with various assistive 'go for' activities at the Geelong Gliding Club. The gliding activities would usually be held at either Geelong (Belmont Common) Little River. One of the highlights was an extended flight in a Tiger Moth over Geelong. My early glider flights were in machines now regarded a vintage gliders. Gliders were launched either by a winch mounted on the front of a vehicle or by a car/truck tow. The technique enabled a glider to reach around 350 metres. There was no radio communication in those days. The glider pilot would communicate launch speed issues with wing movements.

The Pratt brothers (Charles and Percy) were both involved in World War I as pilots. Both were excellent aviators. It was Charles Pratt who taught his brothers to fly. Charles (Charlie) Pratt was a pilot and instructor and served overseas (in Egypt?). At the end of the war he purchased several new planes in Egypt to ship back to New Zealand. However, due to circumstances he did not proceed further than Melbourne, Australia. Charles Pratt was a qualified 1st Class Air Mechanic and was awarded an Aviator's Certificate by the Royal Aero Club (Great Britain).

Charles Pratt (a pioneer aviator) leased Belmont Common (or part of it) in 1919 and established an aerodrome, and built a hanger and workshop. (He had chanced across it whilst flying, and landed there.) Part of the Belmont Common remained an aerodrome for some 30 years. With his 2 brothers (Percy, and Frank (I'm unsure regarding Alf who had also moved to Australia)) he ran a successful aircraft business for many years. (Their sister remained in Ngaio, an inner suburb of Wellington, New Zealand.) They taught gliding and flying and did airplane maintenance and aerial photography. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Australian Government took over the aerodrome and Pratt's aircraft, and Charlie Pratt served as a flying instructor training Royal Australian Air Force pilots. Both the other brothers also had some involvement with the Australian Government during WWII. The common aerodrome remained at Belmont Common until the early 1950s. The aerodrome was closed in the early 1950s (likely following the 1952 flood). However, it appears Belmont Common was still used as an airfield on a small scale until the mid 1960s.

Both Charles and Percy were involved in serious air crashes. Percy Pratt refused doctors permission to amputate his severely damaged leg and the decision almost cost him his life. For the remainder of his life his (right?) leg was rigid at the knee and he made constant use of a walking stick. On the final day of an East-West air race (Sydney to Perth) Charles Pratt's aircraft crashed (hit a tree) at Baandee. Both he and his passenger (J. R. Guthrie) were severely injured.

When the Gliding Club of South Australia was first formed they ordered their first glider from Percy Pratt. In 1929 the Gliding Club of South Australia bought a primary glider (a Dágling glider) from Percy Pratt in Geelong for £100 (approximately $200). The Dágling glider was sent by goods train at the end of 1929 and immediately assembled and a demonstration flight was flown at Parafield (Para Field) by Percy Pratt. The glider was launched by an elastic rope and, due to poor wind, flew approximately 120-200 metres (depending on which report you believe). At this time Percy Pratt was Secretary of the Geelong Gliding Club. The Dágling glider and the Zoegling glider were similar machines, and both were German designs. The Dágling had a 10 metre wing span and the Zoegling had a slightly wider wing span. Both gliders had about a 5 metre fuselage. My father owned a single seater primary glider built by Percy Pratt (based on the German Dágling or (more likely) the Zoegling design), until at least the late 1950s or early 1960s.

The Sailplane (Great Britain), September 19, 1930, Page 24.

The Vintage Glider Club of Great Britain, Newsletter, September, 1979, Number 33, Page 12.

Brief article written for Vintage Times regarding his experiences with primary gliders.

The Geelong Gliding Club annually awards the Percy Pratt prize/trophy for the most meritorious flight in a club glider. This was inaugurated in 1966. Australian Gliding, August, 1965, Page 12, carries a note by C. A. Patching on the retirement of P. J. Pratt. The same journal, August, 1988, Page 24 carries an obituary note of the death of my father "Obit - veteran pilot Tom Thompson passes on." Beginning in 1989 the Geelong Gliding Club also annually awards the Tommy Thompson/Tom Thompson prize/trophy for the most improved pilot.

In the years leading up the WWII Percy Pratt designed, built, and flew gliders. This may have begun in 1929. Kingsford Smith flew a Zoegling (Zogling) glider built by Percy Pratt. In 1929 Percy Pratt started the Geelong Gliding Club (which is now located outside Bacchus Marsh), the first gliding club in Australia. (At some time prior to WWII there was a Pratt's Gliding School. It existed at least circa 1937.) He had bought a set of plans for a Zogling primary glider, and the newly formed Geelong Gliding Club completed building it in only 3 weeks. It appears Percy Pratt was inspired by a National Geographic article on gliding in Germany. In 1930 Percy Pratt set an Australian gliding record for remaining airborne for 1 hour and 35 minutes, flying a Zogling primary glider. In 1937 he made the first flight in Australia of a glider towed by an aircraft. The Sopwith Gnu aircraft towed the glider on a 244  metre (800 foot) cable from Belmont aerodrome to Melbourne. He also designed, built, and piloted the first glider to perform loops in Australia. This was in 1937. He was towed up to approximately 300 metres by a 360 metre rope pulled by a Ford V-8. The first interstate gliding meeting was held in Geelong in 1939. Percy Pratt attended the official opening of the Colac Gliding Club in 1932.

Three things that define how Percy thought about matters are his: (1) Socialism, (2) Atheism, and (3) Health Theories.

Percy Pratt could be, and often was, an outspoken socialist and atheist. (Apparently this contributed to a permanent rift with his brother Charlie.) Once he started on these topics he would literally 'preach' socialism and atheism (but not in an unfriendly way). Socialist ideas were likely his major interest. A favourite book was The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (the pen name of Robert Noonan, an Irishman), a novel first published in 1914. It likely made a lasting impact on him. He keenly promoted it as an important book to read. His atheism was mostly directed at the history of the Catholic Church. I only saw his personal library once, when he lived at/near Bacchus Marsh. It was quite small, comprising less than 50 books. He had multiple copies of The Freethinker (London). He had a number of books by the ex-priest Joseph McCabe who was writing for the Rationalist Press Association. His library also contained a variety of general science books. Percy Pratt was a very friendly and engaging person. He was an excellent conversationalist and a very entertaining story teller. His socialism and atheism was reasonably well informed. He was a little dogmatic but did listen to opposing viewpoints. He was quite keen on the violin but was a terrible violin player. I had the impression he genuinely liked people, and liked to be in the company of people and enjoyed conversing. I knew him during the late 1950s and early 1960s when he was likely in his 60s. At that time I did not know he was originally from New Zealand. He seemed to have few personal possessions, only a few close friends, and modest finances. I don’t know when he received his leg injury but it ended his flying days. During WWII I think he may have been engaged to ferry tiger moths and other planes between States. For a number of years he was a frequent visitor at our house in Geelong West. For a number of years he lived quietly on a very small farm (in the valley area/flood plain) at Bacchus Marsh (which at one time was flooded by the overflowing of the nearby Lerderderg River/Werribee River). He never married. In 1962/1963 he visited New Zealand for the first time in 32 years. He later returned there (for the second time?) and died in Auckland.

I also remember Howard de Grandi, another gliding enthusiast, and past president of the Geelong Gliding Club. He lived at Belmont.

I think I can remember being at the Air Pageant held in March 1955 at Belmont Common. I do particularly remember admiring Percival Proctor MK 3, VH BXQ at Belmont Common, in 1966. It was parked in the open. At the time it had an expired Certificate of Airworthiness, due, as I remember, to glue joint issues. In 1972 it was destroyed on impact when it crashed into Lake Connewarre, Victoria. (The owner pilot died shortly afterwards from injuries received.) The primary cause was identified as structural failure due to unsatisfactory gluing of several components.

There also appears to have been a Geelong Aero and Gliding Club started in 1914 on the Belmont Common (also known as the Geelong Aerodrome). After some history of folding and reopening the club reactivated in 1978 and is now located at Connewarre.

My father beside the 'Coogee' single-seat sailplane circa 1960 (but there is only one 'e' in the name on the side of the sailplane). The photograph was taken by me. The location is not known but it could be the Little River Airfield. The 'Coogee' was built in 1940 (1940-1941?; dates given vary) by Tom Proctor of Alexandra. It has been restored as a vintage glider.

My father identified this as me in the cockpit of the 'Coogee' sailplane circa 1960. I am unsure of the identification. The person shown reminds me of Richard Thompson more than myself. Besides, the person is wearing a tie. I can't recall having any casual ties at that age. The location is not known but it could be the Little River Airfield.

Me in the cockpit of the 'Coogee' sailplane circa 1960. The location is not known but it could be the Little River Airfield or the Belmont Common. The print I have is a reversed image. I have flipped it horizontally to correct it. There is only one 'e' in the name 'Cooge' on the side of the sailplane.

Coogee, November 2017, at the Australian Gliding Museum, Bruce Brockoff Annexe, Bacchus Marsh Airfield.

Taken before a flight with my father in the Falcon 2-seater sailplane. Little River Airport, 1958.

Tiger Moth Brolga that was owned and flown by Fred Hoinville, at Belmont Common, 1955. I had my first aeroplane flight in this machine. I can remember that I had to be hurried down to Belmont Common in order not to lose the opportunity. Fred Hoinville was killed in 1959 at Goulburn in a glider crash.

Geelong West and District Police Boys Club/First Manifold Heights Scout Troop

Joining a Scout Troop was simply a move up from attending the Geelong West Police Boys Club (circa the late 1950s/early 1960s). The full name was Geelong West and District Police Boys Club (G. W. and D. Police Boys Club, as Geelong West at that time was a city.) The intention of the Police Boys Clubs - which originated in the 1930s and continue under other names - was to ensure boys became good citizens and did not become involved in crime. Members of the police force contributed their time and also financially. I cannot recall much about the Police Boys Club. I cannot even recall the building but it was either accessed by a minor street or a laneway. I am sure that it was every Friday night and there may have been an upper age limit. I think also there may have been a minor fee that was paid. The activities included exercises, games, judo, boxing, films, and regular camps. I can recall that they taught Judo. I think also that they did gradings. The instructor was 2nd or 3rd degree black belt. Also, there was an emphasis on fitness with individual and team exercises. One piece of exercise equipment was the so-called medicine ball. One team exercise was tunnel ball. I think a film was only shown once per month. I am sure that one of the films was Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943). The hours for the club were likely 6pm to 8pm. I can't remember when or why I joined and left.

Astronomy Interests

In my early teens Percy Pratt, a family friend, gave me his copy of Guide to the Moon by Patrick Moore (1952). I found it an exciting book to read and to have. I kept this first edition it for about 20 years.

In my early teens I became a member of the Gordon Astronomical Society (currently named the Astronomical Society of Geelong) and made my own 10-centimetre (6-inch) mirror which I later donated to the society. The origin of the Astronomical Society of Geelong (ASG) goes back at least till the very early 1960s (= Gordon Astronomical Society (GAS)). I was a member circa1962 at least. They perhaps had transitional headquarters until their move to Belmont Common. However, they mostly met at the Gordon Institute of Technology. Their meetings and, I think, the mirror making classes were usually held in a room at the Gordon Institute of Technology. The name of the long-serving secretary for GAS - then renamed ASG - was Pat Cullen (an accountant). His home-based 6-inch reflector on a 'home-made' equatorial mount was lost on his death. Due to the expertise of one particular member (Bernie?/Ernie?) their telescope mirror making classes were very successful. Another interesting person was Rudi Stabenow. Now (2012) in his mid 80's, he was an expert lunar photographer, often using the 10.5-inch reflector belonging to the GAS. Another early member of the GAS was Vern Stott (Stott Jeweller's). (I have appreciated assistance given by ASG members in providing information regarding my visit to their club room on 17/11/2012.)

During the 1960s its sole telescope was a (27-centimetre) 10.5-inch reflector on a German equatorial mount housed in a rail-mounted run-off shed. Due to lack of premises it was located for several years in the yard at Geelong West Technical School. It was then relocated to the Belmont Common club rooms. In 1995 the Geelong Astronomical Society lost its Belmont Common club rooms and most of its equipment in a flood. The 10.5-inch reflector was never rebuilt. Its mirror is retained by a current (2012) member of the ASG. One of the astronomical highlights of the 1960s was attending a public lecture in Ballarat by the astronomer Bart Bok (1906-1983) a Director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory. He gave numerous public lectures. (This was prior to 1966 when the Boks returned to the USA.) I gave up membership of the 1st Manifold Heights Scout Troop to have more time for amateur astronomy.  (The periodic Scout camps were always fun.) Prior to one Friday night scout troop meeting I observed an erratic bright white light in the sky for several minutes which I thought may have been an instance of ball lightning (a somewhat elusive and controversial atmospheric electrical phenomenon). Before it simply vanished its descending and ascending and zigzag movements at variable speeds was fascinating. Whilst in my early teens in Geelong I also sighted what I thought was a bolide meteor (an extremely bright meteor). It was widely reported at the time. Some people described it as an object flying about 1000 metres high (which is impossible for this type of object). For a very short time I was also a member of the Astronomical Society of Victoria.

Regarding the name change from Gordon Astronomical Society to the Astronomical Society of Geelong. The Astronomical Society of Geelong (= Geelong Astronomical Society) was formed back in the 1960's when (through donations) club rooms (including observatory) were acquired on the Belmont Common. In an unforeseen flood event in 1995 the rooms and most of the clubs’ equipment was destroyed. At their new home at the Geelong show grounds the GAS have built another observatory which houses an 8" Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on an EQ6 mount that is computer controlled. The GAS also have a 13" Reflector telescope on a Dobsonian mount that was donated to the club by the family of a long standing member. Much work has also been put into the club rooms.

A big disappointment was Halley's Comet in 1986. It was barely visible to the unaided eye. I never bothered using more than binoculars. More interesting was the closest approach of Mars in 2003. Apparently it was the closest approach of Mars to Earth than in the previous 60,000 years. Using the Celestron 5 telescope Syrtis Major and the south polar cap were visible. My astronomical interests now mostly involve lunar observation and the history of Babylonian astral sciences.

Telescopes Owned

I have a Celestron 5 telescope (purchased in the early 1970s), a Celestron 114LCM Goto Jack-Newtonian telescope (purchased late 2012 for half the retail price but an utter disappointment), a Bintel 25-centimetre Dobsonian (purchased 2010), a smaller Orion 12-centimetre Dobsonian (purchased 2013), and a 20-centimetre f/25 (Dall-Kirkham) Cassegrain telescope (purchased in the late 1960s, now disassembled). Rather surprisingly the motor drive of the Celestron 5 was flawed and the twin motor drives had to be replaced (or swapped around). I have a lot of respect for the staff at Bintel who are well informed and provide excellent customer service.

Freethought Interests

I have no belief in a 'Space Wizard.' Gods/goddesses live only in belief. Religion is not innate but a human construct. The world is nature alone and nature consists only of matter. There is no master plan, no architect god/goddess, no intelligent design. A purposeful universe is a fictional belief. Why would a god create an immense universe just for us? The mythology of Satan's substantial influence over the natural world clearly clearly shows he occupies the position of a wrathful god. Interestingly, there was no chaplain on the crew of the television series Star Trek.

The Australian gliding pioneer Percy Pratt fostered my interest in freethought and atheism by giving me a number of books from his personal collection. At that time I was in my mid teens. One of the books was A History of the Popes by Joseph McCabe (2 Volumes, 1939). I kept that in my library until I secured a hardbound copy. Another influential person was the Latvian linguist and atheist Gregory S. Smelters (Sydney suburb of Manly). Gregory Smelters (Greg Smelters) was a long-time correspondent of the British National Secular Society weekly then monthly publication "The Freethinker" tirelessly making his point - "There is no (universal) God, only (particular) gods, goddesses. God (in addition to all other particular gods/goddesses) is a category mistake." We corresponded from 1979 to 1986 but I only only met him once - in December 1984. He likely died in the late 1980s or early 1990s. His last years were spent living in a rented room under a private house in Collaroy Beach. That was where I visited him. He would sleep during the day and become active at night. He was born  April 1907 in Riga. He migrated to Australia in 1950 and resided in Sydney (suburb of Manly). He was a High School teacher of Latin but I cannot remember the name of the school. From the 1950s through to the 1980s he was a well-known and frequent contributor of articles and letters to Australian: (The Australian Rationalist Quarterly, Nation Review (at least as early as 1961), The Bulletin); New Zealand (The New Zealand Rationalist); British (The Freethinker, The Humanist (at least as early as 1936)); North American (The American Rationalist); Indian (The Atheist, The Indian Rationalist (at least as early as 1952)); and European (i.e. La Parola del Popolo (Italian Language Chicago Socialist and Labor Magazine, 24 issues 1959-1971), Der Freidenker (West Germany)) freethought and other periodicals. He also wrote numerous letters to editors that were not intended for publication. I have a book length manuscript based on his ideas and in June 2017 I put a short version on my website (Page 15). Gregory Smelters never attempted a book length publication. I first came across his ideas when I was living in Geelong in the late 1960s or circa mid 1970s. He was very combative in his writings and correspondence with people. I found him to be a very helpful, very quiet, very polite, and very friendly. One of his best published articles had the misfortune to be published with a key misprint - 'nonorific' was printed instead of 'honorific.' He guided the drafting of the early parts of my manuscript on Western atheism. Unfortunately - despite the astuteness of his particular approach to atheism - he is now almost forgotten. He can justifiably be described as the first logical materialist.

During the 1970s I was variously involved with the Atheist Society of Australia (for which I wrote about 10 articles in the late 1970s), the Rationalist Society of Victoria (who seemed to be without direction), and the Secular Society of Victoria (organised by Nigel Sinnott in the late 1970s). It was there I first met Mark Plummer, a person I was unimpressed with then and still remain unimpressed with now. (He died in 2011.) He was a person who liked attention and publicity for himself. I thought he was tireless at using other people for his own ends. I found him to be poorly informed on issues he gave lectures on. No preparation and no substantial content. He used lies as a tool to undermine people. His 2 lies concerning myself were: (1) I was a scientologist and a 'clear' in the Church of Scientology,  and (2) I was treasurer of the Victorian Secular Society and created 'trouble' with the funds. It was only years after I first met him that somebody stated he was an ex-Scientologist. He had a huge influence on the humanists and the skeptics in Victoria. I took this as evidence of their credulity. Another person I had no time for was James Gerrard who called himself an 'aviation consultant.' Gerrard retired as the superintending airways engineer for the Victorian & Tasmanian Region in the Department of Civil Aviation. I think he was an electrical engineer. In the early 1980s at least, he was president of the Humanist Society of Victoria. The early Australian Skeptics was comprised of people with agendas. I first met Nigel Sinnott in London when he was editor of The Freethinker. He allowed me to make use of the extensive freethought library in the basement of the building; the library was slowly being ruined by storage in damp conditions. (I even used to make use of my lunch hour to go there.) There was no money to secure better storage conditions for the collection of scarce freethought material. A lot of it was ruined, including a complete run of The Freethinker journal. Nigel Sinnott later moved to Australia and started the short-lived Secular Society of Victoria. He had a modest but impressive freethought library.

Through Nigel Sinnott I met the veteran Australian freethinker Harry Hastings Pearce (1897-1984).His collection of some 15,000 books and pamphlets is now held at the National Library of Australia (Canberra). The State Library of Victoria holds some papers (and perhaps also some books). Pearce's ideas were very much wedded to 19th-century popular freethought ideas.

Unfortunately a lot of popular 19th-century freethought and popular 20th-century freethought was ultimately influenced by Anacalypsis by Godfrey Higgins (2 Volumes; 1833-1836) The author of Anacalypsis identifies and discusses similar (religious) beliefs held world-wide. A basic theme of the book is that there is a universal basis to all languages and religions and Godfrey Higgins sought to identify the common thread. Godfrey Higgins (1772-1833) hypothesized that all religions had sprung from one common origin, which he sought to trace, and he further suggested the existence of a secret religious order, that he termed Pandeism, that once held sway across much of the globe. In his essay: "Godfrey Higgins' Anacalypsis: A Critique," JPH writes, "The work of Godfrey Higgins, Anacalypsis, is quite nearly as hard to find as a two-headed chicken -- and it is nearly as normal as one. … It cites few sources for its claims, but those it does cite are the sort of things you won't find easily -- anyone wishing to back-check all of Higgins' comments will be in for a real lifetime chore …. There is no telling whether the bulk of Higgins' sources are credible or not (though we do have some hints). Anacalypsis is full of assertions that are either undocumented or come from sources whose credibility is completely unknown in this time …. It is also, furthermore, that Higgins is so outdated that any arguments he makes based on dating, language, and so on, require at this time a full re-argument before they can be accepted. … Higgins' editor admits that Higgins was criticized by scholars who "felt that amateurs had no place in their special fields" [459], so even in his day he was obviously considered unreliable. How much more so today in light of what we know now? Anyone using Higgins as a source had best explain themselves as well as Higgins."

In the late 1980s I briefly served on the committee of the Humanist Society of Victoria. However, attendance at a meeting that went for over 6 hours (and then I had to drive another committee member home) dampened my enthusiasm.

Karate Interests  

During the 1960s I studied Mas Oyama's Kyokushinkai style of karate. (Peter Fisher and I originally started training out of interest at Frank Everett's gym in Geelong.) Kyokushinkai karate is compact stance, high hip position, vertical posture, fighting style that emphasises speed and close-in fighting and fist strikes (unless its changed over the years). Most styles of karate are not suited for dealing with competent and aggressive street fighters. In 1967/1968 I trained under Shigeru Kato who was sent to Australia by Mas Oyama to help establish Kyokushinkai karate (now termed Kyokushin karate) in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and train students. (Strictly he did not introduce the style in Australia - it was already being practiced. In the early 1960's students of Oyama Karate had begun training in Australia and New Zealand.) At the time Shigeru Kato was 5th Dan. It was remarked that up to that time he was probably the best fighter to come to Australia. He later became involved with professional Thai kick-boxing, and lost an eye during a contest. When in Australia he initially introduced the full rigors of karate training in Japan (He thought nothing of doing 100 to 200 push-ups as a 'warm up' and initially expected everybody else to keep up.) I was awarded 4th-kyu (Green Belt) by Shigeru Kato. In 1968 after Mas Oyama ineptly replied to my 'letter of concerns' it became obvious that reforms were not possible and I left the Australian Kyokushinkai movement. (I remain suspicious of it because the early days of Kyokushinkai in Australia were full of 'politics' and antics and it was also controlled by Judo/Jiu Jitsu persons.) It is generally regarded that Oyama was not the greatest manager for appointing branch chiefs. I then studied Goju Ryu [Gōju Kai] karate under Constantino 'Tino' Ceberano until circa the end of 1969. Tino Ceberano is a key figure in Australian martial arts history. He is known as the father of martial arts in Australia. He is a direct student of Gōju Kai karate founder Gōgen Yamaguchi. For a time I was engaged as a karate instructor by William Paauw at his International School of Self Defense in Geelong. However, I decided I did not want to be associated with William Paauw in any way. (I was also not particularly happy with how Kyokushinkai karate was being run.) I initially met William Paauw through Peter Fisher. I gave a number of breaking demonstrations (hand, foot and head) to promote interest in karate in Geelong. Frank Everett, Peter Fisher and myself regularly drove to Melbourne for karate training.

Shigeru Kato (or Kato Shigeru) doing some endurance training at beach location outside Melbourne (long forgotten but perhaps Torquay? or Portarlington? or Barwon Heads?) circa 1967/1968 prior to conducting training session. He is running up and down the sand dunes for an extended period of time. This appears to be the only photograph of him on the internet. Whilst in Australia he made every attempt to maintain his high level of fitness. He was a very congenial person. However, he felt quite lonely during his stay in Australia and was keen to return to Japan. He quickly realised he could not conduct training in Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) at the same rigorous level as done in a professional dojo (training hall) in Japan. However, he would still frequently begin training with the expectation that people would do 100 or 200 push-ups. Apparently he is now Vice Director of Secretariat of Wado-Kai.

Shigeru Kato during small group beach at beach location  outside Melbourne (long forgotten but perhaps Torquay? or Portarlington? or Barwon Heads?) circa 1967/1968. I am on the far left. Frank Everett and then Bill Paauw are nearest to Shigeru Kato, slightly right of centre. A few people are in reasonable 'forward stances' - the rest are demonstrating the usual level of bad form with stances. A more usual stance was the 'cat stance.'

During the 1980s I also renewed karate training for about 1 year. (It cost me one tooth.) Army service (1969-1971) followed by a lengthy overseas travel (1971-1973) ended any prospect of my pursuing karate as a career. Over the 5 years my skill and fitness level had declined. My grading had not progressed to at least black belt (1st dan). During this time other practitioners were establishing dojos. I also wanted to travel back overseas again for an extended period (which I did in 1978 when the West Gate Bridge Project I had been employed on for several years was (finally) completed).

The history of William Paauw and his International School of Self Defense in Little Ryrie Street, Geelong is slowly being rewritten. Paauw may have introduced Kito Ryu Jiujitsu into Australia at the end of the 1950s but he did not introduce Kyokushinkai karate. He did not train in Melbourne where Kyokushinkai karate was introduced by Ivan Zavechanos through one of the Melbourne judo schools. (At most he only went to Melbourne to discuss business matters with Zavetchanos.) Zavetchanos was a co-founder on 1951 of the Judo Federation of Australia. He eventually was graded/awarded 9th Dan by the World Judo Federation in recognition of his promotion of Judo. I personally disliked him. At the time of establishing his International School of Self Defense in Geelong, Paauw claimed to be the 1954 European champion of some martial arts competition. It appears this was a particular competition/championship connected with the Dutch Air Force. Two of the best fighters connected with the International School of Self Defense were Mervyn Nelis and Brian Ellison. Both were good fighters before their connection with the International School of Self Defense. I also knew Gary Viccars who went on to run his own dojo.

Mervyn Nelis was promoted to 8th Dan (Hachidan) Hanshi by the Australasian Martial Arts Hall of Fame (AMAHOF) at Hobart on 17th August 2013. He has now been involved in the study of self defence systems for almost 50 years. From an early teenage involvement in wrestling, boxing and ju jitsu, he eventually became involved in training in karate. He teaches full time at his Zenshin Martial Arts Academy in Geelong, and holds degrees in Psychology and Social Anthropology. Brian Ellison was an expert with the nunchaku (due to practice, practice, and more practice). At one time he was probably the most skilled person in Australia with the nunchaku. He had a role in the Mad Max movie "Thunder Dome" (and perhaps the original movie also). In "Thunder Dome" he was the nunchaku wielding bad guy who had his feathers shot off his head by Mel Gibson. His heart attack in 2010 temporarily slowed his involvement in karate activities. He did have his own dojo but this may have changed.

Ray Stevens, a member of the Australian occupational forces in Japan studied under Minehiko Nakano and brought Jiu Jitsu to Australia (Brisbane) in the early 1950s. The first Judo school in Australia was established by Arthur Ross in 1928 (in Brisbane).

Fitness/Weight Training Interests

I believe it was Percy Pratt who introduced me to the ideas of Bernarr Macfadden (1868-1955), the so-called father of physical culture, and gave me several volumes of MacFadden's Encyclopedia of Physical Culture (1911–1912). It occurred in my early teens. Macfadden was the physical culture guru of the early 20th-century. Many of his ideas were odd to say the least.

I originally started gymnasium training at Leo White's (boxing) gym in Manifold Heights. I think it was only for a few months perhaps circa 1964 or earlier. Leo White (Kid Young) was a former Victorian and Australian Featherweight Champion, 1941-1944(1945?). White commenced boxing at the age of 16 and, because of his youth, became known as 'Kid Young.' Honnie van den Bosch used to hang around his gymnasium at that time. She was very friendly and pleasant to talk to. She obtained some minor TV spots (i.e., she was the 2nd barrel quiz girl for In Melbourne Tonight in the late 1950s) and acting roles in TV dramas, and later opened the Honnie van den Bosch School of Deportment. She eventually married a Dutch businessman and went to live in Holland. The Age, Thursday, August 26, 1965, Page 25, reported: "She [Honnie van den Bosch] is 17 years old, and her parents own a gymnasium in Geelong." The latter claim seems to confuse that she associated herself with Leo White's gymnasium.

Circa my mid teens I began weight training at Frank Everett's gymnasium in Geelong. Frank was an ex-boxer (very highly skilled), very fit and very friendly. He was a member of the Try Boys Brigade which went back to the 1920s. (The early history of the Try Boys Brigade is now problematic. Not much has made it to the web. I can't find any information regarding Jack who was the boxing trainer for Frank at the Try Boys Brigade.) In May 1952 Frank (Try Boys Brigade) boxed Ron Evans (North Shore). He was one of the nicest people you could wish to meet, quite unforgettable. During his life Frank was a mentor to many people. The gymnasium (Spartan Health Studio, 152 Ryrie Street) was full of interesting people. Frank, Peter Fisher, and myself would use the gymnasium for karate training on weekends, outside of regular business hours. After a number of years Frank declined to accept membership fees from Peter and myself. In January 1969 he kindly wrote a reference for me. Frank died suddenly and unexpectedly in August, 2011 at his gymnasium (Frank's Gymnasium) in Noosa, after collapsing from a stroke.

In 2009 when his gymnasium celebrated its 30th anniversary Frank promised to be there "till his last gasp," and he was. He was 74 years old. Earlier in 2011 he had received a Noosa Local Legends Award. His wife Heather, whom he married in 1960, had died in 2006.

At age 21 he was a Victorian boxing champion and remained undefeated for four years. He was 160cms tall (5ft 3in) tall. He was a physical education teacher at Norlane High School in 1964-1965. (I have been reminded of Frank's 3000 push-ups. I was in a conversation where they were discussed. I presume they were done with mini breaks and within a time limit. The most I ever did non-stop was 300.) In 1969 he moved (was enticed) from Geelong to the Gold Coast where opened his first Frank's Gym in 1979 in the River Room at Pinetrees in Hastings Street. It was the first gymnasium in Noosa. It would eventually become Australia's largest gymnasium. In the early 1980s Frank shifted the location of the gymnasium. Ron Sgro (a former Torquay surfer), organised Frank's purchase of land in Lanyana Way, Noosa Junction. Frank also owned the building and equipment. I am unsure when he opened his Miami Dojo in Noosa Heads.

Circa the mid 1960s a boxing protégé of Frank's was Ragnar Purje who Frank trained Ragnar to compete in the Golden Gloves boxing tournaments. Peter Fisher and I would accompany Frank and Ragnar to the boxing tournaments in Melbourne. Ragnar Purje later changed to karate. Ragnar went on to become an Australian Karate Champion. He became involved in Goju style circa 1970. In the area of sports karate, Ragnar has held the positions of National Coaching Director of the Australian Karate Federation (AKF); President of the Australian Karate Federation (Victoria); Sports Coach advisor to the AKF (Victoria); Chair of the Victorian Referees' Commission for the AKF of Victoria; and, Official and Judge with the World Union of Karate-Do Organisations (WUKO), which is now the World Karate Federation (WKF). Ragnar, a sports scientist, works primarily as a clinical counsellor.

Frank Everett training at beach location under Shigeru Kato outside Melbourne (long forgotten but perhaps Torquay? or Portarlington? or Barwon Heads?) circa 1967/1968.

Skeptical Interests

I have been concerned with pseudo-scientific beliefs for some 50 years, especially astrology. My skeptical efforts were always conducted without the benefit of a supporting organisation. (Modern skeptical committees seem to think they were 'first on the scene' and never look beyond their own history.) In the late 1970's I was in regular contact with James Randi prior to his Australian visit in 1980, helping to sort out his itinerary. I was also involved with the formative days of the Australian Skeptics and remain unimpressed with the group (which still talks of 'joining' and 'members' even though they have no membership and there is only the magazine ('The Skeptic') subscription). No so-called 'member' actually gets to belong to an organisation with a structure. The 'Australian Skeptics' is simply a loose affiliation of several non-profit 'organisations' (= committees) across Australia. The Australian Skeptics is not a national organisation. A person does not joined a structured organisation by subscribing to the journal. The 'Australian Skeptics Inc' is simply the New South Wales branch (who pulled off a coup when the administration was regularly passed between states). Australian Skeptics Incorporated is the name registered by the NSW committee as part of their coup. The various state groups are described as "affiliated but independent." We get descriptors such as "Queensland Skeptics Association Inc, Queensland Branch of Australian Skeptics." What is really meant is: Queensland committee, [subcommittee] of NSW committee. The "We meet ...." simply means that journal subscribers can congregate monthly at a pub. The NSW committee now perpetually publishes The Skeptic and appoints a paid Executive Officer, but still remains the NSW committee. The Australian Skeptics is a (private) NSW committee- that is, a coalition of individuals - and not a (public) society with members. (The fact that The Skeptic journal makes reference to skeptical groups in Australia changes nothing. They are basically regular "meetings" of journal subscribers in pubs (and non subscribers - described as 'members of the public' or 'visitors' are invited).  The so-called "meetings" are simply informal social gatherings of journal subscribers in pubs and involve drinks, dinner, and a guest lecturer. The so-called Brisbane Skeptic Society operates this way. The so-called Geelong Skeptics Society is likely the same. The same will likely apply to the Queensland Skeptics Association Incorporated. The term Australian Skeptics Society gets used but is meaningless - no such organisation exists. It seems the self-styled 'Skeptics' can't work out who or what they are. Finding accurate descriptive information has not proved possible.) The name is really only a committee group description - there is a formal organising committee to receive money for the publication of the journal. The committee basically exists for the production of the journal. Any persons not on the committee can only be subscribers to the journal.

The establishment and early days of the Australian Skeptics - and questionable conduct - has now become obscured. The full story is unfortunately lost. Circa the mid 1970's a letter by Mark Plummer was published in The Zetetic (the CSICOP journal later renamed The Skeptical Inquirer) regarding starting an Australian organisation. This was answered by Dick Smith. Dick Smith sponsored a visit by James Randi to Australia. This first visit to Australia by James Randi was an aid to establishing an Australian Skeptics organisation. Dick Smith was managing where James Randi would appear and the attendance fee that members of the public would be charged. Some people were unhappy that a fee would be paid to attend a presentation by James Randi. After Randi's first visit there was a public meeting held in Melbourne, with a presentation being given by an academic psychologist. It was attended by approximately 200 persons. At this meeting Mark Plummer issued a leaflet explaining the intention to start a Victorian skeptics committee. Then a so-called 'public meeting' was held at John ('Joe') Rubenstein's house regarding the establishment of a constitution, etc. (The constitution related to size and 'election' of committee members i.e., the election (= selection) of office-bearers.) Also discussed was a media article and a letter-head logo. I attended that meeting - it was a very small group. The inaugural meeting was not a public meeting, it was not advertised publicly. Only selected persons were invited to the meeting to start the Australian Skeptics (which at that time would simply comprise a Victorian committee). All the small number of attendees at the meeting were Rationalist/Humanist Society members and the meeting was essentially controlled by Mark Plummer and James Gerrand. (Plummer became president of the committee and Gerrand became secretary. They both falsely maintained it was a membership organisation. Both continually refused to acknowledge or discuss the issue.) Mark Plummer had joined the Humanist Society of Victoria a short time before (and was the President for a very short time) in order to give himself exposure and 'credentials.' This could only have been achieved through James Gerrand. It was clear that some people thought that there was a possibility of the early skeptical committee being infiltrated. I thought that some people were simply overly imaginative. It was likely all part of a control strategy. Interestingly, no initial effort was made to to incorporate the Australian Skeptics. That only occurred when I established a rival group using the same name, as something of a hoot. The NSW committee incorporated and seized the name for themselves, as well as permanent control of the journal and other administrative issues. The formation of the Australian Skeptics gave a number of Rationalist/Humanist society members a chance for wider influence than before, and prestige of a new sort as well.

Some early Victorian skeptics practised the same deficiencies they criticised others for. I was particularly unimpressed with the respective characters and 'total control antics' of Mark Plummer and James Gerrand. They practiced what they admonished/accused their opponents of practicing - untruthfulness and lack of openness/transparency. (The threat of litigation was used to silence one critic (an ex-committee member) for expressing concerns and intending to publish a journal article about the issue.) The Australian Skeptics claimed they were part of the American CSICOP but were told in no uncertain terms by that group that they were not and to cease making those claims. At several public meetings organised by the 'Australian Skeptics' it became obvious that Mark Plummer was seeking to make presentations that emulated those given by James Randi. It was a case of the difference being 'chalk and cheese.' Also, James Randi would not have publicly humiliated an aged person in the audience in the ruthless manner that Mark Plummer once did. Mark Plummer was concerned with creating an image for himself. Though The Skeptic, Volume 14, Number 3, November 1998, states otherwise, just prior to James Randi's first Australian visit in October 1980 I was personally told by Mark Plummer that he was not a subscriber to The Zetetic/The Skeptical Inquirer, hence he wanted to 'borrow' my copies. (It took 2 months of persistent effort to achieve the return of a book I had loaned him for one month.) At this time he was publicly admonishing other people for not being subscribers to the American journal.

The Skeptic remains a journal that is not always accurate and resisting corrections and repeating errors even when they are pointed out in detail. A former editor Barry Williams (who was a 'smoker') introduced the subtitle "a journal of fact and opinion" after making mistakes regarding tobacco risks. The subtitle has now been discontinued. "A journal of fact and fiction" would seem to be a suitable subtitle.

During the 1990s I chanced across David Miller (who was standing on a 'soapbox' in a public street in Melbourne's CBD giving an oration on the need for freethought) and over a number of years gave a series of talks (perhaps about 5 in the late 1980s) on freethought and skepticism to the Existentialist Society, Melbourne (a name around which public talks are organised by David Miller). The indefatigable David Miller is a landmark in the promotion of quality freethought/critical talks in Melbourne (which he has kept in place for several decades). During this period I was also President of the Atheist Society, Melbourne (Secular Who's Who by Ray Dahlitz (1994)).

During the 1960s/1970s I was a member of a number of fringe organisations or simply subscribed to a number of fringe journals. It was important to understand the 'mind set' involved. Also, the people associated with these types of organisations were often fascinating. Organisations included the Atlantis Research Centre founded in the UK by Egerton Sykes (1894-1983), Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society (as it was known in the 1960s; who held excellent social events), the Society for Psychical Research (UK). Subscriptions included the Flying Saucer Review (UK) which at (most) times was a complete uncritical 'hoot,' and the journal Info published by the International Fortean Organisation (USA) (which actually published a critical article, with the result the controlling committee of the organisation terminated the publishing staff).

Two persons I crossed paths with in the 1980s were Moshe Kroy and Rex Gilroy. Moshe Kroy (1948-suicided 1988) had immigrated from Israel to Australia and was a tenured lecturer in philosophy at La Trobe University. He spoke openly that he had no academic friends there. Moshe Kroy is now almost forgotten but prior to his death had generated considerable public controversy with his bizarre ideas and cultish activities. He established evening classes (under, I think, the Council of Adult Education) to promote his ideas on occult philosophy and parapsychology, and he also established 'self-transformation' workshops based on parapsychology testing. I am sure he did more harm than good. His ideas (which were syncretic and complex) were odd by any measure and his tenureship at La Trobe University enabled him to conduct lectures that were rather odd. His ideas were quite bizarre. (They incorporated Ayn Rand's Objectivism, Scientology, Indian mysticism, the German philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), the French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650), a belief in astral beings, psi phenomena, etc.) He would not accept any criticism of his ideas and believed there was a government conspiracy against him. At the time of his death he was moving towards establishing his own organisation of believers - and there was no shortage of these. One starting point for his arguments (that included immortality) was the French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650). In his workshops he conducted ‘psychic testing’ but only under his own terms - which were very loose (uncritical). His daughter was involved in his activities. He had also established a successor but I can't recall other details. Two of his arguments were: (1) As consciousness you cannot be destroyed. Proof: For a consciousness to be destroyed it must be conscious of its destruction. Nothing happens to a consciousness unless this consciousness is conscious of it, thus you have to be to experience destruction, hence not-being. How can you be and not be at the same time. (2) Insanity: Insanity is normally defined as "being deluded." To be deluded is to experience what is not there. In other words, to experience "nothing" as "something." But the nothing is not and cannot be be experienced, So there are no delusions. Whatever you experience IS.

Rex Gilroy supports numerous bizarre beliefs about the history of Australia and its inhabitants, and operates his private natural science museum located outside of Sydney. In the 1980s I both met - at his Kedtimba Museum in Katoomba, NSW - and corresponded with him (and also some of his supporters). I found his museum unimpressive. His 4.5 million year old fossil human skull I thought was simply a rock. I also found that he definitely does not like critics. Amongst his early claims were ancient Egyptian-Phoenician voyages to Australia. He was completely oblivious to the difficulties that would be entailed in such early voyages. In later years he focused on claims of ‘Yowies’ - huge ape-like creatures - living in seclusion in the Australian bush. He has even established his Australian Yowie Research Centre. Some overseas publications reproduce some of his claims about ancient Australian history because they mistakenly think his museum has some sort of official status and that he has appropriate formal academic qualifications..

Circa 1990 I was in the audience at an ABC studio in Melbourne for the taping of an interview with JZ Knight (Judy Zebra Knight, born Judith Darlene Hampton (1946). JZ Knight as she is usually known as, is an American mystic teacher who claims to be the earthly "channel" for a spiritual entity named Ramtha. (Basically “channeling” is the same as trance mediumship. It falls under abnormal psychology.) According to Knight, Ramtha was a Lemurian warrior who fought the Atlanteans over 35,000 years ago. Afterwards, Ramtha apparently went on to spend 7 years improving his general knowledge and then ascended into the air, promising to return. Knight claims that Ramtha first appeared to her in her kitchen in 1977. During the Melbourne TV interview, Knight knight supposedly spiritually metamorphosed into Ramtha and took audience questions. I thought is was all poorly conducted hokey. I managed to get several minutes of question and answer with "Ramtha" whose answers indicated emanationism but seemed quite at loss with understanding/identifying emanationism (a basic mystical doctrine). ("Ramtha" even looked lost.) My basic conclusions were that "Ramtha" could be perplexed and needed to work more on improving his general knowledge. Perhaps "Ramtha" felt the same.

For some years I had an interest in performing some close-up magic tricks; one of which included key bending. It was simple to do and could create substantial amazement. It simply involved having a key with a head/grip having a large slit, that was palmed in one hand. The shaft/blade of the key to be bent was simply inserted tip first into the slit of the palmed key and then leverage pressure applied. The process was never reversed .i.e., unbending the key.

.Stamp-Collecting, Basketball, Running, Bush Walking, Canoeing/Kayaking

At about the age of 10 years I became interested in music, stamp-collecting, reading and book-collecting. In my mid teens I sent my stamp collection to a friend in Malaysia and began to seriously collect books and music.

I liked basketball but at the time of my enthusiasm there was little opportunity to develop and improved skills and for competition basketball. I spent a long time practicing to acquire the skill of putting the basketball through the hoop from the Free throw line and further back from near the Midcourt line.

When at technical school and in the Boy Scout Movement I found the I was a very fast runner for 100 metres and 200 metres. I was rarely beaten in any form of school or scouting competition for those distances. However, nobody was interested in helping me consolidate running skills for serious competition. It all came to an end with army service and overseas travel. As part of karate training I found I had no problems running a short marathon distance of 15 kilometres. I had no ambition to run the official marathon distance of 42 kilometres.

During the 1980s I took up bushwalking and hill climbing (throughout Victoria) and usually completed walking trips rated 2-day difficult in 1-day. For a year I favoured the Warburton area. The popular Australian country singer Diana Trask (also a popular performer in the USA during the 1960s and 1970s) was born in Warburton. My next favoured area was Halls Gap. I have always remembered the year the Halls Gap Film Festival held their first Russian Science Fiction Film Festival.

Circa 1980 I engaged in canoeing and kayaking for a few years only. I was a member of the Essendon Canoe Club. Kayaking ball games were a lot of fun; so was ramming other kayaks.

My interest in tennis came and went in about 2 years. My interest in golf came and went in about 2 months. My interest in fencing with the foil (épée) also came and went as quickly.

Music and Movies

I began collecting Vinyl LPs in my mid teens and then changed to CDs. My favourite music is folk, country rock, and classical. I have an extensive CD collection. I also have an extensive DVD collection. My favourite films are British comedies made between circa 1930 to 1980, and science fiction. More recent favourites are Moonrise Kingdom, Best in Show, Secondhand Lions, and Wall-E.

Circa 1980 I met the American interpretive folk singer Priscilla Herdman at Don O'Connell Hotel in Carlton (Melbourne). A very nice lady. At that time the Dan O'Connell Hotel was very much part of the folk music scene. I think it was one of her first appearances in Australia. She sings in a 3-octave voice. The Water Lily, released in 1977, was her debut album. 7 of the 11 tracks are poems of Henry Lawson. It remains a remarkable collection of songs.

Sky-Diving Interests

I used to enjoy sky diving to relax but gave it up shortly after colliding with a caravan during a high-wind landing on 26 December 1977 at Port Fairy. In April 1976 I became a member of the Meredith [Geelong] Parachute Club until early 1978 and completed 100 jumps. On 10 June 1976 I qualified to pack B4 and C9 sleeve deployed parachutes. On 1 October 1977 I received my International Parachutist's Certificate Certificate "A" 1282 Qualified Parachutist.' My parachute of choice was a Piglet II; light and compact, reliable and usually fast to open (especially when the sleeve was removed), fast forward speed, but unsuitable for rapid manoeuvring close to the ground as it was prone to develop a swinging motion that took time to cease. The highest altitude I have jumped from is 4,500 metres. It is very cold at that height. The lowest height my parachute opened at is 250 metres (due to problems dealing with a vicious flat spin). It's easy to determine when you are very close to the ground - it appears to move laterally away from you. Planes jumped from were Cessna 206, Cessna 172, Cherokee, and DC3. Fastest wind speed at ground level that I have jumped at is 30 mile per hour (48 kilometre per hour). Drop zones used were Meredith, Corowa, Port Fairy, and Labertouche.

At Port Fairy, Victoria, I did one high wind jump (48 kilometre per hour wind speed) with the Piglet II. For some reason there was a delay in it opening. Close to the ground I just missed hitting power lines and on landing I ended up being dragged over large stones until I could 'cut away' from the parachute. I liked to freefall through clouds but it was possible to become disoriented. I really liked 'flying/soaring' across the sky during freefall (with both arms positioned along the body). The only faster way to move was to position myself head down.

During my early training I participated in a freefall instructor buddy jump from 2500 metres. It was the first time, or very nearly the first time, this was done in Australia as a training method. It is now sanctioned as a training method and termed Accelerated Freefall. I exited the plane with 2 very experienced instructors holding onto me. At 800 metres one of the instructors pulled my ripcord and then both soared away to open their parachutes.

One 'lark' was to go up in a Cessna 172 and after getting out of the aircraft cabin remain standing on the wheel base and holding on to the wing strut, giving the pilot a big smile and a little hand wave. It didn't take long to put the aircraft into a dive - the time to fall free.

Taken near Meredith September 1977 just before I exited the aircraft at 7000 feet (2135 metres). At the time I was with the Meredith Parachute Club.

Participants at an Australian sky diving meet near Albury-Wodonga circa the mid 1970's. The DC3 was the principal 'jump plane.' I'm on the left in the first standing row (with the chest mounted reserve 'chute).

Chess

Circa the mid 1970s I became interested in chess. I mostly played chess with friends and also with members of the Melbourne Chess Club. I started chess playing with some co-workers at the Naval Dockyard Williamstown. The Melbourne Chess Club was open 7 days a day, usually until very late at night or even till very early morning. I bought a chess computer and on 1 lucky occasion I managed to beat it. After winning against a friend - a strong player - in a 10 hour game I decided that the game was too exhausting. The issue is 'looking ahead' analytically. During the period of some 5 years I remained interested in chess I built up a collection of some 300 chess books. 

Personal Library

Reading and browsing continues to be a major activity and has always been.

I am an avid book collector (collecting has been an end (enjoyment) in itself) and have an extensive library on astronomy, history, science, mythology, freethought, and skepticism. It is an expensive hobby. I started my collection in the mid 1960s and frequently travelled to Melbourne by train to visit the then numerous second-hand book stores. My favourite was Kay Craddock's antiquarian bookstore. Due to lack of space for shelves the bulk of my library has been consigned to storage for several decades. Hopefully, over the next several years I will have the bulk of my library shelved. Though I have not focused on adding to my collection of freethought material for several decades it comprises a solid collection of late 19th-century and early 20th-century material. A lot of my early material was obtained from the British humanist/secularist writer, poet, and freethought bookseller Kit Mouat (Jean Mackay) during the 1970s. We became good friends and whilst living and working in England I regularly visited her in Cuckfield, Sussex. (Herbert Cutner, when nearing death, gladly gave her possession of his large freethought library when she visited him and in passing asked what plans he had made for it - which were none and he had great concerns for what would become of it.) Later sources for freethought material were All Points of View in the USA, and Robert Forder in the United Kingdom. I likely have the largest private collection of occupational health and safety books/materials in Australia. The massive freethought library of the Rationalist Society of New Zealand has remained intact due to my 2 interventions in 1978 (the first in February 1978 and the second in July 1978). During the course of interior renovations at this time at Rationalist House there were several efforts to remove the older material as redundant (and also because shelving space was an issue). I managed to prevent this from occurring during the course of 2 visits over 6 months - the beginning and completion of my 2nd world trip. These types of episodes are now lost to historians of the Rationalist Society of New Zealand. Between 1975 and 1990 I completed a manuscript of some 500,000 words on the history of Western atheism. Its publication by Prometheus Books was discussed with Gordon Stein (1941-1996) several years before his death.

My enormous collection of photocopied journal articles on OHS and astronomy (constellation related topics) was essentially put together between 1975 and 2005. For the astronomy material I mostly used University of Melbourne and travelled regularly to Canberra to the Australian National University (including the library at Mount Stromlo Observatory), and to Sydney to the University of Sydney. This was largely done between 1985 and 2005. The loss of the library resources at Mount Stromlo, due to a fire storm in 2003, is keenly felt. (I first travelled to Mount Stromlo in the early 1960s.) It was an excellent and readily accessible library managed by friendly people. They gently suspected me of using more photocopying paper than I was paying for.

Since circa 1990 I have especially focused on obtaining German-language books/pamphlets on the early history of astronomy and by pioneers of the rediscovery of Babylonian astronomy. Part of this focus has also been on obtaining early German-language material on Panbabylonism - a most interesting fiction - and the preceding Star Myth school.

I have downsized my personal library on 2 occasions. Also some books are purchased without the intention of keeping them. At the present time I perhaps have some 30,000 books and monographs, complete runs of a number of journals, some 5000 journal articles, as well as 1000s of photographs relevant to ancient astronomy.

Research

Research in various libraries has proved very time consuming. My favourite cities for library research have been Canberra (Australian National University) and Sydney (Fisher Library at University of Sydney). I skipped visiting the ANU library at Mount Stromlo in early January 2003, with the plan to spend several days there in March. (I went instead to the Australian National Library and engaged in a fruitless search for biographical information about George St. Clair.) The fire storm in late January 2003 and the destruction it brought to Mount Stromlo put and end to any further plans to use the once great library there. I still remain saddened over its loss.

Contacting people has proven beneficial. Also, the website has prompted people to contact me with valuable information not otherwise obtainable. My private library and the web are now my primary research tools. Contacting people also remains important.

Website

I have had a long-standing interest in the origin and early history of the constellations. The compilation of the bibliography arose from requests for such by some HASTRO-L (History of Astronomy List) members early during 2001. The requests arose from discussions on HASTRO-L that have focused on the origin and history of the constellations (i.e., flat patterns of stars). The various essays were added to assist understanding issues related to the constellations and to counter some of the more fantastic claims made. The content has no particular target audience in mind and simply reflects my own core interests regarding the history of astronomy. The web site has involved a heavy investment in my personal time and remains a work in progress. My knowledge of the topics has been gained from my own personal research. I have not had the benefit of any relevant formal courses of study (if they were indeed available). Neither have I had the benefit of membership of any relevant organisations. Everything has been done in isolation. Over the next few years from the present (late 2016) I intend to include other essays. How far I proceed will depend on health issues.

Current Project

My primary interests have been (1)  the origin and history of the Western constellations, (2) Mesopotamian astral sciences, and (3) Panbabylonism. More recently I have focused on the biographies of the pioneers who recovered Babylonian astronomy. I am (slowly) putting together reasonably detailed biographies of the early pioneers of Babylonian mathematical astronomy, Joseph Epping, Johann Strassmaier, Franz Kugler, and Johann Schaumberger (and reconstructing their relevant relationships). I began collecting material for this in the 1970s. Whilst there is a lack of archival resources such as letters/correspondence (some do exist) and diaries/journals for gleaning detailed biographical information, and other written estate to build on (especially for Joseph Epping), considerable information can be obtained from obituaries, book reviews, and journal articles that discuss their work. Tackling the project now when there is rather easy access to a variety of documents via the web, and some remaining 'witnesses' around, will prevent information remaining scattered or becoming forgotten or lost. There is still a degree of confusion/misunderstanding being perpetuated regarding their relevant relationships/cooperation with each other. It is hoped that through collecting bits and pieces of information an eventual comprehensive account can be constructed in detail.

I first accessed Franz Kugler's monumental study Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel in the British Museum Library, in 1971. I am now fortunate enough to possess my own complete copy (and everything else he wrote on Babylonian astronomy). In the 1960s and 1970s Kugler, etc., were almost forgotten and unknown. Hopefully I can complete placing the material on my website during 2017. It is unlikely that anybody else will duplicate/expand the research in detail. (The Dutch astronomer Teije de Jong has recently accessed the Jesuit archives regarding Kugler and published some interesting information.) Hopefully the Dutch astronomer Robert van Gent will find the time to complete his study of Babylonian mathematical astronomy conducted by Strassmaier, Epping, and Kugler, as well as the variable star astronomy that was conducted at Valkenburg by Hisgen, Esch, and Bauer, in cooperation with Hagen in the USA..

Temporary and Permanent Retirement

At the end of September 2015 I left work for temporary retirement. Basically, because of multiple health issues that are presenting a challenge I want to focus on completing a number of essays and researching new ones. Working part-time 2-3 days per week was becoming too interruptive, and too tiring. I was diagnosed with smouldering Multiple Myeloma circa 2014. My assessment in December 2017 was: High-risk progressive smouldering myeloma (meeting International Myeloma Working Group criteria for treatment). In September 2016 - with the need to begin prolonged medical treatment, and fatigue issues associated with it, temporary retirement became permanent retirement. Aspects of the medical treatment - including transplant surgery - were completed by August 2017, but not successfully. New approaches to medical treatment were begun in August 2017. The latest key treatment (the fourth of four treatments tried) is proving partially successful in inhibiting progressive ill-health. A side effect is very high levels of constant fatigue.

On left: "Selfie", March 2017. Temporary outcome of a particular medical treatment having no success. On right: 5 November 2017 (70 years old). At beginning of another particular medical treatment. (Probably the last treatment available to me. To date the current treatment has been quite successful. I am considered to have an excellent response to current treatment - the disease is presently considered stable.)

My Favourite "About Me, Plus.. a bit of a rant" Web Page

http://martinmobberley.co.uk/mpm.html


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This web page was last updated on: Thursday, May 31, 2018, 2.00 pm.


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You can reach me here by email (but first delete the obvious attempt in the email address to foil the spammers): garyREMOVE.thompson10@bigpond.com


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