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June 2024 Newsletter

Dear Members and Friends,

We enjoyed an outstanding evening with Julia Gillard discussing “Life After Politics” in the packed-out Exhibition Hall of Australia House last week. Responding to our moderator, Hans Van Leeuwen (Europe Correspondent for the Australian Financial Review), Julia was incredibly warm and personal and then very generous as she engaged with our 220 guests. It was a brilliant coincidence that Sam Mostyn AO, the Governor General Designate who was in London to meet His Majesty, The King, could join us for the evening. As I said in my introduction on the night, for some real (and entertaining) insight into her background and the values that Sam will bring to the Governor General role, I strongly recommend that you listen to Julia’s podcast, “A Podcast of One’s Own” from December last year. It was a great night and thank you to all who attended.

Please click here to see some fabulous photos of that very memorable evening - courtesy of our brilliant photographer, Annabel Moeller.

Thanks again to HE, the Hon. Stephen Smith who made the opening remarks and to our sponsors for the event, the Chief of Staff Association. Thanks also to additional support received from Law Squared, and also for the delicious Yalumba wines and the exceptional cocktails from Rachel Verghis’ MarGin. Please see below for a fabulous offer from MarGin for all B-AS supporters this month!

We are thrilled that His Majesty, King Charles III is now Patron of the Britain-Australia Society. We were privileged to have the patronage of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh from the inauguration of the Britain-Australia Society in 1971 until his death, a patronage which lasted nearly 50 years. The King’s patronage is a wonderful testament to the importance of the Australia/UK relationship, reflecting the very strong family, intergovernmental, defence, cultural and sporting ties that we enjoy - bonds which only continue to grow.

We were also delighted to learn that His Majesty has agreed to remain patron of other Australian organisations with which we have very close ties - the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Friends in the UK), the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and the Australian Music Foundation. Indeed our CEO, Louise, sits on the boards of both the RFDS (Friends in the UK) and the AWC.

We have drawn from our recently restored archives and included below a photo of His Majesty attending our Australia Day Gala Dinner at the Dorchester in January 1971 when we were still the “Australia Club”. I have collected the physical archives which contain these historical pieces and we are now finalising the digitisation of those volumes. We shall give more details later regarding this wonderful project and how we plan to use the results. Thank you again to Sir Lynton Crosby and CT Group for supporting this exciting initiative. Speaking of Australia Day, I mentioned last month that you should save the date of 25 January 2025 for a spectacular black tie Australia Day Gala in London. I am pleased to announce that this will be held at the fabulous, and just opened, Peninsula Hotel! The evening will be a wonderful celebration of Australia and all Australians. We will be releasing further details in the coming weeks so please keep an eye on your inboxes.

You will also recall the fascinating story I referred to in our May newsletter which Rear Admiral James Parkin CBE, Director Develop for the Royal Navy, relayed during our ANZAC Day event on 17 April. Since our last newsletter, Rear Admiral Parkin has been in touch to give the full account of this story for our records. It is such a wonderful story that we have published it in full below. When we asked Admiral Parkin to speak to us (together with Brigadier Grant Mason), we had no idea of this incredible Australian connection. It is the perfect example of the ties which bind us all across the decades and underscores the depth of today’s relationship between the UK and Australian defence stories.

Our hugely popular Summer Party on Wednesday 12 June at the Royal Over-Seas League sold out in record time. If you would like to join our waitlist, please click here. In past years we have enjoyed stunning weather so keep your fingers crossed – we do have ROSL's beautiful Hall of India & Pakistan as a back-up.

Although our events do always sell out quickly, we always give preferential rates and booking to our Members. If you would like to become a Member of the B-AS and support the work we do, please click here.

And one such ever-popular event is our President's Reception with Lord Hague of Richmond to be held on 17 September in the Exhibition Hall of Australia House. For those who have been before, you will know that Lord Hague always makes an insightful and very entertaining speech and then mingles with guests at the post reception giving everyone the opportunity to meet one of the greatest statespeople of our age. I wrote to Lord Hague when our Royal patronage was announced and he was delighted by the news.

Last month we congratulated Australian artist June Mendoza AO OBE RP ROI HonSWA who was a few weeks short of celebrating her 100th birthday. Sadly, June passed away only a few days later just before reaching this milestone. June lived an extraordinarily full and accomplished life and was a truly great Australian. She will be much missed, but always remembered. Two of her portrait paintings are currently on display at the Mall Galleries. There is a moving tribute here on Instagram.

I recently sent an invitation to you to join me on my “Chairman’s Table” at the BASET 10th Anniversary Dinner on 26 June and I am pleased to say that was quickly filled. I am now organising a Chairman's Table at the fabulous biennial black tie gala in support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service on Thursday 14 November 2024. Please join me at the magnificent Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane for a fabulous 3 course dinner with premium wines and entertainment. The incomparable Adam Hills will be the MC and there will also be the chance for someone in the room to win two business class flights to Australia! This is a night not to be missed. Tickets are £300pp and all proceeds raised will go to support one of Australia's best loved charities. Please click here if you would like to join me - let's see if we can get TWO tables together!

Finally, you may recall from an earlier newsletter that the B-AS West Country Branch and BASET are organising an event on 11 July 2024 to celebrate the unveiling of the Admiral Arthur Phillip 200th Anniversary memorial in its new location in the Sydney Gardens, Bath. Please scroll down for more details including how to book for the lunch which is being organised after the unveiling.

Best wishes

Damian Walsh



HM, The King as Prince of Wales at the Australia Club Dinner
The Dorchester, London, 1971

L-R RW Boswell, Sir Henry Abel Smith and HRH, the Prince of Wales

RA James Parkin CBE - Australian connections

Miles Kenneth Burrows was born in Atherton, Lancashire, in 1888, and by the time he was in his 20s, he was working in the family firm, a local colliery, and had joined the local Territorial Force, the5th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. At the outbreak of World War I, 5th Manchesters were immediately mobilised for overseas operational service, and a duplicate “Second Line” battalion was quickly formed to act as the ‘home based’ unit. As part of the East Lancashire Division, 2nd Lieutenant Burrows sailed with the rest of his original unit, now known as the First Line battalion (abbreviated to 1/5th Manchesters) for Egypt in September 1914; they were the very first Territorial Force to deploy overseas in the entire war. Having garrisoned Cairo for 6 months, in April 1915, 1/5th Manchesters deployed to Gallipoli with the rest of the Division (now renamed 42nd (East Lancashire) Division).

By now promoted to Lieutenant, and selected to be the Adjutant of 1/5th Manchesters, Miles Burrows landed on 6 May straight into the 2nd Battle of Krithia. They fought alongside many units with whom they had never met, let alone trained alongside (the Royal Naval Division, and two ANZAC Brigades - Australian 2nd Infantry Bde, and NZ Infantry Brigade). That battle was intense, but inconclusive, and over the subsequent three months the battalion was involved in numerous actions alongside ANZAC units, French units and other British Army units. On 6th August 1915, 1/5th Manchesters launched what the official history called “a futile and bloody series of attacks” and became to be known as the Battle of Krithia Vineyard. On 8 August, during a fierce Turkish counterattack into a trench that had been captured by British forces the day before, Lieutenant Burrows was knocked down by a party of Ottoman soldiers, one of whom lunged to bayonet him while he was on his back. The first attack injured him, but not fatally, so the Turk withdrew his bayonet to deliver the coup de grace. However, by complete luck, the second bayonet thrust lodged not in Miles’ body but became stuck in his binoculars case, and while the soldier struggled to extract the bayonet, Miles Burrows was able to draw his revolver and shoot him.

Enthused by the actions of their wounded Adjutant, the men of 1/5th Manchesters and 1/9th Manchesters alongside them rallied and counter-counter-attacked, driving the Turks away, and consolidating their hold of the land they were holding. Lt Burrows was carried to safety, under intense fire, by a party of ANZAC stretcher bearers, who had been attached to the battalion since the first landings, and did not flinch in their mission of taking the wounded to the first aid post.  Miles then spent the next few months recuperating on the island of Lemnos (in Mudros harbour) alongside ANZAC soldiers, and for the rest of his life he credited his life to the ANZAC soldiers he fought alongside, and who carried him to safety at the height of the battle. Of note, the Commander of the 127th Brigade (to which all the Territorial Manchester battalions were attached) received two citations for the Victoria Cross for actions in Battle of Krithia Vineyard - William Forshaw and Miles Burrows. According to a letter I have to Miles Burrow from the Commanding Officer 1/5th, it was deemed in London that “only one VC would be acceptable for a Territorial Regiment”, and this was awarded to William Forshaw; instead Miles Burrows’ Military Cross was gazetted on 8 November 1915.

After the war, having been awarded the Mention in Dispatches for actions on the Western Front in 1917, Miles Burrows returned to the colliery business. Over the years, he moved up through the company, and by the early 1930s, he was Managing Director of Manchester Collieries Limited. As an up and coming personality in the mining world (he rose to be President of the Lancashire & Cheshire Coal Association in an era where that meant he was one of the most influential industrialists in the country), he was introduced in the 1920s to a prominent South Australian mining proprietor,Sir George Doolette(originally born in Ireland, later becoming one of the original gold mine pioneers of Western Australia), who had retired to England in his old age. He became friendly with the Doolette family whenever they were over in Britain, including Sir George’s granddaughter Mary and her husband who had also fought in the trenches of the Western Front. After Miles lost his own wife to illness, when Mary’s husband died in the 1930s he supported the grieving widow and her young family, and he married her in the 1940s. For years, his daughter (my grandmother) would ensure we knew that we were ‘an Irish family from Australia, who happen to have found ourselves in Lancashire!”.

Today, at home, I have Miles Burrows’ medals (including his Military Cross), his Mentioned in Dispatches parchment, his wartime dogtags, and … most proudly … a set of WW1 issue binoculars with a large dent and a bayonet hole in its case. I also carry his name as my middle name. Although he didn’t talk much about his wartime experiences, before Miles Burrows died in 1975 he ensured his family knew the debt we owed to nameless brave Australian men on a dusty peninsula in 1915.

James Miles Parkin

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