OMRS Canberra Convention Report 2019

Friday October 25th saw a large gathering of Convention attendees visit
The National Library in Canberra where an intriguing display of medals
was on show, including an Albert Medal in bronze to an aboriginal
gentleman for brave conduct.

In the evening the traditional meet and greet gathering at The Mercure
Canberra Hotel saw the usual keen collectors indulge in some excellent
food plus some fine wines, these the courtesy of Marcus Budgen who was
representing the medal department of Spink London.

Convention commenced on Saturday with an interesting talk on the NSW
Contingent to the Sudan in 1885 by Trevor Turner. This was the first
time Australia sent an official Army contingent overseas for active
service.
Mark Baker then discussed his new book on the Australian war
correspondent Phillip Schuler from the Melbourne Age newspaper. Schuler
challenged the myth of Gallipoli in his writing. He later enlisted in
the AIF and was killed in action in France.

Mark Wilson followed with a display of medal groups to the Intelligence
Corps in World War One and told of the frustrations in confirming the
recipients service in Intelligence as many were named to the recipient's
parent unit. Barry Carr followed with a slide show of the wide variety
of rare Queen's South Africa medals to Australian units from all states
that he has built up over many, many years.
Bob Courtney reminded us, and displayed, a  wide variety of medals
awarded to the different units that fought at Waterloo. A victory of
great significance not only to the British Army but to the many soldiers
from other countries who fought alongside them.

The final talk was from Marcus Budgen with a mouth watering display of
some of the Polar medals that will be on display at Spink London's
presentation in their rooms in November. The display will include a
number of important medal groups loaned by Sydney member Herb Dartnell.

Following an excellent dinner, with wines courtesy of Christopher
Mellor-Hill from DNW, our guest speaker, Captain John Land, gave an
interesting talk on the Australian Army History Unit and it's key role
in the supervision of the many unit museums in all states of Australia.

Sunday's talks commenced with a medal display and in depth discussion by
Rob Tainton on Admiral Moore and the Battle of Dogger Bank. The RAAF
then flew onto the scene with John Williams showing an old photo of an
Australian air crew taken during flight training in Canada. In his usual
inimitable style John then proceeded to take us on a journey of one of
the men in the photo and that airman's experiences in World War Two.

Dave Bondi then broke a few hearts with his talk on the number of superb
and very rare Naval General Service Medals in the Honeywell Museum in
Los Angeles. These are not on display to the general public and the
total value would be enormous. Christopher Mellor-Hill then showed us
why not to hide your medal collection where water can get at it. An
accident with a leaking tap soaking the medals over a long period.
Thankfully an expert team of jewellery restorers in London were able to
put things right with Christopher  thanking his lucky stars he did not
collect stamps or banknotes!

Brief chats by Wayne Gardener, curator of the West Australian Military
museum (well worth a visit if you are in Perth), and Gary Kalem who
showed a superb Australian Star of Courage group closed the 2019
Convention.

Thanks to all on the organising group for their hard work. We look
forward to seeing an increase in numbers next year. Our Convention dates
are 23,24 and 25 October 2020, the weekend after the New Zealand OMRS
Conference.

Mike Downey