ANZAC DAY 2024 – Gunner Vincent Leon (Dick) Forster

Each year the Lane Cove RSL Sub Branch invites a Lane Cove Resident to talk about a relative who has served in the military.  This year Paul Fenech spoke about Gunner Vincent Leon (Dick) Forster.

Good morning, my name is Paul Fenech and I am the grandson of my Pop, Gunner Vincent Leon Forster but always known as Dick.

Pop was born in May 1918 and spent his early days around Manly.

With war looming he joined the Citizens Military Forces (CMF) prior to enlisting into the Second Australian Imperial Force on 13th May 1940 – the day he turned 21.

On enlistment, he declared that he was single, lived with his parents and worked as a Clerk.

War Service

The following month, he was taken on strength of the 2nd/1st Medium Regiment of the Royal Australian Artillery located at Ingleburn, NSW.

In October 1940, the Unit was re-designated as 2/13 Australian Army Field Regiment and was located at Cowra NSW.

In January 1941, some of his mates were deployed to Nauru (Wren Force) and Ocean Island (Heron Force).

Noting that the Japanese had not yet attacked Pearl Harbour, training at Cowra must have been boring as his Army file records a number of occasions when Pop was fined for being Absent Without Leave.

On a positive note he was appointed as a Signaller.

In April 1941, his Regiment deployed to Darwin but by August they were back in Ingleburn preparing for deployment to Palestine – their camp was close to what we now know as Gaza.

Their time in the Middle East was short lived as the new threat was the Japanese so the Regiment packed up and returned to Australia in early 1942.

Pop had some health issues which resulted him being admitted to a Convalescent Depot in the Brisbane suburb of Coorparoo where he met Sister Mary Brady, his future wife.

By late 1943, the Allies in the South West Pacific had the upper hand over  the Japanese – having pushed them off the Kokoda Track to the beaches at Buna and Gona and the advance up the Huon Peninsula towards Madang along the Markham Valley and the north coast of New Guinea was well underway.

Pops army unit was now a composite of heavy and light anti-aircraft and Searchlight batteries. To protect the Buna beachheads they deployed in late 1943 where they remained until May 1944.

In early 1945, Pop attended a course conducted by the Postmasters General Department – known today as Telstra.

He was discharged in November 1945.

Post War

After the first war, the War Service Homes Commission was established to enable ex-members of the forces to obtain funds to purchase a home.

Pop and Mary purchased a home in College St – near Riverview College.

For many years he worked as a clerk at Concord Repatriation Hospital and with Saint Vincent DePaul.They had two children, Tony who sadly passed away after an asthma attack when he was still at school and my mother Patricia.

For relaxation, he walked through the grounds of Riverview College with his dog “Bobby’ and drank with his mates – including David Lush who lived in the same street as Pop – at the Longueville Hotel.

Pop took great pride in his appearance, was always well dressed but like so many of his colleagues never spoke about the war.

He passed away in 1988.

Thank you for the opportunity to commemorate and honour my Grandfather.

Paul Fenech

10 Mar 24