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Presentation of Honours to 1st Signal Regiment, Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Brisbane


Good morning.

It is an absolute delight for Linda and me to be back here at Enoggera after many years absence and to be part of a very special parade in the life of 1st Signal Regiment.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

I would also like to acknowledge:

  • Major General Scott Winter, Commander 1st Division, representing the Chief of the Defence Force and the Chief of Army, and senior members of the Australian Defence Force
  • Veterans of MINURSO and former members of 1st Joint Support Unit
  • 1st Signal Regiment, families and friends.

Congratulations to all involved in this parade. You've done well and kept up the reputation of the Regiment.

Congratulations to the men and women of 1st Signal Regiment on your Honour Distinction Western Sahara and Theatre Honour East Timor (1999-2003).

An Honour Distinction is recognition for an exceptional performance by a unit while deployed on both warlike and non-warlike operations, particularly when undertaking a role or tasks for which they have not been trained.

A Theatre Honour (Streamer) is recognition for a creditable performance of an allocated task in a theatre of operations.

These are formal descriptions of the awards. They do not necessarily capture the commitment, hard work or the sacrifice that went into the respective operational performances.

This gathering will be very familiar with the history and achievements of 1st Signal Regiment.

The Regiment has made — and continues to make — an outstanding contribution to ADF operations.

The mission of Australian Service contingents in North Africa was to support the UN-led peacekeeping mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

The rotations of Operation CEDILLA  faced many difficulties, particularly during the early rotations of the deployment.

They were operating in an isolated and uncertain environment, their presence was not wholly supported by the host nation, and they were prevented from bringing their own equipment into the country.

But they rose to the occasion — they adapted, they improvised, and they performed roles beyond their area of responsibility.

Those not posted to 1st Signal Regiment at the time, but deployed alongside its members on the five Australian Service Contingent rotations under Operation CEDILLA, made critical contributions to the success of the mission.

Said Colonel D. Sievwright, the British Chief Operations Officer on the first UN deployment: ‘The whole group of Australians was very good. They were definitely a force multiplier.’

I have served with the Brits and that is an understatement. I would say, in Australian terms, you did a bloody good job!

The Regiment’s service in North Africa was not without sacrifice.

Major Susan Felsche, the Medical Officer on rotation 4, became the first Australian Army female to be killed on overseas duty since World War 2.

Major Felsche’s widower, Mr Klaus Felsche, is here with us today. To you again, Klaus, we extend our condolences and thank you for your family's service. Susan’s sacrifice and service to our nation has not been and will never be forgotten.

In March 2020 in Canberra I had the honour of presenting the Theatre Honour ‘East Timor 1999 to 2003’ to the Australian Army.

I said to the many members of the Army present at that parade that operations conducted in East Timor between 1999 and 2003 — WARDEN, STABILISE, TANAGER and CITADEL — were central to their professional development and identity.

It was a highly successful period in our Army’s history.

In 1999, the Regiment deployed to East Timor as the 1st Joint Support Unit to provide communications and logistical support to the Deployed Joint Force Headquarters.

The Regiment played a significant role in providing direct support to Australia’s initial contribution to Operation STABILISE and, subsequently, Operation WARDEN. Thereafter, the Regiment continued to provide individual rotations to East Timor throughout that entire campaign.

The result of Army’s commitment and hard work and those members of this regiment who served there was the creation of a new nation, Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste remains a good friend of Australia. Indeed, on Thursday Linda and I will have the privilege of officially welcoming His Excellency Jose Ramos-Horte, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, to Australia.

The Army’s service in Timor-Leste was also not without sacrifice.

We think particularly today of CPL Stuart Jones and LCPL Russell Eisenhuth who died during the operation and all those who bear physical or psychological scars from their service.

In closing, I want to acknowledge the families and loved ones of Australian Army members, past and present, and of 1st Signal Regiment. Your support cannot be overstated; it is critical to the ongoing health and welfare, indeed capability, of the Australian Defence Force.

Finally, to the men and women of 1st Signal Regiment — those serving today and those who have served throughout their distinguished history:

  • enjoy this moment with colleagues and family
  • celebrate your many achievements
  • aspire to uphold the traditions and spirit of these honours.

You not only inherited the Anzac legacy, but you have and will continue to build upon it.

For that you can be very proud. Congratulations.