Another day of headwinds all the way from Ararat to Ballarat, but worth the agony to be finally greeted at a civic reception waiting for me at the Ballarat RSL. Representatives from the Council and RSL - Alex Tuscas (President Ballarat RSL), Justine Liney (CEO Ballarat Shire), Regimental Sergeant Major Barry Fawcett 8th/7th Royal Victorian Regiment (Ranger Barracks Ballarat) RSL members, and residents of Ballarat who were there for the welcoming ceremony as well. A very touching speech by Justine Linney and a substantial donation from the Ballarat Shire presented to the long ride home cause at the ceremony.
Accommodation and a evening Barb B Que was organised by Barry Fawcett for the team. A great pleasure and honour for me to address soldiers from 8/7 Royal Victorian Regiment (Ranger Barracks) to talk about the long ride home from Hanoi, and finally discuss the awareness of post trauma stress disorder.
The Ballarat phase of the battalion's history was formed as the Ballarat Volunteer Rifle Regiment on 9 August 1858 as a result of the Crimean War, coupled with the withdrawal of the British Army in 1857. In the years between its formation and the outbreak of War in 1914, the battalion went through a series of name changes as follows:
1854 – Earliest units of the RVR formed ( Melbourne Volunteer Rifle Regt. )
1858 – Ballarat Volunteer Rifle Regiment (later Rangers)
1884 – 3rd Balarat Ballarat Infantry
1892 – 1st Battalion, 3rd Victorian Regiment
1898 – 3rd battalion, Victoria Infantry Brigade
1901 – 3rd Battalion Infantry Brigade
1908 – 1st Battalion 7th Australian Infantry Regiment
1912 – 70th Battalion (Ballarat Regiment) including Geelong
1912 – 71st Battalion (City of Ballarat Regiment)
Further to the north the following evolution was taking place (encompassing the Bendigo/Castlemaine and Murray river areas):
1858 – Bendigo Rifle Regiment
1860 – Bendigo Volunteer Rifle Corps
1870 – Castlemaine Corps of Rifles
1872 – Mount Alexander Bn of Victorian Rifles
1883 – 4th Battalion of Infantry
1887 – 4th Mount Alexander battalion of Victorian Rifles
1893 – 2nd Battalion, 3rd Victorian Regiment
1898 – 4th Battalion, Victorian Infantry Brigade
1903 – 8th Australian Infantry Regiment
1908 – 1st Battalion, 8th Australian Infantry Regiment
1912 – 66th (Mount Alexander) Infantry
When war broke out in 1914, the 8th Battalion was recruited from the Ballarat and Ararat areas and the 7th Battalion from the North Western and Murray areas. Both battalions became well known and respected for their actions in the Gallipoli campaign and later in France, earning numerous Campaign and Battle honours, some of which are emblazoned on the Royal Victorian Regiments Colours, with the remainder being held in trust by the Regimental council.
After World War I, further restructuring took place in the Ballarat and North-Western Regions. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, both the 8th and 7th Battalions were again raised, and the two battalions served side by side during the most significant campaigns and battles of that war.
Following World War II, the 8th and 7th Battalions were amalgamated to form the 8th/7th Battalion, the North Western Victorian Regiment. The battalion retained its name until 1960, when Pentropic Divisions were formed and the battalion became 2RVR, absorbing the 8th/7th, 38th and 59th Battalions.
On 14 November 1987, the battalion was officially retitled the 8th/7th Battalion, The Royal Victoria Regiment. It has adopted the white (8th Battalion) and brown (7th Battalion) lanyard and wears the 8th Battalion colour patch (rectangle white over red). The Battalion Flag consists of the regimental badge on a diagonally split background of brown above white.
The Royal Victoria Regiment has the enviable honour of having inherited the most battle honours of any other Infantry Regiment of the Australian Defence Force. 8/7 RVR currently holds the following battle honours:
- Boer War: South Africa 1899–1902.
- World War I: Landing at Anzac Cove, Somme 1916–1918, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Polygon Wood, Ameins, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line.
- World War II: Bardia 1941, Capture of Tobruk, El Alamein, Greece 1941, South West Pacific 1942–1945, Bobdubi, Finisterres, Hari River, Borneo.
On behalf of the long ride home team I would like to say many thanks to all in Ballarat for your outstanding contribution to the long ride home cause.
Thank you Regimental Sergeant Major Barry Fawcett and members of the 8th/7th RVR for an outstanding tour of the Headquarters in Ballarat and for organising a meeting discussion with the group of soldiers on the night.
In closing a big thank you to latest donors who have donated whilst we have been on the road over the last few days and to those who have donated online.
- Murray Bridge RSL
- Ararat RSL
- Ballarat Shire Council
- Bob Coleman
- Graham Neustad
- Peter Dunn
- Petra & Mark Hay
Getting closer to Melbourne, traffic getting more dense, but drivers are still friendly, courteous and acknowledging the long ride home road team.
Truck Sams still truckin
On the long ride home, Victoria
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