Royal Australian Naval Communications Branch Association (RANCBA) was formed in 1945 post WWII and continues today.
Many of those marching today would be referred to as ‘Sparkers’ or ‘Tel’s’ Telegraphists. In the late 50’s the RAN changed their name to Radio Operators whose task was to send messages around the world using morse code.
With the advent of teleprinters and satellites the use of morse code was phased out in the military as a means of communications in the late 1990’s.
Although the Wireless Telegraphy branch no longer exists having been replaced by Communications Information Systems (CIS). The Association remains keeping members in contact with each other.
OUR HUMBLE BEGINNING.
A close-knit group of Communicators, whose origins were from Rushcutters’s Bay Naval Depot, who after surviving 6 years of conflict (World War II) were searching for that companionship and bond which does exist amongst Communicators.
Late 1945 – 1946 saw Veterans from WW II returning to civilian life, many went back to communication related positions in the Postmaster-Generals-Department (PMG), Maritime Service Board (MSB) Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) etc.
ANZAC Day 1947 brought many Communicators together again for the first time in Sydney, In 1948 they marched as an organised group behind an improvised Banner (a Church Pendant) which had the words. R.A.N. COMMUNICATORS in black print along the white section of the fly. After the March, a formal Constitution was drawn up by one of the Communicators, Mr. J.D. Button, a Solicitor
A Committee was appointed, comprising of J.D.Button, Ted Reynolds, Mike Mitchell, Doug Fraser, Rod Campbell, Eric Shirley, Tom Day and Merv May.
Ted Reynolds was elected the 1st President and Doug Fraser the Secretary-Treasurer.
In 1949, a Commonwealth Savings Bank Account was opened at the Wynyard Branch, and a Constitution was drawn up by one of the Communicators, Mr. J.D Button a Solicitor. A copy of the Constitution had to be lodged there for bank records. That account and Constitution although amended to comply with Dept. Fair Trading still exist there today.
Meetings in those early years were held at Max Middleton’s Newsagency, at the corner of King Street, next door to the Royal George Hotel, which in those days was at the corner of Sussex and King Streets. These meetings were held monthly and were open to all Members.
In those times, they were called the “days of wine and roses” or to be more precise, “beer and prawns”. Max at considerable expense and effort attended the fish markets for seafood purchases.
On ANZAC Day, prawns were supplemented by blocks of ox tongues, pig trotters, cheese, gherkins, pickled onions and buttered rolls. The venue was also transferred to the Royal George Hotel, both for convenience and that the membership had increased considerably.
Mid-year Reunions were held at such places as Whale Beach and Max’s home at Epping.
One very wet and windy ANZAC Day, we simply took over the “Amethyst Room” at the very “posh” hotel AUSTRALIA in Martin Place. They all arrived with the victuals as previously mentioned and proceeded with the Reunion.
The “Maître De commented on the good fellowship amongst the Communicators of the Navy.
In 1959, Tom Day was elected Secretary, soon after the Hotel AUSTRALIA incident, and Ted Reynolds passed over the reins to Frank Tregurtha, who then remained at the helm for about 5 years
Since then, there has been many changes, however, they have in many ways maintained the task of the running the Association, as their predecessors would have wished.
The first real Banner was designed by Eric Shirley with the words “Ex COMMUNICATIONS BRANCH RAN”. Eric also won a prize for designing our next Banner, omitting the Ex.
Since then we have had a mini-Banner made which is used on other occasions, Commemoration Services, and if necessary, at Funeral Services within a Chapel.
Some years later, with morse code no longer being used the committee endorsed combining the Communications Branch Association to one that embraced the latest Later, Communication Information Service (CIS) At that meeting a new Banner was required to incorporate the new rate but also maintaining the previous rates of both V/S (Visual signalling) and W/T (Wireless Telegraphy). Allan Moffatt designed the Banner and with permission from the RANCBA Committee (NSW) given permission to have the Banner that is used today made up.
The Reunions after the March where initially held in the Royal Naval House, or Johnnies as it was known and attended by many, but with the pending closure, now the Futures Exchange in Grosvenor St. Since then we have maintained our tradition of holding a reunion following the March. Venues such as the Gaelic Club in Devonshire Street was one such venue.
Many years later with reunions being held at multiple venues we now congregate at City Tattersalls Club Pitt St. Sydney.
All Committee Meetings were now held at the Senior Sailors Mess, HMAS KUTTABUL with the approval of the President of the Mess. (They did move but dad cannot remember the name of the Club where they were held.)
Our aims and objectives are to maintain that friendship and comradeship that we had all known whilst serving in the RAN and more so, within the Communications Branch.
We endeavour to give support to fellow Communicators in times of hardship or the passing of a relative, give full support to Veterans of WW II, Korean War, Malaya, Indonesian - Borneo Confrontation, Vietnam, the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and all Peace Keeping operations that this Nation has been involved in.