8th/13th Victorian Mounted Rifles Regimental Collection, North Bandiana
Colour image of soldier with landscape in background being Captain Kelvin Robertson 3 Troop Leader (Wangaratta) VMR Squadron 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment looking out over the Arafura swamp near the Maningrida to Ramingining road in Arnhem Land during exercise in the Northern Territory, September 1993.
The Dibb Report into mainland defence of Australia,1986, among other things identified the requirement for protection of key assets in Northern Australia and the possibility of involving Army Reserve (Ares) units in this thus releasing regular forces for offensive operations. Dibb also pointed out that this defined role would result in a huge lift in Ares morale.
In June 1988, the 3rd Division (3Div) conducted a Tactical Exercise without Troops (TEWT), Exercise ‘Distant Trumpet’ in the Katherine- Darwin area to study problems associated with defence against low level incursions against Tindal RAAF Base. Exercise ‘Northern Explorer’ followed in October of that year when units of the 3Div including A Squadron 8/13 Victorian Mounted Rifles sent patrol groups to get a first taste of environment and conditions. Post-Exercise reports had to include recommendations re: health, equipment and adaptation of Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) in preparation for the new role deploying to Northern Australia. The first deployment by 8/13 Vistorian Mounted Rifles was in 1988. Deployments continued i following years. In September 1993, 3 Troop (Wangaratta) VMR Squadron 4/19 PWLH commanded by Captain Kelvin Robertson deployed to NT. The training began with airfield defence at Tindal followed by a 1000km recon into Arnhem Land in four Landrovers. The troop reported on the conditions of the roads, airfields, bridges (mainly causeways) resources such as fuel supplies in the towns and infrastructure. Each troop taking different route. 3 Troop had the Northern route through Kakadu National park across the East Alligator River to Oenpelli then to Maningrida and Ramangining and south to the Central Arnhem Road and back to Tindal Air force Base.
Kelvin Robertson enlisted on 6 April 1981 at Cobram where Lieutenant Dan Wyborn was the troop leader at 2 Troop A Squadron 8th/13th Victorian Mounted Rifles (2TP A SQN 8/13 VMR). He completed the Initial Employment Training Course (IET) and then an M113A1 driver’s course in March 1982. Course Senior Instructor (SI) was Captain (CAPT) John McLean and wing instructor Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Mick Baxter (ex-Driving & Servicing Wing instructor at the School of Armour). He served with 2TP at Cobram as a trooper Driver/Signaller until June 1982 when he was selected for officer training. He served two years as an Officer Cadet in Course 21 at Officer Cadet Training Unit (OCTU) graduating in June 1984. He returned to 8/13 VMR and completed the 1/85 Army Reserve (ARES) Regimental Officers Basic Course (ROBC Reconnaissance), then was posted immediately as 1 TP LDR for the Hay Booligal Annual Field Exercise (AFX). In 1985 he took command of 2TP at Cobram until Nov 1987 when he transferred to C Squadron First Armoured Regiment (CSQN 1AR). This began six months full time duty in which Lieutenant (LT) Robertson completed the regular army 1/88 (ROBC Tank), and then served as CSQN's first and only ARES Leopard Tank TP LDR until the next ARES LT was trained up as 2TP LDR. He later served as the CSQN Liaison Officer (LO) on the First Brigade (1 Bde) exercise ‘Predators Advance’ and as a staff officer on a Second Division (2Div) exercise.
In Jan 1991 he studied at the Reserve Command and Staff College (RCSC). Upon completion of Grade 3 he was promoted to CAPT and transferred back to a reconnaissance troop, 3TP VMR SQN 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse (4/19PWLH) at Wangaratta.
CAPT Robertson transferred to the Inactive List in 1994, but in 2011 returned to the Active List serving as Operations Captain (OPS CAPT) at Regimental Headquarters (RHQ) 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers (12/16 HRL)and later Second-In-Command (2IC) Tamworth-based Operations Support Squadron (OPSPT SQN), and at 9 day exercises at Singleton range and an exercise at Townville High Range in Protective Mobility Vehicle (PMV) Bushmasters.
In 2013 after completing the ARES Grade 3 Staff Officers course in Brisbane he returned home to Jerilderie and served as 2IC A SQN 4/19 PWLH based at Latchford Barracks Bonegilla. He was awarded the Defence Long Service Medal (DLSM) in 2014.
Highlights of his career included being Parade Commander for the 75th anniversary Beersheba parade in Canberra on 31 October 1992. The guard, drawn from the VMR SQN 4/19 PWLH represented the 4th Light Horse Regiment, a participant of the Charge. Then twenty years later, 2012, he was invited to speak at the Quirindi Anzac Day ceremony. On this occasion he was serving with 12/16 HRL, so in two ceremonies, 20 years apart, he had represented both the 4th LHR and the 12th LHR, the two lead Regiments that charged Beersheba.
CAPT Robertson was placed on the Inactive List again in 2015.
Illustrates Reserve training in NT.