Peter Badman's Service to be Held at Broulee Memorial Gardens (18 Km Sth of Bateman's Bay) Friday, February 22nd 1300hrs
Brigadier Peter grew up and was schooled in Sydney before entering RMC Duntroon in January 1954. Along with his other Armoured Corps classmates Ken Phillips, Graeme Gill, and Peter Bourke, he graduated on 11 December 1957.
He then spent the normal amount of time at the Armoured Centre and 1st Armd Regt until November 1961. When, after having passed the Technical and Armoured Vehicle Aptitude Test, he was selected to attend the Long Armour Technical Course at the British Army’s Royal Armoured Corps Centre at Bovington in Dorset UK.
Not only did he graduate and return to Australia with the qualification of “t.t.” but he had met a young lady, Mary, who became his wife. Mary noted that Puckapunyal in the winter of July 1963 was a far cry from the green and pleasant land of England in the summer which they had just left. With their three children Michael, Margaret and Robert they became Team Badman.
Peter’s time at Pucka then took on the familiar Armd Centre, 1st Armoured Regiment shuffle until, in October 1967 the announcement that a tank squadron would be sent to join the Australian Forces in South Vietnam. The squadron would be the then “working up” squadron which at that time was C Squadron. It was undergoing field training on the Pucka Range.
Peter was commanding B Squadron at the time and they had just finished their time as the “working up “squadron. Most of its men had been transferred to the Cavalry/APC squadrons as reinforcements for the squadron of M113's already in Vietnam.
Unbeknown to most of us, for some time there had been a tank rebuild and update program underway at the workshops at Bandiana. It became a new version of the Centurion tank. Rebuilt from scratch and updated with new fuel tanks, an IR searchlight, gun sights and driving lights, and a .50 Ranging Machine Gun. Thus a totally new system of sighting and firing had been developed which we had to quickly come to grips with.
Peter was selected to be the commander of the squadron to be formed, trained and then deployed on operations in less than five months’ time. So, rather than being able to gather the 80 or so extra men needed to man the four troops each of four new type of tanks and train them into the largest tank squadron ever formed in Australia, Peter watched in disbelief while all of his soldiers went to the Jungle Training Centre at Canungra for three weeks to train as infantrymen! This was done in four rotations of about 40 men each time. The squadron rarely had everyone together anywhere.
At the same time the new tanks started to arrive and Peter was sent off to Canberra, and then South Vietnam for briefings. The squadron came together for a 4 day exercise before going on mandatory pre-embarkation leave Just before Christmas. Peter dryly commented that it was a good thing that the Armoured Corps had such motivated and flexible soldiers otherwise he would never have imagined that the operational deployment could have taken place.
We began to see what a motivated and flexible boss were going to be working with. The trials of getting to Vietnam were minor compared to those of commencing operations there.
C Squadron may have been formed from rough stones but by the time we met our first test at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral, Peter Badman had trained us, coached us, inspired us, melded and polished us, so that the Squadron then sparkled like a diamond.
The photo above shows how young and sparkling he looked at the end of his time as “Three Niner” (3-9), the Officer Commanding C Squadron. It is taken just after his 31st birthday as he was returning to Australia to attend the Command and Staff College as a student. Again he dryly noted that he had just finished the hardest command and staff assignment possible.
He need not have worried because six years later he was selected to go to another Staff College, this time on the staff.
After Vietnam and Staff College, Canberra beckoned and Peter moved between the Corps Directorate and various departments at Army HQ. This included the massive task of selecting the replacement tank for the venerable 1942/43 designed Centurion.
That appointment took Peter around the world until the US M60 and the German Leopard were selected to be tested under Australian conditions. As the New Tank Project drew to a close Peter had demonstrated an intellectual technical prowess to match his superior staff, training and combat prowess.
As noted above he was then selected to put his experiences before the junior majors selected to attend Staff College at the British Army’s College at Camberley. Peter and Mary and their family represented Australia for two years there.
Towards the end of that posting in Dec 1976, a Royal Visit to Australia was being planned for Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Peter was selected to become an Equerry to Her Majesty and so he deployed to London to assist with the planning of the visit. This naturally meant a number of meetings with the Royal Household and with the Queen.
For his services to the Queen during the planning and then as her Personal Escort during the visit he was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order. In photographs of the visit you can see our black beret prominently displayed wherever Her Majesty is being met, opening a new building or just being handed a bunch of flowers. Peter’s official appointment was the “Australian Equerry-in-Waiting to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.
After all that glitz and glamour it was back down to earth with a posting as a student of the Joint Service Staff College followed by a year as the Personal Assistant to the Chief of the General Staff, now known as the Chief of Army.
He must have done that demanding job well because he was promoted to Colonel and appointed to be the Chief of Staff of the 1st Division in Brisbane. Again, after that appointment, he was promoted, this time to Brigadier to command the 6th Brigade in Brisbane.
After Brisbane it was back to Canberra to begin a series of appointment at which Peter chaffed at being hindered by minutia and the convoluted politicking of the higher levels of Defence in general but in Army in particular. So much so that he resigned rather than dash his intellect on the shoals of mediocracy he found in the some of the high ranking staff there.
Within days he was asked by the Australian Defence Industry to join their company as a senior executive which he did. His Army resignation is dated just after his 51st birthday, a career of 31 years.
With ADI Peter was able to organize time to write, publish and build. At Narooma on the NSW South Coast about 3 hours from Canberra he and Mary found an old stone cheese factory on the banks of the lagoon to which dairy farmers had bought their milk by boat. The factory and jetty were turned into a magnificent family home centred around the lagoon.
There they welcomed old friends, and new, from all over Australia and the world. Friends made in their various moves came to join a warm and relaxed atmosphere of boating, good food and warm hospitality.
When Peter was diagnosed with his illness, and especially when he was hospitalized, Mary was with him constantly. She was able to move to a cottage by the nursing home than enabled her to share in his care and provide some warm familiarity.
Peter will be remembered militarily for his skill, his drive, his humanity and the Herculean efforts he put in to create a new tank squadron for war. It was larger than ever imagined, from new tanks, new soldiers and in terrain never considered by the designers and theoretical tacticians. Afterwards, militarily he was stymied by Canberra more than the jungle or the enemy we faced there.
Vale Peter, our Three Niner.