Private Bruce Kingsbury VC – Kokoda WWII

Private Les Farren – Vietnam

Sasha Uzunov, a Reservoir freelance photo journalist and former Australian soldier who served in East Timor, says he wants to propose to Darebin City Council that they place a statue of one of Australia’s greatest World War II heroes Private Bruce Kingsbury VC at the Reservoir Cenotaph in Edwardes Street, Reservoir, Melbourne, Australia.

Sasha Uzunov spent 15 years campaigning for a memorial plaque for Victoria’s first National Serviceman (conscript) killed in Vietnam, Pte Leslie Farren of the northern Melbourne suburb Reservoir, (within Darebin City). Sasha was eventually successful and a plaque was placed at the Reservoir Cenotaph in 2006 amidst great fanfare by the Darebin Council and the media.

Private Kingsbury lived in the City of Darebin (covering the suburbs of Northcote, Thornbury, Preston, Reservoir, Regent and Kingsbury).

See link: below:

Bruce Kingsbury VC (1918-42)

Bruce Kingsbury was born in Armadale in 1918. After working interstate for a while he joined his fathers real estate business in Northcote. Kingsbury lived in Gilbert Road in West Preston.

When the World War II broke out Kingsbury quickly enlisted. Sent to Palestine Kingsbury saw action in both Egypt and Syria. In 1942, Kingsbury’s unit, the 2/14th Battalion was posted to Port Moresby.

On 29th August 1942, the 2/14 was involved in heavy fighting on the Kokoda trail. Japanese attacks were successful in pushing back the Australians. With the Battalion Headquarters in danger of being overrun it was vital that a counter attack was made. Kingsbury’s unit had been severely handled by the Japanese so Kingsbury joined another platoon assigned to make the counter attack.

Charging the enemy, firing his machine gun from his hip, Kingsbury inflicted heavy causalities upon the Japanese defenders. Taken by surprise by his attack the Japanese defenders scattered and the Australians were able to regain a precious 100 yards of territory.

But the cost was high. Kingsbury was now about 15 yards in front of his colleagues. A Japanese sniper fired a single shot, killing Kingsbury, before fleeing into the jungle.

In sacrificing his life Kingsbury had saved the headquarters and prevented the Japanese from taking a decisive dominance in the battle for the Kokoda trail. Bruce Kingsbury is buried in the Kokoda War Cemetery.

Mr Pete Crockett – Secretary of The Kingsbury Society is seeking to have created by renowned local sculptor, Peter Corlett, a full-sized bronze statue of Bruce Kingsbury, to cost approximately $100,000 and to be located in Melbourne’s City of Darebin.

“Unfortunately we are many years away from reaching that target of funding,” Mr Crockett said.

“Darebin Council had rejected a proposal to place a life-sized statute of Kingsbury VC outside the Preston Town Hall on the corner of High Street and Gower Streets, Preston.”

The Reservoir Cenotaph would be an ideal place for the Kingsbury monument, Sasha Uzunov said. But we would need to get permission from the Reservoir RSL, which administers the site. Hopefully we can get DVA to fund the project.


PETER CROCKETT – Secretary of The Kingsbury Society. To contact him call 0404 560 424
Email: bsk@alphalink.com.au

5RAR – Pte L.T. Farren memorial plaque / ceremony

Leslie Thomas Farren. Killed in Action, 10 June 1966

A First Angry Shot Remembered (The Melbourne Herald Sun, page 20)
by Sasha UzunovAugust 24, 2006 12:00am

Bank teller Les Farren did not live to hear Prime Minister John Howard’s apology for the reception his mates received from a disillusioned public when they returned home from Vietnam.

This little-known soldier from the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir was the first Victorian National Serviceman to die in that controversial war.
But he will be remembered when his 86-year-old mother, Lillian Farren, unveils a plaque on Monday at the Reservoir Cenotaph.Forty years after his death, Mrs Farren still grieves for her son.

“It was awful to see Les go and never see him again”, said Mrs Farren. “This way he will be remembered.”

Les was always in the shadow of another Melbourne suburbs boy when he went to Vietnam. The 1960s Australian pop legend, Normie Rowe, was one of his schoolmates at the Northcote High School before they were called up for Vietnam.
Les, two years older than Normie, was quietly spoken and looking forward to being an accountant in the suburbs.Normie, in the era of Beatlemania, was being mobbed by screaming hysterical teenage girls and had the music world at his feet.

But Vietnam changed their lives. Pte Leslie Thomas Farren was conscripted in 1965 and posted to 10 Platoon, Delta Company, 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Infantry Corps.

He was also a keen amateur photographer and the only son of Thomas and Lillian Farren.On June 10, 1966, while on patrol in South Vietnam, Pte Farren was severely wounded by Viet Cong mortar fire.

He was 19 days short of his 21st birthday. Cpl Frank Donovan was the army medic who tried to help Les.”Les Farren actually died in my arms from massive lower body wounds,” said Cpl Donovan. The extent of his wounds and loss of blood made survival impossible.

Trooper Norman J. Rowe got the call up in 1968 and went to Vietnam in 1969 with A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Armoured Corps.He survived but it almost ended his musical career.
I took an interest in Les Farren after reading about him in a newspaper more than 15 years ago.

I was surprised no one had acknowledged his service. Les was one of the unsung people who do
their duty without fuss or fanfare.Len Barlow, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia helped me to lobby Darebin Council for the commemorative plaque that will be unveiled by his mother.
To its credit, the council quickly approved the proposal. Les Farren has not been forgotten but it has taken too long to acknowledge his service.

Following the Prime Minister’s words on Vietnam Veterans Day last Friday, the sacrifice of these veterans might now be better remembered.

Videos and photos of Private Leslie Farren (10 Platoon, D Company, 5 RAR) Memorial Plaque Ceremony First Victorian National Serviceman to be killed in Vietnam War on 10 June 1966. – MONDAY 28 August 2006, Reservoir Cenotaph, Reservoir, City of Darebin, Victoria.

Photographs of the Occasion

Mr Bob Elworthy, President of Australian Vietnam Veterans Association – Victorian Branch, chats to some 5RAR veterans at the Leslie Farren memorial plaque ceremony. VVAA – Vic Branch sponsored the plaque.

Mr Frank Donovan, then an Army Medic with 5RAR, who held Leslie Farren, as he died of his wounds, giving a speech. Next to him is Councillor Stanley Chiang, the Mayor of Darebin City Council, which lent his support behind the memorial.

Cr Stanley Chiang, lays a wreath at the Reservoir cenotaph

The last surviving next of kin, Mrs Lillian Farren, aged 86, unveils the plaque to her son. Cr Chiang is on hand to help.

The memorial plaque, kindly sponsored by the VVAA – Vic Branch, and with technical support from the Darebin City Council. The plaque inscription reads: “

In Memory of 3786921 Leslie Thomas Farren – First Victorian National Serviceman Killed in the Vietnam War, 10 June 1966. Sponsored by: VVAA – Vic Branch 28 August 2006

Sasha Uzunov, freelance photo journalist and East Timor veteran, who proposed the plaque.