I was unsure whether or not I could participate in the Australian Vietnam Veterans Vigil.   However, in the event that I could contribute, I located the graves of Thomas Douglas Blackhurst and David Gerard Doyle in Belmont Cemetery, Green St, Belmont South, NSW 2280.   I was unable to find relatives of either of the two soldiers.

Fortunately, I had met the daughter of John Gillespie, Fiona Pike, who lives in Newcastle.   John Gillespie was a medic from 8 Field Ambulance, Nui Dat, crewed on 9SQN UH-1H ‘Albatross Dustoff 1’ shot down on 17 Apr 71 in the Long Hai hills, South Vietnam, the same incident during which Tom Blackhurst, and Capt Bernard Albertson (US SF), also were killed.

Fiona, her husband Phill, and his mother Carol, met my wife Shaun and I at the Vigil held at Civic Park in Newcastle at 1100 on Thursday 3 Aug 23.   There we met Ceiron Doyle, brother of David Doyle KIA 31 Jul 70, in an incident involving a 9 Squadron aircraft.   Ceiron was accompanied by his wife Gail and grandson Bruno. My wife Shaun had spoken to them several weeks earlier as they walked past our front garden without knowing who they were, or that they lived in the next street.

After the ceremony in Newcastle we drove 20 minutes south to Belmont Cemetery and visited the graves of David & Tom.   At each of the two graves we told a short tale of the two incidents and the people involved.   Then we played the Last Post, including 1 minute silence, the Rouse, and then recited the Ode.   Also we noted that a poppy had been placed on both graves, presumably by the Newcastle Vietnam Vets, or a local RSL sub-branch.   My wife Shaun took the photographs.   I will continue to trace relatives of Tom Blackhurst.

We left the following laminated card with a poppy on each grave, and a copy each to Fiona and Ceiron, as attached below.

Front of each card:

Rear of Card – Tom Blackhurst, Cemetery Area: Anglican; Section, Lawn; Row, E; Grave 22.

Vale 17 April 1971

Long Hai Hills South Vietnam.

Lance Corporal Thomas Douglas Blackhurst,

Australian Army Training Team Vietnam,

and previously the 6th and 7th Battalions,

The Royal Australian Regiment.

Together with Capt Bernard Albertson, advisor,

US Army Special Forces, and

Lance Corporal John Francis Gillespie,

8 Field Ambulance, RAAMC,

medic on Albatross Dustoff 1, 9SQN RAAF.

Lest We Forget

Fiona Pike and husband Phill, Belmont Cemetery, Thursday 3 August 2023.

Rear of Card – David Doyle, Cemetery Area: Roman Catholic; Section, Lawn; Row, F; Grave 22.

Vale 31 July 1970

Phuoc Tuy Province South Vietnam.

David Gerard Doyle, Trooper,

B Squadron, 3 Cavalry Regiment,

Royal Australian Armoured Corps.

Lest We Forget

Ceiron Doyle, wife Gail, and grandson Bruno, Belmont Cemetery, Thursday 3 August 2023.

Vietnam War Memorial, Civic Park, King and Auckland Streets, Newcastle NSW 2300, 1100Hrs, Thursday 3 August 2023 Vietnam Veterans Vigil held by Newcastle and Hunter Region Vietnam Vets Wallsend, photo:

Vietnam Memorial, Civic Park Newcastle, after the vigil, from the left: Allan Crumpton, furling flag; unidentified; unidentifed; Bob Redman (hat) and Ceiron Doyle; Stephen Finney (hat); unidentified.

Lest We Forget

Bob Redman
9 Squadron RAAF Association