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    Army Museum of NSW - Medals of the Month


Medals of the Month - April 2021

Medals awarded to Colonel Colin Hubert Alan East, MBE
L-R: Member of the Order of the British Empire (Military), (2) 1939-45 Star, (3) Africa Star, (4) Pacific Star, (5) Defence Medal, (6) British War Medal 1939-45, (7) Australia Service Medal 1939-45, (8) Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 with Clasps "Korea", "Malaya" and "Vietnam", (9) British Korea Medal, (10) UN Korea Medal, (11) General Service Medal with clasps "Malaya" and Mention in Despatches, (12) Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal, (13) Australian Service Medal 1945-75 with clasps "SW Pacific", "Japan", "Korea" and "PNG", (14) Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953, (15) Defence Force Service Medal, (16) The National Medal with one Clasp, (17) Australian Efficiency Medal with one Clasp, (18) Papua New Guinea Independence Medal 1975.

1921. Born at Waverly, Sydney, NSW on 16 June to Henry William East and his wife.

1936. After passing the Queensland Examination (1936 version of the current Queensland Certificate of Education [QCE]), he works as an insurance clerk.

1938. Enlists in November in the Citizens Military Forces (CMF)

1939-1945. World War Two. After putting his age up (he said he was born in 1919), enlists in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force (AIF) as a private soldier and becomes a member of the 2/9th Infantry Battalion. In February 1940, he was promoted to corporal.

The battalion then sails for Great Britain where in June 1940 he was made a sergeant.

Takes part in the Middle East campaigns in North Africa (severely wounded at the battle of Tobruk), and served later in Palestine and Syria.

In March 1942 on the unit's return to Australia, he was commissioned as a lieutenant and transferred to the 19th Light Horse (MG) Battalion in Darwin. In October 1943 he was promoted to captain and attended the No.9 Course at the Land Headquarters Tactical School at Beenleigh, Queensland.

After serving in Darwin as a company commander, in 1945 he took part in the 1 July landing at Balikpapan, Borneo. On 3 July his battalion captured Sentosa Barracks.

1946. Attends the United States Army Amphibious Warfare School at Yokohama, Japan in June. On 1 November, he embarks on HMAS Kanimbla for Sydney. On 20 November, he marries Shirley Irene Snellgrove.

1947. In October/November East is transferred to the newly raised 65th Infantry Battalion (temporary major), part of the 34th Infantry Brigade. This was Australia’s contribution to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BOCF) in Japan.

1948. Foundation member of the newly established Royal Australian Regiment.

1949. Appointed captain (retaining the temporary rank of major), Australian Staff Corps whilst attending the Company Commanders' Course and Mortar Course at the School of Infantry at Warminster, United Kingdom.

1950. Attends the Tactics Course at the Tactical School in Devizes, the Royal Air Force Photo Readers Course at Oxford, and the Platoon Weapons Course at the School of Infantry, Hythe.

During this period in Great Britain he was also, at times, a company commander in The Royal Scots, The Royal Irish Rifles and the Welch Regiment. Returns to Australia and is attached to Eastern Command in Sydney. In August, he relinquishes the rank of temporary major and is transferred to 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

1951. Transferred to 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and on 3 March embarks for Japan. After re-kitting, sails on 3 April for Pusan, South Korea.

1952. Active service in Korea with the Machine Gun Platoon, 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR). In February 1953, he was transferred to the 1st Commonwealth Battle School in Korea and promoted to temporary major.

1954. Temporary Major Colin Hubert Alan East is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his outstanding contribution at the Battle School.

1955-1957. Posted to the Australian Staff College and attends the University of Melbourne in the evenings to study the Indonesian language and culture.

1957. Posted to the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade in then British Malaya. For his service as Brigade Major, he was Mentioned in Dispatches (MID).

1964. Becomes the first Australian (and the first foreign) student to attend the Indonesian Army Command and Staff College (Seskoad) in Bandung

1965. Joins the Directorate of Military Operations and Plans at Army Headquarters in February and helps plan the participation of army units in Vietnam.

1966-1967. 11 November 1966 East becomes Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (4RAR), Terendak Garrison, Malacca, Malaya. 4 RAR was part of the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve. During this period, the percentage of National Serviceman in the battalion increased as many regular soldiers returned early to Australia to go as reinforcements to Vietnam.

1968. Promoted to colonel and is appointed as Commanding Officer of the 1st Recruit Training Battalion at Kapooka, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

1970. Chief of Staff, Headquarters 2nd Division, Moore Park Barracks, Sydney (once opposite Victoria Barracks).

1972-1973. Transferred to the army component of the Joint Forces Headquarters in Papua New Guinea and in 1973 became Director of Plans.


Colonel C.H.A. East, MBE, C1968 (L) and C1976 (R)

1975. Is removed from the Regimental Supernumerary List, Field Force Command on 7 May and on the following day is appointed as Colonel (Reserve Planning) at Headquarters Field Force Command.

1976. On 29 February Colonel East takes his discharge from the Australian Army at Headquarters Field Force Command, Sydney after 38 years of service. He then joins the Department of Foreign Affairs.

1982. Transfers to the Department of Veterans' Affairs from which he retires in 1986.

1986-1999. Life Governor of the Royal Australian Regiment Foundation, President of the Australia-Papua New Guinea Friendship Association President of the Royal United Services Institution of NSW and Vice-President of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

1999. Passes away at his home on 7 December.

Lest We Forget

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