Lo­cal re­ceives Aus­tralia Day hon­ours

Comment News (Armadale) - - Front Page - Ben Smith

WHEN Neville Brown­ing be­gan col­lect­ing Aus­tralian Army his­tory books in high school, lit­tle did he know it would lead him on the path to one of the coun­try’s high­est hon­ours.

The Hunt­ing­dale res­i­dent (pic­tured right with his books) was awarded a Medal of the Or­der of Aus­tralia on Aus­tralia Day for his ser­vice to the preser­va­tion of mil­i­tary his­tory.

A de­scen­dant of mul­ti­ple Dig­gers, he has writ­ten eight books about Aus­tralian bat­tal­ions and serves as a tour guide for Aus­tralian tours of the Kokoda Trail and the West­ern Front.

Mr Brown­ing said he was des­per­ate to learn more about Aus­tralia’s mil­i­tary his­tory, but upon be­ing un­able to find the books he wanted took it upon him­self to write them.

“Over 20 years ago I was re­search­ing the WA 51st Bat­tal­ion and wanted a book on them but there wasn’t one, so I de­cided to do it my­self,” he said.

“Ba­si­cally, over the years I have looked at bat­tal­ions that do not have a writ­ten his­tory and have sought to fix it.

“I get an in­cred­i­ble sense of sat­is­fac­tion out of tak­ing piles of old writ­ten records and re­ports and turn­ing them into a fin­ished book. I am driven by it.”

Mr Brown­ing said his love of the mil­i­tary led him to be­come a tour guide for Kokoda Treks and Tours and Frank Tay­lor’s Aus­tralian Mil­i­tary His­tory Tours.

“I spe­cialise in World War I but par­tic­u­larly the West­ern Front. I can

prac­ti­cally see those bat­tles un­fold­ing when I stand on those fields in France and Bel­gium,” he said.

“I first went to the West­ern Front as a guide in 2008 and met Frank from Kokoda Treks and Tours a few years af­ter that.”

Mr Brown­ing said he was sur­prised to dis­cover he had been awarded the Or­der of Aus­tralia for something which was part of his ev­ery­day life.

“I was shocked to find out about the Or­der of Aus­tralia. I write bat­tal­ion his­to­ries and help any­one at any time with re­search­ing their mil­i­tary an­ces­tors,” he said.

“Re­ceiv­ing the Or­der of Aus­tralia is ex­tremely flat­ter­ing and hum­bling and I am grate­ful to those who thought me wor­thy of it.”

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