Regimental Sergeant Majors 5RAR

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Jan 1968 ~ Feb 1970

Cyril Roy ‘John’ Vagg.
John Vagg, also affectionately known by many as “John the Copper” or “Sandshoes” (a name originally given him by former RSM’s George Chinn and Arthur Stanley when we served together as instructors at Duntroon in the 1950’s), died in March 2007 in a nursing home on the NSW South Coast.

While he died in the country where he lived for 57 years and served as an infantryman for 24 years from 1950-74, I was personally sorry not to see him fulfill a long time wish that he had expressed to me, of eventually retiring back in London, from where he came, as a Chelsea Pensioner in a red tunic – he certainly would have looked the part in that famous corps of old, bemedalled, uniformed soldiers.

John (or more correctly “Cyril Roy”) was born in WANDSWORTH LONDON on 26 January 1926 and by the age of 24 had seen active service in the:
· Royal Navy, 1943-44
· British Army, 1944-47
with postings to India, Burma and Japan. For this service he received the 1939/45 Star, the Burma Star, the Defense Medal and the War Medal.

In 1947 he joined the London Metropolitan Police as a constable until 1950. In October 1950 he joined the Australian Regular Army and during the next 20 years saw service in the Royal Australian Regiment in the following battalions:
· 1RAR and 3RAR in Korea, 1950/51
· 4RAR 1952/54
· 2RAR 1961/63 in Malaya and Singapore,
· 6RAR and 1 Reinforcement Unit, in 1966/67 in Vietnam
· 5RAR as RSM, 1968/70, in Vietnam

His outstanding ability as an instructor was recognized in his lengthy posting to RMC Duntroon from April 1955 to May 1961, during which time he instructed officer cadets in minor tactics, weapons and drill, a number of whom were to serve in 5RAR in Vietnam on both tours of duty.

On return from Vietnam in 1970 he was posted to Army Headquarters in Canberra where he served in a number of staff postings which included his promotion to Lieutenant and duties as an acting Captain. He retired as a Lieutenant in April 1974 after 24 years of loyal, professional and dedicated service to the Army in general and the Regiment in particular. During this period, I had the singular privilege to serve with him in several postings, none more significant than our time together in 5RAR.

Brigadier Colin Khan DSO AM.

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