With Heart | Jim Amos' passion preserved the region's military history

HONOURING THE PAST: Horsham's Jim Amos has a keen interest in military history and heritage and shares his knowledge with the community through the Horsham RSL and U3A. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI
HONOURING THE PAST: Horsham's Jim Amos has a keen interest in military history and heritage and shares his knowledge with the community through the Horsham RSL and U3A. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

ALL too often, the events of the past can become distant memories that are bound to be forgotten and sometimes even lost for eternity. 

The Wimmera has a rich military history that dates back to the Boer War.

A passion for military history and heritage has Horsham’s Jim Amos preserving the actions and sacrifices of the region’s soldiers so they are remembered by future generations to come. 

When Mr Amos was a child, he always wanted to be a soldier. He said the first armoured car regiment formed in Horsham when he was 10.  

“They had a Ned Kelly car (an armoured car) parked next to where the Amcal Chemmart is now. As a kid I looked at it and I thought I wanted to be a soldier – and that’s where it started from,” he said. 

Mr Amos enlisted in the 4/19th Armoured Regiment Prince of Wales Light Horse in 1948. 

“I tried to join when I was 17 and a half, but got caught and I couldn’t officially join until I was 18,” he said. 

Mr Amos served for 30 years and retired with the rank of major in 1977. 

“It was the compulsory retiring age, but I was only in my prime,” he said. 

Today, Mr Amos is the senior vice-president of the Horsham RSL and chairman of the military history and heritage section where his passion lies. He is also a life-member of the organisation.

While his work involves maintaining the Anzac library shelves and memorabilia, he said it was his work with the schools that was most rewarding. 

“Once a month we work with all the schools in Horsham to provide military history sessions to the students,” he said. 

This month Mr Amos said the students from Horsham’s St Brigid’s College were participating in the Horsham RSL Anzac library awards on November 22. 

“The students do a 10- to 15-minute presentation on a serviceman or woman from World War I and they are absolutely incredible,” he said. 

Mr Amos said it was important to share his knowledge about history with students – because they were the future. 

“All the serviceman from World War I are gone and serviceman from World War II, the Vietnam War and the Korean War are getting older,” he said. “These children are our future and will be leading the commemorations for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.” 

He said teaching the students has reassured him the country’s future was in good hands. 

Mr Amos is also a tutor at the University of the Third Age for 30 years. He has also received a life membership with the organisation. 

In a joint project between U3A and the Horsham RSL, Mr Amos teaches one class a month on military history. He said the response had been positive with interest from both men and women. 

“It is fantastic to see people take an interest in the past and the history of the descendants who served in the wars,” he said. 

“They want answers to what their forebears were involved in.” 

He said it was common for people to give attention to the First and Second World Wars. 

But, Mr Amos said, it was equally important to remember the lesser known conflicts. 

He said each month at the U3A the classes focus on a different battle – the Charge of Beersheba, the Battle of Britain or the Normandy landings. 

“We’ve been going since 2009 and only just scratched the surface,” he said. 

Mr Amos said he didn’t work alone in preserving the region’s military history. 

“We have a group of people in the military history and heritage section that do a lot of research into the region’s involvement in conflicts,” he said. 

“We have made up dossiers on servicemen and women who came from the region.” 

Mr Amos encouraged people to visit the Horsham RSL to discover more information on their relatives who served at war.

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