Obituary-Ben O’Dowd

I cannot let the passing of Benny O’Dowd go without making a few remarks on this remarkable soldier. He served with 67Aust Inf Battalion from its inception in Moratia and with it in BCOF in the occupation of Japan. He was on the strength of 3AR and 3RAR and thus was a father of the Regiment. I should also note that earlier he had, during the Island campaign, been awarded an MBE as a WO2 platoon commander- this was a gallantry award as WO2 could not get an MC.

I first met him when I joined the 67 Bn in Feb 1948. Benny was the senior subaltern. He was a mild master and a good friend, as he guided the newly joined subbies in performing their duties. Each Saturday night, after dinner, we went to the Officers Club in Cure for drinks and a singsong around the piano played by Darcy Laughlin – another father of the Regiment.

Benny was promoted Captain and had several trips to Tokyo as Commander of the Guard we placed on the Imperial Palace. Bennie had many US contacts in Tokyo and we all had a slice of his, sometimes hilarious, hospitality.

In Korea he played a significant role during the splendid advance Of the Battalion towards the Yalu River where for some time he was held in Battalion HQ as an adviser and what we would now call an executive officer.

When I rejoined the battalion just before Kapyong I was posted to A Coy with, to my delight, Ben O’Dowd as OC. The story of the battle is enshrined in the history of the Regiment. What is not clear that Ben actually commanded the Battalion from the first enemy onset to the end of a terrific well planned but hotly contested fighting withdrawal. There were many Heroes in this battle but in the minds of the soldiers there was no doubt that O’Dowd had fought the Battle and brought the battalion to safe haven. The lack of recognition for Ben has always rankled with Kapyong Veterans. This soldier goes with the thanks, love and admiration of his old soldiers.

Lou Brumfield
Brigadier IRW Brumfield CBE, DSO.