The 26th Replacement Group (26th Ersatz Gruppe)

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Admin Officers AAR – OTT 2015

Admin Officers Post Action Report

Old Tailem Town 2nd May 2015


  1. Overview


This PAR covers workload from the view of the ARMS Club Admin Officer. It covers briefly workload and tasks associated with organizing the Old Tailem Town event that fell to the Admin Officer. It is intended that this PAR be read in conjunction with the Catering Officers/Prop Masters PAR, The Officer In Charges PAR, and the Safety Officer/Quartermasters PAR.


  1. Facebook Communications


Extensive use of Facebook was used, specifically the chat messaging system. Messages were sent to some 39 people. These communications were either internal admin messages about organizing aspects of the event, communications with re-enactors about attending, or attempts to secure safety marshals. All communications have not been counted, but there were probably in excess of 200 communications on Facebook chat in relation to this event.


There were multiple posts to the event Facebook page. In all there were 26 primary posts to the Event page by the Admin Officer, with several follow up posts. Posts ranged from information about the event, to photos of props, and posts about the topic in general.


On the Facebook ARMS secret group page, the Admin Officer made 37 primary posts, with multiple replies, and uploads of revisions of documents.


  1. E-mail Communications


A look over e-mail logs shows that several hundred e-mails were both received and sent in relation to this event. These e-mails ranged from internal planning communications, handling requests from re-enactors, purchasing props & materials, inviting guests, and many other items.


  1. Invitations


Invitations were extended to:


–              Mayor Neville Jaensch attended – thanks letter sent.

–              Father Peter Hill & wife attended – thanks letter pending.

–              Peter Squire – Landowner – all correspondence sent.

–              Russian Veterans Rep – attended, but didn’t respond & was unexpected.

–              Amanda Rishworth MP, Federal (Patron) – apology.

–              Anthony Passin MP, Federal – apology.

–              Adrian Pederick MLA, State – nil reply.

–              Russian Honorary Consul – nil reply.

–              French Honorary Consul – nil reply.

–             Dr Rothauser (French veterans’ representative), nil reply.


Other than the letters to the landowner and Amanda Rishworth, invitation letters were drafted by Eugene and mailed out by the Admin Officer.


  1. Interactions with Old Tailem Town


In all some 7 letters, three phone calls, and 3 scouts took place. An issue with Peter Squire was that he insisted on all communication being verbal, and would commit nothing to paper. As such the Admin Officer was compelled to put all discussions down in writing in letters to Mr Squire, in order to create a record of discussions and agreements in the event of dispute. Mr Squire committed to sending ARMS an acceptance letter and a list of addresses of media organizations that he wanted a Media Release sent to. In the event no confirmation letter or list of Media Organizations was ever received by ARMS.


A total of three scouts were conducted. The First was by the Admin Officer & Andy Henshaw. This consisted of initial negotiations and explanations of what we wanted to do, and under what conditions the landowner would allow us to do so. Following this the Admin Officer toured the area with Andy, taking preliminary venue photos. Potential scenario areas were identified and a general assessment of the venue was conducted.


The Second Scout was conducted by the Admin Officer and Michael Tamits. This consisted of further discussions with the landowner & clarification of some issues. The Admin Officer then showed Michael anticipated scenario locations, and Michael shot some test footage.


The Third scout briefly touched base with OTT staff, but was primarily done in order to obtain footage for the event trailer. Footage was shot by Michael Tamits & Stephen Davey, with Richard Tamits & Andy Henshaw portraying Germans, and David Schneider & Ahmad Salim portraying Soviets. Note; Andy Henshaw contributed $15 towards fuel expenses.


  1. Scenarios


The Admin Officer prepared ten scenarios for the event. The scenarios came to under six pages and a word count of nearly 2000 words. The scenarios were sent for review by Eugene Wasilenia, Andy Henshaw & Richard Tamits. No amendments were proposed, and so the scenarios were then turned in to Soviet Orders, German Orders, and a Referees copy. They were then photocopied to be made available to squad leaders and safety marshals on the day.


  1. Media Release


A Media Release was prepared by the Admin Officer. This was reviewed and amended by Eugene Wasilenia, and then sent to The River News, The Murray Pioneer & ABC Radio Riverland. This was sent out by e-mail, website forms, and Australia Post.


Only ABC Radio responded. A request for an interview was made, however the time specified was while the Admin Officer was asleep following night duty, so Eugene Wasilenia was able to do a pre-recorded interview.


  1. Adelaide German Band


In all some twenty conversations occurred between the Admin Officer and the Adelaide German Band. Most of these were impromptu conversations that occurred between the Admin Officer & Oyvind at their place of employment.  The original suggestion of the AGB being available to assist came from Oyvind, and it was not until later that the Admin Officer followed up on this offer.

Correspondence with the AGB came to three letters, and several other e-mails. The AGB requested dinner to be provided, a carton of beer to be provided, and a request for a fuel subsidy. ARMS advised that we would provide dinner and a carton of beer, but was not in a position to provide a fuel subsidy. The AGB agreed to this.


The catering/Admin Officer provided food for the band at his own expense. An estimate of $118.30 has been given of expenses in band catering. Andy Henshaw was put in charge of securing a carton of beer for the band. No figures have been provided, however financial cost of the beer was borne by Andy Henshaw, John Pearks & Darryl Thomsen.


At around the same time that the Admin Officer was negotiating with the AGB, Andy Henshaw also had conversations with Oyvind in support of getting the AGB to attend. Following the event Andy Henshaw subsequently claimed sole credit for the bands attendance. The Admin Officer sent an e-mail to Andy Henshaw suggesting that this was not entirely accurate. No reply was received to this e-mail. The Admin Officer then offered sole credit for the bands attendance to Andy Henshaw if he would like to pay for the bands catering expenses. This lead to Andy calling the Admin Officer a “bully” & “dickhead” in correspondence sent out to the club, and expressing an intention to boycott all activities involving the Admin Officer. This has been interpreted as declining to pay the bands catering expenses. The Admin Officer wishes to point out that publicly vilifying a Club Office Bearer is not best practice, and formally protests this behavior.


  1. Miscellaneous expenses


–          There were over 20 outgoing pieces of mail. Each at $0.70 each. Total: $14 plus envelopes.

–          An Original Soviet Diploma was purchased so that it could be used for the event. $40.

–          Multiple phone calls were made. Exact cost unknown.

–          Three trips to OTT made for scouts,I drove each time, estimate of $40-$50 in petrol (note Andy Henshaw contributed $15 for petrol expenses).

–          Owing to exhaustion the Admin Officer missed a 10 hour night shift finishing Thursday morning. This shift was not paid, and cost the Admin Officer 10 hours wages.

–          The Admin Officer paid Ahmad Salims ALHF fees of $22 so that he could attend this event. However Ahmad has not reimbursed the Admin Officer.


  1. Public Handout


A public handout was prepared by the Admin Officer. This was a two page document. Page one included Public liability, safety and other information related to the running of the event of use to the public. The second page contained a brief overview of the Battle of Berlin, with the famous photo of a Red Flag being raised over the Reichstag. This document was reviewed and amended by Eugene Wasilenia. The Admin caused 100 photocopies of this document to be made. These were then given to Old Tailem Town staff with instructions that each member of the public attending on the day by provided with a copy.


  1. Lost Items


The lid to one of the small square pots of the US field kitchen became lost at some point Saturday night. There were many people entering and leaving the kitchen during the course of the evening, and so exactly when this item went missing is unclear. This item cannot be replaced without buying another Field Kitchen for $300 on EBay, and then driving interstate to collect it. A knife from the Admin Officers KFS set also went missing from the kitchen during the course of the night. No other items were reported missing to the Admin Officer.


The Admin Officer notes that there were many people accessing the kitchen during the course of the evening, and it made security of the Admin and catering gear stored there impossible. Stocks of Old Tailem Town cutlery and plates/bowels were also directly accessed by re-enactors without Organizing staffs permission. This was in contravention of a request by Old Tailem Town staff to please not use their cutlery, etc.


  1. Fees


As noted elsewhere, we charged $35 per re-enactors attending. All attendees paid their fees. This generated $770. Of this $484, plus a $20 levy for gas/electricity use was paid out to the landowner, totaling $504. This left $266 for actually running the event. This amount came nowhere close to actual event costs.


The Organizing staff made a conscious decision to attempt to run a prestige event, in order lay a solid foundation. This was done, and the event has reportedly been a great success amongst the attendees. However this does not change the fact that the fee charged did not come close to covering the costs of the Catering Officer, Prop Master, Admin Officer, Officer in Charge, Safety Officer & Quartermaster.


Consequently a future event will require a higher attendance fee, and/or a lower payment rate to the landowner. Also other forms of fund raising need to be considered, such as running a cash bar (either wet or dry), and the consideration of other options (i.e.: a raffle run in the mess).


An event fee of $35 is not sustainable without a significant impact upon event quality.


  1. Registration


Registration was handled in both in a pre & post event manner.  All clubs who attended are ALHF members with the exception of CHS. It is not usual practice at events to check ALHF cards of ALHF member groups. However several AusReenact members advised me that they were paid up ALHF members via their club, and Biggles, the one CHS member in attendance, had advised me prior to the event that his PL insurance was via ALHF. In the absence of a pressing reason to check PL insurance bone fides on the day, no further action was taken on this.


Registration on the day was hampered by the earlier than expected arrival of re-enactors. The Advance Party of David Schneider and Richard Tamits had anticipated arriving at noon, and having a few hours in which to attend to set up activities. Due to interstate travel, it was assumed that most participants would arrive later in the day. David arrived some 20-30 minutes ahead of Richard, not long before noon, and discovered that AusR & Biggles were already on site and waiting to enter the venue.


Registration was delayed several times owing to the need to attend to set up duties, and task others with various related duties. Also the need to have rations ready for the scheduled dinner was a factor. Registration finally began to occur around 17-1800. This consisted of paying any outstanding fees (several people had prepaid), issuing the thank you 50th Anniversary of Victory in The Great Patriotic War medal, and sighting firearms licenses. The sighting of Firearms licenses was discontinued after I realized that this was pointless as the Safety Officer would have to sight them again later. Those who paid and were issued their medal were checked off my master list.


The OIC had prepared an “Articles of War” document for use in Registration, and had produced sufficient copies for sign in. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to arrive until well after 2200. By this time all participants were either asleep, or in various stages of inebriation. As such the Articles of War documents were not handed out that night, during the Registration process. Instead they were handed out the next morning, and filled in and collected haphazardly. There was no time to check these documents, or even to make sure that everyone had filled one in.


The failure of the Articles of War document represented a breakdown in communication between the OIC and the Admin Officer. This failure was most likely a result of their respective event and personal workloads. Registration will need to have greater planning for the next event.


  1. Conclusion


Workload for this event was very heavy for the Admin Officer. As the event drew closer, Admin matters took up more and more time. When combined with the other two roles held by the Admin Officer for this event, workload became very heavy, and lead to lost wages due to a missed shift at his place of employment.


It is recommended that the workload be more evenly distributed amongst club membership for future events. Kitchen security will also have to be worked upon to prevent people accessing this area inappropriately.


David Schneider

ARMS Club Admin Officer


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