ID numberRELAWM31374
Collection typeHeraldry
Title"Monk II" : monkey doll mascot of 2/17 Australian Infantry Battalion Officers' Mess
Object typeHeraldry
MakerMcKean, Emma
Place madeAustralia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date madec 1943-1944
Physical descriptionFelt; Cotton; Fur; Glass; Compressed fibre
DescriptionElongated stuffed toy monkey with a calico body and long curved tail. The face has a long baboon-like nose, accentuated with red cotton and black ink, multi-coloured glass bead eyes, and is edged with red fox fur. The monkey is clothed in felt: parti-coloured long red and green trousers, a magenta waistcoat, a red and green bow tie and a parti-coloured jacket with blue body, blue and yellow sleeves and a yellow collar. There is a pointed magenta and yellow cap on the monkey's head decorated with strips of green, red, blue and yellow felt. Each hand holds strips of red and green felt. The strips in the right hand are looped around a brown compressed fibre identity disc, which is impressed 'NX14831 PRES A J McKEAN' on the front and 'O4' on the back. 'MONK' is also scratched on the back.
Summary"Monk II", a handmade monkey doll and the mascot of 2/17 Australian Infantry Battalion Officers' Mess. The following information was supplied by the Battalion: This is the second of two "Monks" who have in their turn been the mascot of the 2/17 Battalion Officers' Mess. The first was presented to the Mess in 1940 soon after the formation of the unit, by Mrs. A. J. McKean, wife of the then officers' mess cook. She herself used to come out to camp on Sundays and help her husband produce a high tea which was notorious as the meal of the week in Ingleburn. The Monk travelled with the unit to the Middle East finding his way to the open whenever the Officers' Mess was established. His tour of duty in the Western Desert, Palestine and Syria made him notorious as a member of the Mess whom no measure of maltreatment or punishment could upset. Members of the then Mess felt for him as they did for each other. Throughout his career he was slowly but surely promoted, in general keeping level with McKean, who had risen to be the Sergeant cook of the battalion. Besides his duties, McKean was the Monk's constant guardian and friend, repairing and laundering his clothes and supervising his general demeanour. Down one sleeve, the Monk wore a line of variously shaped and coloured colour patches which the unit had worn throughout its career. After the Middle East the battalion returned to Australia and then New Guinea. As the unit turned from khaki to green so did the Monk. The unit's tailor fitted him with his own set of jungle greens and the opportunity was taken for the Monk at last to be commissioned Lieutenant. Monk was present at Lae, but his great ordeal of "action" came at the landing on Scarlet Beach, Finschafen. He went into action on the shoulders of the Adjutant, Lieutenant (Lieut) John McFarland and in the intense fighting which then ensued he was lost (MacFarland stated in a letter "At the Finsch show I carried the mascot ashore but in the rather delicate circumstances that eventuated, I abandoned the mascot."). Much to the relief of those who knew that he had been posted "missing" came the news that his body had been discovered hanging from his tail in a tree, but headless. He had withstood the Japanese counter attacks and threats to the Scarlet Beach area. A special order was issued to Lieut McFarland (by the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Broadbent, DSO) to arrange for a ceremonial burial which was conducted in Heldsbach Plantation. On return to Australia our hero's record was reported to Mrs. McKean and a request was made that she might replace him. Very graciously she made and sent the Monk's son (rapidly dubbed Monk II) for service with the battalion. Somewhat younger in appearance and a little more brightly dressed it was felt that perhaps he should not go soldiering. However it is alleged that one night in the Mess after having been presented with his father's Africa Star ribbon he demanded that he must see action. This course was approved by the Commanding Officer and the Monk went soldiering with the unit to Borneo. Here in the Quartermaster’s car he was sheltered from more serious threats but proved himself a worthy successor to his father when the cessation of hostilities enabled the re- establishment of the Mess. For members of the 2/17th Battalion the sentimental associations with this Monk and its predecessor are more than words adequately measure. (A small note on file, prior to Monk II's donation, states "The younger Monk… proposes to find a postwar job in the home of Colonel Broadbent.")