- Book reviewer
- Biographies and personal histories, History - WW1, Book reviews, Naval Engagements, Operations and Capabilities, Biographies
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Hobart I, HMAS Voyager I
- June 1994 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
By Captain Surtees M. Rothery
The story begins with the author as a young lad growing up in the Vaucluse area of Sydney in the 1920s. Captain Rothery paints a vivid pen picture of life on and around Sydney Harbour before and during the Depression.
Following his father’s footsteps the author proceeds to sea as a Cadet Deck Officer with the Burns Philp Line in the 1930s thus beginning a career spanning some 45 years. During this time the author is encouraged by the company to undertake Midshipman’s training with the RANR(S) to enhance his career prospects.
The training in the RANR(S) leads to Capt. Rothery being called up for service during the war. An eventful 4 years follows with the author serving on several RAN ships including HMAS VOYAGER and HMAS HOBART. Capt. Rothery is able to give first hand accounts of both VOYAGER’S unfortunate grounding in Betano Bay, Timor and the torpedo attack on HMAS HOBART. Injuries received in the latter incident resulted in the author’s discharge from the RAN and after rehabilitation a return to the Merchant Service.
The story continues with the author’s post-war career with several shipping companies tracing his rise through the ranks, early “retirement” to have a stint at pig farming, and then back to sea eventually becoming Master of a State Shipping Co. vessel.
This autobiography is very readable, accurately capturing the feel and excitement of the heyday of Australian coastal steamers operating in Australian and Asian-Pacific waters. The often crude navigation and port facilities of the copra plantations are well documented as are the cargoes and their handling procedures.
The 216 pages are well illustrated with photos and maps and it should be essential reading for any one interested in Australian Maritime History.
N B Hinton