- Hinchliffe, L.M.
- Biographies and personal histories, Obituaries
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1995 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Lew, as he was universally known, was born on 27th August, 1922. His great grandfather came from Finland and his great grandmother from Scotland. His love of things nautical probably stemmed from them, his great grandfather being captain of a ship plying between Finland and Aberdeen.
From the militia he enlisted in the 2nd A.I.F. in 1939, joining the 2/3rd Field Regiment. This regiment embarked in “Queen Mary” and proceeded to the United Kingdom, where he attended the Larkhill Artillery School. Bombardier Lind became a very good gunlayer.
The regiment was ordered to the Middle East and took part in both the Greece and Crete campaigns. In Crete he fought in the Battle of Rethymnon but his unit – the only one not defeated by the Germans – did not receive the order to evacuate and had to surrender through lack of supplies.
Escaping from a P.O.W. camp, he joined at first with other Australians and New Zealanders trying to get out of Crete. He finally decided that he could do better on his own.-Assisted by the Cretans in every possible way, and harassed by Germans, he was picked up by H.M. submarine “TORBAY” – one of 101 evacuees – and taken to Alexandria. After debriefing in Cairo he rejoined his regiment then in Palestine.
His health had suffered and whilst undergoing an Officer’s Course he entered hospital and eventually was invalided from the A.I.F.
He married Clare in 1943 and they enjoyed a very happy married life. Of their two children, Ken died in 1985 and Irene lives in Canberra. They both much admired their father. Clare backed Lew solidly in all his activities.
He embarked on a journalistic career before the war and after discharge completed this course through the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, gaining his Diploma of Journalism.
For some time he edited magazines, of which “White Collar” is probably the better known one, and published a Lane Cove newspaper. He became a Fellow of the Advertising Institute of Australia, joined the Department of Defence in 1951 and became a Public Relations Officer in 1962.
In October 1969 he was seconded from Garden Island as Special Public Relations Officer for the Captain Cook Bicentennial Celebrations. In this capacity he attended a meeting convened to discuss ways and means of improving the Navy’s public image, which had been badly tarnished by the collisions H.M.A.S. “MELBOURNE” had with “VOYAGER” and the U.S.S. “EVANS”, combined with public disquiet on Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. The Navy’s morale had suffered too, due to Royal Commissions, questions in Parliament and a court-martial in which it was perceived that justice was not being done.
Lew suggested the formation of a Naval Historical Society might help but it received lukewarm support. However, providing funds were not required from the Department, it was agreed that the idea could be pursued.
On 25th May 1970 he convened a meeting on Garden Island, some 40 people attending during their lunch break. In 40 minutes the Society was launched, an interim Committee appointed with Lew as President, funds raised and a provisional constitution approved. Lew remained President until he stood down at the 1988 Annual General Meeting.
Lew approached Navy Office with the proposition that a “section” of either or both, the remains of “GAYUNDAH” or “PARRAMATTA” be salvaged and erected ashore as memorials, especially as “PARRAMATTA” was the first ship built for the R.A.N. As costs were estimated to be prohibitive the project could not be entertained. But Lew and the Committee persisted and without Departmental Funds but with generous help from outside sources, the stern section of “PARRAMATTA” was erected as a Memorial near Queen’s Steps on the river at Parramatta and unveiled by Admiral Sir Victor Smith in 1982. In 1986 the remaining part of the bow section was placed in position near the North Eastern corner of Garden Island and unveiled by H.R.H. Prince Philip. This was significant progress for the Society.
Written into the Constitution of the Society were two aims:
(a) To stimulate interest in the histories of navies generally and in particular of the Royal Australian Navy.
(c) To undertake the collection recording and preservation of material of all descriptions pertaining to (a) above.