- Jarrett, Hugh
- History - general, Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Parramatta II
- December 1994 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
To pull a dinghy around these magical vessels – LAWHILL, GRACE HARWAR, PENANG, PONAPE, MELBOURNE, HERZOGIN CECILIE, to name a few, and to converse with the bronzed sailors with knives and marlin spikes in sheaths on their broad leather belts, was a wonderful experience. One day, looking down the Gulf from Largs Bay I saw four barques coming over the horizon under all plain sail, a sight never to be forgotten. On another occasion, we saw the barque, HUGOMONT, struggling up the Gulf under jury sails after being dismasted in Investigator Strait off Althorpe Island.
In 1932 my father was promoted Lieutenant-Commander and posted to Darwin as the first District Naval Officer to open up the area for Reserve training; quite a big compliment to an officer who had `come up through the hawse pipe’. Mother prepared to `pack and follow’ and we were put into boarding school. Dad was afforded a singular honour by the Port Adelaide Town Council – a Civic Farewell!!! Civic Receptions are not unusual, but I have never heard of a Civic Farewell.
Dad spent some time on his own in Darwin before mother joined him, during which time he slept on a bed on the verandah of the Don Hotel with other ‘grass widowers’. Later he installed mother in a residence which became well-known as `Admiralty House’, the residence of many Naval Officers in Charge until it was demolished by cyclone Tracy. We boys did not go to Darwin and it was thirty years or so later that I visited Admiralty House to dine with the Commodore, not knowing that it was at one time my parents’ home. Dad bought all the naval property in Darwin and the famous oil tanks which were to become prime targets for the Japanese bombers were built in his time.
During my father’s time at the Naval Reserve Depot, Birkenhead, he commissioned and trained a number of young Reserve officers who served their country very well indeed in the war which was coming. These include Captain Sam Benson CBE, RD, RANR(S), Lieutenant-Commander Jack Netherton RANR (who I was to relieve as Port Gunnery Officer in Fremantle in 1944), Lieutenant-Commander Doug Lillicrapp RANR, and Lieutenant Eric Jeanes RANR.