- Swinden, Greg
- Biographies and personal histories, Early warships
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Penguin I, HMAS Psyche
- June 1997 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
I wrote to the Office of War Graves voicing my concern that the original grave site should be repaired and that a small plaque hidden on a wall at Rookwood was not a substantial enough commemoration, given that Hanlon’s grave site was now known.
On 26 June 1996, I received a letter from the Director of the Office of Australian War Graves, Air Vice Marshal Alan E. Heggen AO, FRAeS RAAF (Rtd), advising that he had reviewed the case and that Hanlon’s grave was to be repaired by placing a new concrete headstone and bronze plaque at the original grave site. He also advised that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had made a dubious decision in the 1960’s to declare several graves throughout Australia as unmaintainable. The site of commemoration, for financial reasons, were moved to major war cemeteries. Thus Hanlon’s grave was deemed to be one of several isolated graves which had the headstone removed and a small plaque set up at a major war cemetery. This decision had been reversed in the 1990s’; however, many of the original grave sites had by then been lost.
In late October 1996 I visited Hanlon’s grave. The path to the cemetery was still overgrown but showed signs of recent use and on entering the Roman Catholic Cemetery section I spotted the newly refurbished grave. The original concrete slab with AWGS stamped in it remained and a new concrete headstone with bronze plaque had been erected.
The plaque carries the RAN Crest, a cross and the wording;
ON 4339 STOKER II
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY
2ND SEPTEMBER 1916
So in the middle of a long forgotten and overgrown cemetery, among the ruined and sunken graves stands one Stoker Hanlon’s grave. His headstone has been repaired and his grave will be visited at least once a year by War Graves staff. Perhaps one day a relative, from Ireland, may also visit the grave.
The location and repair of Stoker Hanlon’s grave and writing of this article would not have been possible without the help of:
Mr Richard Walker – Naval Support Command Mr Ross Gillett – Naval Support Command (and author of several books about the RAN which provided the details on HMAS PSYCHE). Mrs Nalda Biela and her husband Maurice. Garrawarra Aged Care Centre. Staff of the Australian War Graves Commission. Australian War Memorial Records.
And last but not least my wife Kathy for putting up with me and my search for this grave. What I thought would involve only a few hours on a Sunday morning took over a year to complete.