- Harrington, Hubert Ernest
- Biographies and personal histories, History - pre-Federation
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Gayundah
- December 1996 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
There were about, I think, fifty Petty Officers and men. Mostly used to boating and sailing. Some of the fishermen who were expert yacht sailors – nothing better in Australia – a lot of them were railway artisans and other artisans from Walker Limited Iron Works. They were excellent fellows and in it from enthusiasm. Easy to teach, keen, and competent. It was as hard for a man to get into this body as to get into a good club in the city. The P.O.s vetted him first, and if their enquiries were unsatisfactory they quietly told us. We had all religions and no sectarianism ever manifested itself.
We had a good instructor, an old RN sailor. We had an extraordinarily fine Drill Hall. An old roller skating rink with a specially laid pine floor which stood a gun drill of the 6 pdr. field gun (with service limber) that we had stationed at our port. We did our drill well and keenly and took pride in it. We later on had a whaler and a boat shed and did a lot of boat drill. The boat shed was next to the Maryborough Rowing Club shed. We did a lot of single stick fencing and the men thoroughly enjoyed this. I had the reputation of being good at this. We had a large proportion of marksmen in our brigade and we used to practice rifle shooting at the old rifle butts at Granville. We had attached to the Corps an exceptionally good band and this contributed very much to the social life of the Brigade, and its appearance and marching on public occasions.
We annually went to training sometimes in Hervey Bay in H.M.Q.S. “Gayundah”, an old type of river gunboat very heavily armed; an 8 inch gun forward and a 6 inch gun aft, besides a lot of small guns on either quarter. Sometimes the training was at the naval barracks at Brisbane where we were hard worked at gun drill on the battery there and went afloat as we were required in the “Gayundah” or her sister ship “Paluma”. There was a very fast heavily engined picket steam pinnace called the “Midge” which accompanied the “Gayundah” to our port sometimes; and I remember being put in charge of her somewhere about Moon Point in Hervey Bay and sent off with papers and to get mails from Maryborough. My yachting experience all over the bay and the river made this very pleasant for me and we made a fast trip and fast return.
We did our cannon firing at the white cliffs in Hervey Bay and while on these trips the officers were trained in revolver shooting. The old Lieutenant (G.H. Curtis) was always very keen to find out just how little or how much these Brigades knew, and we always had some unexpected evolution to perform such as “sea boats crew away” perhaps when there was a sea, or “Action Stations” when all seemed peaceful.
The wardroom of the “Gayundah” was very comfortable, and I carry the memory of very happy messes there and some tall yarns; and above all, friendships with some fine fellows.
Mostly all of us were hard up from a financial point of view, and the mess bills were moderate, but the tucker was not bad, the drinks were good, the smokes were good, and the yarns were – well – just the yarns the occasions demanded.
Our “H” Company had the honour to be on parade with other naval companies when His Majesty King George V, then Prince of Wales, and Queen Mary, then Princess of Wales, visited Brisbane, and the naval contingent had pride of place and turned out very smartly.
I think the Queensland Naval Forces, at the time I write of, were very much stronger than those of any other State, and hence I say that we – Captain Drake’s old officers – were the founders of the present very excellent Commonwealth Navy. Many of our officers passed automatically in to that Navy and “Handed on the Torch”.
I am glad that I have had two sons, who at the time I write, are officers on Active Service in the Royal Australian Navy.4