- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
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- June 1981 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
THE HONOUR OF BEING THE LAST MAN on Anzac in 1915 seems to go to a naval rating, now living in Sydney. His name is Charlie Hooper, and this year he celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary.
Charlie was born in Trowbridge, Wilstshire and joined the Royal Navy at an early age. When the Great War broke out he was serving on the China station. He very soon found himself in the Gallipoli campaign. For his good work when HMS Ocean was sunk, he was awarded the DSM.
Serving in the ‘River’ class tbd Chelmer Charlie was at Gallipoli when the evacuation took place. This withdrawal began on Saturday 19th December and was carried on until Sunday. At 0430 on Monday 21st December 1915, Charlie was manning Chelmer’s skiff for a final look at the scene, and to take off any stragglers. The skiff went in with muffled oars, but located two officers on the beach, one Australian and one New Zealander. The two were promptly picked up. After they had boarded the skiff, Charlie Hooper slipped over the side to push the boat off, thereby becoming the last man ashore during the campaign.
After Gallipoli Charlie decided that the submarine service was to his liking, so he volunteered. He was to spend the next three years in Royal Navy submarines, including the ‘L‘, ‘E‘ and ‘R‘ classes. The old ‘R’ class were unique in those days, as they were faster under water than they were on the surface.
He was also a member of the commissioning crew of HMS Nautilus, one of the only two submarines to be named at that time. As Nautilus was commissioned before Swordfish, Charlie commissioned the first named British submarine.
In 1919 Charlie Hooper joined HMA Submarine J4 for its delivery voyage to Australia. He was to serve in the Royal Australian Navy until 1934, when he decided that it was time to ‘swallow the hook’.
He did not completely forget that he was an ex-serviceman, as can be seen by him being appointed the custodian of the Randwick Cenotaph, a post that he held until quite recently, as he is now aged 87. Another credential is his being a life member of the Submariners Association.
There are not very many of the old ‘J-boat’ men still with us, they have gone like the boats themselves, and in Mr. Charles Hooper, DSM, MID, we have not only an old ‘J-boat’ man, but also the last man off Anzac.