- Lind, L.J.
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 1990 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
It is interesting to reflect on the composition of the Foundation Committee. Three were ex-Royal Navy. Lieutenant Commander Peter Churchill was an engineer and served in a number of RN vessels including HMS RENOWN. Lieutenant Ron Atwill was a shipwright who was awarded the DSM while serving in HMS EXETER at the Battle of the River Plate and Mentioned in Despatches while serving in HMS ORION off Crete. Mr Alan Payne was a former Naval Constructor with the Admiralty and was responsible for a number of small ship designs during World War 2 including the Landing Ship Gun which proved so successful at the Normandy landings in 1944.
Commander George Knox commanded HMAS QUIBERON in the Pacific, however his main distinction was his command of the captured Italian submarine, GONDAR which he steamed to Aden as Prize Master.
Mr Gavin Cashman was President of the Ryde Historical Society and his experience in this capacity proved valuable in our formative period.
At the foundation meeting a representative of the Garden Island Social and Sporting Club made a donation of $50.00 to the Society and so provided the first funds.
Twenty-five people paid their subscriptions at this first meeting and the number of the receipt they received became their membership number. I was proud to receive Membership No. 1 and I still have my original membership card. Another original member was Mr Norman Rivett who today is Assistant Director of the Garden Island Museum. Norm received Membership No. 24.
1970 – Up and Running
The Society’s first publication was Vol. 1 No. 1 of the Naval Historical Bulletin. It was a folded foolscap sheet roneod by the Committee. Fifty copies were produced and distributed. At that early stage we did not envisage that twenty years on the Naval Historical Bulletin would contain 16 printed pages and a full colour cover.
Five weeks elapsed before our first regular meeting. The venue was the Garden Island Cafeteria and attendance was 72. Our membership had increased to 51.
The speaker at that meeting was Lieutenant Ron Atwill who spoke on ‘The Battle of the River Plate’. It was well received by the audience. Our business paper included the acceptance of the constitution – it has changed very little over the years.
In General Business one of the RAN’s most colourful characters spoke on the progress of obtaining the Customs House at Circular Quay for the maritime museum. The speaker was Sandy Boxsell, President of the HMAS TINGIRA Old Boys Association, who is remembered for his part in the capture of the KRAIT and also for his skill in knots. Sandy read out a letter from the Prime Minster, Hon. John Gorton, promising Customs House would become a maritime museum. So much for promises.
The first proposal made to the Naval Board by the Society was sent in August, 1970. It suggested that a section of one of two old naval vessels abandoned by the Navy be salvaged and re-erected as a memorial. The vessels were the old Queensland Navy flagship GAYUNDAH at Moreton Bay and the first ship built for the RAN, HMAS PARRAMATTA, at Brooklyn.
A month later we received a reply from the Secretary of the Navy, Mr Sam Laundau, stating the Navy was interested and re-erected as a memorial. The vessels were old Queensland Navy flagship GAYUNDAH at Moreton Bay and the Canberra. Several weeks later we were advised salvage was practicable but the costs would be prohibitive. The ball was back in our court and as history was to show we later carried out the project most successfully.
Membership at this period increased daily and by early September membership had increased to 250. The Committee decided the time was ripe to pursue official recognition of The Naval Historical Society of Australia. Our submission was handled personally by the Secretary, Mr Sam Landau, now a member, and official recognition was granted several weeks later.
1971 – Official recognition and a membership drive
The second General Meeting of the Society was held in November and the standing committee was re-elected.
Immediately following this meeting a further request was made to the Chief of Naval Staff asking that a Commonwealth Naval Order be issued recognising the official status of the Society and stating its objects and aims. A paragraph was also included in our draft to the effect that all Commanding Officers of ships and establishments are required to assist the Society in achieving its objects and aims. It was very satisfying to the Committee to see the CNO printed and issued unaltered.