A big find! My Dad's own story

March 23, 2010 5:30 PM

Hello Mac, this morning I woke up with a strong hint that I needed to find more things about my Dad (who passed away in '99) So I was digging through my cupboard when I came across 5 handwritten pages of my Father's recollections. Written in 1991 he tells all about his early years and employment, his war experiences and things that took place after that. We had not known about him writing any of this down.

Lots in there that I never knew such as him travelling by train through India to meet with other ships. WOW! And at last we know what his Action Stations were on board the Aussie!!

This is a big find and I never knew that it existed, it was in amongst my Mother's papers for when she helped run our big family reunion in 85.

To our family this is like the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. It links so much of his travels and photos and now we know when and where something happened.

Here is just a little part of what we have found out and I guess a good indication of why this has us so  excited.

We could never track down just when he actually boarded HMAS Australia. His Naval record only shows the Training Base and then HMAS Australia. The truth is much stranger than fiction.

He left Australia in late '41 on the troopship Queen Elizabeth to the Middle East. They travelled in convoy with the Queen Mary and other troopships and one of the escort cruisers was HMS Cornwall. His block of 65 ratings were transferred at Ceylon to HMS Cornwall ( a sister ship of the same build and class as Australia). The troopship convoy went up the Red Sea and Suez Canal near to Cairo. Back to Aden for a few weeks. Not too many weeks after that the Cornwall was sunk.

Then the ratings were transferred on Empress of Russia to Bombay, India. Then 3 days by train to Madras then by ship to Ceylon, then they boarded HMAS Hobart. They worked on the Hobart for two convoys back and forth, including Singapore just before it fell, then were landed at Perth, Australia. He had already told us that he was in the room where the sailors were being allocated to HMAS Sydney. There were 12 guys in front of him when they said they had enough and that everybody else could return to their designated ship.

The Sydney never saw land again :)

So they sent him by troop train across Australia to Sydney. Then in Sydney Harbour he finally met and boarded HMAS Australia, the ship he originally sailed to the Middle East to join!

There is much more but now I need to work out how to type it all up, I think I will see if I can get Dragon Naturally Speaking working again.

I think a web page or three is also on the cards. Plus get it printed so I can share this with the guys from the Aussie and the Hobart when they next gather for the ANZAC March on April 25th.

Cheers, Ian


When you get your new golden find written up please share it with me, so we might add it to AHOY.

WW2 stories are fast dying out and I believe it is important to preserve what we can for future generations.

Best regards,

April 03, 2010

Thanks Mac, it was typed up by my Mother last weekend. Do you want it with matching photos or without? Do you want it as a DOC file or as a PDF or other format?


With matching photos please, and as a DOC file.

Best regards,


back to letters index


This site was created as a resource for educational use and the promotion of historical awareness. All rights of publicity of the individuals named herein are expressly reserved, and, should be respected consistent with the reverence in which this memorial site was established.

Copyright© 1984/2014 Mackenzie J. Gregory All rights reserved