David Medley, shipmate on Canberra

(work in progress)


My name is David Medley. You may or may not remember me from WW2 and HMAS Canberra. Let me know if you receive this email and if you would like to correspond with me. I have several questions.


This one came to me recently, Dave Medley was a Reserve Sub Lieutenant who specialised in Radar, and Canberra was the first Australian Navy ship to be fitted with this new equipment. I have not seen or heard from him since we were sunk in 1942, he was just browsing on the net from the  States where he has lived for many years having taken out US citizenship a long time ago. He is now 85 and is happy for us to publish our correspondence. There will be several more messages and my responses to come.

Amazing after all these years.

Hello David,

Of course I remember you, and your work on our then new Radar installation in Canberra. I would be delighted to correspond with you, and where are you these days, is your E-Mail address one in the USA?

I am currently in Sydney with my laptop, and expect to be back at home on St Kilda Road in early August, where we normally live, and where my PC and all my books and records reside.

Denise, my second wife has all her family here in Sydney, and has an apartment here at Lane Cove, and we spend sometime up here. Gladys died in 1992, and I married Denise in 1999.

I look forwards to hearing from you, I have been trying to get hold of Bruce Loxton in Sydney to have lunch with him before we go back to Melbourne.

How did you find me?

Great to hear from you.


Hi Mac,

I am so glad to have made contact with you after all these years. I am a dedicated surfer of the internet and ran across your web page last night which was so interesting.

We migrated to the USA in 1963 and I became a citizen in 1968. My wife of 55 years is still an Aussie but all my children and grandchildren are Yanks. I still have a photo of you somewhere standing on the deck of USS Blue after our rescue.

I worked for Rockwell International in very high tech areas until I retired in 1980. I went back to work in 1982 as a VP of a subsidiary company of USSprint, retiring finally in 1986. I now live in Tucson, Arizona  because of the climate which is mainly dry and hot. Good for the aches and pains of old age.

I corresponded with Bruce Loxton for some time while he was writing his book and did contribute a little I believe. I met with him in Sydney about 10 years ago when I was on a visit to Australia which I am afraid will be our last. I will be 85 in a couple of weeks and too old to contemplate any serious travel. The expense is another factor of course.

While browsing your site last night I came across some correspondence between you and one Lindsay Watt concerning a 3D model of Canberra he was building. Did he ever complete this? If he did I would very much like to get in touch with him. For years now I have been planning to build a real model of the ship. I wrote to the Navy probably 30 years ago now explaining who I was and asking them for any information that would help me. I was pleasantly surprised when they responded by sending me a large tube containg not only the original drawings from the shipyard that built her but a model makers set of drawings also. This they sent by air at no cost to me. I still have them but have not made much progress with the model. If you know any other model builders I would love to hear about them.

I have never forgotten the short time I served on Canberra and have been haunted throughout the years about what I could or should have done to make the more senior officers aware of the capabilities of the radar equipoment on board. 20/20 hindsight is always misleading and I constantly remind myself that in those days an RANVR sub lieutenant, wet behind the ears, was regarded as the lowest form of animal life.and not to be taken seriously. I doubt that Capt Getting even knew that I existed. He certainly never exhibited the slightest interest in the radar installations.

I noted with interest that you served on Shropshire. I wonder sometimes why I was not given the opportunity to join Shropshire but I don't believe that subject ever arose. Although the court of inquiry absolved me from any blame I guess some stigma may have stuck to me. I was never sent to sea again except on short cruises involved with my work in developing new radar for the navy which was what I was better fitted for anyway.

You and Bruce are the only members of the Canberra gunroom that I remember clearly. I suspect that this is because you were the only two people that were interested enough to ask about the radar installations.

Thats enough for now Mac. I envy your life in Sydney and Melbourne and sometimes wish we had never left Australia but my career lead me over here with opportunities I really could not ignore. The USA has been kind to us and we have no real regrets.



Here are details of a Russian 1/700 scale model of our old ship HMAS Canberra.

I recently bought the only one that came to a large Model shop in Melbourne, and one of their people is putting it together for me. It looks a reasonable replica, some time ago in the same scale I got a model of USS Blue from the States and put that together myself.

Lindsay Watt is up at Ballina NSW, where he has a computer shop, I do not think he has finished his 3D Model of Canberra, but I suggest you E-mail Lindsay, tell him of our relationship in Canberra, and ask any questions you wish.

His E-Mail address is: leroy10_au@yahoo.com

I enjoyed having your story after you went off to the US,

I have visited the US many times starting in 1963 when I worked for the US giant W R Grace, and our most interesting visit was as guests of our Embassy in Washington on the 10th. of September 2001, when the President was giving the Bell from USS Canberra to John Howard.

My son Raymond was christened in that bell on board this cruiser named after our Canberra in Melbourne in 1957, and I was instrumental in having the bell donated to Australia. If you are interested go to the AHOY home page, at the bottom of this page click on All Articles, and the first article, at the very beginning ( they are listed in latest article at the top ) is all about our Washington visit the day before 9/11, and how we had been on Flight 77, to be taken off so we might the PM on a visit to Arlington. Scary then, and still so today.

I do get a lot of mail bout articles I have written about and are on AHOY, and I really enjoy the contact with people around our world. My good friend Terry Kearns acts as my web master from Atlanta Georgia, and turns all my scribbling into the site that shows its face to the world, and the one you fortunately found. So, once more Dave I have cause to be grateful to Terry, without him these contacts would never have happened.

Do keep up talking to me, I welcome a note anytime you feel inclined.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Thank you so much for all the info. I have sent an email to Lindsay and started a search for one of the Russian kits.

I have been reading many of the quite fascinating articles in Ahoy. In one of the articles "Sinking of Canberra" there are 2 photos which you apparently got from a Melbourne newspaper. There is a story behind both those photos which you may not have heard about.

Both those photos were taken with my camera which I had rescued before leaving Canberra. The first one of you and three other guys whose names escape me I took. The second which includes me was taken by a US sailor with my camera. When we reached Sydney I reported the existance of my camera and the photos which included others taken on board Canberra. The navy confiscated the film and had it developped.

At my insistance they eventually returned 4 prints to me, all of which I still have somewhere. Somehow the Newspaper got wind of these photos and I obtained the Navy's permission to give copies to the paper. I seem to remember the paper paid me for them. There is more. The photo that included me, the one taken by the US sailor, I gave to my then girl friend in Melbourne. She eventually married someone else. However by another internet miracle we regained contact with each other some 40 years later and corresponded for a while. She returned the photo to me at that time!

I am so glad to have made contact with you Mac.

PS I have a zillion other questions to ask you but they will keep!!


Your two photos, the first from l to r, me, US Sailor, Midshipman Farquar, Sub Lieutenant Royce Dawborn RANR (S) I took over the middle watch from Royce, the night we were sunk.

Sub Lieutenant Ray Green RAN, he went on to join the Electrical Branch and died some time ago.

The second photo, l to r, Harry Hodgson, Gunner, me, you, and I do not know the rest.

Would you have any objections to putting up our correspondence on AHOY? Its most interesting after all these years to be able to talk about photos taken with your camera that survived the Battle of Savo etc etc. I am sure there are plenty of people out there on the web who would be fascinated by it all, just as I am.

Anyway, we would not publish without your OK.

I look forward to future discussions.

Night for now.


Sure go ahead and publish anything. I would be very happy to be included.




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