Robert Emmett McElhenny list in attack on H.M.A.S Canberra

June 02, 2009

Subject: Robert Emmett McElhenny

Sadly my mother, sister of Robert McElhenny has passed away.  (25/05/2009). 

I am the eldest son of Ellen May Deegan (nee McElhenny). Robert Emmett was my uncle.

Four years ago my mother asked me to drive her to the Mackay Harbour, here in North Queensland, her adopted home. Our family were from the Wollongong area.

The purpose of the visit to the ship, was unknown to me  at the time. I thought she wanted to see the HMAS Canberra at the harbour.

She disclosed to me and a serving member of the Navy and the young TV reporter on the jetty, just what was on her mind. She wanted closure.

In the mid thirties, she had encouraged her younger brother to enter the Navy. She, in turn entered the Catholic order of Sisters of the Sacred Heart (Sister Collette).

She left the convent, for health reasons.

In fact, she ended up married to a sailor, Jack Hylton Deegan. Stoker/gunner on the HMAS Moreton Bay.

Over the years she had carried a burden, she felt it was her fault that brother Robert, had joined the Navy and had gone down with the HMAS Canberra.

I am sure she had closure that day. She never mentioned the subject again. May they rest in peace.

Patrick Thomas Deegan


Sorry to learn about the loss of your Mother.

Here are the Certificates of Service for Robert and Jack.

Stoker Petty Officer

Service  Royal Australian Navy
Date of Birth  2 April 1919
Place of Birth  RANDWICK, NSW
Date of Enlistment  20 July 1936
Home Port/Port Division  SYDNEY, NSW
Next of Kin  JOHN
Date of Death  9 August 1942
Posting on Death  HMAS Canberra 

Robert is shown on my Canberra list of casualties as Missing believed Killed in Action as:

Acting Stoker Petty Officer (TY) Robert E. McElhenny 21128. thev TY stands for temporary.

Able Seaman

Service  Royal Australian Navy
Date of Birth  2 August 1920
Place of Birth  MOUNT KEMBLA
Date of Enlistment  29 December 1942
Locality on Enlistment  CORRIMAL, NSW
Home Port/Port Division  SYDNEY, NSW
Next of Kin  DEEGAN, ELLEN
Date of Discharge  28 June 1946
Posting at Discharge  HMAS Kuttabul 

Jack was an Able Seaman not a Stoker.

Best regards,

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