Passport to the World over 64 years. Pages from my Travel Diary

Sunday the 3rd of September 1939. In Australia, we too were at war with Germany.
I had just gone to sea as a 17 year old Cadet midshipman, and was onboard HMAS Canberra, awaiting the commissioning of her sister ship HMAS Australia, so that with several of my 1936 Naval College Term, we could join her.

Just after 2100 ( 9PM ) Australian Eastern Time on Sunday the 3rd. of September 1939, our Prime Minister, Robert Menzies broadcast to the nation, as Germany had invaded Poland, Britain had declared war on her, and in Australia, we too were at war with Germany.

Those few words were to dominate my life, at war, at sea, across all the oceans of the world, over the next 6 years. On that day, I was in charge of Canberra's pinnace (an open ship's boat powered by a petrol engine, and taking perhaps 60 people), and I was ordered after 2100, to run continuous trips from Number 1 Buoy in Farm Cove where we were secured, to Man of War steps to collect our recalled ship's company.

Just a few years ago, at an Anzac Day March in Melbourne, a tall gentleman confronted me with "Remember me Sir?"

I had to say "No!"

"Let me take you back to the day war was declared, you were running the Canberra's pinnace to Man of War Steps. On one approach, you ordered , stop engines, go astern, to the Stoker. The engine cut out, we continued to go ahead, crashing into the blue stone wall at the end of Man of War steps, your bowman was thrown over the side in that impact. Well, Sir, I was your bowman."

I could but somewhat belatedly apologise!!

Thus my war started on the first night of WW2.

The attached photograph of Sydney Harbour indicates where it all happened.

Man of War steps was alongside the present site of the Opera House, which of course was not in existence in 1939.

Sydney Harbour Week Spectacular
Sydney Harbour Spectacular


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