An Unusual Link Between HMAS Warramunga and HMAS Warramunga 1

According to Scottish folklore, if a child is born with a Caul over its head it will never drown. A Caul is that part of the amniotic sac which SOMETIMES envelopes the head of a child in the form of a membrane. It is a sailor's tradition that those who have a Caul cannot drown and when given to a ship causes that ship to be protected. When Warramunga 1 was "born" during WW2 she was presented with a Caul to prevent her from sinking.

The Caul was kept between two pages of the Ship's Book, in which significant aspects of the history of the ship were recorded - including the donor of the Caul. The Ship's Book was separate from the Ship's Log and the Captain's Reports of Proceedings. It was maintained by the Engineering Officer and during Admiral's Inspections was signed by the Admiral. The Ship's book of HMAS Warramunga 1 is now in the Australian Archives.

In October 2001, Tom Oakley, Secretary of the HMAS Warramunga Asoociation in Western Australia, set out to carry on with the tradition and present a Caul to the second Warramunga to keep the ship safe in the oceans of the world. Being such a rare event, there was every liklihood that obtaining a Caul could take some time and was subject to the approval of the baby's mother.

Fortuitously, within a few days a Caul was donated by Melissa and Clayton Jendrzejak following the birth of their daughter Makayla Rose Jendrzejak. This was a momentous occasion as Makayla is now the great - grand daughter of Herb Richardson who served in HMAS Warramunga during the post WW2 years. Such is the ingenuity of this Warramunga veteran that he attended the birth to ensure if Makayla was born with a Caul he would lay claim to it.

The Caul was delivered on ice to Tom Oakley who defrosted it plus the Placenta. Tom then obtained some formalin to preserve the Caul, and disposed of the Placenta. A jar containing the Caul was then sealed in a beautiful minitiature chest, which had been lovingly made and prepared by Herb Richardson, and a Certificate of Appreciation was presented to the parents on the 10th. of October 2001.

Meanwhile HMAS Warramunga was operating in northern areas with the duty of intercepting illegal immigrants - where she achieved distinction as the first Australian ship to turn away any of the Indonesian vessels.

Following a request by Herb Richardson, which was approved by Commander Ian Middleton - the Commanding Officer of the ship, Makayla Rose was baptised on board HMAS Warramunga at Fleet Base West at 1000 ( 10AM ) on the 14th. of December 2002.

The function was arranged with the assistance of LSCSO Penny at the Chapel on the island. Members of the WA committee were present and Herb Richardson presented the chest containing Makayla's Caul to the Executive Officer LCDR Andrew Gordon in the absence of the CO who was away on leave.

Chaplain Debby Dunn, the first female Chaplain in the RAN, carried out her first Baptism, and it was the first baptism at the ship's home port. The Executive Officer arranged for the ceremony to be held on the Helipad because getting the party up onto the upper deck would have been difficult. Makayla was extremely well mannered and seemed almost blase about the ceremony. Everything proceeded very well.

The ship's bell was used for the actual Baptism and has been suitably inscribed with the details. At the conclusion Herb Richardson presented the Executive Officer a copy of the signing of the WW2 surrender and a Welcome to the Home Port of the ship.

An earlier event of particular significance and revelance occured on the 7th. of May 2001 when the ashes of Stuart Delaney, a Victorian veteran who served in HMAS Warramunga 1 during WW2, were scattered from her successor during a Service conducted by Chaplain   Russel S. Joyce RANR.

It could be said, that for all those who ever served in HMAS Warramunga 1, the scattering of the ashes symbolised the passing of "Their" ship, and the Baptism of Maykala was symbolic of the birth of the new ship, of which they are so proud. Likewise, the presentation of the Caul symbolically "Passed the weight" for the protection of their ship to the ship's company of HMAS Warramunga.


I served post WW2 in HMAS Warramunga 1.

Submitted by Bill Hill ( signalman ) Source: Tom Oakley ( Telagraphist ) and Tom Fisher ( Engineering Officer ). All of whom served in HMAS Warramunga 1.


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