My brief speech at the opening of the NHSA Exhibition of the RAN's involvement in WW 11. Shrine of Remembrance at 2 PM. on the 28th. of October 2005
Distinguished Guests, Members of Grimwade House Melbourne Grammar School, Southwood Boys Grammar School, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you Jean for your welcome, you have reminded me just how lucky I was during WW11. I was one of twelve, 13 year old boys selected to join the Royal Australian Naval College as Cadet Midshipmen in January of 1936 at Flinders Naval Depot.
One spent four years to matriculate and then go to sea in our Fleet. In August 1939, the four College years were fallen in prior to going on leave, my 4th. year would return after leave to graduate and have our Passing out Parade, usually with His Excellency the Governor General taking the salute. The Commander ordered Years 1, 2, and 3 to proceed on leave, and then addressed the 4th. year "Gentlemen, there is going to be a war, you are going to sea to join the Fleet, remember that leave is a privilige and not a right.
"No Graduation, no Passing Out Parade." I was 17 years old and my next 6 years were to be governed by those few words.
I then served the whole war at sea in four cruisers, Australia, Canberra, to be sunk in her at the Battle of Savo Island on the 9th. of August 1942, and lose 84 shipmates, Adelaide and lastly in Shropshire. Winston Churchill organised the Royal Navy to gift this ship to the Royal Australian Navy to replace HMAS Canberra, many of her survivors, went on to crew HMAS Shropshire, as I did.We then continued to march north in the Pacific to be present in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the Japanese surrender ( sparked by President Truman's decision to drop two Atomic bombs on the Japanese mainland ) aboard the USS Missouri on the 2nd. of September 1945, all orchestrated by General Douglas MacArthur. What a wonderful day, at last the war was over, I had survived and would be going home.
Just last month, my wife and I were invited by the USS Missouri Memorial Association, to be on board the Mighty Mo at Pearl Harbor, for the 60th. Anniversary of the original signing, another great event.
This exhibition by the Shrine of Remembrance, and the Victorian Chapter of the Naval Historical Society of Australia, showcases the fact that members of the RAN, served in all the oceans of the world, over the six years of WW11.
I trust it will prove of interest to school children, serving and past members of our Navy, and the public at large. I am indeed proud of serving for almost 20 years in the RAN.
Thank you all.