warts, womaniser and all - often successfully unconventional and
disobedient towards Authority - was the first of a group to alert and
activate Australia re impending war. He was virtually an uneducated
albeit ingenious youth (later despised as bypassing Naval College) when
he ran away to sea on a square rigger round Cape Horn to serve as
midshipman on giant WW1 British HMS Benbow.
|| Harry skippered Chinese
Yangtze river gunboat HMS Mantis (on which my folks were
married/stationed!) whilst seconded to the '30s Royal Navy, and was well
acquainted with Fleet Air Arm research since around WW1.
He worked for
British Secret Naval Intelligence in pre-war Europe, studied the
Oriental mind and language in Japan just prior to WW2, arguably shipped
out in many more vessels than any officer, was ADC to King George V1,
helped start the big Sydney Balmoral Naval Depot during WW2, was
Commander of Flinders Naval Depot when we were kids, as well as in
charge of West Australian Navy after the war…
Lost ships attract enormously more
attention and archival matter than Hobart, which was the most
cost-effective Australian battlewagon; certainly involved in more
successful battles, campaigns and landings than any other ship. Years
ago I could find but 3 Canberra War Memorial photos under Howden/Hobart;
though some information appears under 'Campaigns' despite Hobart's
leading role, such as: the vast now-topical Somalia Berbera evacuation
about which my paper highlights, together with his Coral Sea Battle
Command accompanying the only other Australian vessel HMAS Australia,
during which Hobart ditched 3 Jap bombers (see
Townsville-celebrated Pacific and Nationwide in '92).
For years Hobart
an/or Howden were grandstanding on a world stage, serving at most major
amphibious Pacific landings, the fall of Singapore, Tobruk and Med'
operations, also Red Sea plus Java conflicts where Harry manoeuvred the
ship like a speedboat to dodge 600 targeted bombs in one day… Hobart
was present several times in Tokyo bay, including during surrender.
The Prince Phillip was
once aboard on an escort cruise as a precocious Hobart midshipman
uneasy! Some years back it was planned that the Duke should
displace my long-term position as Queensland Hobart Association's
Co-Patron, an essential period of data gathering. A related letter to
him elicited no response.
was finally "Purchased" by Mitsui Corp. in '62 - well, they
could have in 1938 and saved a load of hassle. Stupidly the latest Hobart
has been sunk in Aug 2000 - what a waste of scrap or Jap tourist $s!!
Pa actually CREWED
around Pittwater on my 'ship', a 30' old Bailey cutter, after my
1965 Pacific crossing via Hawaii during the Vietnam War - one of the few
times I really got to know the old salt. Talk about the Stolen
Few Hobart crew or top brass,
if any, realised their Captain, who is still venerated in awe and
gratitude by all surviving crew, was truly a New Zealander - actually
Viking stock - and, concerned for his position, wasn't about to tell.
Curiously, I can raise absolutely ZERO interest in that country re
accepting my articles on their own HERO, despite his old 19th century
family homes having become a fine Picton Heritage Resort. .