- Swinden, Greg
- Biographies and personal histories, WWI operations
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2010 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
He then made his second attempt to swim ashore and after battling breaking waves, fatigue and the cold stumbled ashore and then ran along the shoreline to the College to raise the alarm. Boyd arrived at the Naval College on the verge of collapse but within minutes of his arrival a rescue vessel had been dispatched to the upturned boat. Boyd insisted on going with the rescue party and helped guide them to the boat where only two men were still alive. A second man had succumbed to the cold only ten minutes or so before the rescue boat arrived.
As a result of his bravery and attempt to save the lives of his ship mates Erle Boyd was awarded the Royal Humane Society of NSW Silver Medal and Certificate of Merit. The two men who had died were Acting Leading Stoker Dominick Healy and Officers Cook 2nd Class John Hennigan. Their bodies were never found.
Boyd left Franklin in November 1916 and joined the newly commissioned cruiser HMAS Brisbane which operated in the Indian Ocean searching for the elusive German raider Wolf – which had sunk or captured several merchant ships in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. In June 1918 he joined the cruiser HMAS Sydney, then operating with the Royal Navy in the North Sea. He was still serving in her when the Armistice was declared in November 1918.
Sydney returned to Australia in late July 1919 and then operated in Australia waters for the remainder of the year, including acting as a picket ship in the Timor Sea during December to assist the aviators Keith and Ross Smith who were then flying a Vickers Vimy bomber to Australia on the first England to Australia flight. Sydney acted as navigational beacon (with her bows pointing towards Darwin) and also stood by to be a rescue ship if the aircraft was forced to ditch in the Timor Sea. During 1920 Sydney underwent a refit and was then involved in peacetime exercises in Tasmanian and Queensland waters.
Erle Boyd continued to serve in the post-war RAN and was promoted to Leading Seaman in 1919 and Petty Officer in 1920. He served as an instructor in the Boys Training Ship HMAS Tingira (moored in Rose Bay, Sydney) during the period 1920‑24 where he trained 14 and 15 year old boys to be seamen in the RAN. He also had extensive sea service in HMA Ships Brisbane (1924-25), Melbourne (1925-27) and Albatross (1929-31). He served in the Sydney based Depot Ship HMAS Penguin during 1927-28 and 1931-33 although in April 1928 he served briefly in the destroyer HMAS Swordsman.
While he was serving in Brisbane (1924‑25) the ship operated on exchange with the Royal Navy on the China Station and became the first RAN ship to visit Japan (Yokohama) in May 1925. Brisbane was also involved in restoring law and order in Hong Kong in July/August following a general strike of workers in the colony. The cruiser returned to Australia in September 1925 and was placed in Reserve with most of her crew transferring to Melbourne.
Melbourne then sailed in November 1925 for exchange service with the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean and a brief visit to England before returning to Australia in August 1926. Boyd was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 1926 and promoted to Chief Petty Officer in October 1928. He finally left the RAN after 20 years service in March 1933.
He immediately joined the Royal Australian Fleet Reserve (RAFR) where he was required to provide one week’s service every quarter. Boyd worked as a rigger in Sydney but at the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 he rejoined the RAN and in January 1940 was posted to the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMAS Manoora. He served in Manoora until November 1942 during which time the ship was involved in convoy escort duties and anti-raider patrols throughout South East Asia, the South West Pacific and Australian waters. Later in January 1944 Erle Boyd was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for ‘Distinguished services during the war in HMAS Manoora.’
In November 1942 he joined the newly converted Landing Ship Infantry HMAS Westralia as the Buffer (Chief Boatswains Mate) which is the senior Seaman rating in the ship. Boyd was to serve in her until the end of hostilities in 1945 during which time Westralia was involved in numerous amphibious landings throughout New Guinea and Borneo. A history of the ship stated that when she sailed north on her first deployment in July 1943 that: