- Mesley, Rear Admiral J.S., CBE, MVO, DSC
- Biographies and personal histories, Ship histories and stories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Swan II
- September 1987 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
When the programme had first been received, at my suggestion, the Captain protested to RACAS (Rear-Admiral Commanding the Australian Squadron) that to take Swan 40 miles up the inadequately charted Clarence River to Grafton was an unnecessary hazard as no ship of Swan’s length had ever made the passage. However, as Mr. (later Sir) Earl Page, the local member and the leader of the Country Party, when acting Prime Minister, had promised his constituents that a naval vessel would visit Grafton, the protest fell on deaf ears.
The ship departed Moreton Bay on 16th so as to arrive off the Clarence River bar early on 17th and was led over the bar and 4½ miles up river before the elderly pilot came aboard. Apparently the age and fragility of the pilot and the pilot boat were such that boarding outside the bar was not attempted. This ship then proceeded up river for the remaining 35 miles to Grafton, passing through the railway bridge with clearance of approximately 8 feet either side, if ship in middle, and even less between the fore yard and the fully raised span of the bridge. The ship secured safely alongside the North Coast Company’s wharf and the Captain and I heaved many sighs of relief.
Intense interest was shown by the people of Grafton in the visit, some 12,000 visiting the ship when open for a total of eight hours over the three days. The combined population of Grafton and South Grafton at this time was approximately 11,000. Hospitality extended to the ship’s company was almost embarrassing and it was a very weary crew when the ship slipped and proceeded downstream on Monday, 20th to anchor for the night off Iluka in order to cross the bar at high water and in daylight. The following morning the ship proceeded to Newcastle arriving there early on 22nd September and leaving early on 24th for Sydney arriving some seven hours later.
Having embarked naval reserve officers and ratings for training, the ship sailed for Jervis Bay on 4th October and carried out an intensive programme before returning to Sydney on 14th and landing the trainees. This was the first of many such reserve training periods which became the regular employment of the ship over the next two years.
On 27th October the squadron sailed for Melbourne and the annual visit for the Cup during which detachments from all ships marched through the city, parading the King’s Colour. The salute was taken by the Governor-General from the steps of Parliament House. Reserve officers with ratings from the Victorian depot, as well as from Sydney, were accommodated in the Squadron for training.
On 5th November, Surgeon Lieutenant Walter M. Butler relieved Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander Hasker as Swan’s doctor.
Leaving Melbourne on 8th November, Swan proceeded independently for Sydney, carrying out minesweeping trials in Port Phillip Bay en route. The ship arrived in Sydney on 11th and changed over the reserve trainees, and departed the following day with the BPT in tow for Jervis Bay and an intensive Squadron exercise period. The Admiral inspected Swan on 24th November. With the BPT in tow, Swan arrived in Sydney on 30th November for the Christmas leave period, the annual docking and dockyard assisted maintenance. On 29th December Sub-Lieutenant Leslie M. Hinchliffe relieved Lieutenant Kerruish.
As part of the sesquicentenary celebrations on 4th February 1938 the Services marched through the streets of Sydney, the Governor-General taking the salute from the Town Hall steps. Detachments from visiting ships led the march in the order of seniority of their senior officers, the order being USA, Italian, French, Netherlands, New Zealand, RAN, Army, RAAF. The parade was commanded by Captain H.B. Farncomb, MVO, RAN, who was mounted. He was assisted by a Staff Officer from each of the three Australian services, also mounted.
Reserve training was the main occupation during 1938 from Sydney and Jervis Bay, 7- 17th February (combined with towing the BPT); Brisbane and Moreton Bay 21st February-7th March; Sydney, Broken Bay and Jervis Bay (again combined with towing); 9-26 March; Brisbane and Moreton Bay 28th March-9th April.
Swan was in company with Yarra for most of this training period and opportunity was taken to carry out ‘A’ sweeping training, the ships being connected by the minesweeping wire.