- Zammitt, Alan
- Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Sydney III
- June 1981 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
When the new cruiser arrived, Vie Zammit took the canary over to its new ship, but as he was carrying it up Aussie’s gangway and onto the quarterdeck, the officer-of-the-watch ordered Victor to throw the cage over the side. Victor refused, and a heated argument developed. The captain’s cox’n was on the quarterdeck and overheard the whole incident. He dashed below and told Captain Goolden what happened, with the result that the captain hurried to the quarterdeck and issued the OOW with one hell of a blast.
In July 1928, His Majesty King George V inspected Australia, and looked into the canteen, commenting ‘You have more room than a canteen in a battleship’.
August 1928 saw Australia leaving England for her new home, sailing by way of Montreal, Quebec, Halifax, Boston, New York, Annapolis, Jamaica, Panama Canal, Tahiti, Wellington, Brisbane, finally arriving in Sydney on 23rd October 1928.
Rear Admiral E.R.G.R. Evans became Rear Admiral Commanding the Australian Squadron in May 1929, but because of the depression cuts his flagship spent a considerable period in harbour. The Commonwealth Government would not allow Rear Admiral Evans to take his ship to New Zealand because of the cost. The RAN had shrunk to a little over 3,000 serving personnel, and for a time had only four ships in full commission. A lot of the dockyard ‘mateys’ on Garden Island were retrenched, and the government was so short of money that they allowed naval men to leave the service before their engagement time was up, if any sailor wished to try his luck outside. Often an AB had to support not only himself, but his parents and brothers and sisters as well.
Victor did his best to help many sailors and ex-naval men in trouble, although he was making very little money himself. Commander Carslake’s reference verifies this point, and to the cleanliness of the canteen itself.
26th October 1929
THIS IS TO CERTIFY that Mr. S. V. Zammit, who has been canteen manager during the eighteen months I have served in her, has carried out his duties in an entirely satisfactory manner. His canteen is the cleanest and best arranged that I have ever seen, and he has shown himself to have the interest of the ship’s company at heart in a manner which has not infrequently been to his own personal loss.
(signed) John F.B. Carslake
When Rear Admiral Evans was carrying out his Admiral’s inspection in Canberra, he suggested to the canteen manager, Ted Woodhouse, to come and have a look at Australia’s canteen, as that was how he wanted all canteens to look. Whenever Rear Admiral Evans (later Lord Montevans) visited an RAN ship, he would talk about his days in Australia and would ask ‘What ship is Zammit in now?’
Evans returned to England early in 1931, and the captain of Canberra, Captain Holbrook RN, was promoted to Commodore. Because Canberra had missed out on all the privileges of the flagship Australia during the past three years, he decided to wear his broad pennant in Canberra. As a result Canberra swung around No. 1 Buoy in Farm Cove, the most convenient berth in Port Jackson, and perhaps the most beautiful anchorage in the whole world, whilst Australia had to take her place on No. 2 Buoy, between Garden and Clark Islands. Many readers born before 1935 will remember the two gleaming grey three funnelled cruisers in Sydney Harbour in those days.
Because all stores for the canteen came by boat, it added a few problems to running a canteen when Australia lost the flag.
Australia’s spring cruise for 1931 was to circumnavigate the continent, leaving Sydney on 6th of August and arriving back in Sydney in time for Christmas leave on 25th November, after steaming 7,265 miles.
In December 1934 Australia was chosen to take HRH the Duke of Gloucester back to England via the Panama Canal. Australia earned the distinction of being the first Dominion ship to carry a member of the Royal Family.
Australia was present, representing the Commonwealth of Australia, at His Majesty King George V’s Jubilee Review at Spithead in 1935.
Navy Week, August 1935, saw Australia at Portsmouth, the ship being open to the public. The writer, as a child of seven, during Navy Week asked his mother to take him aboard the battle cruise Hood, the aircraft carrier Courageous, and later, with Victor and Eric Barham (a leading SBA who was to lose his life in the cruiser Sydney) to visit Nelson, Royal Sovereign, Neptune and the almost completed cruiser Amphion, later to be renamed Perth.