- Editorial Staff
- History - general, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Tobruk I, HMAS Murchison
- September 2011 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
One of our members, Fred Dawson of Nowra, has written pointing out a few errors in articles contained in the March 2011 edition of the Review (Vol 32 No 1). In the interests of brevity we have only included our replies.
Thank you for your (undated) letter, received 7 June 2011. Your concerns are about the the accuracy of information contained in certain articles of the March 2011 edition of the Review. In particular:
- The dates that Captain Piper was Lieutenant Governor of Norfolk Island and that he was relieved in this position by Lieutenant Crane.
Captain Piper arrived at Norfolk Island in February 1804 taking over as commandant of the garrison. Major Foveaux the Lieutenant-Governor departed on sick leave in September 1804 and resigned from his position in February 1805. Captain Piper was not appointed as Lieutenant-Governor until after his predecessor’s resignation.
Captain Piper was relieved as commandant by Lieutenant Crane in March 1810. Lt Crane was charged with acting as caretaker to complete the evacuation of the Island which contained 177 persons in April 1810 and this reduced to 45 persons in 1814 at the time of the final evacuation. Lt Crane was never appointed as Lieutenant-Governor.
(The Historical Records of New South Wales and Norfolk Island 1788-1814 have been consulted in compiling this response).
- The description of Anzac shelling of Tobruk, casualties, extent of repairs, date of incident etc.
To answer your query it was necessary to seek the September 1960 Report of Proceedings of HMAS Tobruk. In summary these state a throw-off firing commenced at 1002K on Wednesday 14 September in which Anzac fired four broadsides using practice projectiles at a range of 18,500 yards. The first broadside straddled Tobruk in a line from bow to quarter and a hit was recorded port side in the Engine Room on the waterline. This caused a hole 4 feet 6 inches long and 3 feet deep and flooded the Engine Room to a depth of some 14 feet.
Damage control measures were implemented to control the flooding and later Anzac took Tobruk in tow and made for Jervis Bay where Tobruk anchored at 1730K. The ship was heeled over to get the hole clear of the water and with Fleet assistance, mainly from HMAS Melbourne, a temporary plate was secured over the hole.
Following onboard repairs and engineering trials Tobruk steamed to Sydney, arriving at the Cruiser Wharf at 0900K on Saturday 17 September. Tobruk commenced paying off into Reserve as from Monday 19 September. We do not have a copy of the Board of Enquiry into this incident but a copy of Navy News of this period dated 23 September 1960 in an article ‘HMAS Tobruk Pays Off’ in respect of the above incident notes that none of the crew were injured but a frogman who divided into the flooded engine room to turn off the steam was burned.
- Finally when is a ‘Bay’ a ‘River’?
HMAS Murchison was one of four Australian built frigates based on the Royal Navy’s ‘Bay’ class. However as these were all named after Australian Rivers it seems incongruous to call them Bays. Bastock and Fazio refer to them as ‘Modified River’ class which appears in keeping with their geographic origins. With respect to the opinions of Janes and yourself we stand by our classification.
We trust this answers your well found queries, which help to keep us alert. In summary, history is not an exact science and authors have a degree of licence in the references they use and, unless there are demonstrable errors in fact, editors do not usually make changes which have little impact on the overall story. Hopefully these comments serve to illustrate that both parties could assume the veracity of their positions according to their points of view.
Editor – Naval Historical Review