- Letter Writer
- History - general, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1997 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The September 1996 issue carries an interesting story about Rear Admiral J. S. Dumaresq, CB, CVO on page 17. The article says “He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1921, becoming the first Australian-born officer to hold that rank”. The Australian Biographical Dictionary (ABD) says “He was promoted Rear Admiral in June 1921, becoming the first Australian-born officer to hold that rank and to command the R.A.N.” This is assumed to mean he commanded the Australian Squadron rather than the Royal Australian Navy as his appointment was Flag Officer Commanding HM Australian Squadron. He was an officer in the Royal Navy on loan to the RAN.
ABD has a lengthy entry on Phillip Parker King (1791-1856). It says in part that “King was born on Norfolk Island in 1791. He entered the Royal Navy in 1807 and was promoted Lieutenant in 1814. Between 1817 and 1822 he explored and surveyed the North West coast of Western Australia in HM Ships Mermaid and Bathurst. In recognition of this valuable contribution to Australian Exploration he was promoted Commander in 1821 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1824. Later he was in command of HMS Adventure whilst she was in company with HMS Beagle to survey the coasts of Peru, Chile and Patagonia. He was commissioner for the Agricultural Company from 1834-49 and was appointed to the New South Wales Legislative Council in 1839. In the 1840s he surveyed parts of the NSW coast and led an expedition to the Murrumbidgee. In 1855 he was promoted Rear Admiral on the retired list. He died in North Sydney in 1856. King was the first and for years the only Australian born to attain eminence in the world outside the Australian colonies.
His achievements were certainly highly regarded in contemporary Australia. His funeral was the subject of a painting by Conrad Martens.
From the entry on King it could be argued that he was the first Australian-born to be promoted Rear Admiral
(The Editors were well aware of the claim of Phillip Parker King to be the first Australian-born to be promoted to Rear Admiral, but were reluctant to alter the article as submitted by Captain Lewis which quoted the Australian Biographical Dictionary (A.B.D.). It could be argued that the A.B.D. meant to convey the information that Dumaresq was the “first Australian-born officer to hold that rank (RADM) and to command the RAN”. There was some ambiguity there. (Have we cleared our yard arm?).