- Hinchliffe, L.M.
- Biographies and personal histories, Obituaries
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1995 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In 1971 The Naval Historical Review was first published and was an immediate success. It remains a principal plank of the Naval Historical Society and much appreciated by all who receive it.
1971 also saw the publication of the Histories of Ships of the R.A.N – H.M.A.S. HOBART by L.J. Lind and M.A. Payne and H.M.A.S. SYDNEY by Vice Admiral Sir John Collins. They were well received and provided encouragement for the Society to continue publishing. Lew was prominent in the writing of many of the books published.
Meetings of the Society were held wherever Lew could arrange a venue, such as “Johnnies” in Grosvenor St, and even alfresco once, in the city. He obtained the approval of the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet for meetings to be held in Ships of the fleet when berthed alongside Garden Island and this helped to spread the aims of the Society. F.O.C.A.F. also approved members spending a day at sea in one of the ships. These “seagoings” were very popular and waiting lists were necessary to make certain all who wished were accommodated. For thirteen years the meetings were held in the Dockyard Theatrette, again thanks to Lew’s influence.
Being so close to the seat of power he was able to negotiate for replicas of eighteenth century ships’ boats to be constructed, for gun carriages to be repaired and improved and even for the provision of period uniforms. He suggested that a memorial, to the 21 men who lost their lives when H.M.A.S. KUTTABUL was sunk, be erected near the site of the incident and this was implemented.
The Garden Island Museum is another memorial to his foresight. Perhaps he wanted something to occupy his mind other than writing when the inevitable day of retirement arrived. Fortunately the Secretary of Defence Production approved the present location for the use as a museum. When it became obvious how much material Lew had collected over the years, it was seen that much more space was needed. On his retirement from the Public Service, he was appointed Director of the Museum. Lew established the Museum Shop in an effort to make the Museum self-supporting, selling books, postcards, prints, etc. He contributed the articles, the profit going to the Museum.
During his time as the Public Relations Officer, Garden Island, he was instrumental in getting the Island opened for guided tours. He trained the guides, plotted the routes and wrote the notes for the use of the guides. Those who took advantage of these tours were able to see how much the Island contributed to the history of the Navy and what it did for its support.
But Lew had many other interests. I mentioned earlier that he edited “White Collar”. He also edited other magazines and gave advice to Municipal Councils and others, on publications, displays, etc.
He was a founding member of the Lane Cove Historical Society, the first President and served on the committee for a number of years. He rose to be Worshipful Master of his Lodge-Kamilaroi (now LONUEVILLE.)
He wrote 18 books, mostly history, his first being “Escape from Crete” in 1944, and his last, “Battle of the Wine Dark Sea”, in 1994. Among them were “Flowers of Rethymnon” a rewrite of “Escape from Crete” because the latter had been heavily censored for security reasons while the war was still being fought in the Aegean area. “Historical Notes of Lane Cove” was of a different flavour. Lew was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to History.
The Cretans had a soft spot for him and he for them. On his visits -five- to the island – he was always very well received and in Sydney he was honoured and respected by Cretan community.
He had an affinity with children and was at pains to advise many of them to use their time wisely. Obviously he was a past master in that respect as his record shows.
That he thought of others was brought home to me when he went to the trouble of bringing back from one of his visits a postcard of the village of Sphakia on the south coast of Crete. I had no idea of what it looked like, as my two visits there were at night. I was astounded he had gone to so much trouble on my behalf.