- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Cerberus
- October 1982 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
A REGISTER OF NAVAL RELICS is being prepared by the Victorian Chapter of the Society, and when completed will be a very lengthy document. It is quite surprising where relics are to be found. When it comes to the old Cerberus, a lot of parts to the old ship still exist, and they turn up in some odd places. At the Hampton, Victoria, Yacht Club stands a close stowing anchor from the old ship, whilst not very far away lies the hulk of the old ship herself. Still in her turrets are four RML 10 inch Mark I guns, whilst a fifth is permanently mounted in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. At the RAN’s main training establishment, HMAS Cerberus at Crib Point, are many relics of her bridge gear and searchlight equipment.
In Cairns, Queensland, stands a BL 5 inch gun, on a Vavasseur CPI carriage, a reminder of the part played by the Naval Artillery Volunteers in pre-Federation days. Another 5 inch is in Maryborough and one is reported to be at Townsville. These guns are in public parks for all the world to see, but their general condition is not quite as good as it could be. A far different condition exists in HMAS Cerberus, where two BL 5 inch guns, ex-Paluma, stand outside the old gunnery school offices. This pair are kept in very good condition. Other items of interest at Cerberus include the figure head of HMVS Nelson, a relic that was a feature of the RANR depot in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, for over half a century. The figurehead was removed from Nelson during her conversion to a lighter in Sydney at the turn of the century, and found its way to the old Rushcutters Bay depot. With the closing down of that establishment, the figurehead was boxed up and sent to Cerberus.
At the RAN Apprentice Training Establishment, HMAS Nirimba, are a pair of 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannons, taken by the RAN during the Rabaul campaign in 1914. They allegedly were carried by SMS Komet, later to be commissioned as HMAS Una. For many years these two Gatling type guns stood at the gangway to HMAS Penguin (ex-Encounter) at Garden Island. With the building of the Captain Cook Dry Dock, the old berth disappeared, and the guns were placed outside the Garden Island Post Office, where their condition deteriorated. In the 1950s it was a sad sight to see the barrel group of one gun just lying on the ground alongside the mounting. The other gun was complete, but in a very neglected state. Today they are in quite good condition, and are prized relics.
The Sydney–Emden engagement is well remembered in Sydney. In Hyde Park stands a 10.5 cm gun from the German light cruiser, well maintained by the city council, and bearing a commemorative plate inscribed with the names of those members of the RAN who lost their lives during the fight. This gun is one of the armament carried inside the ship, and is without a shield. At HMAS Penguin is another ex-Emden gun, as well as two barrels reputed to be ex-Emden. Another 10.5 cm ex-Emden gun stands outside the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, making a total of five known ex- Emden guns. It will be noted that none of these guns are fitted with its breech block, as the Germans disabled the guns when the ship surrendered, and the breech blocks were thrown overboard.
Snapper Island, in Sydney Harbour, contains a wealth of relics, but one unit in particular holds the attention of many people. This is an RML 9 pounder 8 cwt Mark II field gun, formerly held by the NSW Naval Brigade, and is reputed to have been taken to China by the NSW Contingent in 1900. As the 9 pounder RML was a service weapon at this time, this is quite possible. It is known that the NSW Contingent was rearmed with QF 12 pounder guns in China, so one can assume that the NSW Naval Brigade took their old gun with them, and traded it in for something more modern. It is also known that in 1901 there were five 9 pounders on charge to the NSW Naval Forces, and probably the pair of slide mounted 9 pounders are from this group. This pair are in very good condition, having been refurbished by the Garden Island Dockyard staff, and form part of the display outside the old barrack block. Part of this collection is arranged near the FFG wharf, and a very interesting relic in this group is an Armstrong 6 pounder field gun. This is probably a relic from the Queensland Marine Defence Force. Originally built as a rifled muzzle loader, this gun was converted to breech loading in 1890, and is not an Admiralty service weapon, but weapons of this type were purchased by the Colonial forces.