- Birch, Albert
- Biographies and personal histories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1977 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
He left for England in April 1944 and completed his Long Navigation Course. On his return to Australia he was posted to HMAS Napier as Flotilla Navigating Officer, still with the rank of Lieutenant. Stevenson was to remain in this ship until the end of the war. As a matter of interest Napier was to be his first command, although only temporary.
This happened when Captain H.J. Buchanan, in charge of the first British landing force in Japan, went ashore at Yokosuka. Lieutenant Stevenson ‘drove’ the ship into Tokyo Bay. On his return to Australia he joined HMAS Swan for two years. His Commanding Officer was Captain Ross Wheatley and as Flotilla Navigating Officer of 20th Minesweeping Flotilla he had the opportunity to get to know Captain Wheatley well.
Lieutenant Stevenson was Mentioned in Despatches in 1946 for his war service. He was posted for a short period to HMAS Watson as Coordinator of Training and then returned to England to complete an Advanced Navigation Course. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1948.
His first daughter, Jacqueline was born this year and a son, David was born in 1952.
Stevenson’s next ship was the cruiser HMAS Australia. His posting was as Fleet Navigation Officer but as personnel were in short supply at this period he carried out the duties of First Lieutenant in addition.
While serving in Australia a collision occurred in Sydney Harbour which had an interesting sequel. The Navy won the case not only in the Supreme Court sitting in Admiralty but also the appeal in the High Court. It was one of the few cases of this nature where one side recorded a 100 per cent victory.
In 1952 he was promoted to Commander and served once more under Captain Buchanan as Navigating Officer of the carrier Sydney. His next appointment was as Director of Administrative Plans followed by a term as Director of Plans.
He joined HMAS Vengeance, Captain O.H. Becher, in 1954. The carrier was Fleet Training Ship at this time and was despatched to Japan to ferry No. 77 Squadron, RAAF back to Australia after service in the Korean War.
Vengeance was paid off at Devonport Dockyard late in 1955 and Commander Stevenson commissioned HMAS Melbourne at this yard.
There followed a particularly interesting period of service in the United Kingdom. After completing the Royal Navy Staff Course at Greenwich Commander Stevenson served with the Admiralty on the staff of Lord Louis Mountbatten, First Sea Lord, spending a term of two years in the Tactics and Staff Division.
In 1958 he was promoted to captain. He commanded HMAS Tobruk and was Captain (D) in 1959-60. Shortly afterwards he was appointed captain of HMNZS Royalist, New Zealand’s only cruiser. This period, 1961-62, was a very happy period and Stevenson considered himself very lucky in obtaining the cruiser command in period when cruisers were being phased out.
He returned to Navy Office, Canberra in 1962 as Director of Plans. During this appointment he made his permanent home in the Federal capital.
Command of HMAS Sydney came in 1964 and later that year, following the unfortunate Melbourne–Voyager collision he assumed command of Melbourne.
During 1966 he returned to the United Kingdom for studies at the Imperial Defence College in London. His return to Australia in 1967 coincided with his promotion to Commodore. His next appointment was NOIC Western Australia and Captain of HMAS Leeuwin, the Junior Recruit Training Establishment.
Promotion to Rear Admiral came in 1968 and appointment as Deputy Chief of Naval Staff. In 1970 he became Flag Officer Commanding Australian Fleet.
On completion of this seagoing command he returned to Canberra as Chief of Naval Personnel and 2nd Naval Member. He was honoured in the New Years’ Honours List of 1973 with the award of the CBE.