- Swinden, Greg
- Biographies and personal histories, WWII operations, History - WW1
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Anzac I, HMAS Albatross, HMAS Brisbane I, HMAS Canberra I, HMAS Moresby I, HMAS Yarra II, HMAS Rankin, HMAS Cerberus (Shore Establishment), HMAS Penguin II, HMAS Australia II, HMAS Melbourne I
- September 1994 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
MELBOURNE returned to the Mediterranean and visited Naples which allowed Rankin to visit the ruins of Pompeii with his term mates. As MELBOURNE was due to return to Australia it was decided that all the Midshipmen would be distributed to RN ships.
MELBOURNE was in Greece in March 1926 and after five years together the 1921 entry was split up amongst three RN warships. Rankin was supposed to go to the battleship HMS VALIANT but as that ship was in Malta undergoing a refit he and three other Australian Midshipmen were transferred to the cruiser HMS FROBISHER. During his time in FROBISHER Rankin and his three compatriots were commended by the Executive Officer for their exemplary performance of duty and the RN Midshipmen on board were told to lift their game. It is not known how popular this made the Australian Mids amongst their English peers. FROBISHER spent some time in the Adriatic prior to sailing for Malta. ((GATACRE, G.G.O. – Ibid.))
In early July 1926 Rankin joined the Queen Elizabeth Class battleship HMS VALIANT. Two weeks was also spent in the aircraft carrier HMS EAGLE. Rankin only spent a short time in VALIANT before joining the destroyer HMS VISCOUNT which was also operating from Malta.
Rankin undertook his seamanship examinations for promotion to Sub Lieutenant, and on 1st September, 1927 was promoted to the rank of Acting Sub Lieutenant.
Rankin and his term mates were reunited in late 1927 when they all arrived in England to complete their Lieutenants’ course. This consisted of six months at the Royal Naval College Greenwich (near London) and seven months of courses at the Gunnery School (HMS EXCELLENT), Navigation School (HMS DRYAD), and Torpedo School (HMS VERNON). These three schools were all located in Portsmouth, in Southern England.
Whilst undertaking the Junior Officers’ War course at Greenwich he was one of six Australian officers to receive the appreciation of their Lordships of the Admiralty for excellence in essay writing. ((ELDRIDGE, F.B. – Ibid.))
Rankin was made a Sub Lieutenant on 1st March, 1928 and on successful completion of his courses was appointed to the new Kent Class cruiser HMAS CANBERRA which had only recently been commissioned. ((Royal Australian Navy Lists – Appointment dates to ships and promotion dates were derived from the RAN Navy Lists, a quarterly publication listing officers, seniority, ships currently serving in and courses conducted:- 1921 until 1942))
Rankin joined the CANBERRA on 5th November, 1928 while the cruiser was at Portsmouth. CANBERRA had just completed a preliminary shake-down cruise and several problems had arisen because of the excessive use of aluminium in the ship’s construction. When firing her 8 inch guns many of the aluminium fittings buckled or collapsed. CANBERRA was docked on 1st November, 1928 for repairs. ((PAYNE, A. – HMAS CANBERRA, Naval Historical Society of Australia, 1991))
CANBERRA sailed for Australia on 4th December, 1928 and made port visits at Gibraltar, Freetown (Sierra Leone), Takaradi (Gold Coast) and Lagos (Nigeria). Christmas Eve was spent at sea and New Year’s Eve was celebrated in Cape Town.
Following a visit to Durban, CANBERRA began the long haul across the Indian Ocean arriving in Fremantle in late January. After a tumultuous reception for the newest addition to the RAN, CANBERRA visited Bunbury, Albany Adelaide and Melbourne on a ‘showing the flag’ cruise before entering her home port of Sydney in mid February 1929.
On 1st August, 1929 Rankin “shipped his second stripe”. As a Lieutenant in CANBERRA he was an Officer of the Watch and Divisional Officer. Rankin was known for his unswerving loyalty to the Navy and genuine attitude towards the sailors in his division. It is said of him that he could not conceive of letting anyone down.
CANBERRA circumnavigated Australia in the latter part of 1929 as part of a showing the flag visit. Visited were Brisbane, Cooktown, Thursday Island, Darwin, Broome (where she ran aground causing some slight damage), Fremantle, Albany, Adelaide and Melbourne (carefully timed to coincide with the Melbourne Cup) and returning to Sydney on 29th November after being absent for 4 months.