History - general
By Walter Burroughs
The name Scapa Flow was synonymous with naval operations in both world wars as a safe anchorage for vast fleets seeking to control access to the seaborne approaches to northern Europe. So where and what is Scapa Flow, how safe was it and, what does it have to do with Australian naval history?
The Orkney Islands lie some 10 miles (16 km) across the notorious Pentland Firth off the northeast tip of the Scottish mainland, a turbulent stretch of water where the fury of the North Atlantic meets the outpouring of the North Sea. They comprise 70 windswept but surprisingly fertile islands1of which 20 are inhabited by 23,000 hardy folk of Norse ancestry. A further 80 km north lie the slightly larger and more remote Shetland Islands. These two island groups were but stepping stones to the Vikings who, more than a thousand years past and using their powerful longships, came from Scandinavia and created a vast empire which covered all of Scotland and Ireland and much of northern England. They then went further west to the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland and reached North America more than four centuries before Christopher Columbus.
After the Norman (French) invasion of England in 1066 the Viking influence was subdued with both England and Scotland becoming independent kingdoms. However, the Orkney and Shetland islands remained under Norse control until 1468 when they were ceded to Scotland as a dowry upon the marriage of Princess Margaret of Denmark to James III of Scotland.
The Vikings called Scapa Flow Skalpafloi and it is one of the world’s largest natural harbours of about 312square kilometres, six times larger than Sydney Harbour. In its original state there were 17 passages to the sea through the chain of surrounding islands, providing good access to open water, but these were difficult to defend. The anchorage was of firm sand at a depth of between 30 and 40 metres.
Early History of the Flow
While the existence of the Flow was known to many seafarers it perhaps first came of interest to Antipodeans following the explorations of Captain Cook, specifically Cook’s third and final voyage, in which he was killed and his second in command, Lieutenant Charles Clerke, died through illness. After four years absence from their homeland, command of the expedition passed to the remaining senior officers, Lieutenant John Gore (Resolution)and Lieutenant James King (Discovery).After so many perils what could be easier for these experienced navigators than passage over the final leg from Cape Town to London in the northern summer?
They opened the English Channel in early August 1780 but were beaten back by strong easterly gales and tried in vain to find shelter on the west coast of Ireland. Neither their long lost leader Cook, who prided himself on the exactness of his navigation, nor their Lordships of the Admiralty would have been impressed when they eventually anchored off Stromness in the Orkneys, over five hundred miles (850 km) from their intended destination.
At Stromness they took on provisions and waited a month for favourable winds. Lieutenant King was sent overland to acquaint the Admiralty with the results of the expedition. One crew member died and another found time to marry a local lass. It was not until 4 October that the ships finally made the Thames and a subdued welcome.
While a prominent fishing industry developed around these islands there was little commercial interest other than by the Hudson Bay Company who used the Orkneys as a recruiting base for ships engaged in the lucrative Canadian fur trade.
Twentieth Century Development
In the early 1900s, with growing rivalry between Britain and Germany, the need for a Royal Naval fleet base covering the approaches to the North Sea and the North Atlantic was identified. After a series of fleet exercises around the northern approaches, Admirals Fisher and Jellicoe enthusiastically pursued the need for a fleet base to be developed at Scapa Flow. Work began in 1912, firstly near the main town of Kirkwall, but in October 1914 the base was moved further south to Lyness.
The Royal Navy was also conscious of the potential threat to its bases posed by sea mines. Accordingly, in 1910 the Royal Naval Reserve Trawler Section was formed to provide a nucleus of vessels and crews for minesweeping duties. As the war progressed about 1,500 fishing trawlers and a similar number of smaller drifters were brought into naval service. Of these 250 were lost, mainly to enemy mines. The tough men who manned these ships did not wear uniform and remained under control of their skippers. A skipper’s formal dress was a bowler hat and tweed jacket, which in tribute to their new role was often adorned with Navy-issue brass buttons.
With most of the navy relying on coal, as soon as ships arrived at Scapa coaling ship was undertaken, a process that continued day and night without stop until completed many hours later. With the potential submarine threat colliers were also used to screen the capital ships making them less vulnerable to attack.
Wooden wharves and a slipway for smaller vessels were constructed at Lyness on the island of Hoy in 1916 and a naval base grew, with stocks of coal and oil, stores and administrative support. A cemetery was dedicated as a resting place for those who lost their lives in these waters, which eventually included 18 German sailors and six Australians.
Boom defence measures were put in place, manned by a number of drifters which also supported the warships when in harbour. Block ships were sunk to restrict access to the numerous channels and one of the first of these was SS Aorangi. In mid-1914 Aorangi had been chartered by the RAN from the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand as a supply vessel which accompanied the Australian fleet when capturing German New Guinea. She was then sold to the Admiralty who took her to Devonport for refit, but being found beyond economic repair she was taken to Scapa Flow and scuttled as a block ship in August 1915.
After the capture of German New Guinea and the chase for von Spee across the Pacific, HMAS Australia joined the pride of the fleet, the fast and powerful battlecruiser squadron, on 17 February 1915. While they were part of the Grand Fleet which was based at Scapa Flow, the battlecruisers were held further south at Rosyth, a naval dockyard across the Forth from Edinburgh. Rear Admiral Sir David Beatty flew his flag in HMS Lion, other ships of the squadron were Australia and HM Ships Indefatigable, Indomitable, Invincible, Princess Royal, Queen Mary and New Zealand.
The main concerns were not German capital ships, which they were keen to engage, but the unknowns of mines and submarines and also Zeppelins, which acted as lookouts and could drop not very accurate bombs from height, beyond the range of anti-aircraft fire. As a defence against submarine attacks the squadron usually entered and left harbour after dark at high speed and with dimmed navigational lights. Patrols and exercises with the squadron and the Grand Fleet resulted in Australiamaking frequent calls to the Flow and being anchored there for days at a time. The lack of facilities at the Flow meant that this was a dreary and monotonous location when compared to Rosyth with the not far distant beckoning lights of Edinburgh.
On 22 April 1916 the Fleet was in the North Sea searching for suspected enemy ships and proceeding in thick weather on a zig-zag course at 20 knots. At about 15.45 Australiarammed New Zealand,not once but twice, suffered extensive damage to her stem and was holed on her starboard side. While New Zealandescaped with slight damage which was repaired locally, Australiamade the sad and slow journey back to Rosyth. Here it was ascertained she needed docking and was sent to Devonport for repairs. By the time she reappeared at the Flow, most of the capital ships were at Jutland. It is noteworthy that her near-sisters Indefatigable,Invincibleand Queen Maryexploded and sank at Jutland with huge losses of life2.
In August 1916 the light cruisers HMA Ships Melbourneand Sydneywere transferred to the Grand Fleet and in October joined the Second Light Cruiser Squadron, also based at Rosyth but they too spent considerable time in the Flow.
Unfortunately, there is a series of naval tragedies associated with Scapa Flow. Immediately after Jutland the cruiser HMSHampshirewas sent to the Flow to embark Field Marshall Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War and his staff and take them on a secret mission to meet the Czar, with the aim of securing greater Russian support to the war effort. On 05 June 1916 Hampshire,with two escorting destroyers, sailed into strong winds and made for the western side of Orkney to provide better shelter for her escorts. As the gale increased the escorts, who could not maintain station, were dismissed, and the cruiser continued alone. That evening when about two miles off the coast she struck a mine that had been laid days earlier by U-475. She quickly sank and of her 735 crew and 14 passengers only 12 crew survived; Lord Kitchener’s body was not recovered.
Australians were involved in the loss of the battleship HMS Vanguard which suffered a massive internal explosion on the night of 9 July 1917 caused, it is believed, by incorrectly stowing faulty cordite charges. Sydney was the nearest ship and her boats were first on the scene when they rescued the only two men to survive. Unfortunately, two of Sydney’s own crew were on board the battleship in cells and they both died. Like most of the 843 men who were lost in this disaster they have ‘no known grave but the sea’.
Owing to the lack of entertainment the Admiralty requisitioned two merchantmen, SS Gourko and SS Borodino, which were stationed at the Flow, their mission being to bring cheer to the fleet and act as floating canteens, amenities and entertainment centres. On the night of 9 July 1917 a number of Vanguard’s officers had been invited to a concert party being hosted by Gourko.Amongst those attending were the ship’s Gunnery Officer Commander Wilfred Custance and Midshipman Reginald Nichols who had recently joined Vanguard. As these officers were not aboard Vanguard at the time of the explosion they were not listed amongst the survivors, which is of later interest to the history of the RAN3,4.
Fate of the German Fleet
One of the conditions of the Armistice included the surrender of the German Navy, requiring the fleet to disarm and proceed to Britain for internment, with steaming crews only. The melancholy surrender of the German High Seas Fleet began on 20 November 2018 when 150 submarines began arriving at Harwich. This was followed the next day by 74 surface ships of the once mighty fleet which, with an RN cruiser HMS Cardiff in the van, steamed into the Firth of Forth through the Allied Fleets arranged in two columns.
Britain was determined to put on as spectacular a display of its superiority as possible. Apart from the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet, there were detachments from other stations, an American Battle Squadron and a French Flotilla, in total comprising 240 ships. After anchoring in the Forth arrangements were made for the German ships to proceed in small flotillas to Scapa Flow. Reminiscent of the Sydney/Emden battle of 1914, and now with replacement players with similar names, in one of their final wartime acts Sydney escorted the captured German cruiser Emden into a safe anchorage in the Flow.
Fearing that his ships were to be humiliatingly divided up between the victorious Allies, their Commander-in-Chief Admiral Ludwig von Reuter devised a plan of frustration. On Sunday 21 June 1919, with good weather prevailing, the guarding ships of Vice Admiral Fremantle’s 1st Battle Squadron was taken to sea for exercises. Temporarily free of his guards, von Reuter gave a pre-arranged signal that resulted in 52 of his 74 ships being scuttled by their crews under the unsuspecting noses of their captors.
Second World War
With war clouds looming in 1937, work began on once more making the Flow available as a major fleet base. Large underground fuel storage tanks were constructed plus torpedo and ammunition depots. This was also the beginning of more sustainable personnel facilities for accommodation and recreation such as a hospital, cinema, theatre, several churches and a NAAFI5. By 1940 over 12,000 military and civilian personnel were stationed here and they were later joined by much needed female company with up to 1,500 WRNS arriving at the new base now known as HMS Proserpine.
Before the outbreak of war Britain negotiated with Norway for the lease of much needed merchant ships from its fleet, which included a large number of tankers. While Norway was neutral an agreement was reached. On 9 April 1940, possibly to the surprise of the Allies, Germany carried out a seaborne invasion of Norway. By the time the Home Fleet at Scapa was in a position to respond Germany had control of the Norwegian seaboard and air space. The Norwegian campaign was over within a matter of weeks.
When Russia entered the war on the Allied side in mid-1941 the most direct route for providing them with essential supplies was around the north of Norway to Murmansk and Archangel. In winter months with only a few hours of daylight, physical elements of snow and ice were the greatest danger but in the summer with almost perpetual daylight it became a suicide run. Convoys were constantly shadowed by reconnaissance planes and then attacked around the clock by enemy aircraft, submarines and surface vessels. The Home Fleet based at Scapa had the responsibility for protecting these convoys. The losses of ships, equipment and men from these convoys in 1942 was sickening, but gradually from the next year, improvements were made in the Allies favour with telling blows being made on the enemy forces.
From the outbreak of war ships of the RAN integrated with the RN in aid of the mother country. After work-up at Scapa Flow the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia patrolled with the Home Fleet in Atlantic and Arctic waters. She later sailed for north-west Africa to help neutralise the French naval base at Dakar and then refitted at Liverpool before returning home to the Pacific in 1941.
Just after a month following the declaration of war the German Navy gained a significant moral victory over the Royal Navy when one of its submarines U-47,vskilfully navigated by her captain Gunther Prien, penetrated the defences of Scapa Flow. Here she found the old dreadnought HMS Royal Oakvat anchor.
We have already met Reginald Nichols, the midshipman who had an extremely lucky escape attending a concert party when his ship Vanguard exploded and sank at the Flow in 1917. Now twenty-two years later Commander Nichols is Executive Officer of Royal Oak and asleep in his cabin when awoken a little after 1.00 am by an explosion near the bow of his ship. An initial investigation assumed the cause to be an explosion in the Inflammable Store near the Cable Locker, but thirteen minutes later came three more sickening thuds on the starboard side, all lights wen out and the ship took a severe list. There was now no doubt that they had been torpedoed. With no power it was impossible to lower the larger boats and because of the increasing list not many of the smaller boats could be lowered. Just eight minutes after the last torpedo struck Royal Oakcapsized and sank.
She took most of her ship’s company with her and 833 men perished, many no-more than boys straight out of training. However, over 370 were saved from the water by the drifter Daisy II and the seaplane carrier HMS Pegasus. Amongst those found clinging to a life raft was Commander Nichols. Another to be saved from the icy water was an exchange officer, LCDR Frederick Cook, RAN6.
Also at the Flow was another elderly battlewagon Iron Duke, which had been flagship of the Grand Fleet in WWI. Only days after the Royal Oakdisaster, on 17 October 1939, while serving as depot and harbour defence ship, Iron Duke was badly damaged by Luftwaffe Ju 88 dive bombers and run aground to avoid sinking. She was again attacked by enemy bombers and suffered further damage. As a result of these two disasters the Fleet was temporarily removed from the Flow until defences were improved.
The propaganda value was of immense value to the enemy and Prien became a national hero. These setbacks resulted in an early visit from Prime Minister Winston Churchill who demanded a number of rapid improvements to the defences known as ‘Churchill Barriers’ where causeways were constructed between islands to further restrict the number of entry points into the Flow. These ‘Barriers’ were largely built by 1,200 Italian prisoners of war. Their legacy is remembered in a wonderful chapel built from Nissen huts and scrounged bits and pieces. Improved fortifications with anti-aircraft batteries were also installed around the perimeter of the anchorage. The barriers and the chapel still stand and are important tourist destinations.
The N-class Destroyers
At the commencement of WWII the RAN was gifted five N-class destroyers which were then building in British yards. The history of these ships, HMA Ships Napier, Nepal, Nestor, Nizama nd Norman, all followed a similar pattern. After trials and workups, all proceeded to Scapa Flow where they joined the Home Fleet for duties involving escorting convoys across the North Atlantic. But within months these ships were diverted to the Mediterranean or Eastern Fleets. They all worked hard and had an eventful war but Nestorwas lost after being badly damaged by enemy aircraft near Crete in June 1942.
Napiercommissioned at Clydebank on 28 November 1940 and with barely enough time for workup, her first important task on 15 January 1941, was to transport Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Mrs Churchill from Thurso (Scrabster) to the new battleship HMS King George Vanchored at Scapa Flow. Here they farewelled Lord Halifax on his departure in that ship for the vital position of Ambassador to the still neutral United States.
Three of these ships were to spend more time in northern waters. Nestor sailed with three other destroyers to 72 degrees north to intercept a German weather ship and return with invaluable code books which went to Bletchley Park7.Nepal was part of a dummy convoy sent north to act as a diversion to enemy forces, drawing them away from the real convoy taking essential supplies to the Russian front. Finally, when the intended RN ship suffered engine failure the brand new and fast RAN destroyer Norman proceeded to Iceland to embark Sir Walter Citrine8and a Trade Union Delegation (shades of Lord Kitchener) and successfully took them to, and brought them back, from Russia.
The last RAN ship to have any involvement at Scapa Flow is thought to have been HMAS Shropshire. Following the loss of HMAS Canberra in the Battle of Savo Island the British Government approved the transfer of HMS Shropshire as a replacement. The cruiser was refitted at Chatham under the command of Commander David Harries, RAN, who supervised the refit, her change of crew and transfer to the RAN. Following his arrival Captain John Collins, CB, RAN, assumed command and commissioned her as HMAS Shropshire on 20 April 1943. The new Australian warship departed for Scapa Flow on 1 July for workup and left the Flow on 13 August, arriving at Fremantle on 24 September 1943.
By 1944 the fortunes of war were beginning to turn in favour of the Allies and as the focus of attention shifted from the North Atlantic the importance of Scapa Flow began to decline, with ships moving further south. Shortly after the war’s end the base was placed in care and maintenance and it finally closed in 1957. Afterwards the majority of the buildings were demolished or sold at auction. However, there is sufficient left behind to remind discerning visitors of important war-time operations, especially to the small but impressive Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum which is housed in one of the former oil-pumping stations of the Lyness Naval Base.
Scapa Flow was home to the Grand Fleet in the First World War and the Home Fleet in the Second. In between it became the final resting place of the German high seas Fleet. To this generation it is just a name in history. However, this bleak and mysterious place is something legends are made of and possibly records more recent naval history than any other place on our globe.
The post-war prosperity of the Orkneys was much improved with the discovery of North Sea oil, resulting in oil and gas terminals being established at Scapa Flow, and maintenance facilities for this important industry operating from these islands. Of later year’s tourism has also become important and great ships once again ply these waters as part of a growing cruise industry.
1 Orcadians have a quaint definition of what constitutes an island. A parcel of land which is isolated by water must be large enough to grow sufficient grass to keep one sheep for one year, anything less than this is a skerry.
2 The battlecruisers Indefatigable, Invincible andQueen Mary were all casualties at the Battle of Jutland. Significant design faults were demonstrated when these ships exploded after enemy projectiles penetrated their decks and entered their magazines with disastrous losses of life and only a handful of survivors.
3 On 22 April 1938 Wilfred Custance was appointed Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Squadron. Due to ill health this popular officer was obliged to relinquish his command on the eve of the outbreak of WWII. Invalided home in the transport SS Orontes, taking Australian air crew for training in England, he died at sea and was buried off Aden.
4 Commander Reginald Nichols, RN, was lent to the RAN in 1940 as Director of Plans and later as a captain as Deputy Chief of Naval Staff and finally as Commanding Officer HMAS Cerberus.His older brother Charles Godfrey Nichols, DSO, MVO, RN, was a highly regarded captain of HMAS Shropshire.
5 NAAFI – Navy, Army & Air Force Institutes providing canteen and recreational establishments for Service personnel.
6 LCDR Frederick Cook served on exchange with the RN until 1942 when he returned home to establish the commando training base at Port Stephens (HMAS Assault) and later as Captain F Cook, DSC, RAN he received several commands during an outstanding career.
On 22 September 2018, marking the centenary of the First Wireless Message from the United Kingdom to Australia, a ceremony was held at the Sydney suburb of Wahroonga, outside the home of Ernest Fisk where the message was first received. The following article (possibly written in 1993) by the prominent radio engineer, the late Colin MacKinnon, is reproduced with the kind permission of Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Pty Limited.
On 22nd September 1918 direct wireless messages from England were received in Australia, creating considerable public interest and causing a political controversy. The messages were transmitted from the big Marconi station at Carnarvon in Wales and were received at the home of Ernest Fisk, the Managing Director of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited (AWA). Two communications were sent, one from the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. W.M. ‘Billy’ Hughes, who was in England trying to raise enthusiasm for the Australian war effort in Europe because public support was waning and the disastrous English military leadership of the Australian forces was under serious question. The second message was from the Minister for the Navy, Mr. Joseph Cook, who accompanied Hughes. Australia’s efforts to sell its farm produce to England were being frustrated by the English farmers and unions, which explains the jingoistic tone of the wireless messages of Hughes and Cook. As it happened, Germany capitulated soon after this event and both men then took part in the Peace Conference and negotiations in November 1918.
The two messages were as follows:
1.15 pm Sydney time
‘I have just returned from a visit to the battlefields where the glorious valour and dash of the Australian troops saved Amiens and forced back the legions of the enemy, filled with greater admiration than ever for these glorious men and more convinced than ever that it is the duty of their fellow-citizens to keep these magnificent battalions up to their full strength. W.M. Hughes, Prime Minister.’
1.25 pm Sydney time
‘Royal Australian Navy is magnificently bearing its part in the great struggle. Spirit of sailors and soldiers alike is beyond praise. Recent hard fighting brilliantly successful but makes reinforcements imperative. Australia hardly realises the wonderful reputation which our men have won. Every effort being constantly made here to dispose of Australia’s surplus products. Joseph Cook, Minister for Navy.’
AWA published a souvenir document of the event with the heading ‘The First Direct Wireless Messages from England to Australia.’ with a reproduction of the actual message forms as supposedly written down in Sydney and the following additional information:
‘These messages were transmitted by arrangement with Senatore G. Marconi, GCVO, DSc and Godfrey C. Isaacs Esq. Managing Director, Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited, from the Marconi Transatlantic Station at Carnarvon, Wales, at 3.15 am & 3.25 am (Greenwich mean time), September 22nd, 1918.
Received instantaneously at 1.15 pm & 1.25 pm (Sydney time) by Mr. E.T. Fisk, Member Institute of Radio Engineers & Managing Director, Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, at his Experimental Wireless Station, Wahroonga, New South Wales, with apparatus designed and manufactured in Sydney by Mr. Fisk and the Staff of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited.’
Spectacular as the event was, these were certainly not the first wireless signals received in Australia direct from England. During WWI signals from the big transmitting station at Nauen in Germany had been heard regularly in Australia so there was every chance signals could be received from England, and in fact AWA had been carrying out experimental work for more than a year prior to the official messages. At the AWA general shareholders meeting in August 1918 Ernest Fisk explained that ‘…. we are able to read messages direct from Berlin. These messages can be heard practically all day.’
In late 1916 Fisk had travelled to England where he discussed the German wireless intercepts with Marconi and the possibility of reception of wireless signals direct from England. It was agreed that AWA should set up a suitable receiver to listen for the Wales/Canada traffic from the Marconi Wireless Transmitting Station at Carnarvon in Wales. The UK Admiralty (which controlled the station during the war) later agreed to operate at other times, sending test messages for AWA.
On 26 February 1917 Fisk sought Australian Navy permission to erect an aerial at ‘Logan Brae’, Station Street, Pymble in Sydney, in one of the houses that AWA maintained for its staff, in order to listen for signals from the UK. (Fisk and his staff also carried out secret transmitting tests with the Pennant Hills wireless station from this time, using the call sign AWY.) The reception equipment set up at Pymble was improved during the year and by December 1917 it was clear that signals from England could be received on a regular basis so the installation was moved to Fisk’s residence at ‘Lucania’ on the corner of Stuart and Cleveland Streets, Wahroonga. There Fisk erected a large square wooden tower about 25 metres high, with two antenna wires spaced about 3 metres apart and about 30 metres long, running from south east to north west across to a mast on the western side of the property. Even though signals were being received, results were very variable and it took till September of 1918 before any real results could be achieved and publicised.
The new valve technology that became available during WWI was crucial to successful reception. The receiver was the first that AWA manufactured, although it closely followed typical Marconi design and appearance. It included an Aerial Tuning Unit which consisted of a large vertical aerial tuning coil about 500 mm high by 150 mm diameter with a sliding contact running down the side to select the number of turns of the coil, along with a variable capacitor mounted on a wooden base plate. This same unit was used with the Marconi long wave crystal set and the tuning range was 10,000 – 30,000 metres (30Khz – 10Khz). The valve and secondary tuning unit, called a Magnifying Valve Receiver, Type 103, was similar in appearance to the Marconi crystal receivers but was fitted with three Marconi type ‘Q’ valves. AWA engineers used up to three of these receivers as amplifiers. Note that the AWA Type 103 receiver is nothing like the Marconi Type 103. They raised the high tension voltage to around 300 volts (normal HT was about 160 volts) and were able to minimise unwanted feedback by individually adjusting the filament voltage to each valve. This setup ran from a high tension battery supply and a number of filament batteries which were charged from a wall mounted charging board.
The Carnarvon 200 KW transmitting station, call sign MUU, was actually located near the village of Waenfawr, 10 km south east of Caernarfon (the Welsh spelling). It had been built to communicate with Montreal in Canada and consequently the aerials were not aimed in the best direction for reception in Australia. The frequency of Carnarvon was 14,300 metres (21 Khz) and it was classed as only a low power station because the great circle distance between Carnarvon and Montreal is only 4,800 km and high power was not necessary. Despite this, there was enough signal to spread round the world and once it was shown that signals meant for Canada could be received in Australia, special tests were arranged at times thought to suit communications to Australia.
At this time the science of propagation was unknown and it was believed that the best conditions were during full daylight, using very low frequencies and lots of power. Now that more is known about propagation effects, we know that this is not the most propitious time for reception. It was not appreciated till 1922 that signals tend to follow the great circle route of maximum darkness between stations. There are two such paths that wireless signals can take; the short path, i.e. the shortest distance between the two points, or the long path, the reciprocal distance between them. Signals are strongest over the short path between England and Australia (15,200 km across Asia) when both cities are in darkness. During September that is at 7.30 pm (1930 GMT) in Carnarvon and 5.30 am in Sydney. A second lower peak occurs around 6.00 am (0600 GMT) at Carnarvon and 4.00 pm in Sydney when the signals travel the long path (20,800 km) across South America and towards Antarctica, although during September there is no long path overlap of darkness at the two cities so signals would not be particularly strong. Luckily the sunspot cycle was at a peak in 1918 because the time chosen to send the messages was in between the optimum times for strongest signals. The messages were actually sent at 3.15 am Carnarvon time (at sunrise) and received in Sydney in the middle of the day at 1.15 pm local time. However, strong long path VLF signals do start to become audible from about 12 noon Sydney time so it appears the Fisk team achieved success early in the period of opportunity and copied the full text well before the signal peaked. It is probable that Fisk invited the press and dignitaries to arrive around noon and, after suitable introductions and perhaps refreshments, planned for a listening period of a couple of hours during which he would be sure the signals could be copied.
Because there was no two-way communication between Sydney and Wales, the messages were sent several times, commencing 15 minutes after each hour. The log book shows that the messages were taken down again at least twice more that afternoon but then atmospherics became very bad.
Although Fisk received the kudos (and throughout his life he was very committed to extracting maximum personal publicity), in fact it was AWA technicians who built and operated the equipment and carried out the extended trials before the public success was orchestrated. As the trials extended over 12 months it is hard to determine all who were involved but they probably included Harry Wiles, Alton F. Vipan, T.W. Bearup, Harry M. Lamb, George Apperley, Raymond E. McIntosh and Eric Burbury. McIntosh was the one who actually took down the messages even though Fisk is the name on the message forms. McIntosh transcribed the Morse Code into a log book that had been in use for the experiments and the ‘official’ message form was written out later and signed by Fisk. The log book is now in the Mitchell Library.
Obviously Prime Minister Hughes and Navy Minister Cook were not standing by at Carnarvon at 3 o’clock in the morning. Their messages had been sent previously by wireless, or perhaps cable, from London to Wales. (Some cynics might even suggest that the entire text was known to Fisk and his staff before the event.) Sydney had no facilities for replying by wireless so AWA sent a cable to England to proclaim the success.
In 1934 the Wahroongah Community Service Association, Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council, the Royal Australian Historical Society and AWA subscribed to the cost of a commemorative monument which was erected on a corner of the property ‘Lucania’, on land donated by the then property owner, Mr. Marc J. Rutty. The monument comprises a marble plinth with four horizontal arms, each surmounted by a ‘British’ lion. In the centre is a column with a globe of the world on top and a figure of the winged god Mercury, with one foot on the globe. Engraved plaques on the plinth describe the event. Ernest Fisk unveiled the monument on 14/12/1935 following speeches from Prime Minister Hughes and other dignitaries. AWA produced 1000 numbered commemorative booklets of the occasion titled An Epoch of Radio Communicationand they are now collectors’ items. Over the years Mercury was stolen several times, (once he was found in the local tip) so, as a Bicentennial project in 1988, the monument was raised up onto a tall marble cylinder and a smaller version of Mercury was securely fixed on a very tall spike rising from the globe, out of harm’s way. Patterns exist for a backup Mercury if needed! The original Mercury is in council safekeeping. A small plaque was affixed to the steps stating the monument is now the ‘Fisk Memorial’.
On September 22, 1993 the Wahroonga Amateur Historical Radio Society, call sign VK2WAH, the Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council and dignitaries from AWA and the Fisk family, along with children from local schools, commemorated the 75th Anniversary at the site, ‘Lucania’. Later, wireless contact was made from the Wahroonga home of Mrs. Jo Harris, call sign VK2KAA, with the Dragon Amateur Radio Club in Wales, operating from the Welsh site of the Marconi transmitter and using the amateur call sign GB2VK.
‘Lucania’ still exists much as it was in 1918, but all evidence of wireless activity, apart from the monument on the street corner, is long gone. The land was subdivided many years ago so the area is smaller than in Fisk’s time when Wahroonga was a rural area with large land parcels and dirt roads. The concrete foundation for the tower remains and is located on the north east corner, just inside the boundary of the property next door. ‘Lucania’ has an attic, but despite the vision conjured up of an avid experimenter hidden away in his upstairs shack, Fisk and his engineers operated from a spacious ground level back room. Even so, that room was not suitable for a group photo so the equipment and assorted dignitaries were assembled out in the yard for a publicity photo of the equipment. It should also be noted that illustrations of the house showing the tower are artistic licence – it was not there when photos were taken and has been drawn in.
The fact that messages could now be sent direct between England and Australia caused a political controversy and added to the animosity felt between governments and the Marconi Co. Prior to WWI, Germany had set up an extensive wireless chain in its colonies around the world as well as in other friendly countries. This gave it economic, political and military advantages that were envied by the British Imperialists, but attempts to build a similar British colonial system had been frustrated by the commercial demands of the Marconi company and political intrigue in England, up to WWI. Following the war there were renewed moves to establish a wireless network between the British colonies. The English Marconi offer to build and rent a private network was rebuffed and the Post Office pushed ahead with plans for relay stations using Poulsen (USA) wireless equipment. At the end of 1918, following the successful tests, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company submitted a proposal to establish a direct wireless service between England and Australia, but Australia would not agree to a private foreign company controlling Australia’s wireless lifeline.
In 1920 AWA (even though it was 50% owned by the Marconi Co.) submitted a similar proposal to a sympathetic Prime Minister Hughes but any action was delayed pending a 1919-1920 study by an English committee which came up with the Norman Report, named after its chairman, Sir Henry Norman. This report confirmed the Post Office thinking and recommended a chain of very high powered, very costly VLF wireless stations no more than 2000 miles (3,300 km) apart, with relay stations in Egypt, India, Singapore and then to Darwin or Perth, Australia, with a branch from Egypt to South Africa. Prime Minister Hughes, having seen that direct communications with the UK was possible, did not fancy Australia being at the end of a very vulnerable chain of stations, so he rejected any co-operation with the UK recommendations. Instead, he signed an agreement with AWA for a direct service to the Marconi stations in England and soon after (1922) arranged for the Federal Government to take up a 50% plus one share controlling interest in AWA by paying £500,001 for newly issued shares. That put the cat amongst the pigeons because the English government, which had had enough of the activities of the Marconi company, refused to grant it a licence to transmit to Australia, and did not appreciate a colonial Prime Minister using his new government controlled wireless company to muscle in on Mother England’s rights to communicate with its colonies! Much diplomatic wheeling and dealing ensued to get the governments and protagonists to talk again.
The UK Government determined to proceed with the Imperial Wireless Chain with the English Post Office to build and run the relay stations, cutting Marconi out of the action. The first two stations were finally opened at Leafield, England and Abu Zabal, Egypt. While this was going on the Marconi organisation was rapidly advancing the state of the art, with valve receivers, high power valve transmitters and research into propagation and short waves. Then in February 1924, in great secrecy, Marconi cabled AWA, asking them to build a receiver for 90 metres (3.3 Mhz) and listen for 2YT at Poldhu in the south of England. The two receivers that AWA built, literally overnight, had two RF stages with tuned plate and tuned grid circuits (called a TPTG circuit) followed by a detector, whilst outboard audio amplifiers could be added to boost the signal, as required. It was installed at the Willoughby transmitting location of public radio station 2FC which had a long, tall dipole antenna and was managed by AWA. The first signals were heard at good strength (up to S8) at 5.30 am Sydney time on 6 March 1924 (1930 GMT), i.e. with both cities in darkness. Later tests showed that 25 metres (12 Mhz) gave the best all round results, including good daytime reception. Marconi was now able to demonstrate reliable direct communication to any of the British colonies, using short waves with low power and far less costly aerials and stations. He probably took fiendish delight in making his revelations in a speech to the Royal Society of Arts in July 1924. That news put the UK Government in a very difficult situation and changed all the plans for the VLF chain wireless scheme which was then abandoned in favour of what became the Beam Wireless Scheme, operating at high frequencies. With its newfound bargaining ace Marconi was able to negotiate very profitable deals to build the stations and provide staff to run them and train local personnel. In Australia the Beam Wireless station was built by AWA, using Marconi equipment and designs, with the transmitter at Ballan near Shepparton, Victoria, where the small settlement that grew to house the staff was named Fiskville. The receiving station was at Rockbank also in Victoria. After several technical and political delays, it opened in April 1927.
AWA Archives, courtesy of Mrs Margaret White, AWA Librarian – many of these items are now in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.
The collection of Colin MacKinnon, VK2DYM.
The Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award under the Imperial honours system, is awarded to members of the armed forces for gallantry in the presence of the enemy. While it was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, many have now instituted their own honours systems. The Australian system of honours and awards was established in 1975 with the Victoria Cross for Australia becoming the pre-eminent award.
The Victoria Cross is a bronze cross pattée bearing the crown of Saint Edward surmounted by a lion with the inscription FOR VALOUR. A crimson ribbon is attached.
Origins of the Medal
The Crimean War (1853–1856) brought about by Russian expansionism at the expense of a declining Ottoman Empire saw Britain and France coming to the aid of the Ottomans. On all sides about 1.5 million men were mobilised and there were horrific causalities with more than 500,000 being killed or wounded. Public interest was aroused as this was one of the first major wars where reports and photographs were graphically displayed in mass circulation newspapers. Attention to the plight and suffering of troops also received worldwide attention through the pioneering nursing efforts of Florence Nightingale.
In England this resulted in improved hospitals being built to care for the wounded, the largest of which was at Netley, just outside Southampton. There was also a need for increased recognition for the bravery displayed by ordinary men involved in this conflict. The Queen is said to have been deeply affected when she visited the wounded at Netley and especially remembered the terrible injuries suffered by Private Charles Byrne of the 34thRegiment of Foot (Cumberland Regiment). She ordered that a medal be awarded to Private Byrne for his acts of bravery. Accordingly, a silver medal was struck and was presented to Byrne, which became the precursor of the Victoria Cross.
The Victoria Cross was officially introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Originally there were two ribbons, one red for Military service and the other blue for Naval service but the latter has been discontinued. To date (2018) this medal has been awarded to 1355 recipients, of these three have received a Bar to their VC, signifying a second award of the medal. Only 16 medals, 11 to members of the British Army, 4 to members of the Australian Army and 1 to a member of the New Zealand Army have been awarded since WW11.
By far the greatest number of VCs have gone to Army recipients, with 117 going to the Navy which includes the Royal Marines, Naval Brigades and the Royal Naval Air Service. The Air Force has only received 26 VCs but this does not include those from the RN Air Service (2) and the Royal Flying Corps (13) and the RAAF (1) when serving with the RAF.
Tradition has the source of the gunmetal from which these medals are struck as coming from Russian cannon captured at the Siege of Sevastopol. Hancock’s the London makers of all VCs are unable to confirm the origins of the metal used in the first medals which may well have come from Russian guns. However, they can vouch that medals made since December 1914 came from Chinese cannons which were captured from the Russians during the Crimean War. This source is still being used today, including Australian VCs.
It has been suggested that the medal was purposely made of low value material so that recipient’s or their families would not be encouraged to sell them for the value of precious metal. The value of the prestigious medal only lying in its intrinsic nature and the rarity of the award.
The first VC awarded to the Royal Navy
The first VC was awarded to Midshipman Charles Lucas, RN serving aboard HMS Heclafar from Crimea. As this war extended throughout the Russian Empire the Royal Navy sought to increase pressure on Russian naval resources in the Baltic. During the bombardment of Bomarsund in the Baltic Sea in August 1854, 19 months before the medal was gazetted, a hissing Russian shell landed on deck. 20-year-old Lucas ignored orders to fall flat and pushed the shell overboard where it exploded. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the spot, conditions for award of the VC were backdated, and he ended his career as an Admiral having the added good sense to marry his captain’s daughter.
The first Australian colonial recipient of a VC was Lieutenant Neville Reginald Howse. After graduating as a medical practitioner in England, Howse who had weak lungs, emigrated here for the beneficial climate. In January 1900 he enlisted in the NSW Army Medical Corps and a month later was shipped to the Cape taking part in the South African War. For bravery in action in July 1900 he was awarded the Victoria Cross, and remains the only Australian medical officer with this distinction.
In August 1914 when aged 50, Howse again enlisted and was given command of the medical unit in HMAS Berrimaaccompanying the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force which captured German New Guinea. Afterwards he served at Gallipoli where he was wounded but was soon back at the front. Major General Sir Neville Howse finished his distinguished military career as Director-General of Australian Army Medical Services.
One Hundred and Still Going Strong
Australia now claims one hundred VCs, 96 under the Imperial honours system and 4 awarded under the Australian honours system which were received in the following conflicts:
South African War (Boer War) 6
World War One 66 (16 posthumously)
World War Two 20 (10 posthumously)
Vietnam War 4 ( 2 posthumously)
Afghanistan War 4
Of the above all have been awarded to Army personnel excepting to one WW1 medal issued to a member of the Australian Flying Corps and three medals issued to members of the RAAF during WW11, one of which was serving with the RAF at the time of the award.
The Royal Australian Navy and the Victoria Cross
Many acts of heroism by RAN personnel have been recognised but none by the award of a VC. Possibly the closest came during the WWI raid on Zeebrugge in April 1918. An RAN Leading Seaman Rudd on loan to the Royal Navy was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) for his bravery during the raid and later participated in a ballot for the award of a Victoria Cross. The use of the ballot system enabled men who had taken part in the action to vote for an officer and rating to be awarded the VC. As a result of the ballot a Royal Navy and Royal Marine officer, Royal Navy rating and a Royal Marine were each awarded a VC as voted by their peers. Rudd was one of five ratings selected to take part in this ballot and could have been awarded a VC but settled for the DSM.
In 2013, The Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal announced the results, later accepted by the Government, of an inquiry into the possible award of a posthumous VC to 12 service personnel, including the following 10 from Navy:
- Lieutenant Commander Henry Hugh Gordon Dacre Stoker, a RN submariner on loan to the RAN when in command of HMAS AE2 during the Dardanelles campaign.
- Midshipman Robert Ian Davies lost in HMS
- Captain Hector Macdonald Laws Waller in command of HMAS Perth when she was lost in the Battle of the Java Sea
- Lieutenant Commander Robert William Rankin in command of HMAS
- Lieutenant Commander Francis Edward Smith second-in-command of HMAS
- Acting Leading Seaman Ronald Taylor serving in HMAS
- Leading Seaman Dalmorton Joseph Owendale Rudd, involved in the Zebrugge raid.
- Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean lost in HMAS
- Leading Cook Francis Bassett Emms serving in HMAS Kara Kara during the Japanese raid on Darwin on 19 February 1942,
- Lieutenant David John Hamer serving in HMAS Australia in January 1945.
- Leading Aircrewman Noel Shipp serving with the RAN Helicopter Flight in Vietnam, and
- The Tribunal also considered the special case of HMAS Yarra involved in action in March 1942 recommending that a Unit Citation for Gallantry be awarded. The Tribunal did not recommend any other awards.
The results of a further inquiry by the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal was released on 01 June 2018. Government approval has been received to the Tribunal recommendation that a Unit Citation for Gallantry be awarded to the RAN Helicopter Flight which served in Vietnam from October 1967 to June 1971, with an event to mark the recognition of this award to be held later this year
It could be argued that the kind of individual courage and initiative likely to result in a recommendation for a VC is uncommon in warships where every single member of the ship’s company is expected to work together as a team to win the fight. The actions of Ordinary Seaman Sheean was one of many outstanding incidents throughout the RAN, none of which resulted in a VC, but again there appears to be plentiful evidence for the award of a VC to Lieutenant Commander Rankin on behalf of his gallant ship’s company.
The highest-decorated Australian naval sailor
Ian Desmond Laurie-Rhodes enlisted in the RANVR using the name of Rhodes in September 1940. He had previously tried to enlist but was rejected on medical grounds and used the name Rhodes as a successful subterfuge. He was sent to England under the Yachtsman’s Scheme and as an Ordinary Seaman was posted to the destroyer HMS Kashmirwhich shortly sailed for the Mediterranean and was involved in the Battle of Crete. On 23 May 1941 Kashmir together with her sisters Kellyand Kipling came under sustained air attack in which both Kashmir and Kelly(Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten) were sunk.
Rhodes was stationed at the Port Oerlikon which was going under water when he saw his ship being again strafed by a JU 87. He climbed to the Starboard Oerlikon and opened fire on the approaching aircraft hitting and destroying it. For his courageous and selfless action Rhodes was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal which, the Australian War Memorial lists as the highest decoration awarded to an Australian naval sailor. He was later commissioned and served in HMAS Shropshire, and was serving ashore at Port Moresby when the war ended.
The One that got Away
The Commonwealth Line, founded in 1916, was supplemented by a number of German and Austrian merchant ships captured in Australian waters during WW1. This Government owned company was enhanced by five handsome new passenger liners built in 1921-1922, impressively named Esperance Bay, Hobsons Bay, Jervis Bay, Largs Bay & Moreton Bay. To the great detriment of our national maritime industry, a slump in world trade aggravated by local industrial disputes resulted in the company’s failure. Its ships were sold at bargain prices, later acquired by the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line.
At the outbreak of WW11 Jervis Bay was requisitioned and fitted out as an Armed Merchant Cruiser with 7 x 6-inch and 2 x 3-inch guns, all from the Victorian era. Other than her past history and name there is a further association with Australia as her captain was Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegan, RN. Between 1928 & 1929 he had served as Executive Officer of the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay. The next few years had not been kind to Fegan who was aged 49 when offered command of HMS Jervis Bay as an Acting Captain.
In May 1940 Jervis Bay was the sole escort of 37 merchantmen between Bermuda and Halifax when they encountered the heavy cruiser (often referred to as a pocket battleship) KMS Admiral Scheer with her 11-inch main, and 5.9-inch secondary, armament. Completely outclassed, Captain Fogarty ordered the convoy to scatter and placed his own ship between them and the enemy. While the odds were hopeless the sacrifice allowed the majority of the convoy to escape. From Jervis Bay’s crew of 254 officers and men, 86 survived, who were rescued by a neutral Swedish merchantman. Captain Fogarty who was wounded in the action and went down with his ship was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.
Our Own Victoria Cross Town
While the RAN may not yet claim a Victoria Cross we do have the town of Holbrook named after a naval VC recipient. After the outbreak of WW1 the small country town of Germantown situated halfway between Sydney and Melbourne searched for a new patriotic name. In December 1914, a Royal Naval submarine sank a Turkish battleship at the Dardanelles. As this was the first time a battleship had been sunk by a submarine the crew were fated as heroes and their commander Lieutenant Norman Holbrook, RN awarded the VC.
In 1915 the name of Holbrook was gazetted as the town’s new name. Commander Holbrook visited the town on a number of occasions and now the town boasts a real submarine, as since 1997 the hull casing of ex HMAS Otway, is located in a park near the main street.
Perks of the Trade
It is customary for all military personnel, regardless of rank, to acknowledge and salute a VC winner in uniform. Apart from the prestigious ribbon and medal associated with the decoration, there is a VC annuity, which in Britain amounts to about $20,000 per annum, but on our own shores this currently amounts to a parsimonious $4,500.
The Victoria Cross and George Cross Association is made up of holders of the VC, Britain’s highest military award for bravery and the GC, the equivalent award for civilians and military personnel who have displayed conspicuous bravery not in the face of the enemy. The patron of the Association is Her Majesty the Queen and the Prince of Wales is president. Reunions are usually held every two years for the small number, about two dozen holders of these awards who are able to travel. The last reunion was held at St James’ Palace, London in 2016. Those with Commonwealth awards are also invited.
Mention should be made that five members of the RAN and RANVR mainly associated with the disposal of enemy mines have been awarded the George Cross, this is out of a total of 22 Australians who have received this distinguished award.
Victoria Cross Collections
The largest collection of VCs is held by the Imperial War Museum in London with over 210 medals. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra holds an astonishing 70 of the 100 medals awarded to Australians. Possibly one of the most interesting displays of 16 VCs is to be found at the museum of the Royal Welsh Regiment in the small border-town of Brecon.
These days all commodities seem to have a price and because of scarcity this applies to the VC. What was until recently thought to be a world record price was $1,000,000 paid at auction in Sydney in July 2006 for a VC awarded to Captain Alfred Shout. Since then this figure is reported to have been exceeded by a sale in London in 2017 of the medals, including a VC, of the late Vice Admiral Gordon Campbell.
Doubtless the above collections will continue to develop but as we have thankfully witnessed, through a long period of relative peace and prosperity, with a declining number of awards. This may add to the mystique and give the medal even greater prestige.
In the State Library of Victoria we have an amazing photographic collection of ship photo thanks to Allan Green.
He was born in Daylesford, in the Central Victorian goldfields on Dec. 23, 1878. His father was a miner. There is a photograph of a sister, Florence, and there were an unknown number of brothers.
Our knowledge of this man’s life – if not the published indications of a gentle and kindly soul – are at best fragmentary. We do know that as a young man Allan Green and his brothers set out for the goldfields of Western Australia, in the roaring days of Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie, but – not striking it rich – eventually opened a grocery store in the remote mining settlement of Day Dawn well north of Perth, inland from Geraldton [it is now a ghost town]. Allan Green was never a miner: he had originally worked as helping hand to a blacksmith, and after the store was opened, finding himself left for long periods alone, he started a corresponmdence course in Fine Art, the basis of his water colour painting that followed.
Clearly Green was a man of finer instincts than his environment of remote boom and bust mine towns suggest. A photograph of wheat wagon out in WA also suggests he was already working with a camera. Information about his introduction to photography, however, is completely lacking, but everything about the stunning clarity of Green’s plate glass images, and his care in composition, compellingly suggests that he also had some formal training in this art.
He is seen in the photo here as a young man, in a typical early 20th Century Edwardian portrait, perhaps taken around the time of his marriage to Elizabeth May Cowie, a beauty of Scottish heritage, whom he married at the Town Hall in South Melbourne.
Returning to Victoria in the early years of the 20th Century Green opened a photo studio on Williamstown’s Front Esplanade, which he lived above. While Green no doubt did commercial portrait photography, his own fascination and focus seems to have been was almost entirely maritime, and he clearly spent an enormous amount of time on it.
Of the 10,000 or so images Green donated to the State Library of Victoria in 1940 [the number, nominally 8025, is much understated as a result of by multiple images under single subject listings], there are just a few family portraits and few general scenes. The rest is entirely of ships, one of the great collections of its kind.
His first love had been sailing ships, billowing under full sheets out at sea, and there are thousands of such images in the SLV’s Green Collection, augmented by his highly regarded colour paintings from the 19th-early 20th Century’s end of sail era, many of them published in the Melbourne ‘Punch,’ and later the maritime ‘Port Phillip Quarterly.’
The photograph collection largely consists of Green’s own work, but he also gathered in photos of ships from all around the world, and he sold reproductions of these these from his Front Terrace studios. In truth, the business failed to flourish, and the 1930s found Green working as a newsagent in Melbourne’s tough inner suburb of Richmond, a business that eventually failed during the Depression.
Green’s grandson, Mr David Thiessen of Oak Park, Victoria, who passed on this information, tells us that while his grandfather – artist at heart – was never a successful businessman, nor was he much concerned with money. Apart from his time in Western Australia, Green’s only trips outside the State of Victoria were two trips to Sydney, at least one of them accompanied by his grandson. Although only a boy, David Thiessen recalls him photographing warships at Garden Island during this visit.
In a tribute published after his death on April 25, 1954, the Port Phillip Quarterly, the author Captain Hartley Watson said that along with sailing ships Green had an early interest in the ships of the Royal Navy’s Australia Station squadron, which preceded the formation of the RAN. This interest continued throughout his life, and just as Sydney’s Sam Hood [1872-1956] is said to have photographed every ship that came into Sydney Harbour over a 60 year period, so too Allan Green captured just about every ship, and certainly all the warships of all nations, that ever appeared in Port Phillip Bay.
Australia has had other great maritime photographers: Searcy in South Australia, Izzy Orloff [1891-1983] and Saxon Fogarty in Fremantle, Albert Perrier [1870-1963] in Sydney, and others [not forgetting the newspaper photographers], but in terms of preserved work and significance, Sam Hood and Allan Green seem to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Their styles were very different: Hood, topical, with human interest settings and Sydney scenery; Green, ignoring almost everything but meticulously lucid detail of the ships – the only outside influence to intrude on Green’s images was Melbourne’s notorious weather.
The above story is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/41311545@N05/7691401602
The State Library of Victoria collection available at http://search.slv.vic.gov.au/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do;jsessionid=BF9685547D67BC59BB7292EC3EE8B1FF?fn=search&vl(freeText0)=Green%2c+Allan+C&tab=default_tab&mode=Basic&scp.scps=scope%3a(ROSETTA_OAI)%2cscope%3a(SLV_VOYAGER)%2cscope%3a(SLV_DIGITOOL)%2cscope%3a(SLVPRIMO)&vid=MAIN&ct=suggestedSearch&vl(34473804UI1)=all_items&vl(1UIStartWith0)=exact&vl(10247183UI0)=creator
Allan C Green 1878-1954, photographer.