- Weston, Bert E.
- Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Perth I, HMAS Moresby I
- June 1982 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
His father, with rank restored and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, died in 1823 and Robert eventually came into full ownership of ‘Annandale’ where he lived until his death in 1882, after being promoted to the rank of Captain RN in 1865.
His funeral was attended by over a thousand people and a party of sailors from HMS Nelson, then in port, fired a volley over the grave of the sea dog who had served the Navy during one of the most splendid periods of its existence. He left a family of seven sons and two daughters.
During the period of his active naval career a young man was growing up in England. This was George Edward Nicholas Weston, born in 1800 at the family seat of ‘West Horsley Place’ in Surrey; at age twelve he joined the Royal Navy and a year later was a midshipman in HMS Shannon when it engaged and sank the American warship Chesapeake off Boston. After some years he left the navy and joined a regiment of the East India Company, reaching the rank of Captain.
Following an illness he made a voyage to Sydney to convalesce in 1828 where he met and married the youngest daughter of Lieutenant Colonel George Johnston, sister of Robert, and proceeded to raise a large family of Australians.
History has no record of any further Johnston or Weston connection with naval service until the Royal Australian Navy came into being in 1913, when in 1917 fourteen year- old William Harold Martin, a great great grandson of George Johnston, entered the Royal Australian Naval College as a cadet midshipman. His career then included service and promotion in the RN and RAN with specialisation in Hydrographic Survey.
He spent 1935-37 with the British Admiralty, Whitehall, promoted to Commander in 1939 he was in command of the survey sloop Moresby 1939-40 followed by appointment as Assistant Director of Plans and Hydrographer to the Navy.
Commander Martin was posted to HMAS Perth at the beginning of 1942 and was lost together with 350 of the ship’s company when it was sunk in action against Japanese cruisers in Sunda Strait on 28th February 1942.
Following Johnston tradition his only child, son David James Martin, born in the mid-thirties and after attending Scots College in Sydney, entered the RAN Naval College as a cadet midshipman. After passing out and as a junior officer he took part in the Korean War in 1951, the Cyprus emergency in 1959 and the Iceland ‘Cold War’ in 1960; junior postings including the aircraft carriers Sydney, Vengeance and Melbourne.
He served as gunnery officer in Voyager and Battleaxe; executive officer in Vampire and commanded the destroyer Queenborough in 1969-70. As commanding officer of Torrens in 1973 he was also commander of the Third Destroyer Squadron; this was followed by three years in Force Development Branch in the Department of Defence and a period in Materiel Division of Navy Office.
Back to sea in 1978 Captain Martin commanded the fleet oiler Supply followed in 1979 as Commodore commanding the carrier Melbourne; at the end of that year he proceeded to London and spent 1980 at the Royal College of Defence Studies.
Commodore Martin then returned to Australia to the position of Director General of Naval Manpower during 1981 and at the end of that year was promoted to Rear- Admiral, scheduled to become Chief of Naval Personnel in 1982.
We switch back to 1925 when the writer’s two younger brothers Norman and Rupert Weston, great great grandsons of George Johnston, joined the RAN as ratings. After training at Flinders Base they were drafted to HMAS Sydney of Emden fame – Norman in the engine room and Rupert as a bunting tosser and naturally both nicknamed ‘Aggie’ in best naval tradition. In that ship they made sundry cruises including a circumnavigation of Australia.
The reduction made by the Scullin government saw the end of Norman’s service but Rupert remained on in such ships as Moresby and Platypus and eventually was one of the party of RAN personnel sent to England in the passenger ship Beltana for the commissioning, working up and bringing the new cruiser Canberra to Australia.
On leaving the Navy he joined the Adelaide Steamship Co. and for some years pre-war was a quarter-master in the MV Manunda and continued on in that capacity after the ship was taken over and converted to a hospital ship in 1940, being on board for her entire war service in voyages to Suez, the Pacific theatre and in bringing home Australian POWs at the end of the war.