- The Dustman
- Early warships, Naval technology
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Melbourne I
- March 1981 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In 1928 we find that the gun was in store at the Army Ordnance Stores, Sydney, still with a total of 328 efc’s. Whilst stored the breech screw was removed and the breech and muzzle closed up with wooden plugs. It is probable that the gun would have lain in store until declared obsolete, when it would be sold as scrap. The outbreak of the Second World War gave No. 2285 another lease of life.
On 31st August 1939 we find No. 2285 mounted as a coast defence gun at Port Kembla, NSW. The old gun seems to have lived a fairly quiet semi-retired life at Port Kembla, but in 1943 it was given a rude shock by being transferred to the Proof and Experimental Establishment, Port Wakefield, South Australia. From her last firing in naval service until the last entry at Port Kembla No. 2285 had only fired 10 efc’s, and there is no doubt that these were all practice shots.
On 27th March 1943 the old 6 inch gun ex-Melbourne appears on the charge of the P & E Establishment, Port Wakefield as a working gun, and it appears to have earned its keep.
The Proof and Experimental Establishment is a hive of industry carrying out many varied functions. New guns are proofed, relined guns are checked out and proof fired before re-issue, as well as tests being carried out on projectiles and fuses. No. 2285 saw a lot of use in her new role and was last fired on 10th October 1945. By that date a grand total of 515 efc’s had been recorded, almost up to the 600 round estimated barrel life. It had taken thirty three and a half years to arrive at this total.
Normally this would have been the end of the road for the gun, but it seems that some historically minded gunner took pity on No. 2285, and she was eventually placed on display at the junction of the main road and the entrance to the proof range. There she stands, still on her old pedestal mounting, the one which carried the gun in HMAS Melbourne. A lot of the fittings are gone, but the main components such as the breech screw, BM Lever, etc., are still there. The only part missing of any consequence is the shield, and this fitting is still lying in the gun emplacement at Port Kembla. When the gun was removed from the battery position at Port Kembla the shield was just pushed out of the way. One day, perhaps, the shield may find its way back to the gun mounting.
All figures given in this article have been taken from the Record of Examination, and this important document was only saved by an eagle eyed gunner officer from the proof range. He saw the importance of this historic record and saved it from being destroyed. Had it not been saved the old gun would have lost its identity, and in all probability ended up as razor blades.