By Hubert Ernest Harrington, a Sub-Lieutenant in the Queensland Defence Force (Marine), 1900-1907
In a letter dated 14 February 1996, Commodore L H Nicholson RAN (Retd) advises: “….I have what I think is a bit of a gem for the N.H.S. …Simon1 recently authorised me to pass the copy on to the most appropriate collection for preservation and use and I believe that to be the N. H. S.” He enclosed the material which we publish below. Written in December 1940, in the firm hand of Hubert Ernest Harrington, it outlines his career in the Queensland Defence Force (Marine) from 1900-1907 when, at his own request, he transferred to the retired list. His appointment on the retired list was terminated in 1928. As space in this Review does not permit of every page being reproduced as written, the editors have published the first two only as received, and the remainder has been transcribed.
The Society records its thanks to Captain Simon Harrington and Commodore Nicholson.
… May I say that in small things we followed R.N., that is our navy adopted its changes; thus when the Tudor Badge was adopted or changed, we followed and in practice for the Rig of the Day wearing of cap covers etc. our navy followed R.N.
Now I cannot write about things I don’t know of from 1884 to, say, 1895. I don’t know the development of the Queensland Navy. I do know that there was a Naval Brigade in Maryborough during the end of the nineties and I knew the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Witherington, and some junior officers, Arthur Booker and Charles Gray. On my return from England in 1899, the then O.C. of the Brigade asked me whether I would let my name be submitted for appointment as an Acting Sub-Lieutenant: I consented. I was appointed provisionally Sub-Lieut. from 1 January 1900 in the Maryborough Naval Brigade. Gazetted 13th Jan. 1900 Acting Sub-Lieut: This was by Lieut. Governor of Queensland and the appointment was in Queensland Marine Defence Force.
I passed my examination for Sub-Lieut. 8th May 1902. Subjects of examination were;
1. General knowledge of Mariner’s compass, the Log and Lead line
2. Management of boats
3. Rule of road and vessels lights
4. Semaphore signals
5. Gun drill and ammunition for the guns stationed at their own ports
6. Rifle and Cutlass exercises
7. Field Exercises Part 1 (N.B. These were the field exercises for H.M. Fleet)
8. The Defence Act 1884 and “The Regulations Q.M.D.F. (That is Queensland Marine Defence Force)
Result of exam is herewith. N.B. This exam was held in accordance with Commonwealth Gazette Notice 19.12.01.
I append List of Officers in Queensland Defence Force (Marine) in Dec. 1900. This gives an idea of the Naval Establishment in Queensland and the conditions I was working under.
Was appointed Sub-Lieut. as from 20th December 1900: notification Commonwealth Gazette 22.5.02. Appended is letter from Commonwealth Defence Naval Office Brisbane of 4th Sept. 1902 advising me H.E. The Governor had been pleased to appoint me a Sub-Lieut. in Queensland Naval Force.
I applied to be transferred to the unattached list, and was transferred to the unattached list as from 1st March 1905 notification whereof appeared in Commonwealth Gazette of 25th March 1905. I was on my own application transferred to the Retired List of Commonwealth Naval Forces in December 1907: see Commonwealth Gazette of 7.12.07.
I had to report in writing annually. I did this until Wilfie(3) became a Lieut. RAN when I thought he would prefer me to be off the list. So I ceased to report and was notified 5th December 1929 that my appointment in the Retired List “has been terminated”. Gazetted 29 November 1928 – Page 3280. (Copy of termination of appointment signed by G.L. Macandie2 enclosed. Ed.)
Now the amount of documentation that I have attached must be rather tedious, but I have done so that the evolution from Q.M.D.F. to Commonwealth Naval Forces can be clearly traced. On the outbreak of war in 1914, being on the retired list, I offered my services and repeatedly applied to be used, but I was told at Rushcutters Bay that I should “stand by”, that I might yet be wanted. The correspondence with my papers clearly indicates that I did try very hard to do anything that His Majesty might have required of me. It is difficult for me after this space of time to set out with precision my recollections of the time spent by me in the Naval Brigade, ‘H’ Company’, or ‘H Company, the Maryborough Company” we were called at the Naval Barracks in Brisbane when we went there for training. I cannot remember our strength. There was a Lieutenant in Command, Dr. Cairns Penny, an Irish gentleman, competent and enthusiastic in Brigade matters. Myself senior Sub-Lieut and another Sub-Lieut. who did not pass his exam. Much later another Sub-Lieut joined – a nice young man – but I did not as far as I can remember see much of him.