- Rivett, Norman C
- History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 2009 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
This tale was related to me by the late Engineer Rear Admiral A. B. Doyle, RAN, on 15th April 1979. At the time of this incident, Doyle was an Engineer Lieutenant Commander and First Assistant to the Engineer manager, Engineer Commander G. H. Starr, RN, Garden Island, from 30th September 1920 to 31st December 1922.
Sadly, Engineer Commander Starr’s efforts to secure the future of his wartime workforce came to nought for the RAN and more especially the Dockyard were in decline in the post-war years. From a wartime peak of over 3,000 workers whom Starr had inherited, there were only 1,407 on his appointment as Engineer Manager on 1st May 1920 and the work was dwindling. Soon ex-servicemen and wartime workers alike were being discharged, and the rules being applied were ‘ability first’, ‘last on, first off’, and ‘preference to married men’. Difficult choices to make. The decline continued and by 1931 the workforce numbered only 382, with many good men being lost forever.
Years later in my early days at Garden Island a much lesser crisis arose and a similar order went out, last-in-first-out, married men last, chargehand excluded (although I know of one chargehand, a single man, that was discharged).
Fortunately I had just had my first promotion to chargehand, and I was married, and I had it in writing