- Scrivner, R.
- Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Albatross, HMAS Protector I, HMAS Hobart I, HMAS Perth I, HMAS Brisbane I, HMAS Canberra I, HMAS Huon I, HMAS Yarra II, HMAS Vampire I, HMAS Tasmania, HMAS Hobart II, HMAS Penguin (Shore Base - Balmoral), HMAS Sydney I, HMAS Sydney II
- December 1974 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Harry Howden’s life was filled to overflowing through his own actions and willingness to become involved. Where others would be satisfied to coast along, leaning upon their own abilities, Harry seemed ever prepared to activate something. His interest in his health was an illustration. Not content with a walk on the upper deck, he would, in his earlier days, take a skiff or the like for a row before breakfast. He was keen on jogging as the exercise of running is known today, and enjoyed skipping, walking, skiing, tennis and body exercises. The point has been made of his not asking others to comply, for he would simply carry out his own interest, knowing the satisfaction he himself reaped.
A regular sight on Hobart was his steward going for’ard to his captain’s sea cabin, a towel-covered tray in hand, off to massage Harry’s tired muscles. Ashore, his love of horses and the hunt was foremost on his list of outdoor pleasures. A period in hospital after hitting a tree branch whilst mounted did not deter his enthusiasm. On another occasion he was photographed high in the branches of a tree assisting a fox and hound back to ground after each had taken to the tree, the fox to escape the hound, the hound determined to capture its quarry.
The front gate of his home in Point Piper was an indication of the love of the Service Harry had. Of copper, the outside framework was in the form of rope, within the centre area anchors, knots and flags were portrayed.
His homes, inside, carried mementos collected over many happy years, the inscriptions telling a multitude of credits. Forming the outskirts of his permanent home in a suburb of Perth, Western Australia, are mine casings, cut into halves to form open bowls. Naturally, a flagpole in the form of a mast is a dominant feature.
So we are able to adjudge the personality and character of a fine gentleman. To complete this summation of Harry Howden’s life style, his habits and ability, it is fitting to quote two apt appreciations – one from the pen of Mr Frank Sutton, BEM, Honorary Secretary since 1946 of HMAS Hobart Old Comrades’ Association, the other from Harry himself in the form of an epilogue used as an inscription on a screen at the Memorial Chapel of St. Mark, HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.
To quote Frank Sutton: ‘. . . in saying that, although we have lost a friend, we must feel thankful to Harry that we are still here to be able to say we are happy and proud to have known such a fine gentleman and enjoy his comradeship which we can treasure for the rest of our lives.’
And finally, but before the quotation, let me explain the purpose of the inscription from which the words are subtracted. A sum of money was bequeathed in the will of the late Captain Harry Leslie Howden, CBE, RAN, to erect a memorial screen in the chapel at Flinders Naval Depot. The memorial, in the form of a wooden screen with bronze and copper inlay and ornamentation, was dedicated on Sunday, 23rd July 1972. The date was chosen as being the nearest Sunday to 20th July, the anniversary of the torpedoing of HMAS Hobart. It was fitting that a large contingent of ex-Hobart personnel attended the dedication of the screen, the service being conducted by Chaplain W. Long, RAN, in conjunction with senior RAN Officers and serving personnel.
The hallowed atmosphere was attended by a true feeling of devotion by those over whom our late friend had served, and it is fitting that in designing the structure the architect felt obliged to mount the crest of this six-inch gun cruiser in the centre at the top of the screen. So proudly does it stand, and in such a noble position!
To conclude, and to quote the two inscriptions attending the screen –
‘Please think of me as one who loved his fellow men.‘
(Signed) H. L. Howden.
‘To acknowledge the deep regard I have always held for the Royal Australian Navy over the years I have had the honour to serve it, and I declare that such a memorial will serve in some small measure to pay my tribute to the officers and sailors of the Royal Australian Navy. A tribute which, in life while we served together, I could not express adequately, being beyond the compass and power of words.‘