- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Warramunga I
- December 1980 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
WHEN HMAS WARRAMUNGA commissioned for service in November 1942 no official badge had been authorised for the ship, and being wartime this was of no great consequence. Early in 1943 the commanding officer, Commander E.F.V. Dechaineux, DSC, RAN, held a competition amongst his crew for the design of a suitable badge. The competition was won by Petty Officer Hugh Anderson, who carved out what he considered to be something appropriate to a ship bearing a Tribal name. The winning design was the traditional shield as used for destroyer badges, surmounted by the name of the ship. Above the shield was the usual naval crown. The motif on the shield depicted a Warramunga warrior about to throw a boomerang. Beneath the warrior, but on the shield, was a motto ‘Courage In Difficulties’.
With the captain’s blessing, the badge was adopted by the ship. The US Navy’s destroyer tender Dobbin was in port, so the carving was taken over to see if the Americans could knock up something in the way of a replica of the original wood cut. With their usual efficiency, the Americans cast a badge in brass and this was taken back to Warramunga. As far as ‘The ‘Munga’ was concerned she had a badge and the matter was settled. Due to wartime conditions it now seems that Commander Dechaineux never pursued the matter of his badge competition any further and never advised Navy Office, nor did the next two commanding officers.
At the end of 1945 Commander Max Clark wrote to Navy Board regarding an official badge for the ship. His letter, dated 9th October 1945 states in part ‘With reference to Navy Office letter 66031 dated 24th September 1945, it is submitted that HMA Ship under my command was commissioned without an official badge.’ He goes on to say that a talent quest had been conducted but that no fitting design had been obtained and therefore asked the Naval Board to obtain some professional assistance to have a badge struck.
It would appear from this that Commander Clark was completely unaware of Petty Officer Anderson’s badge and was completely in the dark about the approval given by Commander Dechaineux. Perhaps the matter may have been brought to a happy conclusion had he approached some of the older members of the crew who were fully informed about the unofficial badge. As it was he evidently never saw Petty Officer Anderson’s effort, or if he did he was not prepared to accept it. Whatever the reason. Commander Clark wanted an official badge.
Navy Board acted with promptness, as a letter dated 29th August 1946 merely states that ’. . . the question generally of badges for HMA Ships is under discussion and on a decision being reached a further communication will be addressed to you . . .’ This may see an off-handed approach to the subject, but it must be remembered that there were practically no official badges at all in the RAN. Not one of the 56 AMSs commissioned during the war had an official badge and the same went for the bulk of the fleet.
A design for a ship’s badge for Warramunga was submitted by Captain W.H. Harrington in 1948 and, although it may have been correct as far as heraldry was concerned, it bore no Tribal connection at all. The design showed ‘A sword rising from the sea (light blue) against a dark blue sky.’ According to Harrington, light blue and dark blue were the ship’s colours. The motto was in Latin ‘Pugnare Non Cedere’, meaning to fight and not to yield. This motto was of course a standard one, and possibly had more scholastic merit than Anderson’s ‘Courage in Difficulties’. Captain Harrington also mentioned dark brown boomerangs but gave no indication as to the siting of them on the badge. Perhaps he had in mind the present system of crossed Aboriginal weapons under the motto.