Home' Navy News : March 18th 2010 Contents NAVY NEWS
March 18, 2010
By LCDR Andrew Stackpool
A UNIQUE piece of military social his-
tory has returned home safely.
In the November 27, 2007 edition of
Air Force News, it was reported that the
Sergeants' Mess at Anglesea Barracks
in Tasmania had put out a world-wide
search for its missing cannon.
The cannon is a small wooden rep-
lica of a Napoleonic-era naval muzzle-
loading cannon that was presented to the
mess by HMAS Wagga's Petty Officers'
Mess in 1956.
On February 26, 2010 two British
Yeomen Warders (Beefeaters) from
the Tower of London marched into
the Mess and presented the can-
non to the Regimental Sergeant Major
of the 12th/40th Battalion, WO1 John
Stonebridge, in front of the assembled
They were Yeoman Warder Jimmy
James and Crawford Butler.
The then-mess secretary WO2
Michael Hinchey said the weapon had
an incredible history, having been taken
around the world many times aboard
Australian, US, Canadian, British and
New Zealand ships and submarines.
"Whenever ships visited Hobart,
they would try to remove it from the
Sergeants' Mess," WO2 Hinchey said.
"It was a tradition where the cannon
would be 'liberated' from the mess for a
fee, which would go to Legacy."
Since then -- over the past 44 years --
the cannon has been taken on operations
in the Middle East, been passed between
two US nuclear submarines under the
polar ice, been to Antarctica and circum-
navigated the world aboard the former
American battleship, USS Missouri.
Even the Red Berets, a New Zealand
Military Police unit and a RAAF unit
have cared for it. On each occasion, a
plaque or badge identifying the new host
unit was added to its base.
Invariably, however, it would end
up on some ship bound for Hobart so it
could be returned.
In 1999, HMAS Anzac brought it
back after a deployment to East Timor.
It remained in Hobart for a while but
disappeared again, ending up aboard
HMAS Sydney when she circumnavi-
gated the world on Northern Trident in
During her visit to London, Jimmy
James spotted it in the Senior Sailors'
Mess and, true to tradition, 'liberated' it
and took it to the Yeomen Warders' Mess
where it remained until they decided to
return it to Anglesea Barracks.
Also in keeping with the tradition, the
two Warders paid the $400 fine to Legacy
Hobart secretary John Paul.
comes to an end
A POIGNANT memorial service
was held recently at St. John's
Cathedral, Brisbane to remember
the AHS Centaur and her crew.
More than 700 relatives and well
wishers joined AHS Centaur survi-
vor, Martin Lesley Pash, Governor-
General Quentin Bryce, Governor of
Queensland Penelope Wensley and
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the
service, while a large screen enabled
the public to view the service from
outside the cathedral.
At the March 2 ceremony, Chief
of Army LTGEN Ken Gillespie laid
a wreath to pay his respects to the
"This national service allows
us to remember the lives lost and
the contribution the AHS Centaur
and her crew made to this country,"
LTGEN Gillespie said.
"We can finally know the resting
place of these men and women and
give them a dignified farewell."
LTCOL Gavin Keating, the neph-
ew of Sister Ellen Savage who was
on board the AHS Centaur when
it was sunk, read a prayer for the
bereaved and the seafarers.
The service ended with an Army
bugler playing the Last Post fol-
lowed by a minute's silence.
Tribute to the fallen
AHS Centaur memorial service
RESPECTS PAID: On the morning of May 14, 1943 the AHS
Centaur was sunk by a Japanese submarine off the coast of
Brisbane. The remains of the ship were found by search teams on
December 20, 2009 and a memorial service was held in Brisbane
on March 2.
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