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13 weekly prizes of a
November 10, 2011
By CPL Melanie Schinkel
ALTHOUGH CMDR (retd) Ron
Stevens' 30-year career in the Navy
and Air Force ended in 1974, the
85-year-old poet continues to draw
inspiration from the Services and
has penned a plethora of acclaimed
CMDR Stevens has won count-
less awards for his work, including the
Henry Lawson Society Award seven
times, the Banjo Paterson Award five
times and the Jessie Litchfield Literary
A former stores officer in the
Navy, CMDR Stevens said he didn't
discover his passion for poetry until
after his naval career while studying a
Bachelor of Arts in history and English
at Macquarie University.
"I became very interested in writ-
ing poetry and addicted to entering
literary competitions. Poetry is disci-
plined and I like the challenge of try-
ing to express big topics and ideas in
just a few lines," CMDR Stevens said.
"I prefer to write traditional verse
rather than free verse because it's more
structured. Writing free verse is like
playing tennis with the net down."
Each year CMDR Stevens writes
an Anzac tribute poem and recites it
at the Dubbo RSL's Anzac Day cer-
emony. This year he delivered a piece
called 'Second Thoughts' and it was
dedicated to serving ADF personnel
and those who have lost their lives in
In 1995, the Fellowship of
Australian Writers and Manly Council
launched a poetry competition to com-
memorate the 50th anniversary of the
end of World War II. CMDR Stevens
won the competition with his poem
"I was really pleased with that
piece and it is still one of my favour-
ites. It is about all the RAN ships that
sank and the circumstances that sur-
rounded their sinking during WWII,"
Manly Beach telling these ships' sto-
ries to my grandchildren, who are free
and alive because of the naval person-
nel who lost their lives."
CMDR Stevens' military career
began in the Air Force as an air-
crew trainee in 1944. In 1945 the Air
Force suspended its pilot courses and
he transferred to the Navy. During
his naval career from 1946 to 1974,
he served in HMA ships Australia,
Arunta, Bataan, Vengeance and
Melbourne. He also served at a num-
ber of naval establishments during the
Korean and Vietnam wars.
He served in Australia and Bataan
during the occupation of Japan in the
1950s and in Melbourne during the
Indonesian Confrontation in the 1960s.
He was aboard Melbourne when USS
Frank E. Evans crossed her bows in
the early hours of June 3, 1969.
The forward section of Frank E.
Evans sank and 74 American lives
were lost. Melbourne sustained exten-
sive damage to her bow.
"I was asleep below the flight deck
in my cabin when it happened. The
alarms went off but I didn't feel the
initial thud. I rushed to my action sta-
Poet finds inspiration in Services
tion and took charge of the galley and
made sure the store rooms were pre-
pared to issue blankets and medical
supplies," CMDR Stevens said.
"A lot of Australians did amazing
things to rescue the Americans in the
water. I just focused on my task and
made sure everything was ready and
functioning in the supply section."
CMDR Stevens' greatest supporter
throughout his Defence and writing
career has been his dedicated wife of
60 years, Clo.
"Clo has supported my writing
and is my harshest critic. She had to
uproot the family and travel all around
Australia during my naval career," he
"My granddaughter, Renee, also
encourages me and urged me to put
together a CD of my Anzac tribute
poems, which I did recently."
An excerpt from the poem,
My forenoon ends as it began:
eternity of sky and waves
that stretch conception, swells that
from past to present, rise from
of ships and crews in hallowed sleep
where sacrifice and blazing hell
lie blanketed, unfathomed, deep.
What epic tales these waves might
The foam now swirling on the sand
perhaps was formed when Sydney
with Kormoran whose captain
a waiting course -- disguise to let
our cruiser close to near point-blank
before the raider's rain of shell.
In mortal pain, the Sydney sank.
Precisely where, the waves might
An empty Carley-float remained;
far less than Perth in Sunda Strait.
Survivors of her crew, detained
in Nippon's prisons, nursed their
with stoic pride in shipmates'
While Canberra's rescued personnel
watched Savo's waters swamp her
their thoughts ran deep, as waves
-- Ron Stevens
CMDR (retd) Ron Stevens
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