King Edward VII died on 6 May 1910 and King George V became King. His coronation took place a year later at Westminster Abbey, London on 22 June 1911 and a Coronation Fleet Review took place at Spithead two days later (24 June 1911).
Australia dispatched a military group and a military cadet group to be part of the coronation contingents but the Australian Navy did not. In a typically Navy manner (and one to save the costs of sending a contingent from Australia by sea) a group of Australian Naval personnel then serving in England were selected to represent Australia. The contingent consisted of two officers and 35 ratings ranging in rank from ordinary seaman to mechanican (equivalent of a chief petty officer). This was quite an egalitarian group compared with the Army contingent which consisted of three colonels, three lieutenant colonels, five majors, nine captains, four lieutenants, five warrant officers and a solitary corporal (perhaps as a servant to all the officers!). Over 200 military cadets and their accompanying officers also went by sea to England for this event.
The Australian Navy Contingent consisted of one Royal Navy (RN) officer – in command of the Contingent – one Commonwealth Naval Forces (CNF) officer then serving on exchange with the RN and 35 ratings of the Australasian Naval Forces (Australians and New Zealanders who had joined the RN) and who were in British ships or shore bases at the time. While an Australian contingent, at least three of the ratings had been born in New Zealand.
Below is a list of the Victorian-born personnel of the Australian Naval Contingent to the Coronation of King George V and a short précis of their active service, along with several others of particular note. On the whole they appear to have been well chosen as many went onto distinguished careers in the Royal Australian Navy/RN, some lost their lives during World War I, whereas others drifted into obscurity and a few proved to be downright trouble. All in all an interesting group of Naval personnel.
Staff Paymaster Alfred Martin TREACY
Born in Newstead, Victoria on 28 April 1869. Joined the Victorian Navy 1894. Served with Victorian Naval Contingent to Boxer Rebellion in China 1900-01. Transferred to the Commonwealth Naval Forces (CNF) in 1901 and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1911. Served as Director of Naval Stores, Victualling and Contracts (1912 -1920). Awarded OBE (Military) 1918. Retired from RAN in 1922. Died in Toorak, Victoria 9 August 1938.
Mechanican John McCLURE (ANF 155/RAN 7846)
Born in Collingwood, Victoria on 17 April 1885. Enlisted in the Australian Naval Forces (ANF) on 8 June 1904. Present at the action between HMAS Sydney and SMS Emden on 9 November 1914. Died of pnuemonic influenza on 1 February 1919 while serving in HMAS Sydney (rank at time of death was warrant officer engineer). Buried in Gillingham Cemetery, Kent, UK.
Leading Stoker Samuel THOMSON (ANF 951/RAN 7872)
Born in Bridgewater, Portland, Victoria on 15 May 1884. Enlisted in the ANF on 4 November 1907. Served in HMAS Sydney 1913 – 1917. Present at the action between HMAS Sydney and SMS Emden on 9 November 1914. Discharged on 2 September 1924 with the rank of chief petty officer stoker.
Signalman Cecil Robert WELCH (ANF 627/RAN 7062)
Born in Richmond, Victoria on 23 December 1888. Enlisted in ANF on 24 October 1905. Served in HMAS Australia 1913-1917 and HMAS Cerberus 1917 – 1920. Placed on the retired list on 23 December 1948 with the rank of senior commissioned master at arms.
Able Seaman Bernard Francis DONNELLY (ANF 731 only)
Born at Tallygaroopna, Victoria on 10 September 1890. Enlisted in the ANF but did not transfer to the RAN and purchased discharge on 9 May 1913 while serving in the cruiser HMS Psyche (then serving on the Australia Station). Enlisted in the 1st AIF (6th Battalion) on 10 July 1916 as Private Bernard Francis Donnelly (service number 6751). Served on the Western Front and was promoted to Lieutenant on 10 September 1918. Returned to Australia in November 1919 and his appointment in the AIF was terminated on 29 January 1920. His whereabouts after World War I are not known and his war medals were returned as no longer at this address and never claimed.
Ordinary Seaman Samuel Stuart JAMES (ANF 1431/RAN 7064)
Born in Sale, Victoria on 1 July 1891. Enlisted in ANF 28 February 1910. Served in HMAS Melbourne 1913-1914, RN loan for torpedo gunners mate course 1915-1916 and HMAS Sydney 1916 – 1918. Promoted from petty officer to warrant officer gunner (torpedo) on 21 March 1919. Awarded the MBE in the Coronation Honours List (11 May 1937). Placed on the retired list on 28 February 1953 with the rank of lieutenant commander.
Able Seaman Robert Leake MASSINGHAM (ANF 1166/RAN 7603)
Born in Geelong, Victoria on 24 April 1890. Enlisted in the ANF on 8 December 1908. Served in HMAS Australia 1914 – 1917 and HMAS Cerberus 1917 – 1918. Died in Ararat, Victoria on 9 December 1944.
Able Seaman George Thomas SAUNDERS (ANF 1242/RAN 7065)
Born in Fitzroy, Victoria on 18 November 1889. Enlisted in the ANF and served in HMAS Melbourne 1913 – 1914, RN Loan 1914 – 1916, HMAS Melbourne 1916 – 1917 and HMAS Warrego 1917 – 1919. Promoted from petty officer to warrant officer gunner (torpedo) on 31 March 1917. Awarded the MBE in 1933 (honours list 3 June 1933) and the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935. Placed on the emergency list 18 November 1944 with the rank of lieutenant commander.
Stoker Andrew HENLEY (ANF 1138/RAN 7242)
Born in Collingwood, Victoria on 12 November 1887. Enlisted in the ANF on 4 November 1908. Served in HMAS Melbourne 1913 – 1918. Re-entered the RAN on 6 May 1942 until demobilised on 26 March 1946 with the rank of chief petty officer stoker.
Stoker Frederick Victor LYNAS (ANF 1127/RAN 7243)
Born in Caulfield, Victoria on 30 June 1887. Enlisted in the ANF on 21 October 1908. Served in HMAS Melbourne 1913-1918. Died in Northcote, Victoria on 24 February 1955.
Stoker Robert Miller SOMMERVILLE (ANF 1145/RAN 7247)
Born in Coventry, UK on 21 November 1879. Served as Private (330) Miller Robert Sommerville in the 2nd Victorian Mounted Rifles contingent to the South African War (1899-1902). Departed Australia on 13 January 1900 and returned to Australia (discharged invalided) on 29 July 1900. Enlisted in the ANF on 19 November 1908. Served in HMAS Melbourne 1913 – 1915 and depots at Cerberus and Penguin. Discharged invalided on 18 March 1920 with the rank of stoker petty officer. Awarded the 1937 King George VI Coronation Medal for his services as the federal secretary of the Ex-Navalmens Association of Australia.
Active Service of some other members of the Contingent:
Mechanican Sydney COOPER (ANF 347/RAN 7832)
Born in Ardleigh, Essex, UK on 16 November 1881. Enlisted in the ANF on 2 August 1904. Present at the action between HMAS Sydney and SMS Emden on 9 November 1914. Died in Mornington, Victoria on 25 February 1943.
Mechanican John Vincent CORIGLIANO (ANF 281/RAN 7424)
Born in Beachport, South Australia (SA) on 25 February 1880. Served in SA Navy including service in HMCS Protector in China waters during the Boxer Rebellion 1900. Served in HMAS Australia 1913 – 1917 and HMAS Melbourne 1917 – 1919.
Mechanican Henry THOMPSON (ANF 280/RAN 7115 )
Born in Beachport, SA 14 September 1881. Served in the SA Navy including service in HMCS Protector in China waters during the Boxer Rebellion 1900. Served in HMAS Melbourne 1913-1915. Discharged invalided on 17 April 1916.
Petty Officer 1st Class John Henry GILL (ANF 257/RAN 7420)
Born in Port Adelaide, SA 29 October 1879. Served in the SA Navy including service in HMCS Protector in China waters during the Boxer Rebellion 1900. Served in HMAS Australia 1913-1914 and HMS Benbow 1914 – 1918. Served in the battleship HMS Benbow at the battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916.
Signalman Frank Ohlfsen BAYLEY (ANF 1349/RAN 7364)
Born in Paddington, Sydney, NSW on 2 July 1890. Enlisted in the ANF on 6 August 1909. Died of cerebro-meningitis on 6 March 1916 while serving in HMAS Melbourne (rank at time of death was leading signalman). Buried at Gillingham New Cemetery, Kent, UK.
Able Seaman Gordon Clarence CORBOULD (ANF 1090/RAN 7297)
Born in Strawberry Hills, NSW on 18 April 1887. Enlisted in the ANF on 30 September 1908. Posted missing, as leading seaman, with the loss of HMA Submarine AE1 off New Britain, on 14 September 1914, during the campaign to capture German New Guinea.
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