September 15 - 21, 2013: Issue 128

From Colonial Navy Brigades in Second Hand Ships to Where the Australian Navy was Born – The Practical Verses of William Rooke Cresswell’s Charter

Mailed mastodons ploughing the main, their backs bulging over the foam. Watching to vomit forth lethal fire and drive desolation home.
Alfred Austin

While Australian colonies in all states purchased their own gunboats and formed their own coastal Naval defence, assisted by the rotation of ships from the Royal Navy, by the time the newly formed nation was less then a hundred years old, those born here and those who had emigrated here and fallen in love with Australian landscapes, seascapes and the people, began to wish to stand on their own two feet in all ways. The costs incurred by the separate states given to maintain an Australian Squadron were, by 1907, £200,000; over half that paid by all colonies in the British Empire, and this ‘Australian Squadron’ of Royal Navy vessels, although impressive when viewed as one fleet, may not be in the right place at the right time. Although the threat of war was touted it was the pounds brought in by trade, some estimated at worth £170,000,000 per annum in 1907, and pirates in southern seas ‘plundering’ merchant ships, that brought out that feisty Australian character.

The Imperial Conference of 1907 was also a benchmark for Australia (Colonial Conferences before 1907) as it was the first move towards all ‘colonies’ being recognised as ‘dominions’ and named such. The ‘hated stain’ of being a colony of convicts, when of a population of almost four million comprised less then 164,000 transportees, many of whom were by then free settlers or had passed away, seemed hard to dislodge. Australians may have been included in some Naval exercises but the notion of an Australian Navy was laughed at.

Still, here, the idea of an Australian Navy, discussed in sumptuous parlour and on street corner from at least 1850 on, filtered through to reports that would become more overt as we headed towards Federation.

Right: ON DECK OF A MAN-OF-WAR, EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. Illustration from The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Sea: Its Stirring Story of Adventure, Peril, & Heroism. Volume 1 by Frederick Whymper.

The Australian Squadron based on the Australian station in Sydney Harbour, whose ships visited all ports in this vast ‘station’ which included much of the South Pacific and New Zealand originally, and the limits of the Royal Navy fleet based here were examined in the lead-up to the arrival in Australian waters on April 1st 1891 of the new Australian Squadron and their entrance into Sydney Harbour on September 5th, 1891, including the capabilities of the vessels themselves:

After the arrival of the new Australian Squadron, fears are expressed by some that intercolonial jealousy will prevent a proper distribution of the naval force. Each colony may be wanting a vessel each to look at in port. Colonists should learn that the ships of a fleet should be exercised as much as possible at sea. Of late years Admirals Tryon, Fairfax, and Scott do not anchor their ships much in port, but are always on the move and so it must be with the new ships in commission. It would be a master stroke of defence policy if Admiral Lord Scott, C.B., would visit all the Australian and New Zealand ports with the Imperial and Australian fleets, and close the all-round cruise with a grand naval review off Sydney Heads. Sydney Harbour presents itself as a splendid place to lay up ships out of commission, certainly far in advance of the Medway as a haven for the Royal Steam Reserve. To prevent any intercolonial jealousy with regard to the station of ships it would be wise for provincial parliaments to be content to abide by the professional wisdom and discretion of the Admiral upon the station, who is changed every few years.
The desire of the Admiralty is to form the naval base of the Australian squadron in Port Jackson, and the New South Wales Government should do all in its power to facilitate the plans of the Board in Sydney waters, as it means the expenditure of over £120,000, distributed amongst almost every trade. It is intended to have in Sydney a naval dockyard, and a large coaling wharf, under the direction of a naval superintendent. It will be very 'shabby ' if the Admiral has to coal his men-o'-war from ugly old hulks in 'our beautiful harbour,' instead of a wharf. When Captain St. Clair, the new captain of the 'Orlando,' arrives out here in June next, the question will no doubt be finally considered by Admiral Lord Scott, C.B., and Sir Henry Parkes.
Naval & Military Notes and Gossip. (1891, March 14). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872), p. 7. Retrieved from

"A spectacle well worth viewing," must have been the verdict of the crowds who, having braved the discomfort of rain, watched the entry of the seven ships of the Australian Squadron into Port Jackson, on Saturday. Heavy showers of rain, an occasional peal of thunder, and clouds that overhung both city and harbour up to lunch-time, afforded ominous indications of what the afternoon had in store, and doubtless deterred not a few from venturing out, but happily by 3 o'clock the rain-clouds had cleared away, and a glorious sunshine had given to the capital city and to the waters which washed its shores that beauty of appearance for which Sydney is so famed. Of demonstration, in the official sense of the term, there was none. Steamboats, both large and small, crowded with men and women, steamed towards the Heads, and kept company with the war-ships until the latter had made fast to their moorings; club boats and pleasure boats and dainty-looking sailing-craft dotted the waters of the harbour and spectators were gathered in large numbers on South Head, whence the first glimpse was to be obtained, and in the vicinity of Lady Macquarie's Chair and Fort Macquarie, and other points of vantage ; but of cheering there was very little, and of martial music and military display none at all. The New South Wales warship Wolverene steamed towards the Heads, and saluted the Admiral with 13 guns, and the English warship Curacoa, lying at anchor off Gordon Island, fired similar salute as the Admiral's ship rounded Bradley’s-compliments which were acknowledged with a salute of seven guns. Beyond this ceremonial did not extend, and as a matter of fact it was not necessary that it should be extended, inasmuch as the ships of the first Australian fleet possess in themselves features of absorbing interest. They are indeed magnificent specimens of the shipbuilder's art, and possession of them may justly be esteemed a source of honest pride to the Australian. Many were the admiring remarks made as on Saturday afternoon they passed between the Heads in single line, and then forming into two lines off Shark Island the Katoomba, Tauranga, and Wallaroo, and the Ringarooma, Mildura, Boomerang, and Karrakatta steamed slowly to their anchorage off Farm Cove. Of a certainty time will come when these splendid engines of war, over the possession of which Australia is making glad, will become practically obsolete by reason of the never-ceasing developments of inventive genius, but for the present, at any rate, they stand at the head of a class of ship that was designed but yesterday, not for aggressive but for defensive warfare, and which by reason of great speed and strength, and quick firing armament, is eminently suited for the work marked out. The very appearance of the warships which entered port on Saturday is suggestive of great speed, and equally great strength. A detailed description of the vessels, giving full particulars respecting their size, speed, armament, trial trips, voyage to Australia, ice., was published in Saturday's issue of this journal, and hence more than a very few words concerning them would, at this stage, be unnecessary. The fast cruisers Katoomba, Ringarooma, Tauranga, Mildura, and Wallaroo, are of the following dimensions:-….. The ships are built of steel throughout, and are provided with a cellular double bottom through a considerable portion of their length. …The two torpedo gunboats, the Boomerang and Karrakatta, are of the following dimensions:-…

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE AUSTRALIAN AUXILARY SQUADRON,. (1891, September 26). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872), p. 12. Retrieved from

The vessels had no sooner made fast to their moorings then they were surrounded by numerous small craft and closely studied, but beyond this inspection did not go. The Mayor (Mr. W. P. Manning), with the town clerk (Mr. H. J. Daniels) and a number of the city aldermen, including Mr. Jos. Martin, Mr. A. J. Riley, and Mr. C. E. Jeanneret, visited the flagship, and gave greeting to the Admiral and to Captain Bickford and his officers, and were afforded opportunity of inspecting tho vessel. Each of the ships was in turn boarded by a representative of the Herald, and inquiries made as to their seagoing qualities, and from each was received such an account as cannot fail to give satisfaction to tho owners. "A splendid sea boat, steady as a rock, easily handled, and beautiful engines " was in brief the verdict of each concerning his vessel, and other information was gleaned which goes to show that the doubts engendered by the discovery of defects when tho official trial tests were mado, and by the reports that the decks were never dry when at sea, and that the stokeholes and engine rooms were insufferably hot, are absolutely without foundation. When officers and men alike are pleased with their ship, then it may fairly be taken for granted that the ship is a good one. It has been arranged that the squadron shall leave on Saturday, the 19th instant, for Melbourne, and after a couple of weeks' stay there proceed to Adelaide, and then to Hobart. During this week each vessel will be docked at Cockatoo. With the exception of the Boomerang, one of the boilers of which got injured between Thursday Island and Brisbane, the attention required in dock is only such as is generally required after a long voyage. In the case of the boiler referred to, the water was through some oversight or other allowed to get too low, and the crown in consequence suffered. The vessels were all thrown open to inspection yesterday afternoon between the hours of 1 and 4, when they were thronged by admiring crowds. They will be open daily between the same hours during their stay in port except on Sunday next and when the presence of visitors would be inconvenient. The leading clubs of Sydney will extend hospitality to the officers during their stay in port, and the Mayor has invited them to lunch with him and the city aldermen at the Town Hall on Wednesday. On Thursday a number of the citizens will entertain the Jack Tars at a "high tea" in the Town Hall basement, to be followed by a welcome demonstration in tho Town Hall. THE AUSTRALIAN SQUADRON. ARRIVAL OF THE WARSHIPS. (1891, September 7. Monday). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

Admiral Lord Charles Scott, in answer to questions put by our representative, stated that the ships to remain in commission are the Tauranga, the Ringa-rooma, the Katoomba, and the Boomerang, and that the cost of keeping them in commission will be about £137,000 per annum. The Wallaroo, the Mildura, and the Karrakatta will be kept in reserve, but should an emergency arise they will be manned by crews transferred from ships like the Rapid. No provision is made in the Naval Defence Act for supplying crews or officers from the colonial fortes, neither is any power of control or direction vested in the Australian Governments, other than is contained in the provision that none of the ships may be removed from the Australian station, which comprises Fiji and Samoa, without the consent of the Australian Governments. The ships, without exception, will be employed in the general work of the station that is to say, none of them will be specially told off for continuous duty on any particular coast, and until each of the Australian capitals has been visited the fleet will be kept together. The Admiral looks upon the new vessels as extremely useful and suitable ones, and does not think that anything would have been gained by ordering larger and more powerfully armed ships.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ADMIRAL. (1891, September 7). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

ON BOARD THE WOLVERINE. It had been arranged that the Wolverene, manned by the Naval Brigade, should steam down to the Heads, and upon meeting the squadron there at 4 o'clock, to fire a salute of 13 guns. This  programme was, however, somewhat interfered with owing to the squadron arriving nearly an hour earlier than had been expected. It had left Newcastle at 8 in the morning, and after a beautifully smooth passage down under easy steam, entered the Heads at five minutes past 3. In the meantime the Wolverene had embarked 250 Naval Brigade blue-jackets from the Man-o'-War Steps, and started to steam down the harbour at a quarter to 3, followed by the Naval Artillery Volunteers in the launch Captain Cook, and by the two torpedo boats. Captain Hixson, R.N., who was on board the Wolverene, was in general command. Commander Lindeman, R.N., had charge of the Naval Brigade, while Commander Connor, R.N., acted as navigating officer of the Wolverene, and there were also on board Staff-surgeon Knaggs, and Surgeon M'Cormick. The Artillery Volunteers and the torpedo boats were under the control of Commander Bosanquet. When, off Bradley’s Head the fleet was espied coming round the South Head, and skirting slowly up by the southern shore in single column line ahead, the flagship Katoomba leading, and the Mildura, Ringarooma, Wallaroo, Tauranga, Boomerang, and Karrakatta following in the order named. Under those circumstances the original plan of meeting the fleet at the Heads had perforce to be abandoned, and the Wolverene awaited the vessels' arrival a short distance below Bradley's Head. When the fleet came up at a quarter past 3 the Wolverene fired a salute of 13 gnus, and the Naval Brigade struck up the inspiriting strains of “Rule Britannia," the blue-jackets cheering the new arrivals. The Katoomba replied with a salute of seven guns, and then, while passing Shark Island, the vessels formed into single column line abreast, an order which was preserved till they reached Fort Denison, where they  got into formation for anchoring. The Wolverene, accompanied by a swarm of smaller craft, yachts, pleasure boats, and steam launches, followed the squadron as it steamed up the harbour, and when it had anchored, the Wolverene sailed slowly up past Goat Island, and then returned to her anchorage. The appearance of the fleet as seen from the decks of the Wolverene was beautiful and impressive, and the numberless excursion and small pleasure boats which went to meet the vessels and followed them up helped to make the harbour very gay and the whole scene charmingly picturesque. After the fleet had passed by some excitement was created by the capsize of an open sailing boat, the Craigie Lee. It had eight occupants, who fortunately all succeeded in clambering on to the keel of the boat. The launch Captain Cook and the torpedo boats were at once signalled by the Wolverene to go to their rescue, but before they could do so the crew was picked up by the Waratah. ON BOARD THE WOLVERINE. (1891, September 7). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

The gentleman quite rightly known as the ‘father of the Australian Navy’ William Rooke Cresswell, apparently began considering a wholly Australian Naval Defence force as early as 1886;

The first plans for an Australian naval defence force were drawn up on board the Protector by Creswell as early as 1886 "to while away the many solitary evenings", and these culminated in the new Royal Australian Navy of which the Protector became a member in 1911, having served as a training ship since 1904 with the Commonwealth naval forces. Gunboat diplomacy. (1968, July 20). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), p. 11. Retrieved from

Among the most conservative bodies in the United Kingdom is the British Admiralty. It has become associated with a class, and is impregnable in its ideas and practices. Criticism is a thing it abhors, and this would seem to apply to its officers, because in a recent cablegram we were informed the chief constructor of the navy had resigned because he could not stand the criticism to which he was exposed. It will he pleasing to members of our Naval Brigade to learn that in their new commander they have an officer who dares to differ from the Admiralty.

It will be remembered that a meeting of Australian naval officers was held in Melbourne, at which a scheme of naval defence was considered, and a memorandum on the subject prepared. This met with hostile criticism in " The Times.'' There could be no doubt as to the source whence it was inspired. So long ago as November last Commander Cresswell, then Naval Commandant in South Australia, replied to it, though no room for his letter could be found till the middle of April. In it he claims for Australian naval defence a position to which colonists will agree it is entitled. The Admiralty has no great opinion of any naval defence force formed by the colonies in Australia, and "The Times" throws ridicule on the scheme proposed. Among other things it maintained that the force raised and trained under a Federal Naval Discipline Act will be widely divergent in discipline and efficiency from the National Navy.

Above right: HMAS Wolverene: Starboard side view of the screw corvette HMS Wolverine, flagship of Commodore Second Class John C. Wilson, Commander of the Australia Station, moored in FARM COVE. Beyond her is the screw corvette HMS Carysfort, of the visiting detached squadron, and Fort Denison. July, 1881, courtesy of state Library of Victoria.

On this Commandant Cresswell remarks that it is premature to estimate the standard of discipline end efficiency of a. force raised under an Act which is not even drafted. Here it will be seen the Commandant makes a good hit.

Then "The Times" stated the Australian force, would, consist of amateurs, half-trained volunteers, and longshoremen. The Commandant cheerfully admits that till the Act authorising the formation of the naval companies is passed the force will not be highly trained men-of-war’s men, seamen, gunners, and torpedo-men, &c, but the disparagement he looked upon as just as meaningless as to say the British army consists of agricultural labourers, mechanics, factory hands and etc.

" Neither in numbers, physique, intelligence, nor sea aptitude is the available material one whit below that of the mother country. These men have never been properly tested because of want of opportunity. Any doubt that may have existed about the qualifications of colonials as fighting men must have been removed by the admirable service rendered by the colonial troops in South Africa. They have shown an adaptiveness for the kind of warfare there which has commended them to all the generals who have had them at

Then " The Times " ridiculed the Australian Navy scheme because it would lead to half-a-dozen semi-independent navies in the Empire. To this Commandant Cresswell replied that such difficulty might require consideration if there were half-a-dozen British continents in the South Pacific. There was only one, however, and, like other great dependencies of the Empire, it had no frontier to defend. In this style the gallant officer disposes of the contentions put forward by "The Times," and he argues very soundly, it seems to us, that Australians should fit themselves to share the only risk and danger to which they are exposed-foreign invasion.

"The idea that four and a half millions of British people are to remain absolute ciphers as the protectors of their great coast trade is one that will not for a moment be entertained. They will never endure to remain impotent on shore with idle hands, while work is towards on their coast in which they are directly' involved."

A Commandant who entertains such sentiments, and is not afraid to entertain them as Commandant Cresswell does, will, unless  we are greatly mistaken, receive the ready and cordial support of our Naval Brigade. AUSTRALIAN NAVAL DEFENCE. (1900, June 2). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

What’s interesting about this above article is that it does not mention what is expressed by other sources that the expense entailed in maintaining an Australian squadron, then borne by all states,  could have been put to the purchase or building of an Australian Navy and that this idea was introduced by Commandant Cresswell. It also is published during the times of the Boxer Rebellion.

Commandant Cresswell had been appointed Commandant of the Queensland Naval Forces on May 1st 1900 and by August 1900 had been released to command HMCS/HMAS Protector on its deployment to China to assist in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion as the British Government would accept this vessel offered by the South Australian Government only if it was commanded by a ‘British officer’.  Captain Cresswell, although his expressed sentiments clearly point to a love of Australia, fulfilled this mission. This vessel was manned solely by Australian sailors.


PORT ADELAIDE, SA. c 1900. PORT SIDE VIEW OF THE GUNBOAT HMCS PROTECTOR OF THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN NAVY. Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial under the ID Number: A04936.

HMCS/HMAS Protector was a large flat-iron gunboat commissioned and purchased by the South Australian government in 1884, for the purpose of defending the local coastline against possible attacks in the aftermath of the ‘Russian scare', of 1870s. She arrived in Adelaide in September 1884 and subsequently served in the Boxer Rebellion, World War I and World War II. During the pre-federation period all colonies and states had to provide their own colonial navies. The final cost of this Vessel was £65,000 pounds sterling. (1).

Running concurrently with the development of colonial defence systems a growing discussion about forming a Federation during the 1890’s led to the Constitution of Australia (approved in a series of referendums held over 1898–1900 by the people of the Australian colonies) becoming law on 9 July 1900, and entered into force on 1 January 1901. This too, first debated in the 1850’s, stemmed in part to address cooperation between the states on inter-colonial tariffs.

Captain Cresswell returned to Australia on the HMAS/HMCS Protector on January 6th, 1901. His advice on defence matters and being recommended to advise on the formation of an Australian Navy continued in a somewhat quieter form than had been represented in the first article regarding his ‘answers’ to ‘The Times’.:

"Not quite ready yet," was Mr. Barton's reply to an inquiry as to the position of the federal tariff tonight. “We have made very good progress,” said the Premier, "and there is not very much more to do." Mr. Barton thinks that there will be no difficulty in bringing the budget and the tariff together before the House of Representatives. In his opinion the forms of Parliament will easily allow of that course being followed…
Right:The first Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Edmund Barton. 1903, courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

As stated in today's " Herald," the committee appointed by the Minister for Defence to inquire into various systems and rates of pay in the Australian States, with a view to recommending a schedule of  pay for the defence forces of the Commonwealth, concluded its sittings on Saturday. The committee, under the chairmanship of Colonel Finn, the Queensland commandant, consisted of representatives of all the States, with the addition of Captain Cresswell, of the navy, and Colonels Burns, Waddell, and Templeton as financial experts. Sittings have been held in Melbourne and Sydney, extending over the past month. Exhaustive evidence has been taken, and the committee has during the last few days devoted itself to the preparation of rates of pay it purposes recommending to the Minister. The committee is practically unanimous on the main principles, and it is intended that the rates of pay for the same class of duty shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. At present there is a considerable discrepancy in the amounts paid to the permanent forces. This is to be changed.  Every gunner in the service of the Commonwealth will receive the same pay and the same allowances, and the same principle will be carried out in all  ranks and all arms of the defence force.
To all inquiries on the subject of the appointment of the Federal Commandant, Mr. Barton returns the answer “Nothing has yet been decided." There is talk in military circles of negotiations between the Federal Government and the War Office having reached such a stage that the appointment may be decided upon any day. The information obtainable does not bear the official stamp of authenticity, but it coincides with the non-committal statements made from time to time during the last three months by the Premier and the Minister of Defence. It is gathered that the Federal Government tasked the War Office some time ago to nominate an officer as Federal Commandant, the principal conditions being that the candidate should have seen active service and should have sympathy with citizen soldiers. Lord Roberts thereupon nominated Lieutenant-General Pole Carew, and asked what the  salary would be. The Government offered £2500, and the War Office then intimated that double that sum would have to be offered if Lieutenant-General Pole Carew's services were to be secured. No increase could be made by the Commonwealth Government, and the War Office was asked to nominate another officer. Lieutenant-General Hildyard and Lord Dundonald were then recommended as officers eminently qualified to fill the position, and an intimation was returned that the appointment of either of these officers would be approved, and here the matter is now said to rest and the Federal Government is awaiting an intimation as to the acceptance of the position by one or other of the officers named. Failing them, three others are favoured—Lieutenant-General Smith-Dorrien, Major-General Hector Macdonald, and Major-General E. T. H. Hutton. It is no secret that the appointment of the last-named gentleman, who is well known as  Major-General French's predecessor in command of the New South Wales forces, would meet the views of at least two members of the Cabinet.
COMMONWEALTH-NOTES. THE FEDERAL TARIFF. (1901, September 10). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from

Some time ago Sir Langdon Bonython asked the Minister of Defence to seek the advice of Captain Cresswell of Queensland, in regard to naval defence. Sir John Forrest then replied that the naval commandants, had presented their report on the subject in 1899, but that he would be glad to hear from Captain Cresswell on the subject. Captain Cresswell has how replied. He believes in the gradual establishment of an Australian Navy and the development of a Naval Brigade. THE DEFENCE OF THE COMMONWEALTH. (1901, October 12). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), p. 74. Retrieved from

Captain Cresswell, reported as being a man with a great sense of humour, was again ignored. Instead the Colonial Conference of 1902 resulted in a naval agreement which provided for a financial subsidy and the acceptance of Australians for service as sailors (but not officers) in Royal Navy ships on the Australian Station. The British Admiralty continued to stand on its domination of all strategical matters and on a restriction of colonial naval activity to local defence.

Cresswell was supported by others in his assertions that Australia needed her own Navy though and on 25 February 1904 was appointed to a newly created position of naval officer commanding the Commonwealth Naval Forces.  In 1903, the newly written Defence Act, proclaimed of July 14th that year, was moving towards establishing more then just an Army for Australia.

CAPTAIN CRESWELL. Captain Creswell has arrived in Melbourne to assist the Defence Department in drafting regulations for the Australian local naval forces. CAPTAIN CRESWELL. (1904, January 26). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from

AUSTRALIAN NAVAL COMMANDANT. CAPTAIN CRESWELL APPOINTED. Melbourne, February 25. Captain W. R. Creswell, C.M.G., Naval Commandant of Queensland, and formerly Naval Commandant of South Australia, was appointed at the Federal Executive Council today pro tem. naval officer commanding the naval forces of the Commonwealth. AUSTRALIA NAVAL COMMANDANT. (1904, February 26). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 5. Retrieved from

AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE. PROPOSALS FOR THE-COUNCIL. MELBOURNE. December 19 The new defence administration system will come into force on New Year's Day. The Minister for Defence today submitted to his colleagues in Cabinet his proposals in respect to the constitution of the Council of Defence and the Naval and Military Boards, and they were approved. The military headquarters administration will be reorganized in a revolutionary manner at the next meeting of the Federal Executive Council. Brig.-Gen. Finn, acting as General Officer Commanding, will be appointed Inspector-General of the Federal Forces, at a salary of £1,750 per annum. Gen'. Finn has been engaged to serve in this capacity for two years. Capt. Creswell (Acting Naval Commandant) will be appointed Naval Director of the Common wealth, at a salary of £950. Brig.-Gen. Gordon (Commandant of Victoria) will be transferred to a similar position in New South Wales, in succession to Gen. Finn. Col. Ricardo (Military Commandant of Western Australia) will be transferred to Victoria. Col. Plumer (Acting Military Commandant of Queensland) will be confirmed in his position. Lieut.-Col. Wallace. R.A.A., will go to Western Australia as Military Commandant of that State. Col. McKenzie will remain Military Commandant of Tasmania; and Lieut.-Col. Reade will continue to act as Military Commandant of South Australia during the absence on sick leave of Col. Bayly, The Council of Defence will be constituted as follows:— ' Minister of Defence— Lieut.-Col. McCay. Treasurer— Sir George Turner. Inspector-General— Brig.-Gen, Finn. Nval Director— Capt. Creswell. Chief of Intelligence— Lieut.-Col. Bridges. Representatives of the citizen forces— Still to be selected.
The Military Board will consist of the Minister for Defence (D.A.G., and senior member of the board), Col. J. C. Head, the Chief of Intelligence (Lieut.-Col. Bridges), Chief of Ordinance (an artillery officer to be obtained from England, and, pending his arrival, Lieut.-Col. Le Messurier), and a finance member (still to be selected). The Naval Board will consist of the Minister for Defence, the Naval Director (Capt. Creswell), finance member (still to be selected), and representatives of the citizen naval forces. Capt. Collins (Secretary of Defence) will act as secretary to both boards. Some of the officers who will serve on the council, Col. Hoad and Lieut.-Col. Bridges in particular, will receive small increases of salary when they begin their new duties. It is expected that the first meeting of the council and boards will not be held till the middle of January.
AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE. (1904, December 20). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 8. Retrieved from

CAPTAIN' CRESWELL'S VIEWS. When communicated with on Wednesday evening, Captain Creswell said that the appearance of Russian war-ships off the Australian coast might be part of Russia's general policy of interference with British trade, in a manner similar to that-which the same power recently adopted off the Cape. It is just possible, he added, that one of these war ships was the vessel allowed to leave Port Arthur with women and children and other non-combatants, and whose arrival at any port has not yet been notified."' If that is the case the other vessel may be one of the volunteer fleet of cruisers, of which so much was heard some weeks ago, and if the object is to interfere with our trading vessels the questions of contraband as affecting Australia will, of course, come up for consideration. More particulars are desirable, however. CAPTAIN' CRESWELL'S VIEWS. (1904, October 8). Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald & General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), p. 5. Retrieved from

Captain Cresswell’s first recommendations to the newly formed Naval Board urged the creation of an Australian naval force. In 1906 he was sent to England to look into naval developments there, and despite the growing presence and growing number of German naval ships in the Pacific, was rebuffed for his ideas to form an Australian Navy:

NAVAL DEFENCE. Melbourne. March 14.The report of the Director of Naval Forces of the Commonwealth was received to-day by the Minister for Defence. Captain Cresswell commences by saying that a clearer definition of the Commonwealth Naval Defence responsibility has now been arrived at and announced by the Government, but that means are still lacking to carry it out. He looks upon the present vessels as only being useful to train officers and men for the new vessels.

"The age of our ships is," he says, “evidence of the care taken with them. The Cerberus was launched in 1869 and most of the other vessels are nearly a quarter of a century old. The lines on which the next Estimates should be framed, apart from provision for new vessels, are briefly as follows:-(1) Plants and vessels obsolete or obsolescent, to be maintained for the training of the forces required for the new naval service. (2) Personnel: (a) Instructional staff to form nucleus of crews of vessel's engaged in training work; (b) officers and men under training to man new vessels."

Mustering on the Cerberus. The Australasian, 31 March 1894 photo courtesy of "Newspaper Collection, State Library of Victoria"

He objected to the present system of allotment of expenditure and holds that the cost of our local naval defence should be distributed per capita. Captain Cresswell points out that the cadet system as applied to the navy, is at least of equal importance to the military side of the question. He regrets that no naval representative was present at the Sydney conference on the cadet question. Captain Cresswell refers at considerable length to the fact that Australia's naval responsibility has at last been recognised, and he discusses very fully the reasons for the needs contained in the report of the Imperial Defence Committee. "The axiom of our defence,” he says, “should be the production in Australia of every requisite, and, though it may be years before this can be completely done the 'principle must be persistently adhered to." He urges the necessity for sending Commander Colquhoun and Engineer-Commander Clarkson to England at an early date for the purpose of acquiring a thorough knowledge of every detail connected with torpedo craft. It is understood that application will be made for Commander Colquhoun to serve with a torpedo flotilla. FEDERAL AFFAIRS. (1907, March 15). The West Australian(Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from

An Australian Navy – The A.N. View  MELBOURNE, This Afternoon The Australian Natives' Conference has passed a resolution to the effect that the time has arrived when an Australian Navy should, be formed for the defence of  Australian interests. AN AUSTRALIAN NAVY. (1906, March 22). The Daily News(Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), p. 5 Edition: SECOND EDITION. Retrieved from

CAPTAIN CRESWELL IN ENGLAND. LONDON, Tuesday. Captain Creswell, Australian Naval Commandant, is visiting the naval establishments at Portsmouth and Plymouth, and also the Colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth. CAPTAIN CRESWELL IN ENGLAND. (1906, May 9). Morning Post (Cairns, Qld. : 1897 - 1907), p. 3. Retrieved from

AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE. CAPTAIN CRESWELL CRITICISED. LONDON, April 26. Lieutenant Carlyon Bellairs, R.N., M.P., on being interviewed, said he considered .that Captain Creswell greatly underestimated the cost of his Australian defence scheme. Lieutenant Bellairs declares that the present Australian squadron is quite inefficient, as the vessels are not armoured. Sir John Colomb, on being interviewed, said that Captain Creswell overrated the dangers of attack from armed merchant cruisers. AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE. (1906, April 28). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from

Scoffed at, derided despite being a highly esteemed and decorated for services Royal Naval officer prior to becoming an Australian resident, and perhaps losing patience, some attribute the visit of the American Navy, called ‘The Great White Fleet’, (the sixteen warships were painted white to denote peace) to Sydney Harbour on August 20th, 1908, as Captain Cresswell’s means of stirring up yet more support from the Australian people and as a means of rebuffing his proposals being rebuffed:

A GREAT WELCOME Thursday last was the greatest day that New South Wales ever saw! Sydney has had some great days, such as the Jubilee and the Commonwealth times, but the coming of the fleet set everything else in the shade. The crowds at South Head beat all possible records, and there must have been 300,000 people down that way. The trams were alleged to be able to carry 12,000, and maybe they did, but the multitude went afoot. The crowd marched out, women carrying babies; most carrying luncheon or billies, or some preparation for a picnic. It was a good-tempered, well-dressed, and nobly-behaved crowd. It was enough to fill a man's soul with pride in his country. They are great people, are the Australians.

The weather was all that could be desired, and the whole pageant was a brilliant success. Perhaps it will be best to reprint the account from the 'Daily Telegraph,' which was one of the best things done : —'Nature was kind, and did her sunny best to make the mighty pageant of yesterday an unfailing memory for the vast multitude who witnessed it. All the previous night the city seemed to sleep uneasily,' decked in its new finery. There were people in the streets long after the lights of the ferry steamers had ceased to glide in and out of Circular Quay. And almost with the dawn Sydney was fairly awake once more, and the principal streets were humming with life. That unmistakable thrill of expectation at the near approach of the event which has absorbed public attention for months was quite apparent in the dense crowds that streamed, like rivers in flood, along all the channels that led to the cliffs overlooking the ocean. And he must have been indeed an early riser who found himself the first-comer mi any of the heights near the Heads. Watchers who caught the first gleams of the rising sun in their binoculars, and swept the long line of the cliffs at South Head into their field of vision were amazed to find a fair number of spectators already in their places, and waiting for the curtain of morning mist to rise upon the stage of the Pacific. The outlook was anything but reassuring. Dense cloud masses were piled high to the south and east, and the tyro regarded the prospect with ill concealed apprehension, until sun weather-beaten person, with a slight roll in his gait, reminiscent of many strange experiences at sea, announced that with the wind in the wes'ard there would be no rain. And so it proved.

The Great White Fleet entering Sydney Heads, August 20, 1908, Naval History of America website photo #NH 67143.

Gradually the sun forced his way out through the banks of leaden cloud. .Little by little the visible area of the ocean on one side and the harbour on the other broadened outwards, and each new. bit of territory won from the mist revealed a fresh accession of onlookers, who massed themselves on the sides of the hills, and arranged themselves strikingly on the skyline at the crest. Looking over the harbour, with its flotilla of pleasure boats moored in the appointed bight, and its fine array of steamers dressed with flags, one could see the red root's of North Sydney and Mosman touched to vivid colour by the sunlight, the dark grey hulls of the British warships lying at anchor at Harden island, and further away the city itself waiting in festal attire to receive its honoured guests. But still the eyes of thousands were strained seaward in vain. Rumours ran from mouth to mouth that the battleships had been seen for a tantalising instant, moving like ghosts through the mist, and had then altered their course, and vanished. But those who knew where to look kept their glasses fixed on the south, and presently keen-eyed watchers made out the shape of the leading ship looming through the rapidly disappearing haze. And the suspense was over. So slowly were the great battleships advancing that there was an appreciable Interval of time before the remaining ships even of the leading division could be picked out of the haze. Owing to the angle at which the fleet approached the spectators on the cliffs, a peculiar optical effect was produced. When Admiral Sperry's flagship was clearly defined, a shadowy companion emerged from the haze and seemed to step into place alongside her. Then another followed, and after a farther brief period of eager watching on the part of the spectators, a fourth appeared. The flagship leading the line stood out bold and distinct, lifting and falling slowly in the 'long wash of Australasian seas.' The three yellow funnels stood out sharp and clear. The big turrets were easily discernible, and even the heavy scrollwork on the bows could be plainly seen. Abreast of her — so It seemed from the angle of view — marched a shadowy 'doppel danger,' resembling her in every particular, but with outlines blurred. And then came another 'doppel danger' and another, each more shadowy than the last, until it seemed as though the flagship moved amid ail eve-extending squadron of phantom ships advancing with her in one-abreast formation, as the fleet drew nearer the illusion vanished, and the spectators saw that the ships were not In line abreast, but in line ahead, each separated from the next by an interval of two cables' lengths. The increasing shadowiness of outline that marked the ships far down the line was caused, of course, by their increased distance from the spectator. Then all at once the mist faded away, and the majestic battleships showed themselves for what they were — the most overwhelmingly powerful navy that has ever floated in Australian waters. The effect was simply stupendous.

Admiral Sperry had brought his ships along just a shade ahead of the schedule, and accordingly the whole fleet almost marked time as it approached the Heads. Making, perhaps, a knot or two an hour, the battleships glided on towards the entrance of the harbour, keeping their intervals with accuracy, and the very slowness of ;their progress made their approach all the more fatefully impressive. It was borne In upon the minds of the onlookers that nothing on earth could stop that slowly-moving line of white ships if the directing brain decided that it should go on. Here on the cliffs nearly 100 feet above the sea were the spectators, like an audience in some vast theatre. Down below, on the stage of the ocean's surface, a splendid pageant was represented. And it had cost £20,000,000 to set that scene. The mere money value of these slowly-moving ships, lazily billowing out light clouds of thin smoke as the revolutions of the engines were reduced so as to give them merely bare headway, staggers a young country with a limited revenue. But if the wealth represented by the fleet is impressive, the strength is portentous.

Looking down on the battleships as they approached their first port of call in the Commonwealth after a cruise unique in naval History, even the least imaginative onlooker must have been warmed and thrilled by the thought that he saw before him the right arm of the Great Republic- -a long, strong hard hitting arm ready to strike terrible blows in defence of the ….. man’s cause should it ever assisted in this part of the world.

Even while this thought was framing itsel;f in my mind the flagship of the First Division swung itself round to starboard at right angles to her course and headed out to sea, followed by each  succeeding ship, which executed the same ‘right turn'  as soon as she reached the exact spot where the 'Connecticut' had changed her course, 'then the pageant suddenly livened up; black smoke poured from the funnels, and the ships quickened their stride in the game of ‘follow-my-leader' as the 'Connecticut' led the four divisions in a grand march straight out to seaward before she turned and came back heading straight for the harbour entrance. This is a simple manoeuvre, and one that is commonly exhibited at great naval reviews. But few of the hundreds of thousands of people who welcomed the United States battleships yesterday had ever seen a naval review of any kind, and the simple evolution fairly enthralled them. It seemed a miracle of orderliness; the very perfection of precision.

Postcard of USS Connecticut (BB-18). It (#1268) was the first of a 24-card series printed of the Great White Fleet by Edward Mitchell. This card was drawn off a photo by Enrique Muller and colored by Mitchell. It was likely published in 1906.

As the ships approached in a long line straight as a spear shaft, with the head pointing straight for the entrance to the harbour, a military band at the South Head fort began to play a series of American airs, and the simple music was aptly titled to the moment. It helped one to realize that this miracle, this portent, this astounding wonder of a great world Power's battle fleet entering the sequestered waters of Sydney Harbour, was indeed an actuality when one heard the plaintive and simple but thoroughly characteristic American music floating out to meet the ships that steamed from Hampton Roads so many months ago on a cruise that was to circumnavigate the globe. The sad little plantation ditty, the sonorous marching song that carries the rhythm of tramping feet in its cadences. The tripping little inconsequent melody that chance has made a national air; all these were borne out by  the west wind to greet the ears of men who could hear in the music echoes from their distant homeland. And as the great procession entered the Heads, a hoarse and dissonant screech of welcome went up from every waiting vessel, big or little, that could muster a steam whistle or a siren. It was not musical, but it was sincere, and it was thoroughly characteristic of Sydney. And so the great white battle-ships moved at a slow and stately pace up the harbour, dipping the flag of their country in grave salute as each passed by the signal station.

Their very names set in motion a train of new associations for the people of this country, 'there is a whole world of romance in the single name ‘Virginia.' And 'Georgia' — let it be spoken with pity as well as pride —calls up a story of something more than even a famous march. And what shall he said of 'Kearsage.' recalling the stubborn winner in that great seal duel off Cherbourg, where the Confederate cruiser, whose career cost England a huge bill of damages, and went near to dragging her into a fratricidal strife, went down beneath the waves — the only way of escape from the terrible pounding of her adversary. Truly even by their names the great white battle-ships have power to stir the imagination of Anglo-Saxons in this part of the world. And so with unerring precision each ship passed on to her moorings. And when night descended upon the  harbour there were strange lights burning to show the people that the cause of the white man has found a new and a mighty upholder in this hemisphere.' THE ARRIVAL OF THE FLEET. (1908, August 25). The Sydney Stock and Station Journal (NSW : 1896 - 1924), p. 3. Retrieved from

Ships of the Great White Fleet
The Fleet, First Squadron, and First Division were commanded by Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry. First Division consisted of Connecticut, the Fleet's flagship, Captain Hugo Osterhaus, Kansas, Captain Charles E. Vreeland, Minnesota, Captain John Hubbard, and Vermont, Captain William P. Potter.
Second Division consisted of Georgia, the Division flagship, Captain Edward F. Qualtrough, Nebraska, Captain Reginald F. Nicholson, New Jersey, Captain William H.H. Southerland, and Rhode Island, Captain Joseph B. Murdock.
The Second Squadron and Third Division were commanded by Rear Admiral William H. Emory. Third Division consisted of Louisiana, the Squadron flagship, Captain Kossuth Niles, Virginia, Captain Alexander Sharp, Missouri, Captain Robert M. Doyle, and Ohio, Captain Thomas B. Howard.
Fourth Division was commanded by Rear Admiral Seaton Schroeder. Fourth Division consisted of Wisconsin, the Division flagship, Captain Frank E. Beatty,Illinois, Captain John M. Bowyer, Kearsarge, Captain Hamilton Hutchins, and Kentucky, Captain Walter C. Cowles.
The Fleet Auxiliaries were Culgoa (a storeship), Lieutenant Commander John B. Patton, Yankton (a tender), Lieutenant Commander Charles B. McVay,Glacier (a storeship), Commander William S. Hogg, Relief (a hospital ship), Surgeon Charles F. Stokes, and Panther (a repair ship), Commander Valentine S. Nelson.
Great White Fleet. (2013, September 13). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:57, from
A 1908 Australian postcard welcoming the American 'Great White Fleet' to Australia.

By 1909, with the intervening years spent championing Australia’s needs, backed up be then Prime Minister Deakin, the government of Andrew Fisher, alarmed at the growing German fleet, ordered three destroyers.

Creswell attended the 1909 Imperial Conference, in company with Colonel Justin F. G. Foxton (Australian politician, barrister and soldier), which resulted in the Naval Defence Act of 1910 being passed which then created the Australian Navy. On the 10th of July, 1911 July King George V granted the title of 'Royal Australian Navy' to the Permanent Commonwealth Naval Forces . In 1911 Creswell was promoted to rear admiral in the service of the Royal Australian Navy and began the work of building an Australian Fleet, seeking Royal Navy officers who would oversee the first Naval College and teach the Australians all they needed. The colonial naval vessels were formed into one Navy while the three new vessels were being built:

It is the enormous expansion of German naval power in the last ten years that is forcing Great Britain just now to launch out upon a more active policy of construction than ever. Ten years ago, on the eve of the Boer war, the German fleet was inferior to those of both France and Russia. It numbered only 14 battle-ships, vessel for vessel, decidedly inferior to vessels of similar type in the British navy, which then included no fewer than 47 battle-ships. By1908 the number of German battle-ships had increased to 24, and that of the British to only 52. Thus the German battle fleet has been enlarged 1 percent, to the 13 per cent, of the British battle fleet. At the same time there was an immense improvement in the quality of the German vessels, of their armament, and their personnel. Of the German battle-ships in 1899, the largest was only11.700 tons, while Great Britain had 36 over 12,000 tons, including six of 15,000tons'. By 1908 Germany had in her fleet of 24 battleships two of 18,307 tons and two of 17,679 tons, with a total of 14 all larger than any ship owned by her in 1899.
German naval expansion can be even more clearly understood from the stupendous growth of the German Estimates. During the ten years ending in 1888,while British expenditure on the navy averaged about £12,000,000, that of Germany averaged less than £2,500,000. In the following ten years tho British outlay was about £18,500,000 annually, and the German still only a shade over£4,500,000. Then came the new German policy of aggressive construction. From 1898 onwards German expenditure has amounted to £10,865,000 a year, as against Great Britain's £32,000,000. It is now over £16,600,000, and under the latest programme it will reach£23,000,000 in 1911. 

In the four years up to 1908 British expenditure on new construction decreased toy an aggregate sum of £11,000,000, while German expenditure for that purpose increased by a total sum of £6,380,000, The German fleet is now being strengthened at the following rate. One vessel of "Dreadnought" or "Indomitable" type every quarter; one cruiser of 25 knots every six months; one destroyer of nearly 700tons every month; and one large submarine every month. When the present German programme, which provided for the expenditure of £200,000,000 on the navy in ten years is worked out in 1917 Germany will have 38 battle-ships, all less than 20 years of age, 10 battleship cruisers, 40 other cruisers, and twelve dozen destroyers, with many submarines. This powerful fleet will not be scattered over the world as the British navy must perforce be, but concentrated in German home waters, within a few hours sail of Great Britain. Is it surprising that the British nation regards as a menace the rise of this new sea power at Its doors? It is a direct challenge to Great Britain's traditional two power standard, and the cause of nearly doubling the British navy estimates, for as the "Quarterly" pointed out in October last, "If Germany were today content to devote to her fleet as a matter of £6,000.000 each year, as was the case in 1898, it would be possible for the British Government to maintain the two power standard at an annual outlay only slightly exceeding £20,000,000."

At the darkest moment of British reverses in South Africa. Prince Bufyw introduced  the bill which lay the foundations of the new German navy. The preamble of the bill declared that "Germany must have a fleet of such strength that a war against the mightiest seapower would involve risks threatening the supremacy of that power. For this purpose it is not absolutely necessary that the German fleet should be as strong as that of the greatest sea-power, because generally the greatest sea 'power' will not be in a position to concentrate all its force against us? THE GERMAN NAVY. (1909, March 31). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from

NAVY. During her few months stay at Port Adelaide, H.M.A.S. Protector was subjected to a complete overhaul and cleaning, besides being fitted with new water tanks and undergoing minor alterations. On Friday afternoon the old gunboat cast off her moorings at the buoys opposite the Glanville Wharf, and steamed slowly down the river enroute to Melbourne, where she will be engaged in training the Victorian section of the naval militia. The chief seaport will be without the presence of a warship until next Friday, when the Parramatta, Yarra, and Warrego, now engaged in manoeuvring operations at Port Lincoln, will return. To the average Australian, these three ships of war constitute the Commonwealth Navy. This is not altogether correct, as the Royal Australian Navy boasts no fewer than 10 vessels—Cerberus, Childers, Countess of Hopetoun, Tingira, Paluma, Gayundah, Protector, Yarra, Parramatta, and Warrego. The Cerberus, however, is only valuable as a target, or possibly a magazine; The torpedo boats Childers and Countess Of Hopetoun are rather out of date, though useful for training purposes. The old gunboat Paluma would cut a sorry figure in a sea fight, but she is to be rearmed and used as a tender to the gunnery school. The Protector, which went to China at the time of the Boxer rebellion, and which was South Australia's only gunboat until the Federal Government took her over, is like the old Gayundah, also to be rearmed and used for training reserves. The Tingira, another old vessel, should prove an excellent craft for teaching youngsters the rudiments of seamanship. But for an effective fighting force we must rely on the three new destroyers, the nucleus of the newest navy in the world. This trio was recently reinforced by an efficient second cruiser, the Encounter, which was transferred from the Admiralty. She is manned with a nucleus crew of Royal Navy officers and men, and completed with Australian ratings for training. As these latter are trained they will be sent to England to man the three cruisers, Australia, Sydney, and Melbourne, now building in Great Britain, and which are due in Australia next year. OUR NAVY. (1912, July 27). Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1910 - 1924), p. 8. Retrieved from

Training ship HMAS Tingira moored in Rose Bay, Sydney in 1912. Originally named Sobraon, in 1911 she was sold to the Commonwealth and re-named "Tingira". Commissioned in 1912 as Australia's first naval training craft and remained in commission at Rose Bay until 1927. The ship was towed to Berry's Bay in 1929 and broken up in 1941. Image of the Australian War Memorial under the ID Number: A02605

Next Week – The ships of the newly formed Australian Navy and their Entrance into Sydney Harbour – the 1913 Fleet Review

1. HMAS Protector (1884). (2013, March 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

First Naval Exercises by New South Wales Colonial Ships – The Wolverene at Broken Bay - Issue 126, Pittwater Online News

Robert Hyslop, 'Creswell, Sir William Rooke (1852–1933)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,

 Great White Fleet at Farm Cove, Sydney Harbour, 1908. Courtesy POwerhouse Museum Collection on Flickr.


Grand Naval Demonstration in Sydney Harbour

THE naval review and sham fight in Sydney Harbour on Tuesday, the 12th instant, formed one of the grandest spectacles ever beheld in Australia, and will long be remembered by all who had an opportunity of witnessing it. The plan of operations was very simple; it was assumed that the Wolverene (flag-ship), Emerald, Miranda, and Cormorant, should steam up the harbour as if they had succeeded in forcing the outer batteries. To oppose their further progress a strong earthwork, manned by the Naval Reserve and contingents from the fleet, was planted at Mrs. Macquarie's Point, flanked by the Alert (corvette), Beagle, and Conflict on the right, and the Sandfly and the Renard on the left. To carry out these arrangements the attacking squadron had to leave its moorings at noon and proceed down as far as the South Head Light-house ; but as a matter of fact the fleet went nearly as far as Manly. When the time arrived for commencing operations the Wolverene, followed in line by her three sister vessels, steamed slowly but gracefully past Brad-ley's Head. The fight commenced with fierce cannonading, which rapidly increased in intensity as the fleet took up its position opposite the point to be attacked, the fire being returned by the lighter guns from the Active, Beagle, and Alert. After the four attacking ships had come fairly to anchor in half-circular form, with the Wolverene and Miranda on the off side, and the Cormorant and Emerald at the Garden Island side of the half-circle, the two latter, who had been previously somewhat sparing with their powder, opened up the attack in order to make it hot for the defenders, who, however, briskly re-plied, and were assisted in their defence by the gun-boats flanking the position. All being now ready a flotilla of boats and steam launches, under cover of the guns of the fleet, made away for the shore with parties of attacking marines and blue jackets. As they approached close to the point of landing, the big guns covered them, playing upon the defenders with their stern batteries. The preconceived plan of a repulse at first was well played ;for, having landed a short time, and after making vigorous attempts to displace the defenders, the enemy was compelled to beat a most inglorious retreat. Many of them were to be seen rushing into the water in order to reach their boats and launches. The rattle of musketry from Macquarie Fort now became general, interspersed frequently by the booming from light field guns, which the holders of Macquarie's Chair spitefully plied over
them. The assailants and the attacked, however, pretty fairly exchanged shots ; a fusilade was maintained during the retreat, while the guns of the fleet vigorously covered the retiring forces, but the fire of the blue-jackets was rapid and well sustained. The men afloat, however, soon found themselves at a safe distance once more, under the wing of either of the four principal ships at anchor, each of whom let off an occasional stinging shot by way, apparently, of revenge. Soon a stillness followed, in the course of which signals were hoisted and lowered in rapid succession from the mainmasts of the ships, and these were followed by another period of silence, which may be assumed to be that momentous period when a more advantageous process of attack is being discussed. Presently the enemy drew up in order, and commenced a second attack in almost similar order to the previous attempt. The boats advanced this time, however, in greater order, maintaining a regular half-circle in their advance from the fleet to the point of landing. The attack was covered by the fleet, as before, and as they neared the shore, a perfect hail of firing commenced, which reverberated in the air. The attack was this time swift and determined. The enemy effected a prompt landing, and compelled the defenders to retreat at the double quick. Having landed and "fallen in," the marines made a flank movement, and acting in unison -with the tars compelled the final surrender of the defenders.

Sham Naval Fight - Sydney 1881, courtesy State Library of NSW.

The force engaged during the day was as follows :-Wolverene, 17 guns, 335 men ; Emerald, 12 guns, 230men ; Alert, 4 guns, 220 men ; Miranda, 6 guns, 145men ; Cormorant, 6 guns, 145 men ; Alacrity, 1 gun, 35men ¡ Beagle, 1 gun, 30 men ; Conflict, 1 gun, 30 men ; Renard, 1 gun, 30 men ; Sandfly, 1 gun, 30 men ; Naval Brigade, about 300 men ; total, 1,530 men. The first division of boats consisted of-Wolverene, launch, 1st 1 -7 cutter (one gun); 2nd cutter, galley; Miranda, 1st cutter (one gun), 2ndcutter ; Alert, 1st whaler, 2ndwhaler ; Beagle, 1st whaler, 2ndwhaler ; Conflict, 1st whaler, 2ndwhaler ; Naval Brigade, steam launch, 1st cutter ; carrying 191officers and men. The second division of boats were - Emerald, steam pinance (one gun), 1st cutter and 2nd cutter ; Cormorant 1stcutter (one gun), 2nd steam cutter; Renard, 1st whaler, 2nd whaler; Sandfly, 1st whaler, 2nd whaler ;Naval Brigade, 4 gigs, pinance,2nd cutter (one gun). Total, 196officers and men. The whole landing party was under the command of Captain Maxwell, assisted by Commander Dawson, in charge of the first division of boats; Commodore Bruce, second division. The defending force comprised eight ships' companies, &c, numbering 369 men and 19 officers :-Wolverene, A Company (Lieutenant Corbett) ;Emerald, half A Company (Lieutenant Giles) ; Cormorant, half Company (Sub-Lieutenant Armstrong) ;Wolverene, field and Gatling guns' crew, 2 guns (Sub-Lieutenant Torlesse) ; Emerald, field and Gatling guns' crew, 2 guns (Lieutenant Clarke) ; Miranda, Gatling guns 'crew, 1 gun (Sub-Lieutenant Knight) ; Naval Brigade small arm men (Commander Jones) ;Naval Brigade, 3 9-pounders, 3howitzers, 6 guns (Commander Allen) ; surgeons, stretcher party. The defending force was under the
The command of Captain Maclean, R.N., assisted by Commander Watson, R.N., Captain Hixson, S.N. Brigade, with Lieutenant Clark, R.N., and Commander Allen, S.N. Brigade, in charge of the field batteries and Gatlings. The vessels on the left flank of the Point were commanded by Lieutenant-Commanding Izat; those on the right, by Lieutenant-Commanding Maxwell. The boats which carried the Royal Marines were the harbour steam pinnace, the Emerald's sailing launch, the Alert's steam cutter, and the harbour  launch. The whole affair was successful from beginning to end, and gave every satisfaction to all concerned.
Grand Naval Demonstration in Sydney Harbour. (1881, April 23). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872), p. 21. Retrieved from

Admiral Lord Charles Thomas Montagu-Douglas-Scott
This portrait by an unknown artist depicts Admiral Lord Charles Thomas Montagu-Douglas-Scott on the deck of a man-of-war probably during his time as a Lieutenant of Britain's Royal Navy. As a Rear Admiral, Lord Scott was Commander-in-Chief of the Australia Station 1889-1892 with HMS ORLANDO as his flagship.
Lord Charles Thomas Montagu-Douglas-Scott was born on 20 October 1839 at Montagu House, Whitehall, London to Walter Francis Montagu-Douglas-Scott, 5th Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry and Lady Charlotte Anne (née Thynne, daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Bath). After receiving an education at St Peter's College, Radley, Lord Scott joined the Royal Navy (RN) as a naval cadet in 1853 at the age of 14. He remained in the service of the RN for his entire working life serving in the Russian War in the Baltic in 1854, the China War 1857 and was mentioned in despatches during the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58. Lord Scott served in 14 RN ships during his 51 years in the navy culminating in his appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Australia Station 1889-1892. He was also a Lieutenant aboard the Royal Yacht VICTORIA & ALBERT 1863-65, flag-captain of the Flying Squadron during its world voyage (in which Australia was visited) of 1875-77, Aide-de-Camp to Queen Victoria in 1887-88 and Commander-in-Chief of Plymouth Naval Base 1899-1902. Lord Scott married Ada Mary Ryan in Victoria, Australia in 1883. They had two sons. Admiral Lord Scott died on 21 August 1911 at the Buccleuch family home of Boughton House, Northamptonshire, England, aged 72. His portrait shows him probably as a Lieutenant; he is seen in full uniform cradling a telescope in his right hand, his left hand resting on a cannon, as he stands on the deck of a man-of-war. The artist is unknown but probably of the English School. This newspaper report from The Argus, 28 November 1890, page 5 details just one of the many (and typical) inspections Lord Scott undertook as part of his Australia Station duties: "His Excellency Lord Charles Scott, the Admiral in charge of the Australian station, in a report to His Excellency the Governor regarding his inspection of the Victorian Naval Forces on the 10th inst., states that the Naval Reserve, who were on the H.M.V.S. Nelson under Captain Fullarton, went through the gun drill in a most creditable style, although the guns were not of modern date. The appearance and dress of the men left little to be desired, and he never had the honour to inspect a body of men of finer physique. The crew of the Cerberus performed the gun drill in the turrets of that vessel, and also the other drills in which they were exercised in a most satisfactory manner. The arrangements for getting the torpedo nets in and out on the Cerberus were particularly clever and well adapted. Speaking of the gunboats Victoria and Albert, Lord Charles Scott states that they were in as efficient a state as the nature of the forces would allow, seeing that it was impossible to keep entire crews on board of them. The few days' training which the Naval Reserve got during the year afloat was hardly sufficient to keep them properly posted up in the details of working modern ordnance, though they performed their exercises at the inspection very well and smartly. He suggested that they should receive more drills afloat, which are at present confined to holi- days, as this would tend to increase their efficiency. After referring in complimentary terms to the manoeuvres of the torpedo boats, the Admiral concludes his report by stating that the naval forces are in a very efficient state, and complimenting the officers and men on the zeal and attention they have evidently bestowed on their work."

Admiral Lord Charles Thomas Montagu-Douglas-Scott biography from
Date or Place c 1862 England Image No: 00018387

The death occurred tonight of Vice- Admiral Sir William Creswell, formerly Director of the Commonwealth Naval Forces and First Naval Member of the Commonwealth Naval Board, Sir William Creswell, who had been in ill-health for some time, was in his 81st year.
Sir William's earliest association with Australia was in pre-Federation days, when he served in South Australian waters, eventually becoming Naval Commandant of that colony. It was during his stay there that Sir William, with the equipment of long and distinguished Imperial experience and passion and resource for the study of naval problems, applied his attainments to the future programme of Commonwealth defence. He ably advocated the maintenance of an Australian fleet in lieu of an annual subsidy towards the support of the British squadron in these waters. On the small scale of South Australia's local system, he illustrated those gifts for organisation which were to have a wider ambit in the evolution of an Australian fleet and naval policy.

Vice-Admiral Creswell entered the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1865, and during his career was associated with some historic episodes in naval affairs. After he was advanced to sub- lieutenant, in 1871, he was appointed to the Thalia, on the China station. In a boat action against Chinese pirates in the boats of the Midge, gun vessel, to which he had been temporarily appointed, he was severely wounded, and was later presented with a lieutenant's commission by the Admiralty for his conduct on that occasion. On his recovery, Lieutenant Creswell was appointed to the Naval College in 1874, and thence to the Topage, one of the squadron sent to India to receive H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. He then served in the flag-ship of the East India station, the Undaunted, and later in the London for the suppression of the slave trade. While thus engaged he received the thanks of the Foreign Minister for services in command of the London's boats against Arab slave dhows. He was invalided home in 1878, and later appointed to the training service, and to the charge of the Lion of Devonport. He retired temporarily from the navy to take up squatting pursuits in Queensland. Soon after H.M.S. Protector's arrival in South Australian waters he was elected as first lieutenant of the cruiser. He was in active command during 1891, and on Captain Walcot's retirement, in 1893, his command of the Protector was confirmed, and he was appointed to the position of Naval Commandant. In June, 1896, he was promoted to the rank of post-captain.

Sir William was appointed Naval Commandant of Queensland in 1900, and four years later was chosen for a similar position in connection with the Commonwealth forces. In 1906 he visited England to ascertain all particulars relative to torpedo boat destroyers, with a view to Australian construction. In 1909 Sir William attended the Imperial Conference that resulted in Australia's co-operation in sea defence, and provision for this purpose of a fleet unit. He was appointed Rear-Admiral in 1911, and Vice-Admiral In 1922. He retired from the position of First Naval Member in 1919.

He married in 1888 Adelaide Elizabeth, daughter of the late Mr. Justice Stowe, of South Australia. Lady Creswell survives him. A married daughter lives in South Africa, one son, Mr. Edward Creswell, is shire engineer at Ararat (Vic), and a younger son, Mr. Peter Creswell, is on the land. Two other sons were killed in the Great War. A brother of Sir William Creswell, is Lieutenant-Colonel F. H. P. Creswell, leader of a section of the Labour party in South Africa, and a former Minister for Defence and Labour.
SIR WM. CRESWELL. (1933, April 21). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved from

Photo: William Creswell, c1880 courtesy State Library of South Australia, B 22103/115 from Adelaide Book Society : W.R. Creswell
Members from 1873 - William Rooke Creswell. Date ca.1880

Service of Captain Randolph William Creswell, 3 ANZAC Camel Battalion, Egypt and Palestine, 1916-1917. Collection includes a letter (and a transcribed copy) written to his father, Vice Admiral William Rooke Creswell, and a copy of a letter to the Australian Comforts Fund. Biographical note: Served in the 3rd Anzac Camel Battalion, AIF. Killed in action 6 November 1917 at Tel el Khuweifle, Palestine. Mining engineer of Melbourne, born Largs Bay, SA 13 March 1890; educated at St Peters College, Adelaide; Brisbane Grammar School; Melbourne Grammar School and Melbourne University. Appointed Second Lieutenant in AIF 6 July 1915 and posted to 29 Battalion, transferred to Camel Corps, 24 January 1916; promoted Lieutenant 20 February 1916; temporary Captain and to command no 11 Company, Imperial Camel Corps 1 July 1916; to 3 ANZAC Camel Battalion, 1 November 1916, promoted Captain, November 1916. Passed first in Topographical School, Cairo. Son of Sir William Rooke Creswell, First Naval Member of the Royal Australian Navy. His twin brother Lieutenant Edmund Lindsay Gordon Creswell was wounded at Bullecourt, but survived. Another brother Lieutenant Colin Fraser Creswell RN was killed in submarine E. 47. Permalink:

The Government of South Australia have applied to the Government asking that the Naval Commandant (Captain Cresswell) should be allowed to command H.M.S. Protector while on service in China. At considerable inconvenience to the local marine defence affairs, the Government have, in the interest of Australian Unity, acceded to the proposal. Captain Cresswell will probably join the Protector in Brisbane. Captain Cresswell's services have been granted for three months without prejudice to his present appointment.
Adelaide, August 3.
The call made by the Naval Commandant for a crew to proceed to China in H.M.S. Protector met with a ready response. The men .are delighted at the prospect of participating in active service. The enrolment will take place to-morrow morning, when the places of those who fail to present themselves will be filled by others from the reserve. The officers are confident that everything will be shipshape by Monday afternoon. Fresh water is being taken on board, and further supplies of powder and projectiles are being shipped with all haste. Dr. B. H. Morris, medical officer for the Destitute Poor and State Children's Depart-ment, has been appointed surgeon on the Protector.
Adelaide, August 5.
H.M.S. Protector, with the naval contingent, will leave for service in China at 4 oclock to-morrow afternoon. The crew were enrolled on Saturday, all except two. In the afternoon a public reception was tendered to the officers and men by the Port Adelaide and Semaphore Corporations….
Replying, on behalf of the Navy, in response to the toast of "The Army and Navy,” the Chief Secretary made an important announcement concerning Captain Cresswell’s appointment to command the Protector. Before accepting the Protector the Admiralty wished to place Royal Navy officers onboard. The Government would not agree to this, and then. Captain Cresswell, who was formerly Commandant of the South Australian Naval Forces and who had served in the Royal Navy, was suggested. Lieutenant Clare at first objected, but subsequently waived it and the difficulty had been overcome by his agreeing to go with Captain Cresswell as chief executive officer. By his action, Lieutenant Clare would lose none of his privileges as Commandant of the South  Australian Naval Force.
AUSTRALIAN CONTINGENTS. (1900, August 11). Western Mail(Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), p. 19. Retrieved from

AUSTRALIAN SEAMEN.VIEWS OF AN ENGLISH NAVALOFFICER.INTERVIEW WITH CAPTAINCHAMBERS. Journeying to Melbourne by the R.M.S. Orontes is Captain B. M. Chambers, R.N., a prominent English officer who has been commissioned by the Australian Government to assist in the work of placing the Commonwealth Navy on a satisfactory basis. His first task in that connection will be as Director of the Australian Naval College, which is to be established at Sydney. When seen by a "West Australian" representative, Captain Chambers expressed himself as glad of the opportunity of spending 'a few years in Australia engaged in a work in which he naturally took the keenest delight. Captain Chambers, during the course of his remarks, said that he had been told that there had been considerable adverse comment on the action of the Commonwealth authorities in engaging English officers to assist in the work of developing the Australian Navy on the lines it should be formed. "We naval officers at home," he continued, "naturally are extremely interested in the development of the Australian Navy, and those of us who have beer selected to participate in that work of development hope to make it a great success. Just as naturally we, while prepared to enter into our duties with the utmost cordiality, feel somewhat the criticism. Of course, I know there is generally a strong feeling of dislike to outsiders being brought into active connection with a new navy, but in starting an organisation such as a navy it is quite impossible to find experts in a moment. I think, therefore, people ought to realise that, however much one might desire to employ local men, there are some positions which can only be filled by people with a naval training. After all, the appointment of English officers is only temporary, and after a few years they will have completed their task and returned to England, their positions being filled by Australians who have profited by their experience. As I have said, you can't make a naval officer in a moment. It takes at least12 years to make a reliable naval lieutenant and this alone should show how absolutely necessary it is that some of the officers should be brought out from .England. In this, of course, Australia is doing no new thing, as Japan affords an illustration. Admiral Douglas went to Japan some 40 years ago to supervise the start of the Japanese navy. The recent war between Russia and Japan showed the results of his work. Once started, of course, a navy is capable of running itself, and Admiral Douglas's services after a while were not required, the consequence being that he returned to England. So, I take it, will be the experience with the Australian Navy. Mind you, I am coming out to Australia with quite an open mind regarding the whole question, and am quite prepared to find, that the criticism which is levelled at the employment of experienced British naval officers is not, after all, a serious matter."

In response to a query as to how Australian seamen were regarded by the naval authorities, Captain Chambers said that they were recognised to be exceedingly capable men. "Just before leaving for Australia," he said, "I was informed by my brother-in-law, Admiral Ingram, that his experience of Australian sailors in the navy had been such as to call forth admiration. It has been said that the Australian is not readily amenable to .discipline. On this point he told me that he had 'found that if Australians once understood the reason for discipline and for orders given from time to time no difficulty was experienced in getting them to carry out those orders. Of course, .in an old-established navy like our own, people are apt to forget that point. Our sailors, trained from boyhood, take things for granted and do not reason why an order, the reason for which is not obvious, should exist. With Australians it is a case of them wanting knowledge, and why such and such an order is required. Personally I believe in letting sailors know reasons for orders, so as to carry their training further. Everything in a navy, however, hinges on discipline, and without it no good  results can be achieved, and, in fact there can only be chaos. One always finds that reasonable men never object to discipline, and that is where the British navy shines. I believe it will be so in the 'Australian' navy, for the Australians are, I am' told, always hardworking and keen, always rising to the occasion.".

Captain Chambers's attention was drawn to the fact that technical knowledge seemed to be one of the great outstanding features of the American sailors, and during the stay of "The White Aramada" in Australian waters American sailors were frequently found studying hard at technical books. Asked whether' in a sailor such technical knowledge was essential, Captain Chambers answered emphatically in the affirmative. "I believe in sailors getting all the technical knowledge they can," he said, "and the greater the knowledge they possess the better they will be prepared for every emergency. Australians are, I am informed, possessed of great capacity for absorbing knowledge, and have shown on many occasions their great initiative. The Americans possess much the same qualifications, and among themselves they, are always seeking for greater knowledge. Should the occasion ever arise when America is called upon to engage in war the enemy, I believe, will meet with some surprises, for the Americans are always on the alert trying to find ways and means of defeating their opponents, be it in the schools of instruction or on the open sea.. The Australian should in the near future be in a position-to rank as the equal, if not the superior, of the American sailor."

While discussing naval matters Captain Chambers broke off to pay a tribute-to Fremantle.: "I have recently been out in the western States of America," he said, "and coming from there to Fremantle I could not help noticing the finished appearance of your port. It is so different from ports on the other side, where everything seems to be in an untidy, unfinished state.

Capatian Chambers will confer with Admiral Cresswell at Melbourne in regard to his duties, which he will shortly enter upon as Director of the Australian Naval College, which is to be established at Sydney. He has had a distinguished career, and served in several Egyptian campaigns As a "middy" he was present at the bombardment of Alexandria. The new director became captain in 1905. He is an expert nautical surveyor and chart compiler. He has made important contributions to the literature of his profession, and has much popularity m the service. He has been lent to the Australian navy for three years, and before going out to Sydney he received special permission to visit the Royal Naval Colleges at Osborne, Dartmouth and Portsmouth Dockyard, in connection with taking up his new duties as Director of the Naval College in the New South Wales capital. While holding a sub-lieutenant's commission he won the Shadwell prize awarded to the lieutenant making the best map of an anchorage with sailing directions executed by himself. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. According to himself Captain Chambers has been navigating officer on a number of the principal ships in the navy, and has devoted himself to cruiser work and scouting. On attaining his captaincy he was appointed to the staff of the War College, Portsmouth, where he remained for a year. Since then he had commanded the battleship Bulwark and the cruiser Talbot. He was for 18 months in the home fleet under Admiral May, and his last commission was in H.M.A.S. Majestic in charge of one of the reserve fleets of battleships at home. AUSTRALIAN SEAMEN. (1911, May 17). The West Australian(Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from

It is understood that Barranjoey is favoured by the Naval Board as a suitable site for the Commonwealth naval college. My report respecting suitable sites for the Commonwealth naval college was forwarded to the Federal Government on Saturday," said Captain Bertram Chambers, R N , yesterday "and I am hoping that we shall soon be able to make a start During my tour of inspection I saw three or four sites which I greatly admired One of those is just a little to the north, of Sydney. That was one of the spots that Impressed me of course, there were others.”
Asked whether any recruiting was going on for the Australian auxiliary of the fleet, Captain Chambers stated that so far nothing had been done in that direction
“Admiralty House and Garden Island," he said in reply to further queries, ' belong to the Admiralty, and although there is no telling what the Admiralty will do with them it is probable that they will be handed over to the Federal Government.”
“Yes, I liked Jervis. Bay I believe that Nowra and Jervis Bay are only about 15 miles distant and there are no Insuperable difficulties in the way of connecting them by railway The connection, I think, should have been made long ago. You see, it is such a small distance, and I am told there are practically no engineering difficulties to surmount "
In his interview Captain Chambers remarked that he had been very favourably Impressed with a site a little to the north of Sydney. There is every reason to believe that the site he has in view is that at Barranjoey. This site appears to fulfil all the requirements spoken of by Captain Chambers on his arrival in Sydney early this month. He insisted then that while it was desirable to have the college within easy reach of Sydney, it must be so far removed from the city that the students are excluded from the temptations that the environments of a large city always hold out.  He also mentioned that the site must have easy access to the sea, and that there must be room for the college to expand.
NAVAL COLLEGE SITE BAERANJOEY NAMED. (1911, June 26). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from Photo: Admiral Bertram Mordaunt Chambers, C.B., R.N., Retired (3 October, 1866 – 27 April, 1945) was an officer of the Royal Navy. Phoot is from 1919. © National Portrait Gallery, London.

There are many indications that Englishmen 'in the ";four quarters of the globe" are no longer content to let the mother country not only pay for, but provide crews for, the great fleet which is so essential to the Empire. Already the colonies have done something 'to show their recognition of their duty towards the navy. Though their efforts may not be as great as many statesmen would desire, the monetary and other contributions are an admis sion of colonial indebtedness and a promise for the future. COLONIAL CONTRIBUTIONS. India contributes £100,000 towards the expenditure upon the naval force in East Indian waters, The Australian colonies pay annually £120,000 as a grant towards the expenses of the squadron that guards their coasts and adjacent waters. Cape Colony is remitting £30,000, being the annual interest on the million sterling which the Admiralty are expending upon the new "mighty cruiser," Good Hope, of 14,100 tons, which was recently launched on the Clyde. Natal presents each year 12,000 tons of the excellent coal raised in that at colony to the British navy, a present that must be worth to this country at about £18,000. Newfoundland has offered coal, and   the question is understood to be still under the consideration of the naval authorities. The assistance rendered by the Australian colonies is all the more note-worthy because they also support small navies of their own, as does India. Victoria has a force of 300 strong, an old armoured ship, and half a dozen torpedo craft: while South Australia's gunboat Protector, with her crew of  170 men, has been doing Imperial work in China. Queensland has 300 officers and men to man a couple of gunboats and two torpedo-boats, and New South Wales can count on the services of nearly 600 colonists, forming a fine brigade, which has also done splendid work in the Far East. These Australasian seamen are of good physique   and well trained, and their efficiency is a good omen for the future of any reserve force that may be formed. Canada alone among the British colonies, in spite of her increasing   revenue, reaching to ten millions sterling, and her mercantile marine, equaling that of Japan, which spends five millions sterling each year on her navy, renders no assistance of any kind to the support of the Imperial feet. Her neighbour, Newfoundland, however, is showing her patriotism in this respect in the most practical manner. Too poor to afford to relieve Great Britain of more than a mere fraction of the twenty-eight millions which is swallowed up each year by our marine forces, she is proposing to give men to the service of the navy. The difficulty in the past has been that Lord Goschen was unwilling to vary the regulations to suit the colonial conditions, particularly that which requires all reserve men to undergo six months' training afloat. In his last "memorandum" the First Lord announced in regard to Australasia that "it has been considered most expedient to await the establishment of one central authority under the scheme of federation, so as to organise a central system of colonial reserves if an agreement can be arrived at." Similarly, last spring the proposals with reference to the training of Canadians were still under discussion. AN IMPERIAL NAVY. (1901, May 11). Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954), p. 13 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved from


(From the "Times" of 1st January, 1904.)

Years moving onward, onward,-Whence, and Whither, and Why ?
Age after Age in the self-same world, with the self-same stars in the sky,
The self-same glory of Light in Heaven, and Light that is still on the way,
Outlooking gaze of the damsel dawn, and droop of declining day.
All things always the same, unchanged, unchangeable, all save we, :
Who come like clouds, like clouds disappear, form and fall like waves of tho sea,
Message and meeting, of severed friends, Yule carol, New Year chime,
And Eternity moving on and on, on the passionless wheels of time.
Peace but a hungry duel for life, darkening to menace of War,
And Muscovite legions tramping on, doing the will of the Tsar.
New Philosophies, policies new, new but like to the old,
Fervent in faith at the birth, then questioned, railed at, obsolete, cold;
Mailed mastodons ploughing the main, their backs bulging over the foam,
Watching to vomit forth lethal fire and drive desolation home;
Fretful heart, of some dreaming boy in the crimsoning coverts of Spring,
Moving, mellowing, slowly on, to become a Poet and sing ;
Or destined by Heaven to wake and shade the world with a mighty voice,
And make the knees of the tyrant quail, and the hearth of the slave rejoice,
To gather the tumult of every tide and the fury of every blast.
And pile fresh thunders of Thought upon the freshening storms of the Past.
British sentinels standing mute at the fortress gates of the world.
And the British Flag on every sea, with its splendid symbol unfurled ;
Carrying Liberty, Reverence, Law, wherever wave-pulses reach,
To bale-laden quay, to highway stream, and palm-wattled island beach.
Lovers, husbands, like you, like me, torn from their homes afar
Marching, marching, onward and on, doing the will of the Tsar,
Past slinking and snarling white-fanged sloth through limitless leagues of snow,
Moon after moon of monotonous months, till the blue-eyed scillas blow.
And the cold-sleeping rivers yawn and wake, and mightily flush and flow.
Peasant mother and maiden left at their desolate doors ajar,
While their eons and lovers march warward, deathward, doing the will of the Tsar.
But still the glory of Light in Heaven, and light that is still on its way ;
Faint hearts that despond of to-morrow, look up, and be done with despair or dismay ;
For British sentinels stand erect at the fortress gates of the world.
And the British Flag is on every sea, with its splendid symbol unfurled ;
And the Lord of Right still sits on His throne, still wields His sceptre and rod,
And the winds, and the waves, and the Years move on, doing the will of  God.
MOVING ONWARD. (1904, February 6). The Brisbane Courier(Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 13. Retrieved from

Alfred Austin DL (30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913) was an English poet who was appointed Poet Laureate in 1896 upon the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

From Colonial Navy Brigades in Second Hand Ships to Where the Australian Navy was Born – The Practical Verses of William Rooke Cresswell’s Charter - International Fleet Review 2013 precursors - Article II -  threads collected by A J Guesdon, 2013.