HMAS Creswell recently hosted a meeting of the Shoalhaven Museums and Galleries group. Executive Officer, CMDR Letitia Van Stralen spoke to the group about the history of the Naval training college before inviting them to inspect Creswell’s impressive historical collection.
Of particular interest to the group were three recent acquisitions: a bronze bell, a whale bone walking stick and a telescope.
These donations all date back to 1913 and were presented to Creswell just months before the college 100th Anniversary of Naval Officer training in Australia.
The whale bone cane was donated by Mrs Flora Lucas who was born at Creswell. Her father, Mr Robert Jarman, was a foreman who worked on the construction of the College and the cane was presented to him by the Huskisson Whaling Company.
The telescope was donated by Mrs Jennifer Genocchio, niece of Midshipman Ernest Cunningham, a first entry cadet in the 1913 intake, who was lost during WWI. The telescope was amongst his personal effects sent home to his parents.
The 200-300kg bronze bell was returned to the college via a much more indirect route than the other two items. The bell, which originally hung in the Creswell clock tower, disappeared when the college was decommissioned between 1930 and 1958 and was considered lost until Mr David Hoskins emailed the college in 2012 solving the mystery of where the bell had been for 50 years.
In the mid-1960s the bell had turned up at a Sydney engineering works which was owned by Mr Hoskin’s father. Fortunately his father decided against selling the bell for scrap and set it up as a rather unique display piece in his home instead.
Mr Hoskins, who inherited the bell on his father’s death, contacted HMAS Creswell thinking that the faint markings on the bell indicated a connection with the Naval training college. These faint markings turned out to include the initials of four of the 1914 entry cadet Midshipmen, and the bell was soon on its way back to Creswell where it now takes pride of place in the collection.
Creswell Historical Collection Curator Ms Ailsa Chittick described these items as invaluable additions.
“It really was an amazing chain of coincidences that we received them all so close to the 100th anniversary. Each item tells a story of HMAS Creswell from different perspectives, one from a workman, one from a cadet and one from the College itself,”
“All three items enrich the story of Creswell with, not just their intrinsic beauty and historical significance, but with the personal stories they reveal.”