Canberra's sacrifice remembered

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Tony White (author), LSML-C Nadav Harel (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Canberra Memorial, ACT

Topic(s): HMAS Canberra (I)

Royal Australian Navy members from Australia's Federation Guard conducting a Catafalque Party at the HMAS Canberra Memorial on the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra. (photo: LSML-C Nadav Harel)
Royal Australian Navy members from Australia's Federation Guard conducting a Catafalque Party at the HMAS Canberra Memorial on the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra.

The 76th anniversary of the loss of the original HMAS Canberra in the Battle of Savo Island was commemorated at a ceremony in Canberra on 9 August. The ceremony took place at the permanent memorial to HMAS Canberra (I) and those who sailed in her.

Commanding Officer of Navy’s current HMAS Canberra, Captain Ashley Papp, reflected on the nature of sea service after the ceremony on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

“My counterpart on the original HMAS Canberra was a 43-year-old career naval officer who had joined the Navy as a 13-year-old midshipman,” said Captain Papp.

“Captain Frank E Getting was at the peak of his career, but operational service during armed conflict carries risks then as it does now. Sadly he died from wounds received after his ship was hit by Japanese torpedoes and shells. Along with 83 other members of the ship’s company, he paid the ultimate price in the service of his country.

In August 1942, Canberra (I) operated with the naval force supporting the American landings at Guadalcanal and Tulagi, operations which ended with her loss in the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August 1942. After being struck by at least two Japanese torpedoes and numerous enemy salvoes, she was deemed unsalvageable and consequently evacuated and sunk off Savo Island on 9 August 1942. Captain Getting was one of 193 personnel either killed or wounded from the ship’s company of 819.

“We come together each year to pay tribute to that sacrifice and service,” said Captain Papp.

“The Landing Helicopter Dock HMAS Canberra (III) under my command today is a very different ship with vastly improved capabilities and technology than the original.

“That said, the nature of service at sea today has many similarities to the service provided by our forebears.

“As the Commanding Officer of the modern HMAS Canberra, the ceremony today reminds me that our Navy’s history and future are both built on the commitment from our people,” said Captain Papp.

HMAS Canberra (I) commemorations were also held in Honiara.