A generous donation demonstrates close ties across the Commonwealth

Published on LEUT Sarah West (author and photographer)

Location(s): Navy Headquarters, Canberra

Mrs Lydia Fawls presents Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN,  with the painting 'HMS Caledon' by Australian Artist Arthur James Wetherall Burgess. (photo: LEUT Sarah West)
Mrs Lydia Fawls presents Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN, with the painting 'HMS Caledon' by Australian Artist Arthur James Wetherall Burgess.

For the second time, Tim Coghlan has made a very generous donation to the Royal Australian Navy from the other side of the world.
 
On this occasion, Mr Coghlan, who lives in the United Kingdom, donated a significant piece of artwork to the Navy collection.
 
This time, the donation is a painting entitled ‘HMS Caledon’ by the late Australian Artist Arthur James Wetherall Burgess, which Mr Coghlan gifted to the Royal Australian Navy in memory of his late Father, Austin Coghlan.
 
Lieutenant Austin Coghlan had served in the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RANVR) during the Second World War and was a collector of naval art, having owned the painting before passing it down to his son. 
 
Mr Coghlan’s Sister, Lydia Fawls, kindly presented the painting to Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, while holidaying in Australia recently.
 
“My father was so proud to have served in the Reserve,” Mr Coghlan said in a letter.

“He even wore the uniform for his engagement dinner in Cuba, on his wedding day in New York, and for the christening of my older brother, in London, shortly after the war.
 
“I am delighted that the Royal Australian Navy has accepted the painting, which I am proud and honoured to donate in my father’s memory.”

The painting 'HMS Caledon' by Australian Artist Arthur James Wetherall Burgess.

The painting 'HMS Caledon' by Australian Artist Arthur James Wetherall Burgess.


Vice Admiral Barrett thanked Mr Coghlan and Ms Fawls for their kindness and for their father’s service.
 
“Your father, Lieutenant Austin Coghlan, came to us as part of the RANVR Yachtsman Scheme,” Vice Admiral Barrett said.
 
“These were the young men who answered the call when Navy asked young men who were keen on sailing to join and help with the war effort.
 
"Austin Coghlan was a man who loved sailing on Sydney Harbour and decided to use his mariner skills to assist with the allied campaign, first training at HMAS Rushcutter before being sent to the United Kingdom and fighting in the Battle of the Atlantic.
 
“We also have a high regard for the works of Arthur Burgess, who was Australia’s official naval artist in 1918, so we are very grateful to be given this painting.”
 
The subject of the painting donated this week, HMS Caledon, was a C-class light cruiser built for the Royal Navy during the First World War. She survived both wars, and was eventually scrapped in 1948.