Choules takes the cake

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Andrew McDonald (author), CPOCIS Simon Bagnall (photographer)

Commanding Officer HMAS Choules Commander Chris Aulmann with Seaman Kelam Nona (middle) and Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Jesse Hadley cutting the cake for Chief Petty Officer Claude Choules Birthday. (photo: CPOCIS Simon Bagnall)
Commanding Officer HMAS Choules Commander Chris Aulmann with Seaman Kelam Nona (middle) and Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Jesse Hadley cutting the cake for Chief Petty Officer Claude Choules Birthday.

For one Australian Navy ship March has been a milestone month. Hot on the heels of marking the Navy's 115th birthday, the ship's company of HMAS Choules celebrated what would have been the 115th birthday of their namesake.

Claude Stanley Choules was born in England two days after the birth of Australia's Navy on 3 March 1901. The sprightly veteran of both World Wars, served in both the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy.

Chief Petty Officer Choules passed away in May 2011 and the Royal Australian Navy Bay class amphibious ship was commissioned in his name on 13 December 2011.

The ship’s company of Choules took time out of their busy schedules at sea to celebrate the birthday, commemorating his life and achievements. 

Commanding Officer, Commander Chris Aulmann reminded crew members of the significant contribution made by the man and his family across two World Wars, noting that the naming of the ship recognises the service of enlisted sailors and acknowledges the ship's previous service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

The cake in the shape of the ship was prepared by Chief Petty Officer Maritime Logistics – Chef Bradley Martin and Able Seaman Maritime Logistics – Chef Amy Morgan, and took more than a day to create. 

“The process of making the cake was quite difficult but I am very pleased with how the finished cake looked and tasted,” Able Seaman Morgan said

Two of the youngest members onboard Seaman Maritime Logistics – Chef Jesse Hadley and Seaman Kelam Nona assisted Commander Aulmann with cutting the cake. 

Seaman Nona was onboard Choules as part of her her first experience of life at sea.

“The crew have been very welcoming and I am enjoying being integrated into the ships routines," she said.

After the official ceremonies were concluded, ships company enjoyed a slice of the cake for afternoon tea. 

Claude Choules served in Australia's naval forces for three decades. This included service in the Royal Australian Navy (1926- 31), Royal Australian Fleet Reserve (1931-32), Royal Australian Navy Auxiliary Service (1932-1950) and the Naval Dockyard Police (1950-56).

During the Second World War he was a Torpedo Officer at HMAS Leeuwin, in Fremantle, Western Australia, and served as Chief Demolition Officer tasked with sabotaging Fremantle infrastructure in the event of invasion.