Boys remembered 70 years on

Published on ABIS Cassie McBride (author and photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Cerberus

Attendees of the dedication of the 'Book of Remembrance for Royal Navy Boy Seamen Killed in Action during WWII' at the Memorial Chapel of Saint Mark, HMAS Cerberus, Victoria. (photo: ABIS Cassie McBride)
Attendees of the dedication of the 'Book of Remembrance for Royal Navy Boy Seamen Killed in Action during WWII' at the Memorial Chapel of Saint Mark, HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

Members of the Australian Division of the HMS Ganges Association and cadets from Training Ship Tingara gathered at the HMAS Cerberus Memorial Chapel of Saint Mark on 7 September to remember the loss over 500 boy seamen killed in the Second World War.

HMAS Cerberus, home of the Royal Australian Navy's Recruit School, was presented with a limited edition copy of the Book of Remembrance for Royal Navy Boy Seamen killed in Action During WWII. The book contains the names of 534 boys who died in the service of Britain during the war.

The 'Book of Remembrance for Royal Navy Boy Seamen Killed in Action during WWII' on display at the Memorial Chapel of Saint Mark, HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

The 'Book of Remembrance for Royal Navy Boy Seamen Killed in Action during WWII' on display at the Memorial Chapel of Saint Mark, HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.


Only six copies were ever produced and are held in the United Kingdom's Portsmouth Cathedral (two copies), the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, Devonport Dockyard Plymouth, Chatham Dockyard and now the HMAS Cerberus Museum. The Cerberus copy being the only one to leave the United Kingdom. The book was compiled by Mr Jim Reed, an ex-Gunnery Instructor in the Royal Navy, Mr Reed was unable to attend the ceremony in person but sent a letter which was read out to attendees.

"We wish the HMS Ganges Association of Australia every success, we send you all our thanks for your efforts to make this memorial service a very worthy act to remember our boys," Mr Reed stated in his letter.

Flag bearers, lead in by Australian Navy Cadets (ANC) Cadet Petty Officer Rhydian Clarke (front left) and Cadet Seaman Keely Stafford (front right), enter the Memorial Chapel of Saint Mark for the dedication of the 'Book of Remembrance for Royal Navy Boy Seamen Killed in Action during WWII' to the HMAS Cerberus Museum, at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

Flag bearers, lead in by Australian Navy Cadets (ANC) Cadet Petty Officer Rhydian Clarke (front left) and Cadet Seaman Keely Stafford (front right), enter the Memorial Chapel of Saint Mark for the dedication of the 'Book of Remembrance for Royal Navy Boy Seamen Killed in Action during WWII' to the HMAS Cerberus Museum, at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.


Guest Speaker Mr Owen Dingle, gave a moving speech about the boys in the book and HMS Ganges.

"For 70 years,  before the entrance of boys to the Royal Navy ended, over 150,000 had been trained at HMS Ganges. The intake of boys in their 15th and 16th year, gave the Royal Navy a vital source of highly trained personnel, however to my knowledge no such press reports or written memorials have ever appeared mentioning or honouring the deeds or names of the boy seamen killed in action in World War II, no headstones mark their graves their tombs lie deep at the bottom of the oceans".

Guest speaker, Mr Owen Dingle addresses attendees of the ceremony for the dedication of the  'Book of Remembrance for Royal Navy Boy Seamen Killed in Action during WWII' to the HMAS Cerberus Museum.

Guest speaker, Mr Owen Dingle addresses attendees of the ceremony for the dedication of the 'Book of Remembrance for Royal Navy Boy Seamen Killed in Action during WWII' to the HMAS Cerberus Museum.


Chaplain Rainer Schack who presided over the ceremony and service said that the the inclusion of cadets of a similar age to those lost was a fitting tribute.

"It was wonderful to have the Navy Cadets supporting the service and actively participating in leading prayers and the Ode," he said.

The book is now on display at the HMAS Cerberus Museum, under a replica stain glass window of Christ Stilling the Storm to watch over the book holding the names of those within.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20142682.