The life of former Warrant Officer Steward Allen Charles Guthrie touched many over his 94 years. His life was remembered, celebrated and mourned at a funeral service at St. Mark’s Chapel, HMAS Cerberus, on September 16, 2014.
Mr Guthrie visited HMAS Cerberus just three months before passing, leaving a lasting impression with those he met as he spoke about his love for the Navy, the adventure, hardship, pride and mateship he experienced during his service to his country.
Allen Guthrie enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy in April 1938, continuing on to serve his country for 35 years, through some remarkable experiences, narrowly escaping death and injury several times throughout his service.
Allen served on both HMA Ship’s Sydney (II) and Perth (I), posting to other ships shortly before each was sunk. While serving on the Destroyer HMAS Nizam in the midst of the Mediterranean action of World War II, Allen learned of the sinking of the Sydney and the fate of his former shipmates.
Only months later, Allen learned of the sinking of HMAS Perth during the Battle of Sunda Strait in March 1942. He had volunteered to transfer to the Nizam and remain in the war zone so that another sailor could return home on the Perth to marry his sweetheart.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Cerberus, Captain Stephen Bowater, attended the funeral service and took a moment to remember the man he’d welcomed only several months before.
“It’s an honour to have had the chance to meet and speak with Allen. Hearing his family speak about the man he was outside the Navy is just as humbling,” Captain Bowater said.
Allen’s grandchildren gave eulogies describing a man of character who embraced life, family and the Navy; a true gentleman. His daughter, Dellwyn, grew up as part of the Cerberus community, having been baptised at the Chapel where the service was held. Her eulogy expressed a sense of rightness for Allen closing the last chapter of his life at Cerberus.
Allen’s son in law, Mr Peter Wilson, paid tribute to a man well regarded in both the Navy and the community, sharing some memories before reading ‘Crossing The Bar’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
I recall Allen’s grandson, David, teasing him by saying he would join the Army when he grew up. Allen blustered in response, asking him who he thought would rescue him when he was stuck in some foreign land. Allen emphatically concluded "The Navy of course! No grandson of mine is joining the Army", Mr Wilson said.
Allen Guthrie led a life full of the adventure he’d hoped for when he joined the Navy as a young man of 18. He left behind a story of courage, dedication, and selflessness that Navy was fortunate to be a part of.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20142799.