This week, Commanding Officer of HMAS Kuttabul, Commander Todd Willson, presented 83 year old Betty Davis with a Unit Citation for Gallantry, awarded to her late brother, Stoker 2nd Class Loren Jack Lake of HMAS Yarra (II).
CMDR Willson was honoured to present Betty with the award for her brother’s actions as a member of Yarra’s Ship’s Company in 1942.
“Betty's humble acceptance of this award reflected the dedication and endurance of many of those left at home,” he said.
“It was a real pleasure to meet Betty and her daughter, Sue, as they're justifiably proud of her brother’s service and dedication, and are still saddened by his tragic death in Yarra.”
Through their actions, the Ship’s Company of HMAS Yarra (II) displayed extraordinary gallantry in action off Singapore on 5 February 1942 and in the Indian Ocean on 4 March 1942.
Betty’s daughter, Sue McLaurin, was grateful to attend the presentation and explained the experience for her mother as a mix of emotion and pride.
“Listening to Todd reading out what had actually happened all those years ago was difficult for mum,” Sue explained, “my mum enjoyed having Loren as a brother, they got on really well and she definitely missed him when he went away to join the Navy.”
“Now she is the only one still alive of four siblings, so I was really pleased that she was able to be presented with this.
Naval uniforms are a familiar sight for Sue as her husband Roderick is currently serving as a Warrant Officer at HMAS Coonawarra.
“I tried to prepare mum for what a significant occasion it would be to have important people arrive and present such a special award to her, but I don’t think she quite expected how overwhelmed she’d feel.
“From the moment all the people in Navy uniforms arrived at the house mum was overwhelmed with pride, emotion and joy.
“The fact after all these years her brother has been recognised, it’s a really good feeling for our family.”
The former Governor General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC, CVO, presented the Unit Citation for Gallantry to the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs AO, SCS, RAN, in Melbourne earlier this month as the current serving Ship’s Company of Yarra (IV) and proud descendants of the HMAS Yarra (II) crew watched on.