In a respectful addition to the recent Albany Convoy Commemorative Event, HMAS Sirius conducted a committal of ashes ceremony while at anchor in Albany on 1 November.
The ceremony involved scattering the ashes of three former Royal Australian Navy personnel, John Donald Bowe, Allen Robert Porter and Kenneth Bertram Wundenberg. Sirius also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the ANZACs by committing a wreath to the sea.
Sirius was in Albany as part of the 100 year commemoration of the first ANZAC troops who set sail for Egypt from Albany during the First World War.
The committal of ashes was attended by officers and sailors with all present honoured to pay tribute to former sailors. The service commenced with the Commanding Officer, Commander Darren Grogan, reading out eulogies for the former Navy members. This was followed by a solemn prayer, read out by Lieutenant Jon Brunsden. The ashes were then committed to the sea into King George Sound in calm seas and a sunny afternoon by sailors of the same ratings.
The committal of ashes could not have had a more appropriate backdrop, with the convoy of vessels from Australia, New Zealand and Japan re-enacting the departure which occurred 100 years before.
Able Seaman Communication and Information Systems Peter Farrell was touched to be asked to help in such a service.
“It was an honour to have participated in a scattering of ashes ceremony. It was a moving experience to commit a former service member to the sea and one that I will always remember," he said.
A wreath laying ceremony was also conducted to remember the servicemen and servicewomen of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF), later to be collectively known as the ANZACs. The wreath laid by Ship's Warrant Officer Andrew Bertoncin was the ship’s tribute to them and the sacrifices they made.
Able Seaman Communication and Information Systems Rachel Sheldrake read the sailors' ode. The ship’s company paid their respects by observing a minute silence. The ceremony was brought to an end with Commander Darren Grogan reading out the Benediction.
Navy vessels routinely commit ashes to sea, assisting families of former Royal Australian Navy personnel with the final wishes of their loved ones.