Arunta farewells fallen

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Chaplain Stephen Estherby addresses members of HMAS Arunta's crew on the flight deck during a scattering of ashes ceremony held off the coast of Western Australia. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
Chaplain Stephen Estherby addresses members of HMAS Arunta's crew on the flight deck during a scattering of ashes ceremony held off the coast of Western Australia.

On two consecutive days, the ship’s company of HMAS Arunta paused in their transit to deploy to the Middle East region to half mast the Australian White Ensign and conduct two significant services.

Firstly, the scattering of the ashes of two former HMAS Arunta I sailors followed the next day by a wreath laying over the final resting place of HMAS Sydney II and scatter the ashes of another two sailors.

 II was sunk in battle with the German raider Kormoran on 19 November 1941 with the loss of all hands. 

Chaplain Stephen Estherby said personnel congregated on the flight deck as the ship left Cockburn Sound in Western Australia and listened to two inspiring eulogies. 

“These were delivered by members of the ship’s company one of which had a very personal connection with one of the Arunta I sailors,” he said. 

Commanding Officer Commander Cameron Steil spoke of the service record of Commander Raymond Arthur Rutherford, MBE, RAN.

As the crew listened they were surprised to discover that the sailor described was in fact the Commanding Officers’s own grandfather. 

He joined the Navy in 1938 when he was 18 years of age and served in Arunta I as a Leading Seaman, and latterly, Petty Officer Torpedosman. After a 36-year career in the Navy in which he was posted to over 26 ships, submarines and establishments, he retired in 1974. He worked principally in weapons and electrical engineering.

The Ship's Warrant Officer Allan Ferguson read Signalman Robert John Williams service record and spoke of his long involvement with the HMAS Arunta Second World War Association.  

His daughter Tania requested on behalf of his family that he take his final journey in HMAS Arunta

On the following day, Arunta eased her speed as she passed over the war grave of the cruiser, HMAS Sydney II. 
While remembering those lost in battle, the wishes of Petty Officer Gordon Clair Lavender were honoured, allowing him to rejoin his ship former shipmates. 

Chief Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Mark Williams, read his service record at the service. 

“He was onboard Sydney from June 1938 and saw active service in the Mediterranean as Gunner and Trainer 'A Turret',” Chief Petty Officer Williams said. 

“In September 1941 he was transferred from HMAS Sydney to the corvette HMAS Rockhampton just eight weeks before Sydney was lost. Petty Officer Lavender retired in 1950 as a Coxwain.” 

Aviation maintainer, Chief Petty Officer Phillip Hirschausen, read the service record of Chief Petty Officer Terence Gordon Tuckfield who faithfully served for 20 years as a member of the Fleet Air Arm from 1956 to 1976.  

He discharged as a Chief Petty Officer Air Technical Aircraft Grade 4 with three good conduct badges. His wife Barbara asked that “a Birdy scatter his ashes”. 

As a part of the second ceremony, Commander Steil recited the ‘Ode to the Fallen’ and laid a wreath in the ship’s wake on behalf of the crew. 

“These were special and memorable services which honour the faithful and courageous service of many in times of war and peace,” Commander Steil said. 

“The extraordinary dedication to their country, their service and their shipmates remind us of our responsibility to preserve their legacy and as we transit to our upcoming mission area, it reminds us how important our mission is as we assist to enforce a rules based global order by contributing to stability in the Middle East.”