War veteran joins Canberra ship’s company on Freedom of Entry march

This article has photo gallery This article has a video attachmentPublished on LEUT Geoff Long (author), LSIS James McDougall (photographer), PTE Nicole Dorrett (photographer), LEUT Natalie Brennan (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, ACT

Topic(s): Freedom of Entry, HMAS Canberra (L02)

Life-Ring Bearer, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Kate Jennings leads the HMAS Canberra Freedom of Entry march through the City of Canberra. (photo: LSIS James McDougall)
Life-Ring Bearer, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Kate Jennings leads the HMAS Canberra Freedom of Entry march through the City of Canberra.

Three-hundred-and-fifty members of the 400-strong ship’s company of HMAS Canberra (III) exercised its Freedom of Entry through the City of Canberra on Saturday.

Canberra’s Commanding Officer, Captain Terry Morrison, answered the traditional challenge to the parade by the Chief Police Officer for the ACT, Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson, in front of the ACT Legislative Assembly on London Circuit.

The trade was reviewed by Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, along with the Deputy Chief Minister of the ACT, Miss Yvette Berry.

L-R: WA President of the HMAS Canberra-HMAS Shropshire Association of Australia, Lee Webster; Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan AM; WWII veteran Lionel Mead; and NSW President of the HMAS Canberra-HMAS Shropshire Association of Australia, Chris Johnson after the HMAS Canberra Freedom of Entry march.

L-R: WA President of the HMAS Canberra-HMAS Shropshire Association of Australia, Lee Webster; Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan AM; WWII veteran Lionel Mead; and NSW President of the HMAS Canberra-HMAS Shropshire Association of Australia, Chris Johnson after the HMAS Canberra Freedom of Entry march.

Joining Canberra’s crew was decorated Second World War veteran Lionel Mead.

The 93-year-old Mead was a sailor on HMAS Shropshire during the Battle of the Atlantic more than 75 years ago.

Mr Mead marched with fellow members of the HMAS Canberra-HMAS Shropshire Association of Australia as well as the Navy Cadet Unit TS Canberra and the Royal Australian Navy Band.

The march was also a significant occasion for several Canberra-raised crew members, including Petty Officer Electrical Technician Benjamin Walters, Able Seaman Aviation Support Tomiko Moy and Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Samuel Baker.

All relished the opportunity to march in front of family and friends.

“Having moved around a lot in my childhood as the son of a sailor, I spent my high school years in Canberra and consider it home.

“To be part of the Freedom of Entry parade has given me the chance to proudly march in front of my children, brother and sister, high school friends and their families, with one of the best crews I have had the pleasure to serve with, in the best city in Australia,” Petty Officer Walters said.

Similarly, Able Seaman Moy said she still considers Canberra home, despite being posted to Sydney.

“I still have many family and friends living here, who reinforced the significance of this day and for the first time watched on as I marched.

“Although they see plenty of photos and hear plenty of stories, there is nothing like seeing it for themselves,” she said.

 

 

This was Canberra (III)’s second Freedom of Entry parade since commissioning in November 2014, with the last held in November 2015.

Exercising Freedom of Entry is a long-standing tradition for naval vessels wishing to proudly enter the town or city with which they are associated, with swords drawn, colours flying and drums beating.

Captain Morrison said the parade was a means of celebrating and nurturing the ship’s connection with the Canberra community.

“We value our relationship with the City of Canberra and we thank local residents for their ongoing support,” he said.

Ahead of the Freedom of Entry march, the ACT Government presented a customised Anzac Parade street sign for Canberra.

The sign was presented to Canberra’s Executive Officer, Commander Brett Westcott, on behalf of the ship.

The ship’s company reciprocated today, presenting Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry with a framed photo of HMAS Canberra (III).