Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 14, 2012

Monday, 13th February 2012 – anniversaries, some good, some bad.

I briefly referred last week to Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.

It was sixty years ago last week that Her Majesty The Queen ascended the throne on the death of her father, King George VI. Though The Queen will formally celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in June,  it was appropriate

that the occasion be  acknowledged last week. The Liberal party’s spokesperson noted that,  as evidenced by the tens of thousands who greeted her during her most recent visit last year, that she  has a special place in the hearts of all Australians.  The Queen’s first Australian Prime Minister was Sir Robert Menzies, and no less than 11 Australian prime ministers and 17 opposition leaders have come and gone in those sixty years. Whilst The Queen herself has been unchanging in her commitment to the values of service and loyalty, the Crown has evolved with the people it serves. Over the past sixty years, for instance, the office of Governor-General, for example,  has evolved into a fully Australian office.  Despite all the calls for a republic, etc, and disparaging opinions about the Royal family’s role in Australian affairs, it is safe to say that in general, Australians still think of our Queen with respect and affection.


Whilst on the subject of British royalty, Liberal Senator Michael Ronaldson, in a recent weekly email, had some interesting points to make the naming of royal members. To quote:-  ‘Members of the Royal Family can be known both by the name of the Royal house, and by a surname, which are not always the same. And often they do not use a surname at all. Before 1917, members of the British Royal Family had no surname, but only the name of the house or dynasty to which they belonged. Just as children can take their surnames from their father, so sovereigns normally take the name of their ‘House’ from their father. For this reason, Queen Victoria’s eldest son Edward VII belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (the family name of his father Prince Albert). In 1917, there was a radical change, when George V specifically adopted Windsor, not only as the name of the ‘House’ or dynasty, but also as the surname of his family. The family name was changed as a result of anti-German feeling during the First World War, and the name Windsor was adopted after the Castle of the same name. The Royal Family name of Windsor was confirmed by The Queen after her accession in 1952. However,

in 1960, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that they would like their own direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the Royal Family (without changing the name of the Royal House). It was declared in the Privy Council that The Queen’s descendants, other than those with the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince/ Princess, or female descendants who marry, would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor’.  Well, so long as they know what they are doing, it’s all starting to sound a little confusing!


There was another anniversary ‘celebrated’ a few days ago, though perhaps not looked back upon with the same degree of celebration normally associated with anniversaries.  The anniversary of Australia’s worst peacetime naval disaster is a timely reminder of the service and sacrifice of Australia’s defence forces outside periods of conflict. The Voyager disaster remains Australia’s worst peacetime naval disaster in our history. At 8.56pm on 10 February 1964, Daring Class Cruiser HMAS Voyager collided with the naval aircraft carrier, HMAS Melbourne. The much larger Melbourne cut the Voyager in two, resulting in the loss of one in four members of the Voyager crew [82 lives lost in all]. Two Royal Commissions were held into the circumstances of the accident. This is the first time in Australian history that one incident has been inquired into by two separate Commissions.  The following report from a Wikipedia source, describes how the collision of these two Australian war ships came about.

‘Voyager and Melbourne were both sent to Jervis Bay for post-refit trials, with the two ships arriving on 9 February. During the day of 10 February the ships operated independently, or exercised with the British submarine HMS Tabard. That evening, while 20 miles SE of Jervis Bay, Melbourne was performing night flying exercises, while Voyager was acting as the carrier’s plane guard escort. This required Voyager to maintain a position astern of and to port of Melbourne at a distance of 1,500 to 2,000 yards (1,400 to 1,800 m; 4,500 to 6,000 ft).

During the early part of the evening, Voyager had no difficulties maintaining her position during the manoeuvres both ships performed. During a series of manoeuvres beginning at 8:40 pm, which were intended to reverse the courses of both ships onto a northward heading of 020°, Voyager ended up to starboard of Melbourne. 020° was the intended heading for flight operations, and at 8:52 pm, Voyager was ordered to resume the plane guard station. The procedure to accomplish this required Voyager to turn away from Melbourne in a large circle, cross the carrier’s stern, then advance along Melbourne′s port side.[8] Instead, Voyager first turned to starboard, away from Melbourne, then turned to port without warning.[8] It was initially assumed by Melbourne’s bridge crew that Voyager was “fishtailing”, conducting a series of zig-zag turns in order to shed momentum before swinging behind Melbourne, but Voyager did not alter course again.

At 8:55 pm, with Voyager still turning to port, Melbourne‘s navigator ordered the carrier’s engines to half speed astern, which Robertson increased to full astern a few seconds later. At the same time, Stevens gave the order “Full ahead both engines. Hard a-starboard.” before instructing the destroyer’s Quartermaster to announce that a collision was imminent Both ships’ measures were too late to avoid a collision; Melbourne struck Voyager at 8:56 pm. Melbourne impacted just aft of Voyager‘s bridge structure; the destroyer rolled to starboard before she was cut in half. Voyager’s forward boiler exploded, briefly starting a fire in the open bow of the carrier before it was extinguished by seawater. The destroyer’s forward section sank quickly, due to the weight of the two 4.5-inch gun turrets. The aft section did not begin sinking until half an hour after the collision, and did not completely submerge until just after midnight. Messages were sent to the Fleet Headquarters in Sydney immediately after the collision, although they initially underestimated the extent of the damage to Voyager. Melbourne launched her boats almost immediately after the collision to recover survivors, and the carrier’s wardroom and C Hangar were prepared for casualties.

At 9:58 pm, Melbourne was informed that five minesweepers (HMA Ships Snipe, Teal, Hawk, Ibis, and Curlew), two search-and-rescue (SAR) boats from HMAS Creswell and Air Sprite), and helicopters from Naval Air Station Nowra, had been despatched. Arriving just before 10:00 pm, Air Nymph collected 34 survivors and attempted to transfer them to Melbourne, but after swells pushed the boat up under the carrier’s flight deck and damaged two communications aerials, the SAR boat was sent back to Creswell to offload. Another 36 were collected by Air Sprite and transported ashore. Once offloaded, the two SAR boats rejoined the search effort: although all survivors were located within fifteen minutes and rescued, searches continued until well into 11 February.   From the 314 personnel aboard Voyager at the time of the collision, 14 officers, 67 sailors, and 1 civilian dockyard worker were killed, including Stevens and all but one of the bridge crew’.

Finally, this was the day when I finally got around to making that appointment with the dentist!! Have to wait a week, but to check each morning in the interim for a possible cancellation. Will certainly do so, as the troublesome digit is causing numerous problems not the least of which is more interrupted sleep!!  Meanwhile another session at the gymnasium this morning went off quite well, and rewarded myself appropriately afterwards!

Meanwhile, the sudden death of Whitney Houston, singer and actor, over in the US just prior to the Grammy Awards has certainly created a media frenzy, with tributes for another ‘lost soul’ pouring around the world. In my Smorgasbord program tonight, I played my own little tribute to the lady, at the beginning of the program, and read out a few details about her life, from the highs of wonderful successes to the lows of drugs, etc, culminating in a lonely hotel death at the weekend.  No doubt all the circumstances of that will come out to the public in due course.  In the meantime, I felt I had a wonderful show tonight, a huge variety of new music in particular – what a pity no one rang to tell me so!


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