Australia — Navy’s oldest WWI veteran passes away

On behalf of the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy, Vice Admi­ral Russ Crane, Chief of Navy, has expressed his con­do­lences to the Choules fam­i­ly at the pass­ing of Claude Choules.

Mr Choules passed away ear­ly this morn­ing at the age of 110. 

Cap­tain Brett Wol­s­ki, Com­mand­ing Offi­cer HMAS Stir­ling, said that the loss of Claude Choules to the wider Navy fam­i­ly was considerable. 

‘Our thoughts are with Claude’s fam­i­ly at this sad time.’ he said. 

‘Claude served in the Roy­al Navy dur­ing WWI and then with the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy in WWII. His career has spanned some of the most sig­nif­i­cant events in mar­itime his­to­ry this century.’ 

Speak­ing on behalf of Claude Choules’ fam­i­ly, Claude’s daugh­ter, Anne said: ‘Dad was always proud of his Navy ser­vice and con­sid­ered it his oth­er fam­i­ly. We are grate­ful for the Navy’s con­tin­ued asso­ci­a­tion with the fam­i­ly and their recog­ni­tion of our father’s life.’ 

Claude Choules Navy Back­ground:
A for­mer Roy­al Navy World War I and Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy World War II vet­er­an, Claude’s life has spanned the exis­tence of the Aus­tralian Navy, which came into being on 1 March 1901, only two days before his birth. 

Born in Per­shore, Eng­land on 3 March 1901, Mr Choules joined the Roy­al Navy as a Boy in 1916, and served in the Naval Train­ing Ship HMS Impreg­nable sit­u­at­ed at Devon­port dock­yard. The Impreg­nable had been a 140 gun square-rigged wood­en bat­tle­ship pri­or to becom­ing a train­ing ship. 

In 1917, Claude joined the bat­tle­ship HMS Revenge, Flag­ship of the First Bat­tle Squadron. While serv­ing in Revenge, Claude wit­nessed the sur­ren­der of the Ger­man Fleet at Firth of Forth in 1918, ten days after the Armistice and lat­er the scut­tling of the Ger­man Fleet, by the Ger­mans, at Scapa Flow. 

A ‘big ships man’, Claude served in the bat­tle­ship Valiant with the Mediter­ranean Fleet between 1920 and 1923. A sub­se­quent post­ing saw him stand by the con­struc­tion of the RN’s first pur­pose built air­craft car­ri­er HMS Eagle, which was fol­lowed by a two year post­ing as a Pet­ty Offi­cer onboard Eagle, again in the Mediter­ranean Fleet. 

In 1926 along with eleven oth­er RN senior sailors, Claude came to Aus­tralia on loan as an Instruc­tor at Flinders Naval Depot. Tak­ing a lik­ing to the Aus­tralian way of life, Claude decid­ed to trans­fer per­ma­nent­ly to the RAN

After cours­es in the UK for Chief Tor­pe­do and Anti Sub­ma­rine Instruc­tor, Claude stood by the build­ing of the RAN’s heavy cruis­ers Aus­tralia and Can­ber­ra. Claude was a com­mis­sion­ing crew mem­ber of HMAS Can­ber­ra and served in her until 1931. 

Claude took his dis­charge from the RAN in 1931, how­ev­er he remained in the RANR and rejoined the RAN in 1932 as a CPO Tor­pe­do and Anti Sub­ma­rine Instructor. 

Dur­ing World War II, Claude was the Act­ing Tor­pe­do Offi­cer, Fre­man­tle and also the Chief Demo­li­tion Offi­cer on the west­ern side of the Aus­tralian Con­ti­nent. Ear­ly in the war Claude was flown to Esper­ance, on West­ern Australia’s south­ern coast, to iden­ti­fy a mine washed ashore near­by. Even­tu­al­ly the mine was iden­ti­fied as Ger­man and Claude then dis­posed of the first mine to wash up on Aus­tralian soil dur­ing WWII

As the Chief Demo­li­tion Offi­cer, Claude had the task of destroy­ing facil­i­ties and oil stor­age tanks in Fre­man­tle har­bour ren­der­ing them use­less in the advent of a Japan­ese invasion. 

For a num­ber of weeks dur­ing the dark days of 1942, explo­sive charges were in place to car­ry out this task. Claude had depth charges placed in ships that had been unable to sail from Fre­man­tle for safe har­bour in Albany dur­ing this peri­od, with the intent of sink­ing them should the Japan­ese invade. 

Claude remained in the RAN after WWII and trans­ferred to the Naval Dock­yard Police (NDP) to allow him to remain in the ser­vice until 1956, as retire­ment from the RAN for rat­ings in those days was at 50 years, while per­son­nel could serve until 55 years old in the NDP

After retire­ment from the Naval Dock­yard Police, Claude pur­chased a Cray fish­ing boat and spent ten years fish­ing off the West­ern Aus­tralia coast. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →