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Australian Victory Contingent to London in HMAS SHROPSHIRE autograph book

Date: 1946
Dimensions:
Overall: 125 x 185 x 20 mm
Medium: Paper, ink, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Autograph book
Object No: 00050473
Related Place:England, Australia,

User Terms

    Description
    In May 1946 HMAS SHROPSHIRE left Australia for the United Kingdom, carrying the Australian Victory Contingent for the Empire celebrations in London, returning to Australia in August. Some 250 men and women from the AMF, RAN, RAAF, AWAS and Nursing services were selected to march in the Victory Parade in London on 8 June 1946. SHROPSHIRE sailed via Melbourne, Fremantle and Capetown before arriving in Portsmouth. An Australian march was held in Melbourne - giving the Contingent an opportunity to practice for the major event.
    SignificanceThe formal victory celebrations held in London in June 1946 offered an opportunity to showcase the best of Britain and her allies; to allow the public to take part in a joyous occasion; and to thank all who had fought in World War II.
    HistoryHMS SHROPSHIRE was the first ship of that name in the Royal Navy and was commissioned in 1929. Under the command of Captain R W Oldham the County class cruiser joined the 1st Cruiser Squadron as a unit of the Mediterranean Fleet remaining there throughout the Abyssinian War (1935-36) and Spanish Civil War, until 1939.

    On the outbreak of war in September 1939 SHROPSHIRE was ordered to patrols in the South Atlantic on trade protection duties; followed in 1940 by Indian Ocean patrol and escort duties between Capetown, Durban, Mombasa and Aden; and then back to the Atlantic after a refit in 1942.

    Following the loss of the heavy cruiser HMAS CANBERRA (I) on 9 August 1942 in the Battle of Savo Island, the British Government approved the transfer of HMS SHROPSHIRE to the Royal Australian Navy as a replacement. Captain John A Collins CB RAN assumed command and she commissioned as HMAS SHROPSHIRE at Chatham on 20 April 1943. In August SHROPSHIRE began her voyage to Australia arriving in Brisbane in October where the cruiser joined the Australian Squadron (Task Force 74).

    During World War II SHROPSHIRE took part in the New Britain operations covering the landings at Arawe and Cape Gloucester, the operations leading to the seizure of the Admiralty Islands, action during the Hollandia / Humboldt Bay and the Wakde / Sarmi / Biak operations, the Aitape (New Guinea) area operating in support of the 6th Army ashore, bombardment support for the landings at Cape Sansapor in 1944, support to the landings on Morotai Island, was part of the invasion fleet for the Philippine operation at Leyte, took part in the Battle of Surigao Strait on 25 October, and the assault on Lingayen in 1945 in the Philippines, before returning to Sydney in March for refit. In June 1945 SHROPSHIRE returned to the operational area and, after supporting the landings at Brunei, was part of the force at the Balikpapan landings on 3 July. She then returned to the Philippines and was there when the Japanese surrendered; SHROPSHIRE sailed for Tokyo Bay and was present for the surrender ceremony.

    In May 1946 HMAS SHROPSHIRE left Australia for the United Kingdom, carrying the Australian Contingent for the Empire Victory celebrations, returning to Australia in August. This report from the Sydney Morning Herald of 31 May 1946 reported on the SHROPSHIRE's arrival in Portsmouth:

    "With bands playing and flags flying, H.M.A.S. Shropshire arrived at Portsmouth sharp on time at 12.30 p.m. to-day, bringing the Australian Victory March contingent.
    Portsmouth even managed a sunny day - the first for some time. The contingent was welcomed by the Australian Resident Minister, Mr. Beasley, and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Alderman A. E. Alloway.

    Shropshire arrived during the dockyard "quiet hour" - lunch-hour - so that ceremonial bugle calls as it passed Nelson's flagship, Victory, rang clearly across the water. Mr. Beasley welcomed the contingent to the United Kingdom, which, he said, "is most appreciative of your gallantry in the war." He gave the contingent its first invitation - to lunch with him and Mrs. Beasley at Australia House next Saturday. The contingent will not disembark until to-morrow morning, when they will go by train to London. Local leave to visit Portsmouth was given to-day.
    The happiest man on the ship was Petty-Officer Louis Pitt, of Rozelle, Sydney, who was given special permission to go ashore and embrace his wife, Dolores, who was standing on the dockside. They were married in England two and a half years ago, when Pitt was here with the Australian Navy.

    Shropshire had rough weather to South Africa, which interrupted drill and the training programme. All personnel are looking fit and suntanned. Practically every man on board bought silk stockings in Capetown to take back to his womenfolk
    in Australia."


    The cruiser paid off into Special Reserve on 10 November 1949 after a number of periods in different Reserve categories. After several years lying in Sydney Harbour, she was sold as scrap in July 1954 to Thomas W Ward Ltd of Sheffield, on behalf of the British Iron and Steel (Salvage) Corporation. On 9 October 1954 SHROPSHIRE left Sydney in tow of the Dutch tug OOSTZEE bound for the shipbreakers in Scotland where she was broken up at Troon and Dalmuir.

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