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Presentation ship's bell from the launch of HMAS ASSAIL

Date: 18 November 1967
Dimensions:
Height: 115 mm, width: 80 mm, depth: 80 mm
Medium: Bronze
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift in memory of Samuel and Lyla Landau
Object Name: Bell
Object No: 00051721
Related Place:Brisbane,

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    Description
    This miniature ship's bell from HMAS ASSAIL was presented to Lyla Landau after she launched the patrol boat in 1967.
    SignificanceThis item is part of the Samuel and Lyla Landau collection. The collection relates to the high profile public service career of Samuel Landau who, between 1936 and 1976, held a variety of influential positions, mainly in the Department of Defence. Landau was a member of the elite War Cabinet Secretariat during WWII and held the role of Secretary of the Department of the Navy during the Navy's worst peacetime disaster (the VOYAGER-MELBOURNE collision in 1964). Before retiring in 1976, Landau spent two years in Washington as the Minister for Politico-Military Affairs. Landau's career placed him at the centre of many significant events in Australian Naval and political history, many of which are represented by the objects in this collection.
    HistorySamuel Landau was born in Melbourne, Victoria, on 19 January 1915 to Morris Landau and Hanchen Sarah Chodowski. Landau’s education began at Melbourne Boys High School, where he became captain, before he completed a Master of Arts Degree at Melbourne University. At the age of 18 Landau enlisted in the Australian Military Forces with the Melbourne University Rifles, serving with this militia unit for a period of three years.

    Landau was one of the first graduate entrants to join the Department of Defence in 1936 where he worked as Sir Frederick Shedden's administrative assistant. Shedden was the Secretary of Defence and had a reputation as a formidable but respected man with exacting standards and an exhaustive work ethic. In this role Landau was responsible for the smooth running of Shedden’s office, a demanding task that he performed with great efficiency.

    During the years he worked in the Department of Defence, Landau was involved at the highest levels in the administration of Australia's wartime decision making and was one of only five men who made up the working side of Australia's War Cabinet Secretariat. The War Cabinet Secretariat, headed by Shedden, was formed from a group of public servants in 1941 to provide administrative support to the War Cabinet and Advisory War Council. They worked as a team to document and process the proceedings of these meetings, recording decisions about defence policy and strategy and preparing agendas and minutes. The War Cabinet Secretariat was also responsible for the safe and rapid distribution of these vital records and everything they handled was highly classified and subject to the strictest security measures.

    In addition to controlling access to some of the most important documents of wartime administration, Landau was also the custodian of Shedden's personal notes which were taken during War Cabinet and Advisory Council meetings and were not usually available to others. Additionally, Landau had control over the secure Departmental strong-room where one of only three final signed copies made of the minutes of every single meeting, signed by Shedden and the Prime Minister, were held. The experience and dedication of the Secretariat has been widely acknowledged as invaluable during this critical period of Australian history.

    Landau continued working in the Department of Defence until the early 1960s, travelling internationally with several Prime Ministerial delegations and playing an active role in the development of the ANZUS treaty. On 1 January 1960, he was awarded The Order of the British Empire - Officer (Civil), OBE(C), for his role as First Assistant Secretary in the Defence Department.

    In mid-November 1963, Landau’s career took a new direction when he was appointed Secretary of the Department of the Navy. Landau was serving in this post during the VOYAGER affair of 1964 (investigations that followed the collision of HMAS VOYAGER and HMAS MELBOURNE), and was involved over the next few years in the multiple Royal Commissions, obtaining statements and reports.

    On 11 June 1966, Samuel Landau was awarded The Order of the British Empire - Commander (Civil), CBE(C) for his role as Secretary of the Department of the Navy. On 18 November 1967, Samuel’s wife Lyla launched the RAN’s Attack class patrol boat HMAS ASSAIL, at Evans Deakin & Co shipyard, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane QLD. This souvenir ship's bell was presented to Lyla Landau on this occasion. Several additional items from this event, and other official occasions attended by the couple during Samuel’s tenure with the Department of the Navy, are included within the Landau collection.

    Despite Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's negative comments about Landau during the various VOYAGER debates in the 1960s, in November 1973 the Whitlam Government appointed Sam Landau as Minister (Politico-Military Affairs) at the Australian Embassy in Washington. He served in this position until his retirement in 1976. During Landau’s posting here he collected and acquired many mementoes from the United States Navy and Marine Corps (such as a set of cufflinks and a tie pin), and the United States Defense Intelligence Agency (including a Zippo lighter with the agency’s emblem).

    Sam and Lyla Landau and they had two children - Marilyn and Naomi. Aside from his high profile career as a public servant, Samuel Landau was also a prominent member of the Canberra Jewish community. He passed away on 3 January 1983 in Canberra, ACT.

    HMAS ASSAIL
    Launched on 18 November 1967 by Mrs Lyla Landau, ASSAIL was commissioned into naval service on 12 July 1968 as one of twenty Attack class patrol boats ordered for the RAN in November 1965. The Attack class were equipped with high-definition navigation radar, magnetic compasses, an echo sounder and air conditioning for service in northern Australian waters. Their primary role was to conduct patrol work in Australian territorial waters. ASSAIL was initially based in Sydney before relocating to Darwin in 1969.

    In 1970 sister ships ASSAIL, ADVANCE and ATTACK formed the 3rd Australian Patrol Boat Squadron. While based in Darwin in December 1974, ASSAIL sustained some damage during Cyclone Tracy.

    The Attack class was eventually superceded by the larger Fremantle class patrol boat. In 1983 ASSAIL home ported to Western Australia where she remained until 1985 before returning to Sydney. During 1985, her final year of commission in the RAN, ASSAIL conducted Bass Strait oil rig support patrols from Sydney. After decommissioning in October 1985, ASSAIL was transferred to the Indonesian Navy and re-named KRI SIGUROT.

    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Samuel and Lyla Landau Collection

    Web title: Presentation ship's bell from the launch of HMAS ASSAIL

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