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Crossing the Line certificate

Date: 23 May 1967
Overall: 362 x 263 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Lesley Smolders
Object Name: Certificate
Object No: 00045732

User Terms

    This Crossing the Line certificate was presented to Private Peter McGarry by the Captain of HMAS SYDNEY III on 23 May 1967. It features an image of Neptune in the upper right corner and a mermaid in the lower left corner. Crossing the equator is a major moment in the career of a sailor and certificates were issued to mark the important event and demonstrate the recipient could endure the harsh conditions of sea life. Private McGarry died less than three months later on 1 August 1967 in Phuoc Tuy province when his patrol unit disturbed a landmine laid by the Viet Cong.
    SignificanceThis certificate highlights naval traditions and ceremonies at sea for military personnel during the Vietnam War. It demonstrates the important event of crossing the Line or equator in the career of sailors and other military personnel.
    HistoryCrossing the Line certificates are a significant tangible symbol of those ceremonies held to mark a sailor's passage across important geographic parallels and to pay homage to King Neptune to ensure a safe voyage. The certificates are often beautifully coloured with hand drawn illustrations, resulting in a souvenir that can be displayed as proof of a recipient's ability to endure the hardships of life at sea. For naval personnel they document the achievement of an important career milestone.

    On 19 May 1967 the recently recommissioned HMAS SYDNEY left Brisbane carrying 500 troops of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment to the Vietnam War. Private Peter Shaun McGarry was a 20-year-old volunteer machine-gunner of 2RAR Delta Company. When SYDNEY crossed the equator on 23 May McGarry was presented with this certificate acknowledging his status as a 'Sea Rover, not to be confounded with landlubbers, charladies or those that overwater good liquor... entitled to call the Great Sea Serpent by his middle name'.

    The troops of 2RAR Delta Company spent 10 days on board SYDNEY on its seventh trip to Vietnam carrying troops. They disembarked at Vung Tau Bay, Phuoc Tuy Province in South Vietnam. The company conducted 23 operations in Phuoc Tuy Province maintaining patrols and ambushes throughout the area. They lost 28 soldiers during their tour including Private McGarry who died on 1 August 1967 just after 2 am when members of his patrol triggered a Viet Cong landmine.

    HMAS SYDNEY III was commissioned in England in 1948 as the first aircraft carrier of the Royal Australian Navy. It undertook duties during the Korean War between September 1951 and January 1952. In 1955 SYDNEY became a training ship at the HMAS ALBATROSS base until it was passed into Special Reserves in 1958.

    During the Vietnam War SYDNEY was re-commissioned as a troop transport conducting 24 trips from 1965-1972 and carrying over 14,500 troops, 5,500 tons of cargo and 2,400 vehicles to the conflict. In 1975 the vessel was sold for scrap in South Korea.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Crossing the Line Certificate

    Web title: Crossing the Line certificate

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