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Lady Gowrie's speech after the launch of HMAS ARUNTA (I)

Date: 30 November 1940
Medium: Emulsion on nitrate film
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Photographs
Object Name: Nitrate negative
Object No: 00020001
Place Manufactured:Cockatoo Island
Related Place:Cockatoo Island,

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    Description
    Lady Gowrie is featured in this photograph making a speech on board the SHOWBOAT after the launch of HMAS ARUNTA (I) at Cockatoo Island Dockyard on Saturday 30 November 1940. Seated behind the table (from left to right) are Lady Colvin (wife of Vice-Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin, First Sea Lord of the Admiralty; Lord Wakehurst, the Governor of New South Wales; Lady Gowrie (standing), wife of Lord Gowrie, the Governor-General of Australia; Mr G F Davies, Chairman (standing); and [probably] Lieutenant-General C G N Miles, GOC of the Eastern Command. The table is covered with a flag, flowers and the remnants of morning tea (cups, saucers, cakes).
    SignificanceHood’s maritime photographs are one of the most significant collections of such work in Australia, recording harbour activities from the 1890s through to the 1950s; in this case the war-time launch of a much-needed destroyer, HMAS ARUNTA, by Lady Gowrie.
    History"May it be her destiny that she adds one more page to the glorious history of the Royal Australian Navy," exclaimed Lady Gowrie, as she pulled a lever which sent the new ship down the slipway. This report comes from The Adelaide Advertiser and shows the wide interest in the launch of a new warship.

    In the war years 1939 to 1945 Sydney's Cockatoo Island Dockyard constructed three Tribal class destroyers, named ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA and BATAAN. ARUNTA was launched on 30 November 1940, and served in most of the South-West Pacific campaigns earning the following battle honours: Pacific 1942-45, New Guinea 1942-44, Leyte Gulf 1944, Lingayen Gulf 1945, and Borneo 1945.

    ARUNTA commissioned on 30 April 1942 and soon commenced operational duties as a convoy escort between east coast Australia and New Guinea. In 1943 ARUNTA assisted in the evacuation of guerrilla troops from Timor and later joined the RAN/USN Task Force 74. Other duties included escorts, patrols, troop landings and evacuations, and bombardment tasks during the amphibious campaigns in New Guinea, Bougainville and New Britain. In October 1944 ARUNTA took part in the reconquest of the Philippines, including bombardments at Leyte Gulf and the Battle of Surigao Strait. Further involvement in the Philippines campaign occurred in 1945, including supporting the landings of Australian troops at Wewak, Brunei Bay and Balikpapan. After the war ARUNTA served in Japanese waters as part of the occupation force.

    ARUNTA returned to Cockatoo dockyard in 1950 for a modernisation refit and then served in Korean waters, as well as part of FESR (Far Eastern Strategic Reserve) and finally a deployment to northern Australian waters for fishery patrols. On 21 October 1956 she paid off into Operational Reserve, finally being sold for scrap in November 1968. On 13 February 1969 ARUNTA sank 65 miles off the NSW coast while under tow to Formosa.

    ARUNTA is named for the Arrernte people of central Australia; and its motto is Conquer or Die. HMAS ARUNTA (II) is an ANZAC class frigate launched in 1996.
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