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Officers and crew of HMS WOLVERENE leaving Sydney

Date: 1882
Overall: 291 x 296 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00005573

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    This engraving from the Australasian Sketcher depicts several scenes of the departure of the Royal Navy officers and men of the Victorian colonial ship WOLVERENE as they boarded the LUSITANIA to return to duty in England. The WOLVERENE was a screw corvette serving on the Australia Station 1875-1882, manned by the Royal Navy. When it was decommissioned from service in the Royal Navy, the men returned to England and the ship remained with the Victorian Naval Forces.
    HistoryThe screw corvette HMS WOLVERENE (sometimes incorrectly spelled (WOLVERINE) was flagship on the Australia Station 1875-1882. Laid down at Woolwich Dockyard, England in 1859, the ship was launched in 1863 and completed the following year. WOLVERENE served on the North America and West Indies Station in the 1860s before being deployed to Australia, relieving HMS PEARL in 1875.

    Under the command of Commodore John Wilson, ADC, RN, WOLVERENE assumed duties as the flagship of the Australia Station, undertaking various cruises and exercises in Australian waters, including hosting the Royal Navy's Detached Squadron world cruise visit in 1881.

    When the ship was paid off in 1882, the New South Wales government requested that she remain on the Station for use by the Naval Brigade and the Naval Artillery Volunteers in their training under the command of Captain George Sidney Lindeman.

    Decommissioned in 1892, WOLVERENE was sold to Peter Ellison of Balmain and fitted out as a barque-rigged sailing merchant vessel. Departing Sydney in 1895 for Liverpool via Cape Horn, WOLVERENE started taking on water and made for Auckland for repairs. The cost was deemed too high and she was laid up, hulked and stripped of everything of value. What remained was beached and burned. One of its 8-inch broadside guns is located in Cook Park, Sans Souci, Sydney.

    This article featured with the engraving:

    OFFICERS AND CREW OF H.M.S. WOLVERENE LEAVING SYDNEY. The event here depicted is thus described by the Sydney Morning Herald of January 21 : — Additional interest surrounded the departure of the Lusitania yesterday on account of the fact that the largest proportion of her passengers embraced the officers and crew of H.M.S. Wolverene, who are returning to England, so that citizens of every class and grade, from Sir John Robertson downwards, assembled on board for the purpose of bidding a final adieu to their many friends of the Royal navy. The Government steamer Thetis steamed round from the Wolverene shortly after 11 o'clock with the petty officers, seamen, marines, and their baggage. After the Thetis had made fast alongside the Lusitania the work of transhipping luggage commenced, and this was speedily done by the tars, who maintained a continuous line to and from the steerage of the vesssel, as busy as bees, until the last item of baggage had been deposited in the steerage. Then the men bade good-bye to their friends and relatives, and long before eight bells had sounded there was a rush to shore by those who were not willing to be conveyed to Melbourne. The men then crowded the side of the Lusitania, and after she had moved lazily from the side of the wharf a signal was given by one of the late officers of the Wolverene for three British cheers, which were given lustily, and loudly returned by the hundreds of persons crowding about the wharf. About half-past 12 the Lusitania moved slowly away, amid a waving of handkerchiefs and hats in every direction. As the vessel steamed away, the old band of the Wolverene struck up "The Girl I Left Behind Me," "Auld Lang Syne," and "Rule Britannia." In passing down the harbour a salute of guns was fired from the Nelson, the ensign was dipped in the usual way, and up ascended Commodore Erskine's flag as commander of the Australian station, when parting cheers were exchanged. The old adage, "Off with the old love and on with the new,' will not apply here. Many years may pass away before Admiral Wilson and his gallant crew are forgotten, and the departure of these tars was marked by a gratifying feature, which is, perhaps, without its parallel, for there was not a single case of intoxication or disorder. The Prince of Wales and one or two steam launches followed the Lusitania to sea.
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