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Queensland Parliamentary dinner and concert for the officers of HMAS MELBOURNE

Date: 1919
Overall (measured closed): 147 x 142 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Program
Object No: ANMS0516[002]

User Terms

    A souvenir menu and orchestral programme from the Queensland Parliamentary dinner to welcome back the officers of HMAS MELBOURNE (I) and her consorts on the 17th May, 1919.
    In addition to

    SignificanceThis program highlights the high esteem felt by Australia for the Royal Australian Navy and its actions during World War I.
    HistoryHMAS MELBOURNE (I) was a Town class light cruiser built by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead in England in 1911 and launched on 30 May 1912. MELBOURNE was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 18 January 1913.

    The cruiser was involved in the pursuit of the German raider SMS EMDEN in 1914, and served on the North America and West Indies Stations from 1914 to 1916 before joining the Grand Fleet in the North Sea, where it was stationed for the remainder of the war.

    After the war the ships of the RAN returned to a heroic welcome which began in Brisbane in May 1919 with MELBOURNE's officers treated to a special dinner and concert. This 'Orchestral Programme' commemorates this event. The program was in seven sections as follows:

    I Nautical Prelude, 'The Old Salt'
    II Overture, 'Kenilworth'
    III Illustrative Fantasia, 'A Life on the Ocean Wave', with 17 pieces relating to the voyage of HMAS MELBOURNE - Commissioning, Preparing for Sea, Leaving England, Gale, Action, Victory, Rejoicing, Homeward Bound, Arrival in Australia
    IV Navy Reminiscence, 'HMS Pinafore'
    V Melange Nautical, 'Sea Songs'
    VI Operatic Selection, 'Iolanthe'
    VII Marcia, 'Captain in Command'
    Finishing with, 'God Save the King'

    The Director for the evening was Vittorio G Benvenuti.

    MELBOURNE was paid off to reserve and laid up inactive at Sydney between 5 August 1919 and 14 April 1920 and again from 29 September 1924 to 8 October 1925. It sailed from Sydney for England on 9 February 1928, arriving at Portsmouth on 12 April 1928. MELBOURNE was finally paid off on 23 April 1928, sold to the Alloa Shipbuilding Company of Rosyth in Scotland in December 1928 and broken up in 1929.

    From the Brisbane Courier - Monday 19 May 1919:
    The arrival of the first contingent of the home-coming Australian Fleet in Brisbane on Friday afternoon was something more than simply the return of brave men to their own land. No doubt, with the great majority of the welcoming crowd who, from wharf, bank, veranda, or roof, watched and cheered the Melbourne and her consorts as they steamed up the broad river in the golden sunshine of a perfect Queensland day the first and the most absorbing thought was of the "boys" aboard that line of grey ships - fathers, husbands, brothers, sons - back from the war ; back from the fight not only against the foes of the Empire, but against the mighty forces of Nature, of the sea which is so loved a friend, yet often so terrible and relentless an enemy, to those who go down thereto, and occupy their business in great waters. It was natural, it was right that it should be so. Nevertheless, here and there, perhaps, was to be found a man or a woman to whom the gay scene had a deeper meaning ; who recognised in this first arrival of the returning squadron at the capital of an Australian State - for Brisbane is the first capital to have the privilege of affording it a welcome - a landmark in the history not only of that State, but of Australia; a link with the high traditions of the past, an assurance for the peace and well-being of the future. It was a proud day for the Commonwealth when her young fleet set forth from her shores to take its place as a unit in the ranks of that mighty sea-power which was gathering - as it had done before "not once or twice in the rude island story" of our race - for the defence of the liberties not only of Britain or even of Europe, but of the world ; it is a still prouder one when that fleet returns victorious, its work accomplished. Unproved, untried, it went from us, it comes back tested in the fire, and found pure steel. A mind given to imagination might almost have fancied, that Friday afternoon, that somewhere close at hand were hovering the spirits of those sea-heroes of old times, of whom, as children, we have all read - yet whose story some among us to-day would banish from our schools - Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, Blake, Nelson, and Collingwood, and many more, watching eagerly, perhaps wonderingly, this spectacle of the home-coming of the Fleet of one of the youngest of the nations of the world, a nation unborn in their day, and dwelling on the other side of the globe, yet not only in race and blood, but in heart and soul, a living part of the Britain which they loved and served so well. One of the finest poems of the war written during the last five years represents the spirit of England standing by the sea-shore and thus addressing the spirit of the sea :-
    " Lo!' they say 'she hath grown old
    and strengthless,
    All her proud memories turned to
    fear and fret -
    Thou who hast watched through ages
    that are lengthless -
    Whom have I feared, and when did I
    forget ?"

    One answer to the gibe found its full expression one grey afternoon in November of last year, on the cold waters of the North Sea. Another, smaller, less important indeed, but still full of its own significance, is here before us in Brisbane to-day.
    The Australian Fleet, as originally provided for by agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Admiralty during the opening years of this century, was designed to form a unit of a great Imperial Navy, to which all the overseas Dominions were to contribute their share. For some reason or other, this larger scheme would appear to have been abandoned, or at least postponed, as up to the outbreak of the war it had not been carried into effect. Australia, however, fulfilled her part of the bargain, and her unit, comprising, as agreed upon, one battle cruiser, three protected cruisers, six destroyers, and three submarines, has been completed. The battle cruiser Australia, and two of the smaller cruisers, the Sydney and the Melbourne, together with the destroyers and submarines, were ready - very fortunately, as it turned out - to take their part in the fighting in the case of the last named, in the sacrifice also, for the Commonwealth has to mourn the loss of two of her submarines, with their brave crews. On the declaration of war, the Australian Government immediately placed the whole of its ships unre- servedly at the disposal of the Imperial authorities. And after that, until a few months ago, we heard very little of them. We understood that they acted as escorts to the ships conveying our forces to the capture of German New Guinea and other enemy possessions in the Pacific, and later to the transports which carried Australian soldiers to the battlefields of the Old World ; we conjectured also - and our conjecture has been proved to have been the sober truth - that it was to their
    presence, at least in part, that we here in our own land owed an unbroken immunity from attack from those hostile squadrons which we had reason to suspect were not very far away, watching for an opportunity to strike, an opportunity which, thanks to our ever vigilant and faithful guardians, never came. Once we were thrilled by the news of the victory of the Sydney over the Emden, which rid the seas for ever of the terror which had roved to and fro over them for so long ; once or twice, too, we heard, more or less vaguely, that one or other of our ships had been present in some important naval actions on the other side of the world. But for the most part, the little Australian Fleet remained hidden, throughout the war, behind that impenetrable veil which from the beginning has shrouded the comings and goings of the British Navy, and has gained for it the name of the "Silent Arm." And now, after four years, the veil has been lifted, and we are permitted to know that our ships and our men have played their full part in the great struggle, and played it worthily. Our lads in khaki made the name of Australia for ever immortal on the cliffs of Gallipoli and the fields of Flanders and France ; our boys in blue have upheld the honour of that name, and added thereto, upon the broad and the narrow seas. Men of the Fleet, welcome home!

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