14 Sep 17

Military History

Thursday, 14 September 2017

HMCS Protector - South Australia's foray into 'Gunboat Diplomacy'
With guest speaker, Stephen Jeisman

On the morning of Thursday, 26 February 1882, the residents of Glenelg awoke and gazing seaward, to their great consternation, saw a Russian squadron of three ships anchored in Holdfast Bay. A reflection of poor communications rather than imminent invasion, it set minds a-thinking. The defence of the Colonies from threats real and imagined had exercised many a Colonial administrator's mind. Militias and the chain of coastal fortifications coordinated by Colonel Scratchley around Australia's city coastlines were the land based response across the Colonies, but South Australia went further and in 1884 bought a Gunboat; a very heavily armed Gunboat at that. Her Majesty's Colonial Ship Protector, however, quickly became a bit of an expensive white elephant employed essentially on flag waving exercises.

Following the Star of Greece disaster at Port Noarlunga, Protector performed a more useful duty, coordinating lifesaving activities around the South Australian coast line. She also provided the nucleus of a small naval force which included several personnel, such as William Creswell, who were later to play import roles in establishing the Royal Australian Navy. Protector went to war and sailed to China in 1900 to convey troops to the Boxer Rebellion. In 1901, she was transferred to the Commonwealth and eventually became one of the first ships of the RAN. Obsolete by the outbreak of WW1, she once again went to war, to New Guinea assisting in the action against the small German force at Rabaul where she eventually fired her guns in anger.

By the time of he eventual and ignominious demise in WW2 she had served the nation longer than just about any other significant capital equipment acquisition since. Join fellow members at the Club for an informative evening followed by a two-course dinner including Club beverages.

Time: 1800 Lecture; 1900 Dinner
Price: $55.00 Lecture; $10.00 Lecture Only
Dress: Jacket and Tie
RSVP: By Monday, 11 September 2017