Friday, 14 November 2014

S.M.S. Emden, H.M.A.S Sydney, and the man who made Ballarat home

The First A.I.F. convoy sailed on November 1st, 1914, leaving Albany, W.A. and sailing into the Indian Ocean.  You may have seen on television the large commemorations which took place two weekends ago.

Escort cruisers of the convoy were H.M.A.S. Melbourne and H.M.A.S. Sydney.  The convoy received reports of a mysterious raider at the Cocos Islands, where there was a cable and wireless station.  Disruption to this station would have wrecked communication between England and Australia, and so the Sydney steamed to investigate - the raider was indeed the Emden, which had been prowling and troubling shipping in the Indian Ocean for some months.  Reports in the 100 year old Ballarat Courier this week announce with acclaim the destruction of the Emden by H.M.A.S. Sydney - Australia's first naval engagement and victory.  You can read more about this in The Royal Australian Navy, edited by David Stevens, volume 3 of the Australian Centenary of the History of Defence, which we hold in the Australiana Research Room.

This morning, we had some visitors from Kyneton, and while chatting, we found that our visitor's father-in-law was aboard the Sydney at this famous engagement.  His name was Arthur A. Hart, and he was in fact a member of the British Navy, seconded to the Australian Navy.  After the Great War was over, Arthur Hart migrated with his family to Australia, to live in Ballarat for the rest of his life. His ashes were scattered in the Ballarat New Cemetery in 1978. He was aged 88 when he died.

When the famiy first arrived in Ballarat they lived with a relation, a Miss Derby, in Dana Street.  Miss Derby worked at the School of Mines.  Later, Arthur bought his own home in Magpie Street.  Maybe someone remembers the Hart family.

This is information as supplied by Arthur Hart's son-in-law.  He has promised to return with Arthur Hart's medals and other service documents, so we may be able to update this post soon.

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