At the end of his 22 June report to the Naval Board, (255) Muirhead-Gould included a list of people he recommended for recognition.  For the work of the Channel Patrol Boats of the Hollywood Fleet, the recommendation included Lieutenant A G Townley of HMAS Steady Hour and Sub Lieutenant J A Doyle of Seamist.  That was despite, Muirhead-Gould knowing the commander of Seamist, at the time she attacked submarine M21, was Lieutenant Reginald Andrew.


There were recommendations for the night watchman James Cargill and his colleague Mr W Nangle, Lieutenant J A Taplin of Yandra, Engineer Captain A B Doyle, CBE (256), Commander C C Clark and Bandsman M N Cumming for their actions in rescuing survivors from  Kuttabul.


But, there was no mention at all of HMAS Lolita or her commander Herbert Anderson and his crew!


In an earlier undated draft of his report, Muirhead-Gould had written, ‘Three submarines were able to pass through a gap supposed to be under observation by Yarroma.  This was entirely due to Yarroma’s inexperience and inefficiency.  Yarroma was on duty at Western gate and at first could not have been keeping an efficient watch’. (257)


The failure of Yarroma’s commander, Sub-Lieutenant Eyres and the prospect of a court martial had been discussed with Sir Guy Royle.  But despite acknowledging three submarines were able to pass through the gap which was supposed to be under observation by Yarroma, Sir Guy Royle said in a letter (258) to Muirhead-Gould, he did not like the idea ‘of trying the Commanding Officer of Yarroma for failing to engage the enemy’.  He said his chief fault was his foolishness and that ‘an admonition by you would meet the case’.


Clearly for Sir Guy Royle, a court martial would expose the failings of the Navy to scrutiny which, at that time, was in the headlines of the Smith’s Weekly newspaper.  It appeared any scrutiny was to be avoided.  As a result of Royle’s views, Muirhead-Gould merely identified in his 22 June report, that Yarroma did not open fire and this was ‘deplorable and inexplicable’.


With regard to ‘awards’, there had been discussions between Muirhead-Gould and Royle, for Royle said in the same letter, ‘I haven’t settled about any award yet, but D.S.C. would seem to be about the right standard’.  Such an award would reflect the convention throughout the war, that commanders would be recognized for sinking enemy submarines.  That convention awarded Captain Hector Waller of HMAS Stuart, a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his 1940 services in the Mediterranean which included his attack on the Italian submarine Gondar. (259)  Similarly, a DSO was awarded to Lieutenant Commander Menlove of HMAS Deloraine for sinking the Japanese mine laying submarine I-124 off Darwin on 20 January 1942.  And similarly, a Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) and Bars were awarded to Captain Stanley of HMS Loch Killin for sinking three German submarines - U-333, U-736 and U-1063 during 1944 and 1945. (260)


However, it should be remembered that Royle expressed his view regarding a DSC at the time Townley was being congratulated for ‘his action’ in sinking M21 in Taylor’s Bay.


By his third report on 16 July, Muirhead-Gould had re-assessed the recommendations for ‘recognition’.  In his Appendix VI (261) he now included Eyres and the crew of Yarroma, for their part ‘in the sinking of Midget M21’.  Muirhead-Gould added, that to some extent this action redeemed ‘their’ earlier failure to respond appropriately.  Muirhead-Gould also acknowledged the skipper and crew of the Naval Auxiliary Patrol Boat Lauriana for the ‘prompt action illuminating the submarine’ they had sighted outside the boom.


And still, Muirhead-Gould continued to incorrectly include Doyle as the commander of Seamist in lieu of Reg Andrew.  As for Lolita, Anderson and his crew, there was nothing.  


If it was appropriate for Lauriana to be recommended for an award for merely sighting and illuminating a submarine, it was preposterous there was no recommendation for Lolita, despite Anderson, Nelson and Crowe identifying an enemy submarine, reporting the sighting and decisively and determinedly attacking the submarine on three occasions.


Of significance, there is no record in the Minutes of the Naval Board of any consideration of Muirhead-Gould’s three reports.  There is no record of any discussion, or determinations, with regard to the Battle of Sydney Harbour.  The only mention of the Battle of Sydney Harbour was the Board’s consideration, and recommendations, with regard to the later exhibition of the Japanese midget submarines, (262) and the Board’s consideration of a report regarding the actions of the Maritime Service’s Board employees, Cargill and Nangle.  The Minutes record the Board’s decision to recommend to the Minister, that monetary rewards be made to Cargill and Nangle in the amounts of £40 and £10 respectively. (263)


Despite there being no record of any consideration of Muirhead-Gould’s reports by the Naval Board, the Secretary of the Naval Board, on 3 October 1942, wrote to Muirhead-Gould saying he had been ‘directed by the Naval Board’ that appropriate ‘notations’ were to be made in the records of various officers and ratings.  According to the Secretary’s letter, the Board requested their congratulations were to be communicated to the crews of Steady Hour, Seamist and Yarroma as well as Yandra and Lauriana. (264)  But, there is no record in the Board’s Minutes, for any such direction to be issued.


There is no mention of Lolita, her crew or of commander Herbert Anderson – not even a pat on the back!


By his reports, Muirhead-Gould had effectively expunged all record of HMAS Lolita, Anderson and his crew from any record of the Battle and recognition of their actions during the Battle of Sydney Harbour.  And, the Secretary’s letter, four months after the Battle of Sydney Harbour, still pathetically commended the former commander of Seamist – Doyle, instead of Reg Andrew.  To this day, that error has never been corrected and there is no ‘notation’ in Reg Andrew’s service record.


One is therefore left to ask, in the absence of any record in the Minutes of the Naval Board, who authorized the letter to Muirhead-Gould in the name of the Naval Board?  Was it merely the personal action of Sir Guy Royle, as the First Naval Member of the Board, and Chief of Navy, and his alone?


Grose, in his book, A Very Rude Awakening advocated that the Battle of Sydney Harbour is unique in Australian military history, in that no medals were awarded to any of the participants.  Given that two submarines had been sunk and a disaster averted, perhaps Grose is correct in expressing the view that somewhere along the line, the Navy at least, and maybe the Government decided the whole Battle had been a fiasco and that it was best to move on – no inquiries, no courts martial and no medals. (265)


Grose refers to the failure to make any awards to the naval personnel, as a ‘monstrous injustice’.  One that, he says, is not too late for the Navy and the Government to correct.  That opportunity arose, with Brian Anderson’s attempts in seeking recognition for his father’s actions in command of HMAS Lolita.


In dealing with his request, and being the only independent Inquiry since the Battle of Sydney Harbour, the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal said:


The Naval Board decided that nobody should be recognized for their actions on that night despite the recommendation of Rear Admiral Muirhead-Gould.


The Tribunal also said:


No reasons were given for that decision and it is not appropriate for this Tribunal to speculate on what those reasons might have been.  


And finally, the Tribunal accepted the Naval Board:


… considered the actions taken and decided that in the circumstances of mid-1942 it was not appropriate to recognize any individual act.


Those findings are remarkable, given the absence of any record put into evidence before the Tribunal, confirming that the Naval Board had given consideration to the recognition of actions taken by naval personnel, as distinct from the actions of the Maritime Services Board staff, Cargill and Nangle.


Given there is no evidence of any such consideration by the Naval Board, one is entitled to ask, what evidence was laid before the Tribunal?  An examination of the submission by the Department of Defence to the Tribunal, prepared by Dr David Stevens, reveals the only evidence with regard to awards, was the single page report to the Naval Board, for proposed monetary awards to Cargill and Nagle – the Maritime Services Board workers who alerted the Navy.  No evidence was presented to the Tribunal, of any report submitted to the Naval Board regarding awards or recognition for naval personnel.


It is also important to note, that at no time during the hearing, did either of the Tribunal members question the lawyers or expert representing the Department of Defence.  There were no probing questions to confirm reports had been submitted to the Naval Board, and there was no request to examine the Minutes arising from the meetings of the Naval Board.


As Brian Anderson was seeking a retrospective Award for his father, the Tribunal had a significant obligation to ensure a proper examination of the required matters.


Those matters were laid out in the report from the earlier 2011 ‘Inquiry into Unresolved Recognition for Past Acts of Naval and Military Gallantry and Valour (266).  That Inquiry was initiated by a direction from the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, requiring the Tribunal to inquire into the appropriate recognition for thirteen specific acts of gallantry and valour performed in other military actions.


Of importance for Anderson, that Inquiry identified (267) that as RAN ships operated as part of RN fleets under RN command, recommendations for honours would be submitted to the British Admiralty to ‘ensure uniformity of standard awards’.  The Inquiry also found that in February 1942, five months before Muirhead-Gould’s final report, Sir Guy Royle instructed commanding officers (which would have included Muirhead-Gould) that when making recommendations for honours and awards, ‘the nature of the proposed award was not to be suggested’.  The Tribunal also found that in September 1942, the Australian Government asked the ‘Defence Committee’ whether the existing arrangements should be changed so that naval recommendations would be passed through Australian Government ministers.  However, the ‘Defence Committee’ at the time accepted the ‘strong opposing argument’ from Royle that ‘Australia should continue to follow the Royal Navy system’.  That system required recommendations from the RAN to be submitted by the Secretary of the Navy direct to the Admiralty and not via the Governor General to His Majesty.  


Of importance, the Tribunal found that at the time of the thirteen specific acts that formed the basis of the inquiry, there was no particular prescribed ‘Form’ to be used by commanders when submitting recommendations for recognition.  In other words, Muirhead-Gould could set out his recommendations in his own manner, just as he did in his Appendix VI.


To assist the process of examining the thirteen claims, the Inquiry developed ‘Guidelines for conducting reviews’. (268)  The first step in the Guidelines, required a process of review to determine whether ‘due process’ had been followed so as to determine whether there was a case of ‘maladministration’.  The process also required an examination to determine if new evidence had come to light.  The second step required a ‘merits review’ if there was a case of ‘maladministration’ or if there was new evidence that was not available at the time of the original decision.  


In conducting the ‘merits review’, four factors were listed for consideration: that it was no longer possible to provide awards and honours in the Imperial system; that it was possible to make retrospective awards in the Australian system ‘in the most compelling of cases’; new evidence should be assessed by reference to the standards at the time; and similar cases should not be used as a precedent or for comparison.


Of the thirteen cases, the Inquiry found there had been maladministration or significant failures in the processes amounting to ‘injustice’ and ‘manifest injustice’ in four claims, three relating to the actions of HMAS Yarra and the fourth regarding Captain Hector Waller and HMAS Perth.  Importantly for Anderson, the Inquiry found regarding HMAS Yarra, ‘that inaction by the ACNB [Australian Commonwealth Naval Board] in not considering whether members of the ships company should have been recognized for their gallant action amounted to maladministration’. (269)


The Tribunal for the 2011 Inquiry submitted its report to the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence on 21 January 2013 and released the report to the public four weeks later on 18 February 2013.  That was over a two months before the Tribunal released the report for the Anderson Appeal.  If the members of the Tribunal in the Anderson Appeal had been previously unaware of the outcomes from the 2011 Inquiry, they would certainly have been aware of the significance of the findings for those two months, prior to finalizing and releasing their decision.


As a result of the 2011 Inquiry, the Tribunal in the Anderson Appeal was obligated to; first determine if there had been an ‘injustice’ and ‘maladministration’ in the consideration of awards following the Battle of Sydney Harbour, and secondly, if there had been ‘maladministration’, the Tribunal was obligated to determine if the actions of Herbert Spencer Anderson warranted recognition via an Award.


The Tribunal failed on both accounts.  


There was no consideration by the Tribunal to determine if the actions of Muirhead-Gould, Royle, the Naval Board, or the Admiralty, were contaminated by ‘injustice’ or ‘maladministration’.  Given the 2011 Inquiry’s finding that a failure by the Naval Board would amount to an ‘injustice’, the Tribunal for Anderson, should have found, the absence of any evidence of any consideration by the Naval Board of Muirhead-Gould’s recommendation for the recognition of naval personnel, amounted to the ‘monstrous injustice’ referred to six years earlier in 2007, by author Peter Grose.  


Without the required first determination of ‘injustice’ or ‘maladministration’, the Tribunal was constrained from considering recognition of Anderson’s actions aboard HMAS Lolita.


In making their decision, ‘not to recommend to the Minister that Commissioned Warrant Officer Herbert Spencer Anderson be considered for a defence honour’, without first determining the issue of ‘injustice’ or ‘maladministration’, the Tribunal itself dealt a significant injustice to Herbert Spencer Anderson.


As for the Tribunal’s finding that ‘certain procedures’ were not followed, given there was no prescribed ‘Form’ to be completed, and that a commander merely had to put forward his recommendations as had been done by Muirhead-Gould in his Appendix VI, the Tribunal should have found that all ‘certain procedures’ had in fact been followed.


And it is not as if the Tribunal members for the Anderson Appeal could say they were unaware of the findings from the earlier 2011 Inquiry.  Given Tribunal Member Air Commodore Mark Lax in the Anderson Appeal, was also a member of the 2011 Inquiry, he at least, would have been aware of the findings regarding ‘retrospectivity’, ‘maladministration’, ‘injustice’ and ‘certain procedures’.  It is therefore even more disturbing these crucial matters were not dealt with by the Tribunal for Herbert Spencer Anderson.  It is equally disturbing that neither matter was disclosed to Brian Anderson so he could make relevant submissions, especially as he was not represented by lawyers and was merely advocating for recognition of his father.


Had the Tribunal for Anderson’s Appeal conducted a proper inquiry to satisfy the matters arising from the 2011 Inquiry, it is more than likely, the Tribunal would have exposed the ‘maladministration’ that contaminated the proper consideration of Muirhead-Gould’s recommendations for recognition.


Given the matters raised above including the failures of the Tribunal for Herbert Spencer Anderson, it would be entirely appropriate for Parliament to conduct an Inquiry into the circumstances of the Battle of Sydney Harbour, the recommendations for recognition made at the time, and whether recommendations for appropriate recognition should now be made, to ensure the actions of the officers and men who fought in the Battle are appropriately recognized.  


Alternatively, if Parliament has confidence in the Tribunal, the relevant Minister should direct the Tribunal to hold a fresh Inquiry, not only regarding the Anderson Appeal, but a wider Inquiry into the appropriate recognition for all personnel who took part in the Battle of Sydney Harbour.


In the case of Lolita, for her commander and crew whose actions were expunged from the records, for others including Reg Andrew for sinking M21, for the actions of Townley and Steady Hour, Eyres and Yarroma, the Skipper of Lauriana, for Lingard in disarming torpedoes, and for the brave actions of Doyle (270), Clarke and Cumming for their rescue of sailors from HMAS Kuttabul, it is not too late.

255 NAA: MP1049/5, 2026/21/79: Midget Submarine Attack on Sydney Harbour., p.44

256 See Footnote 14.

257 NAA: SP338/1, 201/37: (Japanese) Midget Submarine Attack on Sydney Harbour, May 31st June 1st 1942., p.156

258 NAA: SP338/1, 201/37: (Japanese) Midget Submarine Attack on Sydney Harbour, May 31st June 1st 1942., p.154.  Date of letter 16 June 1942.

259 The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a higher award and was usually made to officers of higher rank.  The Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) would be given to a lower rank such as Lieutenant.

260 Captain Darling RANR was loaned to the Royal Navy in 1943 and was appointed commander of HMS Lock Killin on 22 November 1943 to the end of hostilities.

261 See Appendix D - Muirhead-Gould’s Third Report – Appendix VI, ‘Recommendations for Recognition of Personnel’.

262 NAA: A2585, 1942/1945: Naval Board Minutes, 8 July 1942, 6 August 1942, 2 September 1942, 30 September 1942, 8 July 1943, 22 March 1944, 16 May 1944 and 20 September 1944.

263 NAA: A2585, 1942/1945: Naval Board Minutes, 2 September 1942

264 NAA: SP338/1, 201/37: (Japanese) Midget Submarine Attack on Sydney Harbour, May 31st June 1st 1942., p.85

265 Grose, P., A Very Rude Awakening, p.245

266 https://defence-honours-tribunal.gov.au/report-of-the-inquiry-into-unresolved-recognition-for-past-acts-of-naval-and-military-gallantry-and-valour-valour-inquiry/.,  Published to the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator The Hon. David Feeney on 21 March 2013.  

267 See p.50 and 51.  The Inquiry Report cites a number of NAA Records.

268 See p.5 and 6, Part 8-48, ‘Guidelines for conducting the reviews

269 https://defence-honours-tribunal.gov.au/report-of-the-inquiry-into-unresolved-recognition-for-past-acts-of-naval-and-military-gallantry-and-valour-valour-inquiry/.,  Published to the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator The Hon. David Feeney on 21 March 2013.  See p.8 and 9

270 See Footnote 14.