Saturday, 10 May 2014

From the Coburg Boys' Naval Brigade to the defeat of the Emden



Coburg Boys' Naval Brigade, c. 1908.

Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society.


Norman Hunter, son of John and Lavinia Hunter of Mayfield Street, Coburg, was an old boy of Coburg State School and is featured on the Town of Coburg Honour Board, located at Coburg Town Hall.

He joined the Navy in 1912 as a boy of 16. Before that he’d been a member of the Coburg Boys’ Naval Brigade, along with Wen Shore, who was the subject of my last blog entry. Norman Hunter’s RAN service record shows that he served from 1 June 1912 until 19 June 1921. When he left, he took with him £18/15/0 which was his share of the Naval Prize Fund, basically a prize paid out on account of the sinking or capture of an enemy ship.

By 10 June 1914 Norman Hunter was working as a telegrapher on HMAS Sydney, and served on board that ship until the end of September 1917. Like Oriel Ashton, another Coburg man who served in the navy (on HMAS Australia), Norman Hunter saw action before most servicemen had even left Australia.

Sinking of the Emden. Coburg Youth Takes Part.

F.W. Shore (see previous blog entry) wrote that one of the crew of HMAS Sydney when it defeated the Emden was Norman Hunter of Coburg 'who from its inception had been a petty officer in the Coburg Boys' Municipal Naval Brigade.' Brunswick and Coburg Star, 27 November 1914, p.1.

Another newspaper report added that he’d been a petty officer in the Boys’ Naval Brigade since its inception in 1908.Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 27 November 1914, p.2.


1914. The wreck of the German light cruiser SMS Emden after her action with HMAS Sydney. From the Naval Historical Collection, AWM.
Image courtesy AWM. Image 305436.


If you are interested in discovering more about the naval  men who served in New Guinea in 1914, you should check out the entry on missing embarkation rolls on The Empire Called and I Answered blog and this second entry.


After he left the Navy in 1921, Norman Hunter moved to Newmarket where he worked as a mechanic. By the 1930s he was married and living in Bentleigh. He died at Clayton in October 1966 aged 70. His wife Queenie Beatrice died in 1979 aged 78.



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