Richard Hugh John Thompson OAM (1924-2023)


By Laurie McLean March 2023


Dick Thompson after the War, wearing Returned from Active Service Badge.

Thompson Family image (edited).


Dick Thompson was a highly respected Assistant Secretary with the Division of National Mapping’s parent organisation (initially) the Department of National Development between 1964 and 1976.  Speaking on behalf of Nat Mappers generally, Syd Kirkby (former Antarctic and Nat Map Surveyor and later Nat Map, Melbourne, Assistant Director) recently remembered Dick Thompson as a very rare creature, a senior bureaucrat who was deeply admired and highly liked by those at the coal face; in short, a seriously beaut bloke.


John Payne (former Nat Map, Canberra, Cartographer and later Senior Executive Officer) recently recalled that in the 1960s and 1970s many Commonwealth Departments in Canberra were represented by squash teams.  Together with fellow Cartographers Murray de Plater and Bob Kennard, John was a regular player in those competitions as it was the social thing to do in Canberra at the time.


Their squash team was known as NatDev and Dick Thompson was a very important member of it.  The NatDev team won quite a few pennants.  John recalled that Murray, Bob and he would often laugh that here they were just lowly Cartographers playing squash with an Assistant Secretary but Dick was not the sort of guy for whom status was important; he was just one of us.


Recently, John Payne has been playing golf with Ian Grigg a childhood friend (from Pascoe Vale) of Dick Thompson and his family.  Apparently the Griggs had a unit in Sydney near Dick’s Neutral Bay home.  Ian Grigg would often visit Dick at his home and later update John Payne on Dick’s latter years and, perhaps surprisingly, Dick still remembered John and his Nat Map colleagues and would often ask to be remembered to them.


For John Manning, a former Antarctic and Nat Map Surveyor and later a Nat Map (Melbourne) Assistant Director, Dick Thompson gave outstanding public service from his days as a Royal Australian Navy recruit, to the dedicated support Dick gave to (Director Dr) Phillip Law in the Antarctic Division, and afterwards in the top‑level government positions he held including in National Development and later in Transport and Aviation.  John Manning recently recalled that after Dick Thompson left National Development, Dick always had a soft spot and a kind word for National Mapping when they occasionally met in the corridors at Parliament House in Canberra such as during Senate Estimates Committee hearings, etc, and later at ANARE Club mid-winter dinners.


As well as being the devoted husband of Sheelagh and the loving father of their daughters Clare and Miranda, Dick Thompson had many interests.  He was an avid book reader and something of a library tragic; he was also a keen photographer and music lover  Apart from squash, Dick’s sporting interests included both swimming and snow skiing.  He was also an enthusiastic dancer.  After moving to Sydney in the early 1980s, Dick gained his Private Pilot Licence and undertook aerial safari trips in New South Wales.


While he achieved high office in the Commonwealth Public Service, Dick Thompson came from humble beginnings in a working class Melbourne family.


Early life

Dick Thompson was born in the Melbourne suburb of West Coburg on 21 August 1924.  He was the first of the 4 children of George Naylor Thompson (1894-1978) and his wife Kathleen Cecilia Thompson née Nicol (1905-1993).  Dick had 3 younger sisters: Norma Eileen (1926-2018) later Mrs Albert Raymond Clive Wakefield; Joyce Annie (1928-2022) later Mrs Gordon Lindsay Brown; and Shirley who died in 2008.


Dick Thompson was named for his uncle Richard Hugh Thompson (1891-1915). Private RH Thompson, No 297, served with the 24th Battalion in the 6th Infantry Brigade of the Australian Imperial Force and was killed in action by enemy shell fire at Lone Pine, Gallipoli on 29 November 1915; his death occurred over 3 months after the Battle of Lone Pine in early August 1915.


As mentioned above, the Thompsons were a working class family.  For much of his working life, Dick’s father, George Thompson was a pavior and a (blue stone etc) pitch setter.  Dick and his sisters grew up during the tough times of the Great Depression that greatly impacted Australian working families from soon after the Wall Street stock market crash in 1929 until the start of World War II in 1939.


During the Depression, the Thompsons’ family home in Bakers Road Coburg was foreclosed on by their mortgage lender and for a while the family had to live separately.  Later, the family rented in Reynard Street West Coburg and when their landlord decided to sell this property in 1947, Dick Thompson bought it for his parents.


In 1938 at around 14 years of age, Dick Thompson started work with the then British and Continental Fabrics Pty Ltd silk mills located at 510 Sydney Road Coburg.  In 1939 at around 15 years of age, Dick started his Commonwealth Public Service career as a Telegraph Messenger with the Postmaster-General's Department in Victoria.  He was to achieve high office and greatly contribute to Australia over the next 50 years in the Public Service and afterwards.


World War II active service 1942-1946

Between October 1942 and May 1946, Dick Thompson gave fulltime World War II service as a Signalman, official number PM 5114, with the Royal Australian Navy Reserve.  Dick undertook his basic Navy recruit training in matters such as drill, weapons handling, naval safety procedures and seamanship at the Navy shore station HMAS Cerberus (also known as the Flinders Naval Depot) at Crib Point on Western Port to the south‑east of Melbourne.  He commenced at Cerberus on 21 October 1942 when he was 18 years old.  Dick was the dux of his basic training course and later undertook a basic Navy signals course.  He left Cerberus as an Ordinary Signalman on 19 March 1943.


Much of Dick Thompson’s war service was at naval shore stations or base ships except for sea service onboard the armed Fairmile motor launch ML 811 and the destroyer HMAS Vendetta; further information on these vessels is provided in the Appendix.


Between 23 and 31 March 1943, Dick Thompson served at HMAS Kuttabul a naval shore station on Garden Island in Sydney Harbour that was named for the former ferry of the same name that was sunk in Sydney Harbour on the night of 31 May-1 June 1942 during an attack by 3 Japanese midget submarines; with the loss of the lives of 21 RAN personnel.


Dick Thompson had 2 separate postings to the Brisbane naval shore station HMAS Moreton; namely from 1 April to 4 August 1943 and from 7 November 1944 to 20 January 1945.  (During World War II, HMAS Moreton was the name for the naval depot on the bank of the Brisbane River at Alice Street near Parliament House in Brisbane.)


From 30 October to 4 November 1943, Dick Thompson was posted to HMAS Rushcutter then a naval depot and radar and anti-submarine training school located at Rushcutters Bay and Darling Point on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour.


Between 7 and 13 April 1944, Dick Thompson was posted to the submarine depot ship HMAS Platypus that was then serving as a base ship at Cairns in North Queensland.  During 1-14 August 1945, Dick Thompson was posted to HMAS Madang, a naval shore station at Madang on the north coast of Papua New Guinea.  On 7 April 1946, Dick Thompson was posted to the naval shore station HMAS Lonsdale in Port Melbourne where he was demobilised on 2 May 1946.


Post-War return to education

After World War II, the then Department of Post-War Reconstruction operated the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme that offered vocational or academic training to men and women who had served in the Australian Defence Force.  The Scheme sought to aid the return of former service personnel to civilian employment; it commenced in 1942 and last acceptances were taken in 1950.


Dick Thompson had left high school at age 14 years.  Under the Reconstruction Training Scheme, Dick returned to study (in night-time classes) and gained his matriculation certificate.  Dick then went on to tertiary study at the University of Melbourne where he was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Economics.


Post-War employment

After the War, Dick Thompson returned to the Postmaster-General's Department where he was promoted to the position of Clerk in the Third Division of the Commonwealth Public Service; presumably after he had matriculated.  In September 1948, Dick was promoted as a Clerk with the Civil Personnel Branch of the Navy Office in Melbourne.  Here Dick attended to the preparation of monthly increments schedule, extra duty pay and staff attendance matters.


Antarctic Division 1950-1960

Between August 1950 and July 1955,  Dick Thompson served as a Supply Assistant (Third Division) with the Antarctic Division, initially in the Department of External Affairs.  In this position Dick visited Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions’ research stations in Antarctica, Heard Island and Macquarie Island with the relief vessels, nominally to inspect and assess the stocks held by these stations but he contributed much more than that.


In July 1955, Dick was promoted to the position of Administrative Officer (Clerk-Third Division) with the Antarctic Division.  In this position, Dick was responsible for the work of the Supply Section and all matters relating to the assessment of requirements, supply, procurement and disposal of provisions (including fuel), stores and equipment for Antarctic expeditions.


From the early 1950s, as Supply Assistant and later Administrative Officer, Dick Thompson was part of a close support team that assisted the Director of the Antarctic Division Dr Phillip Garth Law AC CBE (1912-2010) in the planning and preparation for various Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions and sometimes establishing Expedition members in the field.  Other members of this team were Head Storeman George Smith, a former Royal Australian Artillery gun tractor driver who had served in New Guinea, the Solomons and Bougainville, and Technical Superintendent Louis Edward (Lem) Macey (1911-1986), a former Royal Australian Air Force Warrant Officer.  It seems that Dick Thompson became responsible to Phillip Law for all things in the Antarctic Division not related to science activities.


Apparently, Dick and George Smith had learned well the workings of the Commonwealth’s supply system from their wartime experiences; perhaps too well.  Together with Lem Macey they circumvented inherent system restrictions when necessary to ensure the early Heard Island expedition and the supply ship was adequately provisioned.  In doing so, they ordered and took delivery of stores and provisions well beyond approved allocation limits.  Commonwealth supply bureaucrats were not impressed with this outcome and sought to have the team sanctioned but Director Phillip Law refused and gave his men full (and public) support to get what they needed for the expedition regardless of bureaucratic constraints.  The post-war supply system and rules as well as the general economic situation had made the on-time delivery of vital equipment and provisions problematic without such direct action.


Dick and George Smith also worked on the wharf alongside the waterside workers to help instil the urgency necessary to get supplies loaded over the Christmas period.  Dick had such an easy going personality and leadership skill he was able to get the waterside workers (wharfies) to continue loading the Antarctic ship even after their union called one of their (then not infrequent) strikes.  Clearly, Dick possessed a remarkable personality.


The Thompson, Smith and Macey support team’s work also included designing equipment and field buildings and fabricating some equipment items at the Antarctic Division’s store in Tottenham.  In early 1954, the team members travelled with Phillip Law onboard MV Kista Dan to establish Mawson Station on the coast of Mac Robertson Land in Antarctica.  On the south-bound voyage, Dick Thompson returned to one of his wartime Navy roles and cooked for the Expeditioners.  At the Mawson site, Dick and his colleagues assisted in numerous ways to help establish the Station; including unloading and positioning stores and equipment and erecting buildings.


Kista Dan departed Melbourne on 4 January 1954 and after calling at the ANARE Station on Heard Island and the French base at Iles Kerguelen arrived at the Mawson site on 11 February 1954.  After leaving Mawson on 23 February 1954, Kista Dan called at Scullin Monolith, Vestfold Hills, Iles Kerguelen and Heard Island prior to returning to Melbourne on 31 March 1954.


At Scullin Monolith, about 160 kilometres east of Mawson, Phillip Law was intending to make a hazardous landing but this attempt was overruled by Dick Thompson on safety grounds.  Later Dick landed with Dr Law and others at the Vestfold Hills on the Ingrid Christensen Coast of Princess Elizabeth Land near the future site of the Davis Station that was established in January 1957.


Dick Thompson’s February 1954 photograph of Phillip Law’s territorial proclamation at Mawson Station.

Australian Antarctic Division image.


Preparing to raise the flag at a cairn in the Vestfold Hills on the Ingrid Christensen Coast, Antarctica on 5 March 1954; from left: unidentified, Phillip Law and Dick Thompson with flag.

An edited Thompson Family image.


Dick Thompson also undertook the duties of ANARE’s Marine Operations Officer and spent 3 months each year at sea running the landing operations at the Research Stations and for coastal mapping operations.  Dick was the second-in-command on 13 ANARE voyages.


Between 17 December 1959 and 1 January 1960, Dick Thompson was the Voyage Leader on the MV Thala Dan 1959-1960 Voyage 1.  This Macquarie Island relief voyage carried the first women to visit an Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions station; namely: scientists Susan Ingham, Isobel Bennett, Hope McPherson and Mary Gillham who carried out research during the 6-day stopover.


Marriage to Sheelagh Manson 1954

In Victoria during 1954, Dick Thompson married Sheelagh Margaret Manson (1930-2013) who had graduated from the University of Western Australia a few years earlier and was then residing at 35 Black Street Brighton while being employed as a Clerk.  Dick and Sheelagh were to have 2 children, daughters Clare (1958) and Miranda (1962).  By no later than 1958, Dick and Sheelagh Thompson were residing in Flat 2 at 919 Punt Road South Yarra.


Sheelagh and Dick Thompson.

Thompson Family image.


Recognition of service in Antarctica

For his service in Antarctica, the following 2 geographic features were named for Dick Thompson.  Another geographic feature was named for Dick’s wife Sheelagh :


Thompson Island (66° 00' 09" South 111° 06' 32" East).  The largest of the Balaena Islands.  The first landing was carried out by Antarctic Division Director Dr Phillip Law (1912-2010) and an ANARE party on 19 January 1956.  It was named after RHJ Thompson, Administrative Officer, Antarctic Division and second-in-command of relief expeditions to Heard Island, Macquarie Island and Mawson.


Thompson Peak (69° 24' 15" South 157° 39' 08" East).  A peak just south of Ringgold Knoll, Oates Land.  Sketched and photographed by Dr Phillip Law on 20 February 1959 during an ANARE Expedition on the MV Magga Dan.  It was named after RHJ Thompson, Administrative Officer of the Antarctic Division, second-in-command of several ANARE expeditions to the Antarctic.


Sheelagh Islands (66° 32' 48" South 50° 11' 01" East).  A group of about 6 islands, about 2 kilometres from the continental ice cliffs of Enderby Land.  The islands are believed to be the site of a 22 December 1929 aircraft landing by Norwegian aviation pioneer and polar explorer Hjalmar Riiser‑Larsen (1890‑1965).  An ANARE party landed on these islands on 14 February 1958 and Surveyor Graham Knuckey (1934-1969) observed an astrofix (NM/S/1).  The islands were named for Sheelagh, the wife of RHJ Thompson, Administrative Officer of the Antarctic Division and second‑in‑command of the expedition.


ANARE Club member

Dick Thompson became an esteemed member of the ANARE Club; a fraternity of former Australian Antarctic expeditioners.  The Club was formed in 1951 so members of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) could stay in touch and celebrate their shared experiences.


Department of Defence 1960-1962

In March 1960, Dick Thompson was promoted to the Third Division position of Inspector (Organisation and Methods) in the Organisation and Methods Branch in the Central Office of the Department of Defence in Canberra.  In this position Dick undertook Organisation and Methods investigations within the Department of Defence.


Living in Canberra 1960-1983

After Dick took up a position with the Department of Defence in March 1960, the Thompson Family moved to Canberra.  On electoral rolls for 1963 and 1980, Dick and Sheelagh Thompson resided at 45 Hicks Street Red Hill.  The Family moved to Sydney in 1983.


Department of Trade 1962-1964

In July 1962, Dick Thompson was promoted to the position of Clerk, Third Division, on the Central Staff, Administrative Division, of the Department of Trade in Canberra.  Here Dick was the Director of Personnel and Establishments and planned and controlled the work of the Personnel, Organisation and Methods and Training Sections.


Department of National Development et al 1964-1976

In September 1964, Dick Thompson was promoted to the Second Division position of Assistant Secretary (position no 1) in the then Department of National Development and was in charge of the Establishments and Finance Branch.  In this position Dick served in the role of Chief Officer.  Dick was to work in this Assistant Secretary position for 12 years.  During this period, Dick undertook some duty in Papua New Guinea.


During this time, the Department of National Development was replaced by the Department of Minerals and Energy in December 1972.  In December 1975, Minerals and Energy was replaced by the Department of National Resources.  While working in these departments, Dick served under some outstanding Chief Executives, namely :


·       Geologist Sir Harold George Raggatt CBE (1900-1968), Secretary (1951‑1965)

·       Nuclear scientist Robert William McGregor (Bill) Boswell OBE (1911‑1976), Secretary (1965-1969)

·       Lloyd Forrester Bott DSC CBE (1917 2004), Secretary (1969-1972)*

·       Sir Cyrus Lenox Simson (Len) Hewitt OBE (1917-2020), Secretary (1972-1975)

·       James (Jim) Scully AO (born 1928), Secretary (1975-1977).


*(Melbourne-born Lloyd Bott served in the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Navy as a Lieutenant, official number PM/V 84, during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for hazardous operations in HM MGB 502, a machine gun boat that was involved in Special Operations in Europe including placing and extracting operatives in France.)


Department of Transport 1976-1982

In August 1976, Dick Thompson left the then Department of National Resources on promotion to First Assistant Secretary, Second Division, (position no 83) of the Management Services Division in the Department of Transport’s Central Office, Canberra.  Here, Dick was responsible for the general administrative management of the Department in all areas: technical, operational and administrative and, in particular, management of establishments, personnel, industrial, organisation, systems and training activities.  He also exercised the powers of a Chief Officer.


Living in Sydney from 1982

In early December 1982, Dick Thompson transferred to the position of Regional Director, New South Wales Region with the Department of Aviation.  In this position Dick directly controlled and co-ordinated the activities of the Region.  In particular, he implemented departmental policies and plans, developed and implemented Regional work programs, oversighted the work of Regional Branches and provided high-level advice to the Department’s Central Office on the functions of the Region.


The position was based in Sydney and in 1983 Dick’s family moved from Canberra to the inner northern Sydney harbourside suburb of Neutral Bay that was to be the location of the Thompson family home for the next 40 years.  Dick remained in Sydney when civil aviation, air navigation and aviation security became part of the Department of Transport and Communications that was formed as part of administrative restructuring by the Hawke Government in July 1987.


Commonwealth Public Service retirement 1989

Dick Thompson retired from the Commonwealth Public Service during 1989.  Dick turned 65 years of age in August that year and 65 was then the Commonwealth Public Service compulsory retirement age.  Dick had served in the Public Service (including wartime Navy service) for 50 years and had certainly come a long way and achieved much from his early start as a telegram messenger.


Post-Commonwealth Public Service career

After leaving the Commonwealth Public Service in 1989, Dick Thompson spent over a decade in senior positions in the aviation industry.  From 1989 until 1996, Dick was the Executive Director of the Regional Airlines Association of Australia; a not-for-profit organisation formed in 1980 to protect, represent and promote the combined interests of regional aviation organisations in Australia.


During 1989-1996, Dick Thompson also provided aviation advice to a Sydney law firm.


Between 1996 and 2001, Dick Thompson was the Secretary of the Australian Air Transport Association.  In May 2000, Dick established the business entity Fairmile Aviation Consultancy.  From 2001, Dick was a consultant on aviation safety and regulatory affairs with Australia’s major airline Qantas, which had around 90 per cent of the market immediately after Ansett Australia collapsed in September 2001.


In December 2008, when he was 84 years of age, Qantas decided to retrench Dick Thompson.  Despite his age, Dick was in good health and had an agile brain; apparently he was not happy to end his paid working life in this way.


An older Dick Thompson.

Thompson Family image.


Medal of the Order of Australia 2015

Dick Thompson was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to veterans and naval history, and to Antarctic exploration.  His award was promulgated on the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours List.



Sadly Dick Thompson died at 98 years of age on 11 March 2023.  He was survived by his 2 daughters, their partners and by 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.  Dick’s wife Sheelagh (1930-2013) had predeceased him.  A thanksgiving service for Dick’s life was held in St Augustine’s Anglican Church (The Bridge Church) in Shellcove Road Neutral Bay on 23 March 2023; it was conducted by Senior Pastor Paul Dale, the rector at St Augustine’s.  Nat Mappers who knew Dick Thompson extend their sincere sympathies to Dick’s family for their sad loss.



During the research and preparation of this article the following people generously provided assistance:

·        John Payne, former Nat Map Senior Executive Officer

·       Syd Kirkby, AO MBE former Nat Map Assistant Director

·       John Manning, PSM former Nat Map Assistant Director

·       Paul Wise OAM, former Nat Map Senior Surveyor and founder, operator, and editor-in-chief of the XNatmap web site

·       The author also drew of the eulogies at Dick’s funeral service given by his daughters Clare and Miranda and on the images provided in the video stream of the funeral service.


The author gratefully acknowledges the kind assistance provided by each of these people.





Sea going vessels that Dick Thompson served on during World War II


ML 811

ML 811 was a Fairmile B petrol-engined, wooden hull motor launch; a small, fast, highly manoeuvrable, armed vessel designed in the United Kingdom for coastal anti-submarine and convoy protection duties but soon proved to be capable of much broader operational tasking.  Between November 1942 and April 1944, 35 such vessels were commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy for service in the coastal waters of Australia, New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies and surrounding islands.


The 90-ton Fairmile Bs, were about 34 metres long and heavily armed for their size, typically with a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft automatic cannon, two 20 mm Oerlikon automatic machine guns, three other machine guns as well as depth charges and sometimes a bazooka-a recoilless rocket launcher (thus they were more heavily armed than the much larger postwar patrol boats).  However, armament configurations varied between vessels and for the tasks they were to perform.


When landing troops for clandestine operations behind Japanese lines the Fairmile Bs were equipped with special mufflers.  During World War II operations, the Australian Fairmiles’ complement varied from 17 to 23 men (normally including 3 officers).  They could also carry up to 50 troops and during some refugee recovery operations had carried up to around 100 people.


The RAN Fairmile Bs were powered by 2 Hall-Scott Defender high octane petrol engines, each of approximately 600 horse power and could make about 20 knots.  These Fairmiles carried about 10 500 litres of petrol.  They were not given names and were built at Brisbane and Sydney.  ML 811 was built at Green Point near Gosford in New South Wales; she was commissioned on 5 November 1943 and sold in August 1947.


Dick Thompson spent almost 2 years onboard ML 811 as a Signalman and Cook during 4 separate deployments between November 1943 and November 1945; namely :


·       5 November 1943 to 6 April 1944

·       14 April 1944 to 6 November 1944

·       21 January 1945 to 31 July 1945

·       15 August 1945 to 14 November 1945.


One of ML 811’s tasks during Dick Thompson’s time onboard was to support the Z Special Unit in clandestine operations against the enemy.  The Unit was also known as Z Special Force and was an Allied specialist reconnaissance and sabotage unit that was predominantly Australian but included British, Dutch, New Zealand, Timorese and Indonesian members.  The Unit mostly operated in Borneo and the islands of the former Netherlands East Indies.


From late 1944, ML 811 was attached to the Australian 6th Division commanded by Major General Sir Jack Edwin Stawell Stevens KBE CB DSO ED (1896-1969) during the Aitape-Wewak campaign.  In this campaign, ML 811, came under Japanese shell fire as she operated around Kairiru Island and other islands in the Bismark Sea off Wewak on New Guinea’s north coast.


On 6 September 1945, Dick Thompson was onboard ML 811 at New Britain for the surrender of Japan’s Rabaul garrison.  Signing of the surrender took place onboard the British aircraft carrier HMS Glory that was anchored in St George's Channel between New Britain and New Ireland.  Lieutenant General Vernon Sturdee KBE CB DSO (1890-1966), Officer Commanding the First Australian Army, accepted the surrender of Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Imperial South Eastern Army, Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura (1886-1968) who had commanded the Japanese land forces in New Britain, New Ireland, New Guinea, the Solomons and adjacent islands.  Vice Admiral Ryūnosuke Kusaka (1893-1971) also signed the surrender instrument on behalf of Imperial Japanese Naval Forces in the area.


A typical RAN Fairmile B motor launch during World War II.

Image from RAN Fairmile Bs and HDMLs in the Island Campaigns on World Naval Ships.Com.


HMAS Vendetta

HMAS Vendetta (D69/I69) was a former Royal Navy V-class destroyer.  She entered Royal Navy service in 1917.  During World War I, Vendetta participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight (off the coast of Germany in the North Sea at the mouth of the River Elbe north-west of Hamburg), and operated against Bolshevik forces during the British Baltic Campaign.


Most of Vendetta’s post-World War I operations were in the Mediterranean.  In 1933, Vendetta was one of 5 destroyers selected for transfer to the Royal Australian Navy.  Over the next 6 years, the ship was either involved in peacetime activities or was held in reserve.


When World War II started, Vendetta was assigned to the Mediterranean as part of the Scrap Iron Flotilla.  During the Greek Campaign, Vendetta transported Allied troops to Greece and afterwards was involved in the evacuation to Crete.  Later, she served with the Tobruk Ferry Service and made the highest number of runs to the besieged city.


Dick Thompson served as a Signalman onboard Vendetta during 5 August‑29 October 1943.  Between 1943 and 1945 Vendetta was involved in convoy escort and transportation duties in Australian and New Guinea waters.  Vendetta was decommissioned in late 1945 and scuttled off Sydney Heads in 1948.


HMAS Vendetta (1) during World War II.

Royal Australian Navy image.


HMAS Platypus

Between 7 and 13 April 1944, Dick Thompson served as a Signalman onboard the submarine depot ship HMAS Platypus that was then a base ship at Cairns in North Queensland.  Platypus was built for the Royal Australian Navy by John Brown and Company Limited at Clydebank in Scotland between 1914 and 1916.  She was then passed to the control of the British Admiralty until commissioned into the RAN in March 1919.  Platypus served in Darwin during the Japanese air raids in 1942-1943.  She was decommissioned in 1956.


Submarine depot ship HMAS Platypus in 1917.

(Edited) image by Allan Green, State Library of Victoria H91.108 1393.