NAVAL HISTORY: Gympie RSL Sub-Branch welfare and pensions officer Alan Birkenhead with the battle ensign flag of the HMAS Gympie. BELOW: A photograph of the HMAS Gympie, which is also on display at the RSL. PHOTO: GREG MILLER
NAVAL HISTORY: Gympie RSL Sub-Branch welfare and pensions officer Alan Birkenhead with the battle ensign flag of the HMAS Gympie. BELOW: A photograph of the HMAS Gympie, which is also on display at the RSL. PHOTO: GREG MILLER

HMAS Gympie memorabilia goes on show at the RSL

AN important piece of Gympie's navy history has made it home to be displayed after many years.

Memorabilia from navy ship HMAS Gympie is finally part of a proud display at the Gympie RSL.

RSL board secretary and welfare and pensions officer Alan Birkenhead could not be any prouder to have the memorabilia to show residents.

A former navy man himself, he said the ship played in integral part in Australian military history.

"Everyone should be proud," he said.

"It was built in Australia and survived the Second World War before it was scrapped."

Mr Birkenhead said the ship was most likely named after the town because Gympie was "the town that saved Queensland".

Among the memorabilia there are uniforms, a replica of HMAS Gympie, a bell and the ship's flag.

The flag was signed by the crew of 1941.

Mr Birkenhead said he was undertaking research to see if any of those crew members were still alive.

If so, he would like to organise a reunion.

"It's huge and it will mean a lot more when the Second World War centenary comes around," he said.

Mr Birkenhead said he was inspired to investigate HMAS Gympie after a married couple asked him if there was any memorabilia.

He said everyone should know the history of the ship, one of 60 Australian minesweepers - or corvettes - built during the Second World War.

The ship was commissioned on November 4, 1942, assuming duty as a convoy escort along the north-east coast of Australia.

Although 11 allied ships were sunk in Australian waters, none were under the escort of HMAS Gympie.

In February 1944 the ship sailed to New Guinea, engaged in escort and patrol duties.

Gympie woman Joan Priddy was a crew member during that time; she was the 78th recruit.

"It would have been good for her to see it (the memorabilia) here," Mr Birkenhead said.

Gympie Times


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