Autographed ship's survival biscuit : Able Seaman G Mearns, HMAS Perth (I)

Place North & Central America: Canada, Nova Scotia, Halifax
Accession Number REL/01925
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Foodstuff – dry
Maker Moir's
Place made South Africa
Date made c 1939
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Round ship's survival biscuit stamped 'MOIRS' across the centre. The top of the biscuit is inscribed in ink 'H.M.A.S. PERTH', together with the signatures of some of the ship's crew. Identifiable signatures include: 16116 Leading Seaman Richard Fyfe Nicoll, 18905 Able Seaman James Duncan Cooper, 19457 Able Seaman Percy Ernest Leishman, 19511 Able Seaman Reginald Hubert Cunningham (killed in action 1 March 1942), S/3838 Ordinary Seaman George Frederick Constable, 17910 Leading Seaman John Sault, 15243 Able Seaman James Reilly, PM2455 Ordinary Seaman David Robert Neal, 21491 Able Seaman Clarence Robert Avery, Lieutenant Warwick Seymour Bracegirdle, 20027 Leading Seaman Frank Nash (died of illness on 19 September 1943 in Burma whilst a prisoner of war), 21332 Ordnance Artificer III Vincent George Valentine Pegler (returned prisoner of war), 20359 Able Seaman Cyril Alfred Crew, 6518 Able Seaman Frederick Walter Haas, 19038 Leading Seaman Robert Malcolm Borwick (killed in action 1 March 1942), 19584 Petty Officer Leonard Cyril Branford (killed in action 1 March 1942), 23553 Ordnance Artificer 4th Class Charles Eric Croisdale (killed in action 1 March 1942), Commissioned Gunner Frank Edward Hawkins (returned prisoner of war), 19559 Petty Officer George Exum Hatfield (killed in action 1 March 1942), 20547 Leading Seaman Keith Patrick McCormack, 22162 Cook Clifford John Chamberlain (killed in action 1 March 1942), 19344 Able Seaman David James Somerton, 21721 Able Seaman George Townsley, 20160 Cook John Austin Conlon, 19810 Able Seaman George William Christie, PM1783 Leading Signalman Jack Jackson (died of illness on 11 June 1945 in Thailand whilst a prisoner of war), 18324 Petty Officer Cook Frank William George Cadge (died of illness on 31 March 1942 in Java whilst a prisoner of war), 12917 Able Seaman Robert Edmund James Muirhead (returned prisoner of war), 19448 Chief Ordnance Artificer Albert Graham Robbins (killed in action 1 March 1942), 22682 Cook Francis John Suvla Briner (killed in action 1 March 1942), 19990 Leading Cook Theodor Adolf Luhrs, 23815 Acting Ordnance Artificer IV Edward Frank Henry Robson, 16506 Chief Petty Officer Roland Robertson Hubbard (killed in action 1 March 1942), 17162 Petty Officer George Kirtley Hedrick (returned prisoner of war).

History / Summary

This biscuit was issued to Able Seaman George Mearns when the cruiser HMAS Perth had a two-day stopover in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in October 1939. The Perth had been tasked with hunting a German pocket battleship in the North Atlantic, but with no success the ship berthed in Halifax where she took on a draft of sixty ratings and some stores.

Launched in 1934 as HMS Amphion, the ship was transferred to the RAN in 1939 and renamed HMAS Perth.

Born in August 1910 Mearns joined the Royal Australian Navy in February 1925. Before the Second World War he served in HMA ships Canberra, Australia, Stuart, Perth and Sydney. Mearns joined HMAS Perth on 19 May 1939 and served aboard her until 26 September 1941. At this time Perth was laid up at the Cockatoo Dockyard for an extensive refit.

Mearns later served in the corvettes HMAS Ipswich, Kalgoorlie and Glenelg. He was discharged on 30 August 1945.