Australia Service Medal : Lieutenant H R Syme, RANVR

Place Europe: United Kingdom
Accession Number RELAWM32408.005
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Nickel Silver
Location Main Bld: Hall of Valour: Main Hall: George Cross
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia
Date made c 1949-1950
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Australia Service Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Medals of Lieutenant Hugh Randall Syme, Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RANVR), born 28 February 1903 at Kew, Melbourne. Syme’s father, John Herbert, was a journalist, and his son had settled in the family business (they published the 'Age' newspaper) as assistant manager when the Second World War broke out. A keen amateur sailor, Hugh Syme was accepted in RANVR as part of the Yachtsman Scheme (whereby the Australian Naval Board provided personnel to the Admiralty via the RANVR), passed a navigation test, and was appointed a probationary sub-lieutenant on 1 September 1940. Syme was soon mobilised to England, trained at HMS King Alfred and was among the first group of Australians to be chosen to serve in the Rendering Mines Safe section; he and others received specialist training and were posted to HMS Vernon where the section was based. Syme was promoted to Lieutenant in mid December 1940. German bombing and air raids ensured the team had plenty of practice disarming unexploded mines and bombs. Lieutenant Syme rapidly developed a reputation for bravery, especially in delousing previously unknown German mines. He was awarded the George Cross and George Medal and bar for a string of successful mine recoveries. He is only one of eight people who have won both the George Cross and George Medal gallantry awards. In January 1943 Lieutenant Syme returned to Australia following the death of both his father and uncle, and became temporary trustee of the family business. Despite his desire to return England, the RAN decided to keep him in Australia and utilise his expertise, setting him up in April 1943 at HMAS Cerberus as Commanding Officer of a bomb-disposal section. Little was asked of the section and Syme left the Navy in December 1944, returning to the family business; he was appointed general manager of the Age in 1946.