Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal : Hugh Randall Syme

Place Oceania: Australia, Victoria, Melbourne
Accession Number RELAWM32408.006
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Silver
Location Main Bld: Hall of Valour: Main Hall: George Cross
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1953
Conflict Period 1950-1959

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

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 easily in the family business (they published the ‘Age’ newspaper) as assistant manager when the threat of war loomed. As a keen amateur sailor, the 6 foot 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, being over 40, 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, being 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 departed in December 1944, returning to the family business; he was appointed general manager of the Age in 1946. Syme returned to uniform briefly when he became part of Australia's Coronation Contingent in 1953.