Biography

Birth date: 06 February 1887
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales
Death date: 11 May 1968
Death place: United Kingdom: England, Hampshire
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
Second World War, 1939-1945

John Crace was a senior Australian naval officer during the Second World War. He was born on 6 February in the area of New South Wales that later became Gungahlin in the Australian Capital Territory. He began his schooling at the Kings School at Parramatta in Sydney but completed his education in England before joining the Royal Navy's training ship HMS Britannia in May 1902.

In the first decade of his naval career, Crace specialised as a torpedo officer and made several returns to Australia on postings. He married Carola Baird in Glasgow in April 1920 and between then and the beginning of the Second World War, he served on both shore and sea postings, all the while rising steadily through the ranks. By September 1939 he had been promoted to rear admiral and appointed to command the Australian Squadron. On arriving in Sydney he found, however, that most of Australia's naval vessels were operating far from Australia's shores.

Frustrated at the lack of activity and annoyed at the Naval Board's perceived interference in operational matters, Crace tried to resign after two years in the post. However, when the war against Japan began he became commander of the Allied Naval Squadron, ANZAC Force. He served on operations in the waters around New Guinea but was unhappy that his ships were given a minor role compared to those of the United States Navy. He then served during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 but was in a position peripheral to the main action.

He returned to England in June 1942 having handed over his command. Crace then became Superintendent of Chatham Naval Dockyard; he held that position until July 1946. He retired to Hampshire where he died on 11 May 1968.

Rolls and Awards

Collection Items

Photograph

004281

1940-11-16. SYDNEY, NSW. HMAS GOULBURN MOVING DOWN THE SLIPWAY AFTER MRS. J.G. CRACE, WIFE OF REAR ADMIRAL CRACE, PERFORMED THE LAUNCHING CEREMONY.

004281

306839

Portsmouth, England. June 1913. Group portrait taken on board HMAS Australia on the occasion of the inspection of His Majesty King George V, prior to the ship's departure for Australia. Left to right, back row: Carpenter A. H. Martin; Gunner (Gnr) G. Prideaux; Gnr D. Ogilvie; Gnr A. C. Newton; Gnr...

306839

305285

1940. SIGNED STUDIO PORTRAIT OF REAR ADMIRAL J. G. CRACE RN, REAR ADMIRAL COMMANDING AUSTRALIAN SQUADRON, 1939-11-01 TO 1942-06-13. (NAVAL HISTORICAL COLLECTION).

305285

305404

LAYING THE KEEL OF THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN CORVETTE, HMAS BATHURST, AT COCKATOO DOCK. THE NAVAL OFFICERS NEARER THE KEEL PLATE ARE, LEFT TO RIGHT: PRESUMABLY THE CAPTAIN OF THE FRENCH COLONIAL SLOOP DUMONT D'URVILLE, BERTHED IN THE BACKGROUND; REAR ADMIRAL J. G. CRACE RN, REAR ADMIRAL COMMANDING...

305404

001215

Arrival of HMAS Perth. Rear Admiral J. G. Crace, Rear Admiral commanding the Australian Squadron (RACAS) greets Captain H. B. Farncomb, the ship's captain.

001215

001234

SYDNEY, NSW. OFFICIAL PARTY AT THE TOWN HALL SALUTING BASE ON THE OCCASION OF A MARCH PAST BY CREW MEMBERS OF HMAS PERTH. THE PARTY INCLUDES ADMIRAL SIR RAGNAR COLVIN, REAR ADMIRAL SIR JOHN CRACE AND THE GOVERNOR OF NSW, LORD WAKEHURST.

001234

001285

1940-04-01. SYDNEY - HMAS PERTH. REAR ADMIRAL CRACE, ADMIRAL SIR RAGNAR COLVIN, AND PAY MASTER CAPTAIN FOLEY.

001285

000778

SYDNEY,NSW. COMMANDER CAVAYE (LEFT) AND A VISITOR CHAT WITH REAR ADMIRAL SIR JOHN CRACE AT THE LAUNCHING OF HMAS WARREGO.

000778

000782

Cockatoo Dockyard, Sydney, 1940-02-10. Keel laying ceremony of the second Tribal Class Destroyer HMAS Warrego after the launching of the sloop HMAS Warrego. Mr Menzies puts a rivet in the keel of HMAS Warramunga as Sir Frederick Stewart, Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin and Rear Admiral Crace look on.

000782

000790

COCKATOO DOCKYARD, SYDNEY, 1940-02-16. REAR ADMIRAL CRACE, ROYAL NAVY, MR MENZIES AND ADMIRAL SIR RAGNAR COLVIN, RN, AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE SLOOP HMAS WARREGO.

000790

000792

COCKATOO DOCKYARD, SYDNEY 1940-02-16. REAR ADMIRAL CRACE AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE SLOOP HMAS WARREGO.

000792

Private Record

Timeline

Date of birth 1887-02-06 NSW.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1902-05 Entered the Royal Navy's midshipman training college in England and joined the training ship HMS Britannia.
Other 1904 Graduated from Royal Navy's midshipman training college.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1913-01-26 Joined Royal Australian Navy.
Date promoted 1939-07 Promoted Rear Admiral and appointed to command the Australian Squadron.
Other 1942-05 Served in the battle of the Coral Sea.
Other 1942-06 Returned to England having handed over his command.
Date of discharge 1942-10-04 Left the RAN.
Date of death 1968-05-11 Hampshire, England.