Last Saturday night a convivial group of 17 gathered for a night of naval tradition and custom under the watchful eye of a Presdient and Vice-President. Where were we? In the wardroom of the museum’s Daring class destroyer HMAS Vampire.
Once a year museum members have the opportunity to partake of a three-course meal in this special part of the museum. Dressed in black tie and evening frocks we made a fine looking group. Our President for the evening was Rear Admiral Simon Harrington AM RAN Ret’d who is a former member of the museum council; he was ably assisted by Mr Vice – Captain Neville Teague RAN, Chief Staff Officer (Support).
For three hours we were transfixed as we learned of the traditions of the officers’ wardroom – traditions that date back hundreds of years to the Royal Navy; traditions which remain with the Commonwealth navies, including of course our own Royal Australian Navy.
The Admiral and Mr Vice explained the rules of the evening (including any fines which may be warranted for unacceptable behaviour!), Grace was given by Mr Vice and the gavel was sounded as required, primarily to get our attention as there were quite a few interesting conversations going on around the table. The loyal toast was given, port was passed and all in all it was a fantastic evening.
Admiral Harrington and Captain Teague spoke of their times at sea and these personal stories really added to the evening – we are very grateful they were able to preside over the events of this fine mess dinner. Discipline was maintained and we finished the evening in good humour!
Keep an eye out for our next mess dinner – I guarantee it will be worth it.
Lindsey Shaw, senior curator