Vice Admiral Sir William Rooke CreswellPrint Page Print this page

Vice-Admiral Sir William Creswell : 12-March-2012
Vice-Admiral Sir William Creswell : 12-March-2012

Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders

The monument commemorates Vice Admiral Sir William Rooke Creswell who is considered as the founder of the Royal Australian Navy.

The original monument was unveiled in 1938 and was situated on the edge of the footpath in Pier Road. It was moved to its present position in front of the Squadron when the road near the pier was widened.

The original bronze bust, which sat atop the red granite monument, was stolen in the 1970’s and it was only recently that a move was made to find or replace the bust for the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy. The Navy League raised funds to have two new castings made, one to replace that missing at St Kilda and the other to be presented to HMAS Creswell Naval base at Jervis Bay, NSW.

Vice Admiral Sir W R Creswell (1852 – 1933) was a very important leader in the establishment of Australia’s own Navy, as a separate entity to the Royal Navy.  After a distinguished career with the Royal Navy, Creswell retired in 1875 and came to live in Australia. In 1885 he was encouraged to join the Colonial Navy in South Australia as second in command of the Cruiser HMCS Protector before later moving to the Queensland Naval forces and then to Melbourne.

Prior to 1909 Victoria had the largest Colonial navy, acquired to defend the imagined threat from Russia, HMVS Cerberus being its flagship.  Creswell retired in 1919 and engaged in farming in Silvan. Upon his death in 1933 he was buried in the Brighton Cemetery.



Address:Pier Road, Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron , St Kilda, 3182
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.863233
Long: 144.971703
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 1st May, 1938
Front Inscription

Plaque :

Vice Admiral Sir William Cresswell K.C.M.G.  K.B.E.  founder of the Australian Navy

Born July 20, 1852  died April 22, 1933

Erected as a token of appreciation of his services to Australia by the Victorian Branch of the Navy League.  Assisted by the St. Kilda Shore Committee, the Royal St. Kilda Yacht Club and many other Australia admirers

Plaque : 

Vice Admiral Sir William Rooke Cresswell KCMG  KBE  RAN  "Father of the Australian Navy" 20-7-1852   22-4-1933

This memorial erected 1st May 1938 and restored during the RAN "Royal" Centenary Year 2011, is dedicated to this outstanding Naval Officer and all who served with him un establishing the foundation of Australia`s Navy.  Unveiled Monday 5 September 2011 by Chief of Navy Vice Admiral R. Griggs AM CSC RAN

Sir WIlliam Cresswell, originally a serving officer in the Royal Navy, emigrated to Australia in teh colonial era.  The Colonial Government of South Australia then appointed him Commanding Officer of Her Majesty`s Colonial Ship "Protector" in 1893 and he expressed strong views in the need for an Australian naval defence force.  In 1900 the Colonial Government of Queensland appointed him Commander of its Naval Forces during which time he was permitted to commanded South Australia`s HMS Protector for service with the Royal Navy tasked to restore peace in China, following the Boxer rebellion.

Cresswell on HMS Protector returned to a new Australian Commonwealth and his post in Queensland that, from 1st March, became Australian Navy Commandant in Queensland.  Sir WIlliam, concerned about the global isolation of Australia, continued advocating a strong Naval force for Australia consisting of torpedo boats, destroyers, training schools and dockyards.  1904 saw him appointed the first Director of the Australian Navy.  He continued advocating the need for a stronger Australian Navy.

Cresswell`s proposals were supported in 1909 when Great Britain proposed, and the Australian Government agreed to, replacing elements of Australia`s Foundation Naval Fleet.  The first ships, HMAS Yarra and HMAS Parramatta, arrived Melbourne on 10th December 1910.

On the 1st March 1911 Sir William received both his knighthood and a commission as Rear-Admiral.  On 10th July 1911 HM the King signed a Royal Warrant extending his personal patronage to the Australian Navy permitting it to use the prefix "Royal", known from tht time as the "Royal Australian Navy".

Sir WIllima retired in 1919, greatly revered, having completed a career of service marked by imagination, enthusiasm and ability.  His distinguished service as senior officer in the RAN during the First World War, saw him promoted to the rank of Vice-Ad

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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