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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Storey, Arthur Stanley (Donk) (1909–1995)

by Thomas Fathers

This article was published online in 2020

Arthur Stanley Storey (1909–1995), naval officer and company executive, was born on 23 March 1909 at Leicester, England, son of Edith Horne, a draper’s assistant. The identity of his father is unknown. Mother and son migrated to Australia and settled at Blacktown, Sydney. In 1913 Edith married William Henry Storey, a bootmaker born at Nagambie, Victoria. Following study at Parramatta High School, Arthur entered the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay, Federal Capital Territory, on 1 January 1923. He topped his class in almost every academic subject; gained colours for rugby, hockey, and rowing; was chief cadet captain in his final year; and received the 1926 King’s Gold Medal for exemplary conduct, performance of duty, and influence on others. It was at the college that he picked up the nickname ‘Donk,’ derived from his initials.

On promotion to midshipman in 1927, Storey was sent to Britain for professional courses and sea training with the Royal Navy. Postings to ships of both the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) followed, as he progressed through the junior ranks to lieutenant (1931). He undertook the long gunnery course at HMS Excellent, Portsmouth, England (1934–35). On 18 December 1936 at St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, Wellington, New Zealand, he married Sydney-born Alison Raymond Addison whom he had met on shore leave when his ship had visited Wellington earlier in the year. In August 1939 he was promoted to lieutenant commander. Shortly after World War II broke out in September, he was posted as ship’s and squadron gunnery officer in the light cruiser HMS Naiad, flagship of the 15th Cruiser Squadron.

After operating with the British Home Fleet, the squadron deployed to the Mediterranean in 1941. On 22 May Naiad was seriously damaged by German bombs. Repaired, it bombarded shore positions in Syria and North Africa, engaged enemy forces at sea and in the air, and escorted convoys. For ‘his outstanding zeal, patience and cheerfulness, and for whole hearted devotion to duty’ (NAA A3978), Storey was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (January 1942). On 11 March 1942, off the Egyptian coast, Naiad was torpedoed by a German submarine and sunk with heavy loss of life; Storey was among the survivors.

Thanks to his good nature, and an established relationship of mutual respect with the squadron commander, Rear Admiral (Admiral of the Fleet Sir) Philip Vian, Storey was transferred at Vian’s request to his new flagship, HMS Cleopatra, as first lieutenant and squadron gunnery officer. Vian described Storey as ‘one of the ablest officers I have ever known’ (NAA A3978). He was less impressed with another Australian, Naiad’s executive officer, Commander (Vice Admiral Sir) Roy Dowling, whose further services he did not seek. It was widely believed in the RAN that Dowling resented the perceived snub and held it against Storey.

Cleopatra’s record in the Mediterranean was to be as notable as Naiad’s had been. On 22 March 1942 Vian’s four light cruisers and seventeen destroyers, escorting a vital convoy to Malta, came into contact with a more powerful Italian force, comprising a battleship, two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, and ten destroyers. With gunfire, smoke screens, and torpedoes, the British warships harried and confused the Italians until the latter withdrew just before dusk. For his part in what became known as the second battle of Sirte, Storey was awarded a Bar to his DSC, the citation stating that: ‘By supreme efficiency and sheer force of personality, he produced an inspiring and well-directed volume of fire from an untrained ship, some of whose controls had been shot away and control ratings killed in his presence’ (Atkinson 1986, 109).

At the exceptionally young age of thirty-three, Story was promoted to commander on 31 December 1942 and appointed as director of operations at Navy Office, Melbourne. From July 1944 to September 1945 he served in the Pacific, first as staff officer operations and intelligence to (Sir) John Collins and Harold Farncomb, successive commodores commanding the Australian Squadron, in HMA ships Australia and Shropshire, and then as staff officer operations to Vian, the flag officer commanding the 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, British Pacific Fleet, in HM ships Formidable and Indomitable.

In 1946 Storey was appointed director of naval intelligence at Navy Office. On 27 May 1948 he took command of the Tribal-class destroyer HMAS Bataan. From July to November the ship was in Japanese waters as a unit of the Support Group, United States Naval Forces in the Far East. The group’s commander, Rear Admiral J. P. Womble, USN, praised Storey’s performance of the duties assigned to him. With his professional brilliance, unrivalled operational experience, and engaging personality, Storey seemed destined for the RAN’s highest rank. It was generally expected that he would be promoted to captain in 1949. Before the June selections, however, he shocked his many admirers by resigning his commission; on 24 June he was transferred to the Emergency List. He considered that Dowling—by then a senior captain and well placed to succeed Collins as chief of the Naval Staff—would block his later advancement.

Storey became director of the Joint Intelligence Bureau in the Department of Defence, Melbourne, in 1949. He resigned from the public service in 1952, and, for the remainder of his working life, was an executive with the Sydney conglomerate Clyde Industries Ltd. As ‘quietly ambitious as he was quietly efficient’ (Murray 1992, 219), he was concurrently group controller of personnel and personal assistant to the chairman and general manager, Sir Raymond Purves; he become an assistant director in 1962 and a full director following Purves’s death in 1973, before retiring in 1984. Storey died on 29 November 1995 at Greenwich, Sydney, survived by his wife and their son and daughter, and was cremated.

Research edited by Stephen Wilks

Select Bibliography

  • Atkinson, James J. By Skill & Valour: Honours and Awards to the Royal Australian Navy for the First and Second World Wars. Sydney: Spink & Son (Australia), 1986
  • Cleary, B. L. ‘Vale. Arthur Stanley Storey.’ Naval Historical Review 17, no. 1 (March 1996): 33
  • Cunningham, Andrew, Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope. The Mediterranean Fleet 19391942. Vol. 1 of The Cunningham Papers, edited by Michael Simpson. Vermont, USA: Ashgate Publishing, 1999
  • Eldridge, Frank Burgess. A History of the Royal Australian Naval College. Melbourne: Georgian House, 1949
  • Murray, James. Phoenix to the World: The Story of Clyde Industries and Sir Raymond Purves, CBE. Sydney: Playright Publishing, 1992
  • National Archives of Australia. A3978, Storey A. S
  • National Archives of Australia. A6769, Storey A. S
  • Vian, Sir Philip. Action This Day. London: Muller, 1960
  • White, Norman. Personal communication

Additional Resources

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Citation details

Thomas Fathers, 'Storey, Arthur Stanley (Donk) (1909–1995)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/storey-arthur-stanley-donk-29991/text37200, published online 2020, accessed online 25 November 2020.

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