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Gerald Mellor (Gerry) Haynes (1911–1999)

by Aaron Pegram

This article was published online in 2023

Gerald Mellor Haynes (1911–1999), naval officer and business manager, was born on 11 October 1911 at Brighton, Victoria, third of six children of Melbourne-born Thomas Watson Haynes, chartered accountant and company manager, and his English-born wife Ethel Constance, née Timmins. Educated at Haileybury College and Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, Gerry entered the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay, as a cadet midshipman in 1925. He was promoted to midshipman in May 1929 and undertook training at sea in the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia and with the Royal Navy in the battleship HMS Royal Oak and the destroyers HMS Acasta and HMS Vimiera; he then attended the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and specialist schools at Portsmouth.

Promoted to acting sub-lieutenant in September 1931 (substantive May 1932), Haynes returned to Australia where he asked to retire, transferring to the Emergency List in May 1933 to pursue a career in engineering. Over the following years he went into the family business, trained as a marine fitter, and was involved in amateur sailing. He established a maritime engineering company in South Melbourne in 1938, and for a short time ran trading schooners between Tasmania and Melbourne, gaining his master’s certificate (1939).

Having been promoted to lieutenant in May 1935, Haynes was recalled to duty on 28 August 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II. He joined the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra as a watchkeeping and divisional officer; the ship carried out patrolling and escort duties in the Tasman Sea. In May 1940 he was chosen to undertake an air observer’s course with the Royal Navy. After completing training in England and Trinidad in June 1941, he joined No. 828 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, which conducted anti-submarine patrols over the North Sea in Fairey Albacore torpedo bombers. While the squadron was embarked in the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, he participated in the attack against German shipping in the Norwegian port of Kirkenes on 30 July, to which the squadron contributed eight aircraft and lost five.

What remained of No. 828 Squadron then went on to Hal Far on Malta in September 1941 to engage Axis shipping in the Mediterranean. Haynes was made the unit’s commander in December. ‘With great bravery, skill and determination’ (NAA A3978) he led night torpedo attacks on Axis convoys and bombing raids on airfields in Sicily and Libya until the squadron’s aircraft had been critically depleted by Luftwaffe air attacks. From June 1942 he commanded Malta reinforcement flights from North Africa, before returning to Australia in August. For his services in the Mediterranean, he had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order in June.

Haynes was loaned in September 1942 to the Royal Australian Air Force’s Directorate of Training, with which his skills and experience were to be used in enhancing the proficiency of Bristol Beaufort crews in torpedo bombing. Briefly attached to No. 100 Squadron, RAAF, based at Milne Bay, Papua, for this purpose, he also flew in reconnaissance patrols and anti-shipping sorties against the Japanese. He returned to Australia in January 1943, having helped to improve the skills of the squadron, and joined the staff of the RAAF’s torpedo bomber training establishment at Nowra, New South Wales. On 1 February at the chapel of St Andrew, Grimwade House, Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, he married Pauline Hilary Hope Ferris, a Brisbane-born nurse and former air hostess.

In May Haynes was promoted to lieutenant commander. He spent three months at Navy Office, Melbourne, before he was again loaned to the Royal Navy, in July 1944, to instruct crews in operating Fairey Barracuda torpedo bombers, at HMS Urley, Isle of Man, and from October 1944 as an instructor at the School of Naval Air Warfare, St Merryn, Cornwall. He earned his pilot’s wings during his time at St Merryn and remained there until the cessation of hostilities. His commanding officer described him as ‘keen and energetic,’ ‘a very capable instructor,’ and ‘most dependable’ (NAA A3978).

Returning to Australia in November 1945, Haynes was posted to Navy Office, where he contributed to the creation of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm. He was released from active duty in January 1947 to restart his shipping business, over the following decades expanding its trade to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, and specialising in transporting explosives. In 1962 he retired from the naval reserves. For thirty-five years he served the Melbourne Legacy Club. Predeceased by his wife, he died on 13 October 1999 at Prahran, Melbourne, survived by their three daughters. His body was donated to University of Melbourne’s department of anatomy.

Research edited by Karen Fox

Select Bibliography

  • Foskett, Ron, and Mervyn Davies. ‘Gerald Haynes.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2000, 21
  • Eldridge, F. B. A History of the Royal Australian Naval College. Melbourne: Georgian House, 1949
  • Jukes, R. M., ed. Liber Melburniensis. South Yarra, Vic.: Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, 1965
  • King, Colin M. Song of the Beauforts: No 100 Squadron RAAF and the Beaufort Bomber Operations. 2nd ed. Tuggeranong, ACT: Air Power Development Centre, 2008
  • National Archives of Australia. A3978, HAYNES G M
  • National Archives of Australia. A6769, HAYNES G M

Additional Resources

Citation details

Aaron Pegram, 'Haynes, Gerald Mellor (Gerry) (1911–1999)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2023, accessed online 15 June 2024.

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


11 October, 1911
Brighton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


13 October, 1999 (aged 88)
Prahran, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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