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Patrick Perry (1903–1975)

by Robert Hyslop

This article was published:

Patrick Perry (1903-1975), by unknown photographer

Patrick Perry (1903-1975), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 017727

Patrick Perry (1903-1975), naval officer, was born on 14 February 1903 near Oakey, Queensland, second of seven children of Frederick Charles Perry, an English-born farmer, and his Queensland-born wife Catherine, née McGovern. Educated at St Mary's Christian Brothers' College, Toowoomba, Pat joined the Royal Australian Navy as a paymaster cadet on 1 February 1921. Following training at Flinders Naval Depot, Westernport, Victoria, he went to sea in H.M.A. ships Marguerite (1921-22), Melbourne (1922-24, 1927-28), Adelaide (1924-25), Australia (1928-29, 1930-31) and Canberra (1931). He also served at the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay, Federal Capital Territory (1925-26), in the Sydney shore establishment, H.M.A.S. Penguin (1929-30), on the staff of the captain superintendent, Sydney (1931-33), and at Navy Office, Melbourne (1933-35).

Although Perry performed the usual tasks of a naval paymaster, he was principally employed in secretarial work—supervising a captain's or admiral's office, handling correspondence, and dealing with personnel matters. In this work he became closely associated with a number of admirals, the first of whom were (Sir) George Hyde and E. R. G. R. Evans (Baron Mountevans). Sent to England in 1936, he was posted to H.M.S. Ramillies. He was Australian naval liaison officer, London, in 1937-41, and was to hold this post twice more (1948-52 and 1955). As the senior naval representative at the Australian High Commission, he headed a team which facilitated the Naval Board's contact with the Admiralty, and which handled the administration of R.A.N. personnel attending courses or standing by ships under construction in Britain. At the Church of Our Lady of Victories, Kensington, on 9 November 1938 he married with Catholic rites Barbara Reynolds Riley; they were to remain childless.

Promoted paymaster commander in 1939, Perry joined H.M.A.S. Australia in January 1942 as secretary to (Sir) John Crace, the rear admiral commanding H.M.A. Squadron, with whom he was involved in the battle of the Coral Sea in May. After (Sir) Victor Crutchley succeeded Crace in June, he and his secretary Perry saw action off Tulagi and Guadalcanal in August. On the successful completion of the allied assault against Hollandia, Netherlands New Guinea, in April 1944, Perry left the squadron. In 1945 he was appointed O.B.E. From July 1944 to May 1948 he served at Navy Office, Melbourne, as secretary to successive chiefs of Naval Staff—Admiral Sir Guy Royle, Admiral Sir Louis Hamilton and Rear Admiral (Sir) John Collins. He was promoted substantive captain in December 1947.

While again in London as naval liaison officer, Perry qualified as a barrister and was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1952; he was admitted to the Victorian Bar on 29 August. A widower, on 21 March 1951 at the chapel of the Assumption Convent, Kensington Square, London, he had married Margaret Jean Booker, a 33-year-old chartered accountant. Back at Navy Office from 1952 to 1955, he was director-general of the Supply and Secretariat Branch, director of administrative planning and chief naval judge advocate; he was to hold these offices once more in 1957-58. He attended the Imperial Defence College, London, in 1956.

In July 1958 Perry was made commodore, second class, and appointed fourth naval member of the Naval Board and chief of supply. Responsible for providing logistic support to the fleet, he was appointed C.B.E. in 1959 and promoted rear admiral on 18 May 1961. He retired from the R.A.N. in February 1963. Six months earlier he had been granted leave to chair the Department of Repatriation's No.7 War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal, Brisbane. He held that post until 1969.

Perry was 6 ft 1 in. (185 cm) tall, well groomed and very fit: he had boxed in his early years and later played squash and tennis. Reserved, discreet, even sphinx-like, he could give the impression of lacking warmth, but his manner cloaked a forceful personality. He died on 10 May 1975 in his home at Indooroopilly, Brisbane, and was buried in Mount Gravatt cemetery; his wife and their two sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Perry, The Naval and Military Club, Melbourne (Melb, 1981)
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 13 May 1975
  • A3978/10 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Robert Hyslop, 'Perry, Patrick (1903–1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Patrick Perry (1903-1975), by unknown photographer

Patrick Perry (1903-1975), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 017727

Life Summary [details]


14 February, 1903
Oakey district, Queensland, Australia


10 May, 1975 (aged 72)
Indooroopilly, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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