Sandra Smith (nee Beatson) asked:
Do you know if Phil Chapman is still alive. I remember working for him when his Secretary went on long service leave. A character to be sure. He was Manager of the Coastal Radio Service and he had stored in his office lots of ships logs of sailing ships that sailed around the horn. I remember him dictating the report (I think weekly) which noted all at sea events i.e. Man overboard etc. I can see me sitting outside his office bashing away on an old typewriter. Had to be a good typist in those days as there was no correction facility on the typewriter. That was one of the more interesting relieving positions that I held. He was what made it interesting as you never knew what he was going to say next. Not always politically correct and not seen as an issue in those days.
Did a search on him as I remember him telling me about his days in Darwin during the war. Not sure if you have seen this.
Interview with Phil Chapman (When the war came to Australia)
|Title||Interview with Phil Chapman (When the war came to Australia)|
|Object type||To be confirmed|
|Date made||21 February 1991|
|Description||Mr Phil Chapman was a member of the Coastwatchers and was stationed at coastal radio station VID Darwin Radio. The Coastwatchers were set up by the Royal Australian Navy by Commander Falt. The Navy supplied a radio transceiver to volunteers- missionaries, planters, etc. There were eight hundred coastwatchers in northern Australia and Pabau New Guinea. Mr Chapman describes the bombing of Darwin on February 19 1942, his station was attacked before the raid on Darwin. He notes that the authorities in Darwin didn’t act on the information to hand. A Royal Commission was held six weeks after in Darwin to examine the events surrounding the bombing. Mr Chapman discusses many events which occurred during those eventful days: Bathurst Island station being attacked; the hospital ship Manunda being hit, the ammunition ship Neptuna being hit. He comments that while there was a general panic and rout, certain defence force units remained and did a magnificent job defending Darwin. He mentions the 10 American Kittyhawks returning from Java, which the RAAF Operations mistook for the “huge flights” referred to by McGrath the coastwatcher. These aircraft fought the Japanese and were all shot down. Mr Chapman recalls a number of individual coastwatchers, many being missionaries. He describes coastwatching as a dangerous job-considered spying and treated as such by the Japanese. Mr Chapman describes Darwin before the raid- militaristic appearance, busy shipping-100 ships in port the week previous to the raid; only 40 when the raid took place. He discusses coastal shipping conditions in Australian waters and the convoys used by merchant ships. Mr Chapman says that Darwin was his worst experience in the war, and survival directly after the bombing was very hard- food was scarce, and looting took place.|