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     Sadly once more I find myself making a final tribute to one of our shipmates.  WOMTP Christopher Cunningham passed away on the 4th September 2001.

Chris joined the Royal Australian Navy as a young man at age 22 on the 2nd July 1963 in Melbourne Victoria.
After his recruit training he was posted to HMAS Albatross as an Ordinary Seaman Naval Airman. When it was discovered Chris had completed a five year apprenticeship as a coppersmith and welder  he was encouraged
to sit for direct entry as a Petty Officer Tradesman in Marine Engineering.

    Chris went on to serve in HMAS Melbourne, Stalwart, Brisbane and Perth and in shore establishments of 
Cerberus, Albatross, Penguin, Tarangau, Kuttabul and Stirling. During his service on Sydney in 1964 he saw 
active service in Vietnam. Chris also saw service in Vietnam 1966 and Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei.

    Chris left the Navy in July 1983 to spend more time with his family, Lyn who he was married to for 31 years, 
and his two children Meegan and Nicholas. He found employment as a training and development officer with 
Western Power and stayed on for 15 years.

    When Chris retired it was to pursue his pastimes of wind surfing and fishing, also the accumulation of his 
handiwork creations in the garden in which he led guided tours. Sadly Chris endured a terrible amount of pain 
and suffering during his final years, but he was a unique and inspiring man who never passed on his troubles to 
others. I'm sure this was borne out when you looked about at the many many faces of those who attended his 
final voyage.

Find Eternal Rest Old Shipmate  


Final Farewell to Chris Cunningham by R. Rowe

        At 1000 on Monday 10 September 2001, many of our members mustered at the Fremantle Crematorium to witness the final voyage of Chris Cunningham. At the muster point inside the gate, people began to assemble at 0930 and numbers continued to grow. Estimates varied from 400 - 500 and even that could be short. Those in attendance began to get the feeling they were attending something special and out of the ordinary. The chests of many were adorned with medals shining brightly in the sunshine and clinking as the wearer moved among people they recognised.

    Chris had touched the lives of many during his career in the R.A.N., as a training officer with Western Power, at his “local” watering hole and from his sporting pursuits. They had come now to bid farewell to this loveable fellow you couldn’t help but like.

    Eventually the cortege arrived and all too soon we were part of  “The Last Walk”, that long journey from the entrance to crematorium.

    The chapel was much too small to seat those who wished to witness the service and many were left standing. Those who entered did so to the strains of “We Are The Champions”. Eight pallbearers entered carrying the casket adorned with our ensign, Chris’s medals, hat and China added the stokers’ symbol - a highly polished ships propeller.

    Bob Hosken (RANR Chaplain) conducted the service and introduced daughter Meegan to speak on behalf of the family of Chris’s life. I know how Meegan felt in her attempts to ‘keep it light’ as her father would have wished. I am having the same trouble as I attempt to report this event for you. Those assembled were soon made aware of the qualities of this shipmate of ours if it had eluded them in the past. Meegan painted the picture of a man devoted to those close to him and every pursuit he undertook. He was their champion in every way.

    President China did a fine job speaking of Chris’s naval life. Chaplain Hosken then introduced Admiral Phillip Kennedy A.O. R.A.N. (Ret) who presented on our behalf, a Naval White Ensign to Lyn Cunningham. This was done in appreciation of Warrant Officer Chris Cunningham’s service to the Royal Australian Navy.

    A period of reflection during which time the tune “Don’t Dream its Over” was played then Chaplain Hosken conducted the committal. Petty Officer Graham Worth demonstrated his skills with the bugle in his rendition of the Last Post, China recited the Ode then Graham played the Naval Reveille with which we are all familiar but know under a few different titles.

    The service was completed by Chaplain Hosken inviting all present to attend a Wake at China and Helens’ house and we departed to the sounds of Chris’s final farewell song “Proud Mary”.

    Such a beautiful ceremony conducted as the final voyage for one of our shipmates who had travelled stormy waters during the last few years. Nobody wishes him back under those conditions but everybody present had now to ponder their own lives without this fellow they loved so much.

    Farewell shipmate. May you find smooth waters and fair wind wherever you are. Your spirit remains in the minds and hearts of us who were fortunate enough to have sailed with you.


P.S. Remember the propeller placed on the casket? During the very solemn committal, at the time the casket descends from view, there was a loud clatter as the prop fell to the deck. Nothing ever went “normal” during the life Chris Cunningham.



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