WOMTP CHRIS CUNNINGHAM - R62326
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 went on to serve in HMAS
Melbourne, Stalwart, Brisbane and Perth and in shore establishments of
Chris left the Navy in July 1983 to
spend more time with his family, Lyn who he was married to for 31 years,
When Chris retired it was to pursue
his pastimes of wind surfing and fishing, also the accumulation of his
Find Eternal Rest Old Shipmate
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
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
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.
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.
LEST WE FORGET
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