Daniel "Dags" Byrne. Official Number R93029
We first met Dags on 13th July 1960, when 154 of us marched through the gates of HMAS Leeuwin. We were 15 years old and looking for adventure and excitement. After 12 months of training at Leeuwin we went to Cerberus in Victoria for further training in a particular branch of the Navy. Dags, in his wisdom, chose to be a “Stoker”.
Aged 17, he found himself in Far
East Asia, representing his country as a uniformed roving Ambassador – he
couldn’t have been happier!
When Danny joined his first ship
he was teased about his kit looking new and just out of recruit school. He
decided to do something to make his uniforms look old and “Salty”. Most of
us used a weak solution of bleach to rinse our clothes in – but not Danny –
he had a better idea! One night at sea, Tug Wilson noticed that Danny was
fiddling about with his clothing – but thought nothing about it. The next
morning at “Wakey Wakey” Tug noticed Danny fly out of his bunk and scoot up
the ladder. Tug went to the heads and then wandered up on deck for some fresh
air. There he saw Danny on the stern, pulling in a heaving line. On the end of
the line was a cotton dhouby bag, empty and with the bottom ripped open. Tug
said, “whatcha got there, Danny” and Danny replied “Nothing – it’s
There are many stories of his exploits in the Far East, however I have chosen this one to illustrate his generosity.
Dags and “Frosty” Nash went
ashore one day in Singapore and decided to have a few cool ones at the NAAFI
club. LO and behold! Someone started up a game of “Crown and Anchor”. This
is a simple gambling game with a piece of cloth, marked into squares, and some
dice. It can quickly be rolled up and concealed should any authority show up.
The boys had a bet and won, so they continued playing. Their luck held and they
continued winning roll after roll. Soon they could no longer fit any more notes
into their wallets so they filled their pockets with the winnings. Then their
pockets became full so they stuffed the winnings down the front of their
uniforms. Eventually the organizers cancelled the game as they had run out of
money – the boys had broken the bank!
It took the Navy two weeks to get the smiles off their faces.
Back home in OZ, Danny was still a
I have described Danny as a
“Stoker” – most of you will not know what a Stoker was in those days of
Danny was a man you could trust with your life – and he was a good “Runner” too! What a remarkable man. Your life lives on in our memories of a good mate.Farewell Dags from all your many Navy Mates, may you have smooth seas and gentle winds on your new journey.
Lest We Forget
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