PHILIP APPELBEE R149467
She’ll be Apples
In December 1999, a seemingly innocent game of cricket at HMAS Albatross at Nowra took a tragic twist when 29-year-old batsman LSEWL Philip (‘Apples’) Appelbee fell down out of the blue, and appeared to stop breathing.
The quick thinking of others around him (on and off the field) saw CPR and EAR administered within a short space of time. Ambulances were soon on the scene and desperate efforts were made to revive Philip who had fallen into a coma.
Even the Base Commander became involved in the drama, as he happened to observe the incident unfolding from his office. He ordered a helicopter to be made ready in case an air evacuation was required.
As it turned out, the helicopter was not needed. However,
it took several ambulance crews about 40 minutes to stabilise Philip’s
condition sufficiently to transfer him to hospital.
Philip was first taken to Shoalhaven where he stayed for
about 8hrs before being transferred to Wollongong hospital in NSW. Countless
tests were run and all came back inconclusive as to what had happened and what
the future now held for him.
Courtesy of the RAN, his parents Kay and Barry were flown
to Sydney and were by his side within 12 hours of the initial incident.
A month in Wollongong did not make any marked improvement
in Philip’s condition and he remained in a coma like vegetative state. The
medical opinion was that during the initial incident Philip had received brain
damage and was not likely to recover. A decision was made to take Philip back to
his home state of Western Australia where he could be closer to his family.
After a period of time at Royal Perth Hospital, Philip was
transferred to Mercy Hospital (a private hospital).
As the diagnosis for Philip was not good and it seemed
Philip was going to need constant care, Philip’s parents decided to take him
home and provide this care for him themselves – this included moving into a
house suitable to accommodate a disabled person. Philip’s mother became his
almost constant companion as she prepared for the role of primary carer, whilst
his father and siblings talked about what role they would play in his care.
Unfortunately Philip developed pneumonia and passed away in
November 2000 before the time to go home. His parents were with him during his
last hours – he never regained consciousness.
A fitting funeral was held at HMAS Stirling at Garden
Island in Perth, where his sister, niece and members of the RAN reflected on
Philip joined the RAN in 1991 and completed his basic
training at HMAS Cerberus after which he went to Cabablah in Qld for further
training and soon found his niche in the area of Electronic Warfare. It was then
on to Canberra for 2˝ years before being transferred to HMAS Coonawarra in
Darwin. During this time he also spent 5 months in Melbourne completing an
Indonesian Language Course. After Darwin he was transferred to HMAS Albatross.
Philip had his first sea tour (fortunately) on the HMAS
Perth – the last overseas tour for the ship (through South East Asia) before
it had one final tour of Australia and then decommissioned. After his sea tour,
Philip returned to Albatross where he spent a short time before replacing
another EW aboard the HMAS Success – at the time the Success was on its was to
the East Timor area. Whilst in the East Timor area, Philip was transferred to
several ships including the Adelaide and the Tobruk. For his service in
East Timor, Philip was awarded a Service Medal with the East Timor Clasp – a
medal his parents proudly display.
Philip returned to HMAS Albatross on the 16th of November 1999 (about 3 weeks before the incident) and exactly one year to the day he passed away (16th November 2000).
Although at the time of his death Philip was a Leading
Seaman, the paperwork he left behind revealed he was only a couple of signatures
short of his promotion to Petty Officer. He mentioned to his family shortly
before the initial incident that he had a ‘surprise’ for them – but never
ever told anyone what this surprise was. They assume that this surprise was his
Philip was never married and left behind his two parents, a
brother and four sisters.
If there is one legacy Philip has left us, to take
advantage of today because who knows which will be our last. For Philip, his
last conscious day was spent doing what he loved – playing cricket on Navy
LEST WE FORGET
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