Barry Cox and Ken Rees, survivors of the HMAS Voyager tragedy, along with Beryl Piggford, sister of one of the fallen, held a Commemorative Service at the Freedom Park Cenotaph yesterday.
Barry Cox and Ken Rees, survivors of the HMAS Voyager tragedy, along with Beryl Piggford, sister of one of the fallen, held a Commemorative Service at the Freedom Park Cenotaph yesterday.

Paying respects to Voyager victims

NOEL “Tom” Ashwell was only 33 years old when he lost his life in the tragic sinking of the HMAS Voyager on February 10, 1964.

His sister, Maryborough’s Beryl Piggford, was honoured to be able to pay her respects alongside two of Mr Ashwell’s shipmates in a quaint service at Hervey Bay’s Freedom Park yesterday morning.

Because Ken Rees and Barry Cox are the only two survivors on the Fraser Coast, the pair had never held a commemorative service until this year when they found Ms Piggford through pure chance.

“My son-in-law worked with Bells Transport and when Barry was building his house, somehow they got talking about the Voyager,” Ms Piggford said.

Barry and Noel were both engineers on the Voyager and Ms Piggford said they were always the best of mates.

“I hadn’t met the boys.

“It was a bit emotional.

“It brings back many memories, some happy, some not so happy.”

Five people gathered at the cenotaph to pay their respects to 82 of the 314 people aboard the boat known as the “jinxed” ship.

This was the largest loss of Australian military personnel in peace time.

At 9pm and 20 miles south-east of Jervis Bay, the HMAS Voyager broke into two pieces after being struck by the HMAS Melbourne.

Both had sailed to the Jervis Bay Exercise Area for training.

The wreck of the Voyager lies about 1100 metres deep, 20 nautical miles off Cape Perpendicular.

After the moving ceremony Ms Piggford said the group headed over to the RSL where “we were able to catch up on a lot”.



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