Commodore Jeffrey William Herbert Britten

The opportunity to rise through the ranks is open to all naval personnel, but few have been promoted from Seaman to Commodore. Jeffrey Britten was one such man.

Jeffrey William Herbert Britten was born at Chatswood, NSW on 10 March 1922 and joined the RAN, as a 17 year old probationary writer 2nd Class, at HMAS Cerberus on 15 August 1939. Following his initial training he joined his first ship, the light cruiser HMAS Sydney (II) in January 1940. Britten was promoted to writer in March 1940 and served in Sydney throughout the ships deployment to the Mediterranean 1940-41 which included the destruction of the Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni in July 1940 during the Battle of Cape Spada. He left Sydney in September 1941, only a few months before the ship was lost with all hands following its fateful encounter with the German raider Kormoran in November of that year.

Britten then served at Cerberus where he was promoted to leading writer in January 1942.  Postings to HMA Ships Assault, Westralia, Penguin, Lonsdale and the London Depot followed before being promoted petty officer writer in 1943 and chief petty officer writer in 1944. While serving at the London Depot in 1949 he was promoted to the rank of commissioned writer officer before commissioning as a lieutenant two years later. During 1951-52 he served in the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney (III) seeing active service during the Korean War.  

During 1953-55 he served on exchange with the Royal Navy before returning to Australia. Lieutenant Britten was the Assistant Secretary to the Fleet Commander in 1956 and served in HMAS Warramunga as the supply officer in 1957. In 1958 he served on the staff of the Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Australian Area before being promoted lieutenant-commander in early 1959. Service in Navy Office followed where he was promoted commander in late 1960. In 1962 he was appointed secretary to the 2nd Naval Member (Deputy Chief of Navy) carrying out those duties until late 1964.

Commander Britten then returned to sea for the last time as the supply officer in the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (II). During his service in Melbourne the carrier undertook extensive service in South East Asia during which time she escorted the fast troop transport HMAS Sydney to South Vietnam on four separate occasions. Britten was promoted Acting Captain in late 1966 and posted to Navy Office as the Director Fleet Supply Duties.

Britten was confirmed in the rank of Captain in late 1967 and became the Secretary to the 1st Naval Member (Chief of Navy) in April 1968.  In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 1968 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his extensive services to the RAN as a Supply Officer. Captain Britten became the Director General Personal Services in 1971 and the Director General Manpower Division in 1973. 

In early 1975 he was promoted Acting Commodore and posted as the Director General Service Conditions.

Commodore Britten finally retired from the RAN on 18 August 1976 and passed away in Canberra on 18 January 1990.