Rear Admiral Bryan James Castles

RADM Castles

Bryan James Castles was born at Swan Hill, Victoria, on 22 July 1915. He was employed as an apprentice electrician by the Swan Hill Shire Council before qualifying as an electrical engineer. He then became chief electrical engineer for a mining syndicate with interests in gold mines in the Bairnsdale, Sale and Bendigo districts.

On 15 April 1941, Castles was appointed as a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RANVR). After completing the anti-submarine course at HMAS Rushcutter, he proceeded to the United Kingdom for service, on loan,with the Royal Navy, where he served in the depots HMS Orlando and HMS Mercury, and in the light cruiser HMS Argonaut. Castles was serving in Argonaut in December 1942 when the cruiser was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Lazzaro Mocenigo in the Mediterranean. The damage was so severe (with both bow and stern effectively destroyed) that it put Argonaut out of the war for an entire year for repair. As a lieutenant, he then served in HMAS Shropshire in 1943-1944 before being appointed to the Directorate of Training and Staff Requirements in Navy Office, Melbourne.

Castles was discharged from the RANVR in March 1946 as an acting lieutenant commander, and immediately joined the Royal Navy, where he served in the training establishments HMS Excellent and HMS Collingwood. In early 1949 he was loaned to the RAN for a period of two years, and returned to Australia in the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney.

Arriving in Sydney in May 1949, Castles took up the appointment of Port Electrical Officer in Sydney. In January 1951 he commenced 18-months of service in HMAS Sydney and saw active service in the Korean War. He was permanently transferred to the RAN in March 1951.

Promoted to commander in 1952, Castles then served as the Officer-in-Charge of the Electrical School at HMAS Cerberus (1952-53) and as the Assistant Naval Attache in Washington (1954-56). He returned to seagoing service in September 1956 as the Fleet Electrical Officer in the flagship HMAS Melbourne. Castles was promoted to captain in December 1957 and posted to HMAS Kuttabul as the Command Electrical Officer (later Command Engineering Officer) and General Overseer East Australia Area.

After four years service in Sydney, Captain Castles proceeded to the United Kingdom to attend the six-month Senior Officers’ War Course at the Royal Naval College - Greenwich. In November 1962 he commenced a three-year posting as the Inter-Services Technical Officer in the Australian High Commission, London. This required him to hold the temporary rank of commodore.

Castles returned to Australia at the beginning of 1966 and reverted to the rank of captain when he was posted to Navy Office as the Assistant Chief of Naval Technical Services (Maintenance). Between February and October 1967 he was a member of the Officer Structure and Training Working Party. Castles resumed his previous posting when the working party completed its study. He was appointed an Aide-de-Camp to His Excellency the Governor-General in February 1967 and to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in December 1967.

Rear Admiral Bryan Castles, CBE, RAN (far right) on the bridge of the frigate Torrens at Cockatoo Island Dockyard the day before she was commissioned.  Senior dockyard representatives and Commander Ian Knox, RAN the commanding officer of Torrens are also present.

In March 1969, Castles was promoted to rear admiral and was appointed to the Naval Board as the Third Naval Member and Chief of Naval Technical Services. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1971 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Rear Admiral Castles retired from the RAN on 21 July 1972. In retirement he was the Principal of B.J. Castles and Associates. Rear Admiral Bryan Castles passed away on the Gold Coast, Queensland on 11 June 2006.

Rear Admiral Bryan Castles, CBE, RAN (far left) meets Electrical Mechanic Lindsay Shanks, Engineer Mechanic Terry Lowes and Weapons Mechanic Jim Reeves on board HMAS Stalwart during a tour of Garden Island Dockyard shortly before his retirement in 1972.