Rear Admiral Frederick William Purves

Frederick 'Freddy' William Purves was born in Birmingham, England on 13 March 1912 and later migrated to Australia. He was educated at Sydney Technical College and became an apprentice marine engineer. He obtained his 1st Class Steam Engineers Certificate and worked for the Adelaide Steam Ship Company prior to World War II. Frederick Purves was appointed as an Engineer Lieutenant in the RAN Reserve (Seagoing) on 11 December 1940, and joined the minesweeper HMAS Tolga as the engineer officer shortly after (he had previously been the vessels chief engineer when Tolga was operated by the Adelaide Steamship Company).

Tolga operated off the Australian east coast, searching for mines laid by German raiders in 1940, until dispatched to Darwin in mid-1941. On arrival in Darwin, Lieutenant Purves transferred to HMAS Platypus which operated as an afloat maintenance ship and was serving in her when Darwin was bombed by the Japanese on 19 February 1942. He was temporarily demobilised from the RAN Reserve on 30 June 1942 and worked for the Commonwealth Salvage Board. He traveled to the United States and was appointed as chief engineer in the tug Reserve and brought her to Australia - arriving in January 1943.

He recommenced service in the navy on 19 March 1943. Lieutenant Purves served in the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia during March-August 1943 and then briefly in the tug HMAS Reserve before proceeding to Milne Bay and service at the shore base HMAS Ladava. In February 1944 he became engineer of the salvage tug HMAS Sprightly, also based at Milne Bay, before taking up the role of engineer in HMAS Koopa in July 1944. Koopa was the depot ship for Fairmile motor launches operating from Milne Bay and also provided maintenance support to these small coastal patrol vessels as well.

He was promoted Engineer Lieutenant Commander in September 1944, and following the end of the war served ashore at HMAS Madang in northern New Guinea. Lieutenant Commander Purves returned to Australia in late 1945 and was appointed to HMAS Penguin for duties at the former HMAS Assault, in Port Stephens, as officer in charge of the care and maintenance party, and he later managed the care and maintenance party looking after ships placed in Reserve in Sydney. On 1 August 1946 he transferred from the RAN Reserve to the RAN. In November 1946 he was appointed to HMAS Cerberus for duties at the Mechanical Engineering School.

In 1948, Lieutenant Commander Purves served in the cruiser Australia before traveling to the United Kingdom to undertake training courses in aeronautical engineering during 1949-50. Part of the course included training at sea in the aircraft carrier HMS Vengeance in late 1950. He was promoted Commander in December 1950 and on return to Australia in early 1951, Purves was appointed to the staff of the Director Aircraft Maintenance and Repair in Navy Office, Melbourne. Commander Purves was appointed to the Naval Air Station (HMAS Nirimba) in late December 1953 and served there as the staff air engineer officer until October 1954.

He then briefly served as the air engineering staff officer to the Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Australian Area (based at HMAS Kuttabul in Sydney). In early 1955, Frederick Purves joined the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney as the ship's senior engineer. During his 12 months on board Sydney operated as a training ship for national servicemen in Australian and Southeast Asian waters. Commander Purves was appointed as the air engineer officer at the Naval Air Station (HMAS Albatross) in April 1956. Frederick Purves was promoted Captain on 30 June 1957 and appointed, for the next two years, to the staff of the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet as the fleet engineer officer. Much of this time was spent embarked in the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and operating in Southeast Asian waters, as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve, and also conducting exercises in Japanese waters and off Hawaii with the US Navy.

In July 1959 he was appointed to Navy Office as the Director of the Aircraft Maintenance and Repair Branch. Captain Purves took command of HMAS Nirimba, now the RAN Apprentice Training Establishment in January 1961. The former naval air station had been converted to the apprentice training facility in 1956. It was here that young men were provided with training in mechanical, electrical and aeronautical engineering in order to become the future engineering senior sailors and officers of the RAN. After two years in this command Captain Purves returned to Navy Office, Canberra, as the Deputy Chief of Naval Technical Services, and also dual-hatted as the Director of Dockyard and Fleet Maintenance. This proved to be an interesting period as he dealt with maintenance issues across the fleet and also with the rampant unionism at Williamstown Dockyard, which delayed much of the repairs to ships sent to that dockyard.

He was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1965 New Year's Honours List and shortly after took up the position of Chief Staff Officer (Technical) on the staff of the Australian Naval Representative in the United Kingdom. Frederick Purves was promoted Rear Admiral on 14 March 1967 and appointed as the Third Naval Member (and Chief of Naval Technical Services) on the Australian Naval Board responsible for the control and oversight of all the RAN engineering activities. He was appointed as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1968. He retired from the RAN on 14 March 1969. Rear Admiral Frederick Purves passed away on 11 January 1997 at Batemans Bay, NSW.