Rear Admiral Patrick Perry

RADM Patrick Perry

Patrick 'Pat' Perry was born on 14 February 1903 near Oakey, Queensland, second of seven children of Frederick Charles Perry, an English-born farmer, and his Queensland-born wife Catherine, née McGovern. Educated at St Mary's Christian Brothers' College, Toowoomba, Pat joined the RAN as a Paymaster Cadet on 1 February 1921. Following training at Flinders Naval Depot he went to sea in HMA Ships Marguerite (1921-22), Melbourne (1922-24, 1927-28), Adelaide (1924-25), Australia (1928-29, 1930-31) and Canberra (1931). He also served at the RAN College, Jervis Bay, (1925-26), in the Sydney shore establishment, HMAS Penguin (1929-30), on the staff of the Captain Superintendent, Sydney (1931-33), and at Navy Office, Melbourne (1933-35).

Although Perry performed the usual tasks of a Naval Paymaster, he was principally employed in secretarial work-supervising a Captain's or Admiral's office, handling correspondence, and dealing with personnel matters. In this work he became closely associated with a number of Admirals, the first of whom were Sir George Hyde and ERGR Evans (Baron Mountevans). Sent to England in 1936, he was posted to HMS Ramillies. He was Australian Naval Liaison Officer, London, in 1937-41, and was to hold this post twice more (1948-52 and 1955). As the senior naval representative at the Australian High Commission, he headed a team which facilitated the Naval Board's contact with the Admiralty, and which handled the administration of RAN personnel attending courses or standing by ships under construction in Britain. At the Church of Our Lady of Victories, Kensington, on 9 November 1938 he married with Catholic rites Barbara Reynolds Riley; they were to remain childless.

Promoted Paymaster Commander in 1939, Perry joined HMAS Australia in January 1942 as Secretary to (Sir) John Crace, the Rear Admiral Commanding HMA Squadron, with whom he was involved in the battle of the Coral Sea in May. After (Sir) Victor Crutchley succeeded Crace in June, he and his secretary Perry saw action off Tulagi and Guadalcanal in August. On the successful completion of the Allied assault against Hollandia, Netherlands New Guinea, in April 1944, Perry left the Squadron. In 1945 he was appointed and Officer in the Order of the British Empire (OBE). From July 1944 to May 1948 he served at Navy Office, Melbourne, as Secretary to successive Chiefs of Naval Staff-Admiral (Sir) Guy Royle, Admiral (Sir) Louis Hamilton and Rear Admiral (Sir) John Collins. He was promoted substantive Captain in December 1947.

While again in London as Naval Liaison Officer, Perry qualified as a barrister and was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1952; he was admitted to the Victorian Bar on 29 August. Perry was a widower when, on 21 March 1951, at the chapel of the Assumption Convent, Kensington Square, London, he had married Margaret Jean Booker, a 33-year-old chartered accountant. Back at Navy Office from 1952 to 1955, he was Director-General of the Supply and Secretariat Branch, Director of Administrative Planning and Chief Naval Judge advocate; he was to hold these offices once more in 1957-58. He attended the Imperial Defence College, London, in 1956.

In July 1958 Perry was made Commodore, 2nd class, and appointed Fourth Naval Member of the Naval Board and Chief of Supply. Responsible for providing logistic support to the fleet, he was appointed as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1959 and promoted Rear Admiral on 18 May 1961. He retired from the RAN in February 1963. Six months earlier he had been granted leave to chair the Department of Repatriation's No 7 War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal, Brisbane. He held that post until 1969.

Perry was 6 foot 1 inch (185cm) tall, well groomed and very fit: he had boxed in his early years and later played squash and tennis. Reserved, discreet, even sphinx-like, he could give the impression of lacking warmth, but his manner cloaked a forceful personality. He died on 10 May 1975 in his home at Indooroopilly, Brisbane, and was buried in Mount Gravatt cemetery; his wife and their two sons survived him.