ISBN 1 86487 469 4
After twenty years running the engine-room of the sole warship of South Australia’s colonial navy, William Clarkson seemed an unlikely contender for the title of one of Australia’s Great Engineers. But in 1905 his career in the Commonwealth Naval Forces abruptly took off.
In little more than five years, Clarkson was the Third Naval Member of the Naval Board which administered the new Royal Australian Navy; another five years on and he was promoted Rear-Admiral. By the time he was knighted in 1918, he was already acknowledged as pre-eminent in the nation’s maritime affairs, for both his administrative and technical skills.
Made Vice-Admiral on his retirement in 1922—the second officer (and only engineer ever) to reach this rank in the RAN – Clarkson can properly be regarded as one of the co-founders of the service.
Here is the story of a figure who deserves to be better known today, concisely told by one of the country’s best-known defence historians.