Stories & Pictures.
The aim is to continue adding stories and pictures of Tulagi crew-members here.
John (“Jack”) Richard Moffitt, 5th Engineer Officer
(Lost with the Tulagi.)
John Moffitt’s Story
Jack was born 15.9.1915.
He attended SCEGS (Shore) to intermediate certificate.
He then worked in his father’s firm of McDonnell and Moffitt, Solicitors as a clerk for quite some years (perhaps 9 years)
Jack was not suited to Law and was always mechanically minded; he had fifteen different cars in his short life.
He then qualified as a Fitter and Turner and was employed by several Sydney companies before joining the British Merchant Navy.
His first vessel was the MV Waipawa. He then transferred to the Tulagi, which was sunk on his first voyage.
Jack did not marry.
Jack’s brother Max recalls:
“Some of the survivors visited my parents at our home in Killara. I was not included in the meeting. Being sixteen at the time, I think my parents were being over protective. At the time I recall numerous newspaper clippings covering the sinking and the dramatic story of the survivors on the rafts”.
Hector Maxwell Morton, AB, DEMS Gunner
(Lost with the second raft.)
Hector Morton’s Story
Dianne Moreton, wife of Hector’s nephew Max, recalls:
Hector Maxwell Morton was born on 20 June 1920 at Port Melbourne, Victoria. He was the fifth child born of six. His family lived on board the coal lighter Werfa, moored at McIlwraith McEacharn wharf in Port Melbourne, for about 7 years, from 1914 to 1921.
Sailing was in the blood: from at least c.1800, five generations of Morton’s had continued to be sailors. Hector spent his childhood growing up in the Preston area.
Hector enlisted at Cerberus in Vic, on 7 Oct 1939, a month after war declared. As an AB rating, five days after enlisting he was assigned to the Arawa (12 October 1939). He was 19 years old.
Hector’s Navy service record states he was 5’1”, with fair hair, grey eyes, tan complexion (family said: blond hair and blue eyes).
Hector was the first of the four Morton brothers to enlist for WWII. In addition to Hector, his eldest brother Jim was lost in an accidental aircraft crash in Devon England (RAF), October 1943.
Hector’s first stint in the Navy was from November 1939 to September 1940 in the China Station area, mostly patrolling off the coast of Japan.
Later in 1940, he was based at Victory Barracks, Portsmouth England, as was his brother Bill; they were assigned to separate ships about a year later.
Hector returned to Australia in December 1941, where he was based at Lonsdale depot in Port Melbourne. For the next 2½ years, he sailed up and down the Eastern coast of Australia and New Guinea.
For 9 months in 1942, Hec sailed on the merchant ship MV Kauri, whilst stationed at HMAS Basilisk, the Port Moresby Naval Shore Depot in New Guinea. After Japan invaded Rabaul, New Guinea on 23 January 1942, he was constantly moved between depots along the Eastern shores of Australia, including HMAS Penguin.
While based out of HMAS Penguin in Sydney, he met Doreen Florence Stokeld.
Hector and Doreen married in Sydney in late 1943, about 6 months before he died, without any of Hector’s Melbourne family present at the wedding.
Hector Maxwell Morton was almost 24 years old when the Tulagi was torpedoed on 28 March 1944.
Hec’s character quoted as Very Good, and his efficiency as Satisfactory on all the assessments over his entire time in the Navy, of 4½ years.