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CALDER, Norman Keith OBE (1899-1985)

CALDER, Norman Keith OBE (1899-1985)

Norman Keith Calder known as 'Tusky' enlisted in the Royal Australian Naval College, Osborne House, Geelong in the first intake in 1913, having enrolled om 31 December 1912. Pegasus later reported on his service when he left the Naval College in December 1916:
'Wynn Reilly and N C Calder left on January 17th (1917) with the first batch of midshipmen from the Royal Naval College to join the North Sea Fleet.'

He was born in Geelong on 17 November 1899, the son of Thomas Calder and Mary Elizabeth nee Tuson. He is alleged to have been a student at Geelong College but there is no enrolment record for him or any listing in the academic award lists.

In January 1917, Midshipman Calder embarked on HMT Omrah and sailed for England. He recorded in his diary, 'a great adventure' . He was promoted to Sub Lieutenant on 10 April 1917 and Lieutenant in 1920. He served on HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Vancouver before joining HM Submarine J7.

In 1930 he married Nancie Carter Dixon the daughter of Ernest Dixon and Annie Elizabeth nee Carter, of Malvern. During World War II, he served in the Royal Australian Navy, and in 1939 was Director of Naval Ordnance SW. He was appointed to command of HMAS Bungaree, 1941-3 when this first of the Australian minesweepers was commissioned. The coastal vessel Bungaree was taken up in October 1940 and converted to a minelayer with a capacity of 423 ... mines ready to lay. She was conunissioned on 9 June 1941 under Commander Calder. In July the Admiralty ordered another 1,000 mines.

G Hermon Gill in Royal Australian Navy 1939-1942 quoted a report written by Calder on the manufacture of mines and on the defensive mining of Australian waters:
'Mining had never been seriously considered by the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board until 1940 and even then the local manufacture of mines was established purely on Admiralty initiative and for Admiralty requirements outside Australia. It may be assumed that, without this Admiralty requirement, there would have been no Australian minelaying in the 1939-1945 war.'

He was Deputy Director of Naval Ordnance, Torpedo and Mines 1943-5. Calder was promoted to Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1943, being presented with his award by the Governor of Victoria, Major-General Sir Winston Joseph Dugan, GCMG, CB, DSO, at Government House, Melbourne, on 21 April 1944. He held Commander’s rank at the end of the Second World War.

Post war, his duties included serving on HMAS Canberra and as Commanding Officer of HMAS Rushcutter. Norman Keith Calder of Bayview died on 10 December 1985.

The Australian War Memorial (AWM) Collection includes a photograph taken on 10 May 1945, entitled 'The Executive committee, Army Inventions Directorate, examine with interest a recent submission' , which includes Acting Commander K Calder, Department of Navy.

The Collection also holds material relating to Commander Calder's navy career, 1912-1959, including his naval training and service during the First World War, his Second World War service as Captain of HMAS Bungaree, and post-war service including his time as Commanding Officer of HMAS Rushcutter. The collection comprises original diaries andtranscripts, 1915-1918 and 1920, and a manuscript Calder wrote relating to HMAS Bungaree, photographs, and service records.

Sources: Sydney Morning Herald 11 December 1985; 'Geelong Collegians at the Great War' compiled by J. Affleck. p145 (citing National Archives; Pegasus; Australian War Memorial) and 'Geelong Collegians at the Second World War and Subsequent Conflicts' compiled by J. Affleck. p141 (citing The Pegasus; Australian War Memorial; National Archives; G Hermon Gill, 'Australia in the War of 1939-1945: Royal Australian Navy 1939-1942'; Photo Mike Calder); Upperiscope. Online Edition.
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