Travelling the globe
Taken Brindisi, Italy in June 1918. Informal portrait of three seamen on board HMAS Huon. Identified left to right: 5449 Stoker Thomas Purcell, born in Kiama, NSW, holding a pet monkey; an unidentified Italian seaman; 1146 Stoker Petty Officer Oriel Joseph Ashton, born in North Melbourne, Vic.
Image courtesy AWM. Image EN0421.
1146 Stoker Petty Officer Oriel Joseph Ashton, Royal Australian Navy.
Oriel Ashton was born in North Melbourne in 1894 but when he enlisted in the newly established Australian Navy in July 1911 his next of kin, his father Harry, was living in Shaftesbury Street, Coburg. He was a crew member of HMAS Australia and took part in the operations in German New Guinea in September 1914.
On 25 June 1915, the Brunswick and Coburg Leader published a letter from Oriel, written while off the coast of Valparaiso, South America, in which he estimated that he had travelled 40,000 miles in the past six months and that he reckoned that since joining the navy he had travelled about 70,00 miles – ‘rather a unique record, considering I am not 21 yet.’
Oriel Ashton travelled many more miles and to many more places. After the war, he remained in the Navy and went on to serve in World War 2. He died on 17 November 1944 while serving on the HMAS Penguin and was buried at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney.