Holbrook, New South Wales

One the way to Canberra, many will have a look at the Dog on the Tuckerbox at 5 miles from Gundagai in Snake Gully NSW, but another popular stop is Holbrook.  There, about 250 kms (157 ml) from the Sea is a submarine, HMAS OTWAY, an Oberon-class boat, the first Sub of the Royal Australian Navy to ever round the Cape of Good Hope and once damaged in a collision with a whale. The entire outer hull is embedded in the grass of Holbrook and children have been playing on her every time I see her – even in the rain. She was Launched 29 November 1966, Commissioned: 23 April 1968, Decommissioned 17 February 1994.


Perhaps more noteworthy than the shell of a decommissioned sub is the name of the Town itself, Quoting from Wikipedia “The town was originally called Ten Mile Creek and the first buildings erected in 1836. A German immigrant, became the publican of the Woolpack Hotel on 29 July 1840 and the area became known as "the Germans". By 1858 the name had evolved in to the official name of Germanton, though the postal area retained the name Ten Mile Creek. In 1876 the name Germanton was gazetted and the old name Ten Mile Creek consigned to history.... “ until World War 1 when the town’s name was deemed unpatriotic and in 1915 it was  renamed Holbrook in honour of Lt. Norman Douglas Holbrook, a decorated wartime submarine captain and winner of the Victoria Cross. Lt. Holbrook commanded the submarine HMS B11 the last boat of the Royal Navy's B-class of submarines.. A model of the B11 is in the same park as the Otway. HMS B11

was launched in 1906 and is best known for carrying out a successful attack during the Gallipoli Campaign sinking the Ottoman battleship Mesûdiye in the Dardanelles. This action saw her captain

receive the Victoria Cross. It spent the remainder of its active life serving in the Mediterranean, being converted into a surface patrol craft late in the war. The boat itself participated in several actions, including with a sea plane which it brought down and which B11 tried to ram when the Boats Captain’s machine guns jammed. The plane was able to take off, but later in the war the crew captured another flying boat crew. B11 was sold for scrap in 1919 in Italy., but by far its most noteworthy action was that which saw Lt Holbrook win his VC.


The plaque on the 1:5 model of B11 at Holbrook reads

Holbrook sailed into the Dardanelles through the minefields just off the coast of Turkey, into Dardan Bay, where he torpedoed and sank the Turkish battleship Mesûdiye. He returned to safety through the minefield with a severely damaged compass staying submerged for a record 9 hours, in a submarine with a normal battery life of just 2 hours. Lt Holbrook was award the VC and his crew the DSM.


In his report on the sinking to his government, Mr C Van Engert (American Vice-Consul at Çannakale) quoted the German Vice-Admiral Merten who was in charge of the Dardanelles defences, to the effect that the sinking of the Mesudiye had been ‘brilliant’, ‘daring’ and a ‘mighty clever piece of work’


Holbrook died on 3 July 1976 at Midhurst, Sussex.