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Navy in South Australia: HMCS Protector overseas

Overseas service 

1900 was Protector's greatest moment to date. The South Australian government offered her to the Royal Navy for service in China during the Boxer Rebellion. There was some haggling over reimbursement and pay rates, but she sailed at 4pm Monday 6 August 1900. She called at Brisbane on the way north where her former commander, Captain William Cresswell (ex Royal Navy) joined the ship. Clare for this period served as Protector's Senior Lieutenant. It was the only concession the government made to the Royal Navy, which had wanted to replace all the officers with its own men.

The efficiency of HMCS Protector's crew startled naval authorities in Hong Kong where she called for re-coaling. They required no additional help and were ready in half the anticipated time. Protector was in China from 9 September to 24 November 1900. They were back in Sydney from 18 December to 2 January 1901 where the ship took part in the celebrations for the Federation of Australia.

The Protector had seen no active duty in China: she had however been noticed. The Admiralty thanked the crew for their service, and referred to their discipline. They were also according to Captain Clare the healthiest ship on the China Station. George Jeffery kept a diary during that voyage to China. A transcription of this can be viewed on the South Australians at war website.

Protector arrived back in Adelaide 6 January 1901, and her crew was paid off the following day.

Although the Royal Australian Navy did not come about until 1910, from this date Protector became a Commonwealth asset, served during World War I and was finally paid off in 1924. See the Royal Australian Navy website for details of this service.


Chapman James Clare
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Protector, South Australian naval vessel
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Protector's Gun Crew
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Protector's Officers
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