Athol Gordon TOWNLEY

TOWNLEY, Athol Gordon

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 23 September 1940
Last Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Last Unit: HMAS Cerberus (Shore)
Born: Hobart, Tasmania, 3 October 1905
Home Town: Hobart, Tasmania
Schooling: Elizabeth Street State School, Hobart High School, and Hobart Technical College
Occupation: Pharmaceutical chemist
Died: Natural causes (heart attack), East Melbourne, Victoria, 24 December 1963, aged 58 years
Cemetery: Cornelian Bay Cemetery and Crematorium, Tasmania
Derwent Gardens, Garden Bed, Section 1, Site 12A, Tree (Ashes)
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World War 2 Service

23 Sep 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Navy, Sub Lieutenant, Officer, HMAS Derwent (Shore), Hobart, Tasmania
23 Sep 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Navy, Lieutenant
25 Jun 1945: Discharged Royal Australian Navy, Lieutenant

Non Warlike Service

31 Dec 1948: Promoted Royal Australian Navy, Lieutenant Commander, HMAS Cerberus (Shore)

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"Athol Gordon Townley (1905-1963), pharmacist and politician, was born on 3 October 1905 in Hobart, younger son and fourth child of Tasmanian-born parents Reginald George Townley (d.1906), accountant, and his wife Susan, née Bickford. After Reginald's death, Susan and her three surviving children lived with her sister Rebecca and brother-in-law Harry Sidwell. Educated at Elizabeth Street State and Hobart High schools, and at Hobart Technical College, Athol qualified as a pharmaceutical chemist in 1928. He served his apprenticeship in his uncle's company Ash, Sidwell & Co.

About 1930 Athol and his elder brother Rex moved to Sydney seeking employment. Athol joined Gartrell White Ltd, bakers, where he was placed in charge of the laboratory responsible for quality control. At the Baptist Church, Dulwich Hill, on 26 December 1931 he married Hazel Florence Greenwood. The couple moved to Hobart, and in 1935 Athol joined Rex in partnership in Sidwell & Townley. He eventually became general manager of the firm, which was to own three pharmacies in Hobart, the main one being at 26 Elizabeth Street opposite the General Post Office.

Townley developed a wide network of acquaintances due to his activity in many voluntary organizations, including the Baptist Church. An active sportsman, he played Australian Rules football for North Hobart and cricket for New Town. His church and community work gave him an understanding of the disadvantaged, and he was never as rigid in his attitude to trade unions as were many of his future Liberal Party colleagues. In a notable political speech (1950) he reminded employers that in their drive for profit they should remember that their employees were 'human beings' who possessed 'human dignity'.

On 15 September 1940 Townley was appointed probationary sub-lieutenant, Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Mobilized eight days later, he was promoted provisional lieutenant in February 1941 and sent to England, where he trained and was briefly involved in bomb- and mine-disposal work. Back in Australia, he commanded the patrol boat Steady Hour which assisted in destroying a Japanese midget submarine in Sydney Harbour on 1 June 1942. He took command of Fairmile Motor Launch No.817 in January 1943 and was promoted acting lieutenant commander on 31 March. His boat was the first of its class to go to Papua, where it conducted anti-submarine patrols, escorted convoys, and took part in coastal surveillance and general harassment of Japanese small-boat traffic. M.L.817 was assigned to the United States' VII Amphibious Force for the assault on Lae, New Guinea, but came under bombing attack at Morobe on 3 September. Townley nursed the craft to safety, enabling it to be towed to Sydney for repairs. He later commanded a flotilla of Fairmiles. Demobilized on 25 June 1945, he remained in the naval reserve until 1955..." - READ MORE LINK (