WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-11 > 1194207480
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [WORLD-OBITS] DOVERS: John Williams Dover
Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2007 20:18:00 -0000
Rear-Admiral Bill Dovers
Last Updated: 3:07am GMT 03/11/2007
Dovers: nicknamed Ming
Rear-Admiral Bill Dovers, who has died aged 89, served in the destroyer
Nestor, which in 1941 became the first Australian warship to sink a German
submarine when it dispatched U-127 west of Gibraltar; he later commanded the
destroyer Swan as senior officer of Wewak Force, covering the bombardment of
targets in the Lingayen Gulf, and was appointed DSC for outstanding courage,
skill and initiative.
He himself claimed that the highlight of his career with the Royal
Australian Navy was its response to Cyclone Tracy, which killed 71 people
and made half of Darwin's 48,000 population homeless on Christmas Day 1974.
Arriving swiftly on the scene, the RAN sent ashore working parties which
cleared 1,500 blocks, cleaned up schools and government buildings, installed
generators and rewired houses.
While hygiene parties disposed of spoiled foodstuffs others worked to save
rare plants in the botanical gardens.
John William Dovers was born on February 12 1918 at Eastwood, New South
Wales, the son of a surveyor who had accompanied Douglas Mawson to
Antarctica in 1911.
Bill was educated at Wollongong and North Sydney high schools, then at the
Royal Australian Naval College in Victoria, where he played cricket, rugby
and hockey; he won the Governor-General's cup for the best all-rounder in
1933. He also captained the RAN and the state of Victoria's rugby teams.
Nicknamed Ming for his resemblance to the cartoon character Ming the
Merciless in the Flash Gordon comic strip, Dovers started the war in the
Australian cruiser Canberra before becoming first lieutenant of the
destroyer Quickmatch, which supported the British Far East Fleet during the
With the return of peace he commanded the River-class frigate Barcoo, the
minesweeper Gladstone, when he was senior officer of the RAN's first
training flotilla, and the Tribal-class destroyers Bataan and Arunta off
Korea in 1954. He was also director of plans at the RAN College, Jervis Bay,
and chief of staff to the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet.
Dovers was an inspired choice as the first commander of the
newly-constituted Royal Malayan Navy, showing sensitivity to the Malayans'
keenness to be weaned off their links with London.
In 1969 he was appointed CBE. Later he was chief of naval personnel and
second member of the naval board, before becoming commander of the
Australian fleet in 1971-72 and deputy chief of the naval staff.
He never forgot that, despite the changing civilian environment, it was his
duty to maintain a fighting service, manned by competent professionals who
were supported by wives and families.
When he retired in 1975 the RAN was smaller and its ships older than they
had been for many years, but he was rightly confident about its future.
As a strong advocate of the defence of "the island continent", Dovers was
determined that the RAN's ships and aircraft should be replaced in a timely
fashion, but within resources.
He also maintained his contacts with the home country, which had begun in
Royal Navy ships before the war, and had continued when he was a director of
the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich, from 1955 to 1957, and a student
at the Imperial Defence College in Belgrave Square in 1964.
On taking a retirement job as chief project officer of the Australian
Defence Force Academy, he settled at Deakin, in the Australian Capital
Territory, where he played 18 holes of golf twice a week and worshipped at
St Luke's Anglican church.
Bill Dovers, who died on October 4, married "Ray" Thorpe in 1944. She died
in 2005, and he is survived by a daughter and a son, who also served in a
destroyer called Swan and became a rear-admiral, RAN.