No.3146 Seaman Richard Joseph Baldwin
Richard Joseph Baldwin was born in 1896 to Patrick Baldwin and Ellen Cantwell at Laverton, and his birth was registered in Werribee. His siblings were:
- Mary Baldwin - born 1886 at Werribee
- Margaret Baldwin - born 1889 at Werribee,
- Thomas Baldwin - born 1890 at Werribee.
The first record of the family living in the district was a Mr P.[Patrick] Baldwin from Laverton, living at Laverton in 1904.
Werribee Shire Banner, 3 June 1915, p.3.
The 1906 and 1909 Electoral Rolls only record his father Patrick Baldwin as a labourer, living at Laverton. Then between 1912 and 1913, both of his parents, Patrick and Ellen Baldwin, were on the Electoral Roll at Laverton, Victoria.
After 1913, his father's name was omitted from the Electoral Rolls, but there is no record of his death. The loss of the family breadwinner may have been the motivation for young Richard Baldwin applying to join the Australian Navy.
In the years before the war, "R. Baldwin" was a member of the Laverton Football Club, that were part of the local Werribee League.
Werribee Shire Banner, 11 September 1913, p.3.
"R Baldwin" was one of many men who enlisted into the A.I.F. directly from the Government Explosives Reserve Guard at Laverton. He and E. Rayner (Able Seaman, Ernest Moss Rayner, No 2363) both enlisted in the Australian Navy as Seamen.
Werribee Shire Banner, 29 April 1915, p.2.
Richard Joseph Baldwin enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy on 16 June 1913 as "a Boy", and was sent to H.M.A.S. Cerberus* at Williamstown for training. Two months later he went to sea as an Ordinary Seaman Class II, on the H.M.A.S. Parramatta.
The H.M.A.S. Parramatta 1 was one of six 'River' Class Torpedo Boat Destroyers that were built in Scotland for the Royal Australian Navy, between 1906 and 1916. She arrived in Australia at the end of 1910.
On 4 October 1913, (with Seaman Baldwin on board) HMAS Parramatta took part in a formal fleet entry into Sydney Harbour, to welcome the arrival of the new battlecruiser HMAS Australia.
After about seven weeks at sea, Richard Baldwin returned to H.M.A.S. Cerberus where he was appointed as an Ordinary Seaman on 7 January 1914. Then after three months further training, he went to sea for the second time on H.M.A.S. Melbourne, departing on 27 April 1914.
[H.M.A.S. Melbourne 1 was a Light Cruiser which was in service between 1913 and 1928. H.M.A.S. Melbourne was also part of the Australian Fleet Unit that formally entered Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1914.]
On 28 July 1914, World War 1 was declared. After the outbreak of war, the HMAS Melbourne was initially engaged in operations against German colonies in the Pacific.
[With him on board ship for most of the war, was Stoker Frederick Cations, also from Werribee].
From October 1914, H.M.A.S. Melbourne was part of the Naval escort for the first convoy that took Australian troops to the Middle East. The convoy departed from Albany on 1 November 1914, and as the ships passed Colombo, the Melbourne was ordered to leave the convoy, and to proceed to the Atlantic. While there, it was based at Bermuda, along with her sister ship H.M.A.S. Sydney, and they patrolled the islands of the West Indies as well as the east coast of North America.
In September 1916, she sailed to Scarpa Flow (off the Orkney Islands in Scotland) to become a unit of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron, and she remained in the North Sea until engine problems forced her to withdraw to England. After repairs, she returned to the North Sea, and continued patrols there until the end of the war.
The Armistice to end the Great War occurred on 11 November 1918.
On 7 March 1919, H.M.A.S. Melbourne departed from Devonport in England, and sailed to Sydney, where she arrived on 21 May 1919.
Able Seaman Baldwin was then able to take leave, and he came back to his family at Laverton. During this time he was welcomed home at a ceremony held in the Werribee Mechanics Hall on 25 June 1919. He was one of many local men who were presented with Werribee Shire Gold Medals. His citation stated that he had served on H.M.A.S. Melbourne in the West Indies and in the North Sea.
Werribee Shire Banner, 26 June 1919, p.3.
His ship, the H.M.A.S. Melbourne, was 'paid off' in Sydney on 5 August 1919, and remained there ‘inactive’, until August 1920.
In need of a new ship, Able Seaman Baldwin was then transferred to H.M.A.S. Australia, and remained with her until 9 April 1920. Due to post war budget cuts, she was only used as a training ship, before being placed in reserve in 1921.
On 14 April 1920, the H.M.A.S. Melbourne 1 was recommissioned. Just prior to that happening, Able Seaman Baldwin was transferred back to the ship, and remained with her for two months until he was discharged from the Navy on 15 June 1920 at Williamstown. He had completed his seven-year term of engagement.
The Electoral Roll 1921 shows that Richard Baldwin had returned to the district, and was working as a labourer on the Metropolitan Farm at Werribee. He remained there until about 1935, when he moved to Blyth Street in Altona.
At the age of 43, Richard Joseph Baldwin married Elma "Lilleen" Lane in 1939, and they moved into their home at Mount Street in Altona. They remained there for the remainder of his life, and he worked as a labourer.
Richard Baldwin died at Altona in 1962 (aged 66 years), and was buried in the Williamstown Cemetery on 12 October 1962.
In 1963 Elma "Lileen" Baldwin had moved back to 73 Blyth Street in Altona, and was living with Maxwell Joseph Baldwin. Other members of the Baldwin family were living nearby at 118 Blyth Street.
Elma "Lillian" Baldwin died in September 1983, and was also buried at the Williamstown Cemetery with her husband.
Medals and Entitlements:
- none recorded
The name "Baldwin, R. from Laverton" first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 29 July 1915, p.3.
The Roll of Honor lists both "F Cations, Werribee" and "R Baldwin, Laverton" as serving on H.M.A.S. Melbourne.
Werribee Shire Banner, 16 March 1916, p.1.
* H.M.A.S. Cerberus is a naval training establishment at Williamstown in Victoria. The former ironclad ship of the same name, is now gathering barnacles out in Port Philip Bay.
A possible relative, Petty Officer W Baldwin, was welcomed home and received his Werribee Medal at a ceremony held in Laverton on 14 October 1919. Werribee Shire Banner, 23 October 1919, p.2.
Unit War Diary
National Archives of Australia.
Pioneer Index 1837-1888 CD
Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index 1902-1913 CD
Great War Index 1914-1920 CD
Marriage Index 1921-1942