Shepparton RSL service marks 50th anniversary of HMAS Voyager disaster.ALEXANDRA BOLKAS February 11, 2014 4:55am
Les Shard, Grace Shard, Stephen Walker, Sue Walker and Brian McInneny yesterday commemorated the lives of those killed on HMAS Voyager in 1964.
Relatives of dead seamen and people commemorating the 50th anniversary of the HMAS Voyager collision gathered at Shepparton RSL yesterday.
It has been described as Australia’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.
On February 10, 1964, the destroyer HMAS Voyager and aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne collided off Jervis Bay.
Voyager was cut in half and of the 314 people on board, 82 died.
Of those, three came from Shepparton.
Gerry Cobban’s widow Grace Shard, 70, said her first husband migrated to Australia from England aged 12.
‘‘He lived in the Dhurringile boys’ home,’’ Mrs Shard said.
The couple met through their debutante ball in 1960.
A few months later, Mr Cobban joined the navy and spent two years training at HMAS Cerberus.
‘‘He would come home every two weeks,’’ she said.
‘‘He would write me a letter, I would write one back and then he would be home.’’
Mr Cobban joined the HMAS Voyager as a radio operator in January 1963 and the couple married that year. Mrs Shard was 20 and Mr Cobban was 23.
Months later Mr Cobban, working as a radio operator on the ship, was killed aged 23.
At the time, Mrs Shard was pregnant with her only biological daughter Vivian, 49.
Mrs Shard remarried in 1970 and has two grandchildren and step-daughters.
Stephen Walker was just seven when his 20-year-old cousin Graham Walker was killed in the naval collision.
‘‘He lived with us,’’ Mr Walker said.
‘‘I remember him building model planes with a six-foot wingspan with wax paper and balsa wood.’’
He said it was believed Graham was working in the direct line of impact.
Goulburn Valley’s Ernest Owens was also reported missing from the vessel.
The incident led to two royal commissions seeking to determine the cause of the collision.
The final commission found the ship’s captain Duncan Stevens was deemed unfit to command due to medical reasons.
The Bureau of Meteorology has released a severe weather warning for regions that include Shepparton. It includes damaging winds and the potential for flash flooding.
Pete O’Neill and Abby Hicks are national champions at the completion of the 2015 Australian Barefoot Championships held last week.
GVAC women Rachel Pratt and Jacquie Fitzpatrick showed the men, and the large crowd at Rushworth Speedway on Saturday, March 28, they have what it takes when competing in the men’s classes.
Two international backpackers have taken aim at contractors who hired them to pick fruit in the region without payment.
Rochester boxing coach Chris Trewin and his team of dedicated trainers have been hitting the bag for more than six months and the results are beginning to show.
Local MP calls for community applications
A special event will take place at Pioneer Park on Sunday.
Jerilderie's born and bred Madeleine Harris has been recognised for her banking and finance career
Concerned Costerfield residents had the chance to voice their antimony health concerns last week after an independent facilitator was appointed.
Strathmerton clinched a win in the high-scoring game against Mathoura on the weekend in the PDFL North West competition.
Deniliquin swimming dynamo Stephen Dalzell has finished 13th overall in his preferred event at the Australian Age Championships.
Murray Goulburn Co-operative has set a date for a special meeting to vote on a new capital structure.
Emergency services are on scene of a two-car crash on the Midland Hwy, near Benalla. Two people have died. Traffic is being diverted.
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