Thousands of images from Melbourne Grammar School's remarkable 154-year history are now available to search and download from the School's website here. The images are from the School's extensive Archives and reflect many of our sporting and cultural achievements. There are a significant number of team photographs dating from the late 19th Century, particular cricket, athletics and football. Many of the football photographs of Melbourne Grammar School groups show teams when the game was played with twenty a side.
Digitising the MGS Archives is a project being undertaken by contract archivist Glen Turnbull, who has extensive archival experience in a number of educational institutions. Glen has been painstakingly scanning each individual photograph, ensuring that the resolution is maximised and all details highlighted. He then adds the details of who or what is in the photograph. The project commenced early in 2011 and the results thus far have been very impressive, given the considerable size of the Melbourne Grammar School Archives. That said, the project is still only in its infancy.
Meanwhile, a service to mark the 70th anniversary of the loss of the cruiser the HMAS Perth was held at the Shrine of Remembrance on 1 March this year. The ship sank during the Battle of Sunda Strait. A painting of the battle was presented to the School by Jim Walker (OM 1952) in 1998. Jim's cousin Patrick Walker Major (OM 1939) was on board the HMAS Perth. The painting hangs in the Howlett Room.
Able Seaman Patrick Walker Major was on board the cruiser HMAS Perth. The cruiser had met an overwhelming Japanese naval force, engaging the enemy and firing until her ammunition literally ran out. She was sunk with the loss of 353 of her crew on 1 March 1942. A further 328 men were taken into Japanese captivity, most to become slave labourers in the infinite hell of the Burma-Thai Railway. Many died there, victims of unspeakable atrocity. Only 218 men, less than a third of the ship's original crew, survived to return home at war's end. One of those who did not return at the end of the war was Patrick, who survived the sinking of the HMAS Perth, was captured by the Japanese and was a POW on the Burma-Thai Railway. The Japanese transport ship which he was on was returning to Japan and was sunk by a United States submarine. Pat Major again survived this sinking only to die in an Allied bombing raid on the forced-labor facility in Japan where he was interred in the last days of the war.
Patrick Walker Major's remarkable story is one of the many that continue to live on through the MGS Archives.