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LtComder J R N Salthouse, Royal Australian Navy Sword

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I had the pleasure of bringing this sword back to Australia from California(?????). Can't help but think it has some importance to the Royal Australian Navy. It is a Wilkinson sword and engraved with his initials and name; J R N Salthouse = LCDR (P) John Roy Norman Salthouse (RAAF) RAN  Service 3rd FEB 1948 TO MAY 1968 *

  1. John Roy Norman Salthouse was born on October 10, 1925, the son of Ms. Rosenwax and John. West Melbourne Victoria
  2. J R N Salthouse (438534) enlisted in the RAAF on 23 October, 1943, probably in Melbourne and obviously trained as a fighter pilot rising to the rank of Flight Lieutenant. There is a limited record of his WW2 service available. I have no clear idea if he saw combat in the later years/months of the war.  Qualified for fighter combat and as an accident investigator. No evidence of a combat posting.
  3.  When the British Pacific Fleet and its aircraft carriers came to Australia in the latter part of the war, approximately 24 RAAF pilots volunteered to transfer to the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RANVR) and these men subsequently served aboard Royal Navy aircraft carriers and at Royal Navy Air Stations established in Australia. These pilots have their Navy List marks X* P = General List Seaman Officer who was transferred primarily for aviation duties and is not qualified to undertake the full duties of an Officer of the Seaman Specialisation. He seems to be of a subsequent batch transferred to the Navy.
  4.  Ft Lt Salthouse (RAAF) accepted a transfer to the Royal Australian Navy as a Lt (Pilot) on the 3rd of February, 1948. Initial service training was conducted at HMAS Cerebus and on the heavy cruiser, HMAS Australia.  He was sent to Britain for  a deck landing course in Britain at RNAS Heron at Yeovil and conversion to Sea Furies at RNAS St. Merryn.He sailed ‘home’ on the Stratheden arriving on 23 April, 1949.
  5. HMAS Sydney was commissioned into the RAN on 16th December, 1948. Sydney's maiden voyage saw the delivery of the first two squadrons operated by the Fleet Air Arm: 805 Squadron with Hawker Sea Furies, and 816 Squadron with Fairey Fireflies. The two squadrons operated as the 20th Carrier Air Group (CAG). Lt (P) Salthouse was posted to 808 Squadron at this time, 21st Carrier Air Group.
  6. During the Korean War, HMAS Sydney left Australia on 31st August, 1951, was deployed to Korean waters, with a wartime 20th Carrier Air Group of 805, 808, and 817 Squadrons embarked. (photo attached) The Fleet Air Arm operated in a strike, ground support, and escort role during the deployment.
  7. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander Appointed Commanding Officer of 805 Squadron on the 09 April 1951, as the 1st Australian Commanding Officer of a Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm Squadron. (This came from a Fleet Air Arm site and can't be supported by his record, nor the Navy Lists) His squadron at war for 8 months as they conducted fighter and fighter bomber missions in the skies over the Korean Peninsula and the CAG was very highly regarded for its ground support accuracy. HMAS Sydney returned to Sydney on 22nd of February. he is relieved as CO 805Sq on the following day, 28th January, 1952. He made no further combat tours in his career.
  8. Continued to serve with the 805 & 808 Squadrons as Senior Pilot until April, 1955 HMAS Sydney, HMAS Melbourne, and NAS Albatross.
  9. Whilst test flying Fairfly WJ112 he crashed landed on 2nd of June, 1954, as a result of an engine fire  and making an emergency wheels-up at Nowra Air Station, Albatross.
  10. LCDR Salthouse retrained as a helicopter pilot during September - December, 1955.
  11. Completes his Naval Watch Keeping Certificate on HMAS Anzac, January, 1956. I can only conclude that this was a prerequisite for promotion.
  12. Promoted to LtComder and takes Command of 723 Squadron on 3rd Feb 1957. 723 Sq. operates the following helicopters: 5 Sycamores and 2 Auster J5-G Autocars and two Firefly target tugs in May 1959, serving on HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Anzac. He commences a second tour as CO of this squadron on 24th July, 1959.    
  13.  Posted to Britain RN Air Station, (HMS Seahawk) Culdrose, Britain, February 1962 – September, 1963. Whirlwind Wessex helicopter conversion course (fully qualified 16 July, 1962) Posted as test pilot for Wessex Test Flight & Acceptance Program supervising the acceptance of all of the Wessex helicopters before they were sent to Australia. N7-200, the first RAN Wessex to be flown, at HMNAS Heron at Yeovil, (UK) on the 6th Sept. 1962
  14. Posted 18 Aug, 1966 – 2 Nov, 1966      NAS Albatross   Scout Helicopter conversion course 
  15. Posted 723 Squadron, on 19th  December, 1966, OIC of Survey Flight (Helicopters)
  16. He crashed again when on the 8th April, 1967. He was piloting the last Scout helicopter, WS102, operating off hydrographic survey ship, HMAS Moresby, mapping Australia's and New Guinea’s coastline and waterways, when he was forced to ditch in Wewak Harbour during take-off.
  17. LCDR JRN Salthouse retired from active service in May, 1968. Seems to have retired to Victoria with his second wife and daughter still only in his forties and worked as an insurance agent.  
  18. He died on December 8, 1986, in Victoria, Australia, at the age of 61.

The scabbard was in a very bad shape and there was considerable rust on the lower ends of the blade. I had purchased two replacement pieces on eBay from England but HMCustoms confiscated them ????? I ended up buying a cheap replacement RAN Naval sword, removed the chape and gave the sword to my 8 year old grandson. Not finished with the restoration but I love having another names sword. The sword knot is is poor shape but I don't want to replace it.


Facebook RAN.JPG

1827 C.jpg

1827 F.jpg

Naval Guard.JPG

Naval Guard 2.JPG

Korea 1951..png

Fireflies and Sea Furies over HMAS Sydney.jpg

Fury fighter covered in snow..jpg

LCDR Salthouse (centre) posing in front of a Sycamore 849..png

Edited by aussiesoldier
Clashes between what is written & what is in official personal file!!!!!
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  • 5 weeks later...

Dear Aussiesoldier,

I noted that your have in your possession  LT Comdr Malthouse's sword. I am in Legacy and Mrs Salthouse is one of my Legacy widows. She advises that she gave the sword to her step daughter in USA as a family keepsake some time ago. Unfortunately she lost touch with the daughter and is uncertain even if she is still alive. One of her family saw your article and told her of its location in Australia. I would appreciate some further information on your intentions for the sword. I have passed your story above onto Mrs Salthouse and she is pleased that at last its back in Australia.

Yours OZVet

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I collect and research military swords and then use them as teaching aids with secondary school history students. Recently I have taken to giving talks to antique and military sword collectors. It was my intention to keep the sword as part of my display and for the purposes stated. I have no intentions of selling and when I die I was going to give it to the local RSL as a representation of Korean War service.

I can assure you it is well looked after and as you can see, I spent a great deal of time researching the background of its owner. I have been unable to discover his WW2 service beyond the bare bones of joining the RAAF and qualifying for air accident and fighter aircraft combat. 

It certainly wasn't a cheap purchase at auction and postage is horrendous from O/S at the moment. The exchange rate is a shocker. I am retired and this is my 'hobby'. I hope this helps.



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