Surprising memories of the Great War linger in the southern New South Wales town of Holbrook, a town that changed its name in August 1915.
Formerly called Germantown, early in 1915 the town’s citizens, spurred on by local and national anti-German feeling, felt the need for a change. Originally the community was invited to consider ‘Marton’, the Yorkshire birthplace of Captain James Cook, for its new name, but that was overtaken by a more powerful urge to mark heroic action in the war. They selected ‘Holbrook’, the name of a recently decorated Australian Lieutenant serving in the Royal Navy, who had recently been awarded the Victoria Cross for valour.
The new course of the Hume Highway no longer takes travellers through the town of Holbrook. In the past, however, the highway passed through the centre of the town, where the huge shell of the late 20th century submarine HMAS Otway dominates Submarine Park. In a corner of this precinct is a scale model of a British submarine, HMS B11, dwarfed by the neighbouring vessel across the way. On 13 December 1914 HMS B11 penetrated the defensive barrier of mines that stretched across the Dardanelles, put there to prevent access to waters further north and to protect Turkish shipping. Under the command of Lieutenant Norman Holbrook, the submarine crossed the mined zone, torpedoed and sank the Turkish battleship Mesudiye, then safely returned through the minefield to the British and French Fleet waiting in the south.
The community of Holbrook celebrates the heritage associated with its name in public displays which include the B11 scale model, HMAS Otway and the Submarine Museum. The museum includes interactive displays, projected holograms and some of Lieutenant (later Commander) Norman Holbrook’s military decorations. His family donated his medals to the Holbrook Shire, including the first Victoria Cross awarded to a member of the Royal Navy in the Great War and a French Insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
Holbrook and Submarines:
The Connection, (brief guide to the Submarine Museum, Holbrook), Author/ Publisher not given [probably Greater Hume Shire]