Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Captain Bracegirdle

The name of Josef Hochgürtel, literally “Highgirdles,” reminds me of a good story about the late Admiral Sir Brian Murray, who, when serving as Governor of Victoria, was taking some foreign dignitary along a receiving line at Government House in Melbourne, and, for no apparent reason, presented his honorary naval aide-de-camp not correctly as Lieutenant-Commander Warwick Teasdale (above), but as “Captain Bracegirdle” instead. These things happen, I suppose, and usually because of the sudden firing of stray synapses in the brain, but for the subject of the misidentification it can be difficult to repress laughter, or keep a straight face. I am sure Warwick’s demeanour was impeccable, though even now I cannot think of him without wondering who Captain Bracegirdle was, and by what roundabout way His Excellency alighted upon that particularly memorable and unusual name substitution. Presumably he was not thinking of the young German artist who with August Saupé in 1880 conceived the Exhibition Fountain in the Carlton Gardens.


  1. The late Cmdr Warwick Bracegirdle DSC and 2 bars RAN, was a famous naval officer of WW2 in the Royal Australian Navy, so I guess His Excellency could be excused for that error. Bracegirdle was ledgendary as Gunnery officer aboard HMAS Shropshire during the Pacific war. My father served under him and had enormous respect and admiration for him as one who new how to slice through red tape. On one occasion Bracegirdle arranged a swap with the USN supply Dept a case of Scotch Whiskey for 12 Bofors guns 2 million rounds of ammunition and all dockyard support to have them fitted to Shropshire in one day! This resulted in the ship surviving many attacks by Kamikaze aircraft without the lost of a man. later he was commanding officer of HMAS Bataan during the Korean war. All Australian Naval men know of 'Braces'
    Rick Cazaly

  2. The internet is a remarkable thing. Thank you, Rick Cazaly, for placing this story in its proper context, and accounting for Sir Brian Murray's synapses. Meanwhile Warwick Teasdale has been in touch with me separately, and remarks that the distinguished visitor to Government House, Melbourne, on that occasion was His Grace the (seventeenth) Duke of Norfolk, K.G., G.C.V.O., C.B., C.B.E., M.C., D.L., Earl Marshal and Chief Butler of England, and premier duke in the English peerage.