Guide to the Papers of Lieutenant Graham de Chair (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

de Chair, Henry Graham Dudley
Journals of Commander Henry Graham Dudley de Chair (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1927 - 1931
Collection Number
2 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Journal, October 1927-April 1929, kept while Lieutenant on HMS Laburnum. The Laburnum served at the New Zealand Station and visited Fiji, Samoa and the Society Islands, June-October 1928. The journal records life on the ship, excursions and entertainments on shore and impressions of places visited. There are a number of watercolour, crayon, and pen and ink sketches by the author.

Journal, April-December 1929, kept while ADC to his father, Sir Dudley de Chair. It describes life at Government House, Sydney, and in country districts and includes a description of a skiing trip to Mount Kosciusko.

Journal, April-July 1930, recording portion of the journey of Sir Dudley de Chair and his party from Sydney to England and giving a detailed description of travel in the East Indies and Asia. About 13 pages at the beginning deal with de Chair's experiences as ADC to his father and there are also comments on the Chinese and Japanese as emigrants to Australia.

Journal, November 1930-November 1931, kept while lieutenant on HMS Nelson on a voyage from England to the West Indies, Balboa, Gibraltar and return to England.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the private residence of Commander H. G. D. de Chair, Hertfordshire, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1969 (AJCP Reel: M717). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Filmed at the private residence of Commander H .G. D. de Chair, Boxmoor, Hertfordshire.

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Papers of Sir Dudley de Chair were also filmed by the Australian Joint Copying Project (M716) (

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP). The revision was done by Graeme Powell, published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Balboa, Panama Canal Zone; De Chair, Henry G.D.; De Chair, Sir Dudley R.S.; Dutch East Indies: visits to; Fiji; Gibraltar; Governors and Governors General: New South Wales; Japan; Japanese in Australia; Laburnum, HMS (ship); Mount Kosciusko, New South Wales; Naval officers; Nelson, HMS (ship); New South Wales; Royal Navy: New Zealand Station; Royal Navy: voyages; Samoa; Society Islands; Sydney, New South Wales ; West Indies


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 128, p46.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Graham Dudley de Chair (1905-1995) was born at Winchester, the son of Admiral Sir Dudley de Chair (1877-1958). Sir Dudley de Chair was Governor of New South Wales in 1923-30, a post that had earlier been held by his uncle Sir Harry Rawson. Graham de Chair was trained at the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth and in 1923 was appointed a midshipman on HMS Iron Duke. He served on HMS Laburnam in the New Zealand Squadron in 1927-29. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1928. He was ADC to his father in 1929 and accompanied his parents on their journey back to England in 1930.

De Chair remained in the Royal Navy until his retirement in 1955. He became a lieutenant commander in 1936 and a commander in 1943. During the War he commanded the destroyer HMS Vimy in the Atlantic Ocean (1941-42) and the destroyer HMS Venus in the Indian Ocean (1944-45). He was awarded the DSC in 1942 and 1945.

De Chair was the author of a memoir, Let go aft: the indiscretions of a salt horse commander (Tunbridge Wells, 1993). The journal that he kept in 1935-39 is held in the Liddell Hart Military Archives at King's College, London.

Item Descriptions

Journal kept by de Chair while serving on HMS Laburnam (1927-29), as ADC to the Governor of New South Wales (1929) and while serving on HMS Nelson (1930-31), 1927 - 1931 (File 1)

The journal commences on 24 October 1927 when de Chair joined HMS Laburnam (Commander F.N. Attwood) at Auckland. The entries mostly record life on the warship, including ship movements, navigational matters, tours of New Zealand and the Pacific islands, naval manoeuvres, rifle practices, formal events such as the King's Birthday celebrations, repairs, disciplinary matters, official visitors to the ship and weather conditions. There are also references to recreational matters, such as sport, fishing, social events and drives in the country. The ship visited Russell, Dunedin, Lyttelton, Picton, Wellington, Napier and other ports in New Zealand. In June-October 1928 it did a tour of the western Pacific visiting Pago Pago, Papeete, Bora Bora, Raratonga, Suva, Nadi and other places. This section of the journal ends on 9 April 1929 when de Chair left New Zealand.

There are many inserts in the journal including sketches by de Chair, photographs, maps, official circulars, timetables, orders, and a typescript account of a tour of tourist resorts in the North Island.

The second section of the journal begins in April 1929 when de Chair arrived in Sydney to take up his duties as ADC to his father, Sir Dudley de Chair, the Governor of New South Wales. The entries tend to be brief and record the daily activities at Government House, including visitors, lunches and dinners, balls, sporting events, concerts, theatrical performances and church services. There are more detailed descriptions of visits to the Riverina (May 1929) and Mount Kosciusko (August 1929), and a tour of the unfinished Sydney Harbour Bridge with the engineer J.J.C. Bradfield. Photographs, maps and programs are inserted in this section and also a few letters from de Chair to his mother written from New Zealand.

The journal resumes on 3 November 1930 when de Chair joined the crew of HMS Nelson, following his return to England in September 1930. It records the daily routine at Portsmouth, a tour of the West Indies and Gibraltar (January-March 1931) and naval exercises at Invergordon, Scapa Flow and Rosyth in Scotland. The journal ends in November 1931.

Journal kept by de Chair in 1930 while travelling in South East Asia, China and Japan, 1930 (File 2)

De Chair accompanied his parents and his sister Elaine on their leisurely journey from Australia to England at the end of Sir Dudley de Chair's term as Governor of New South Wales. The journal, which covers the period 8 April to 11 July 1930, describes in considerable detail the first part of the journey. It begins with a short account of de Chair's experience as ADC to the Governor in 1929. It describes the farewells to the Governor in Sydney, the journey by train to Brisbane, the voyage on the Nieuw Holland (Capt. F. Bauer), sightseeing in Macassar, Bali and Jogjakarta, visits to the temples at Borobudur and Prambanan, a reception given by the Sultan of Jogjakarta, meetings with governors and the governor-general of the East Indies, travels in Java, visits to Batavia and Singapore, a tour of the Singapore Naval Base which was then under construction, travels in Indochina, including visits to Saigon, Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh, and their arrival in Hong Kong. The party then travelled on various ships to Shanghai, Tsingtao (Quingdao), Weiheiwei (Weihai) and Peking (Beijing), with visits to the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, before proceeding to Kobe, Tokyo and other cities in Japan. The journal ends at Yokohama, with some reflections on the White Australia Policy.

The journal contains a large number of small photographs, which are virtually illegible, and a few sketches, maps, newspaper cuttings, programs and other printed items.