Wyllys Harvey Wyllys
Sub-Lieutenant, Victorian Navy
Who died on board HMVS Cerberus
Port Phillip, Victoria
on the 12th December, 1873
by Shirley Joy.
Wyllys Harvey Wyllys was a Sub-lieutenant in the Victorian Navy who died on board HMVS Cerberus on Port Phillip Bay, Victoria on the 12th. December, 1873.
The Australasian Sketcher of 27th. December, 1873 records the tragic details of the death of Sub-lieutenant Wyllys Harvey Wyllys.
"During the stay of the Cerberus at Queenscliff for gun practice, an unfortunate accident occurred on December 11. The order "cease firing" had just been given when Sub-lieutenant Wyllys, of the Nelson, who had been stationed on the pilot deck, watching the effect of the shot, made a false step, and fell backwards on the edge of the turret, bounding thence on to the breastwork, and eventually landing on the main deck, where he was picked up quite insensible. He died on the following day".
An Inquest was held into the cause of the death of Wyllys Harvey Wyllys, at which time it was agreed that the cause of death was - "Accidentally killed by falling from the flying deck of the Cerberus whilst in the execution of his duty on the eleventh instant off Point Nepean".
Wyllys Harvey Wyllys was buried in the Williamstown Cemetery on the 13th. December, 1873. The inscription on his tombstone reads -
"Sacred to the memory of Wyllys Harvey Wyllys R.N. who lost his life by accident on board HMVS Cerberus December, 1873. Aged 25 years. Erected by his sorrowing Mother".
FOOTNOTE : -
The Death Certificate records that the deceased's name was Wyllys Henry Wyllys, however, the inscription on his tombstone records his name as Wyllys Harvey Wyllys.
Wyllys Harvey Wyllys was the son of William Wyllys and Sarah Hunt and was born in April, May or June of 1848.
The turret ship Cerberus returned to her moorings in the bay yesterday, her stay at Queenscliff having been abbreviated by the untoward and melancholy accident which deprived Sub.lieutenant Wyllys of his life. It was announced in our issue of yesterday that Lieutenant Wyllys had met with a very dangerous accident, and the ensign of the Nelson being at half-mast, yesterday confirmed the painful rumour that Lieutenant Wyllys had died from the accident. The Cerberus returned to her moorings in the course of the afternoon, and an inquest was held on the body of the deceased gentleman. The facts stated in the telegram yesterday having been deposed to, a verdict of accidental death was returned. Lieutenant Wyllys, although he had been little more than a year or so in office on board the Nelson, was not only well liked by his brother officers on board, but had greatly endeared himself to the youngsters under his charge, and no more fitting tribute could be paid to his memory than the really sincere expressions of regret by the boys on the Nelson when they heard of his sad fate. The Argus, 13 December 1873
THE ACCIDENT ON THE CERBERUS
The Williamstown Chronicle
20 December 1873
Sub Lieutenant Wyllys
The remains of the late Sub Lieutenant Wyllys were interred in the Williamstown Cemetery on Saturday afternoon, the funeral being conducted with military honours. The body was conveyed from the Cerberus to the Ann street pier, where a procession was formed. The procession was headed by a firing party from the Cerberus, followed by the Nelson band playing the "Dead March", and the sailors and boys from the Cerberus and Nelson. Then came the gun carriage, on which was laid the coffin containing the body of the deceased gentleman, the union jack forming the pall. The carriage was drawn by some of the Cerberus men. A detachment from the local Defence Corps brought up the rear. The pall was borne by six naval and military officers, among whom were Colonel Anderson, Captain Stubbs, Captain Panter, Captain Fullarton, and Lieutenant Turner. The procession passed along Nelson place and up Ferguson street to the cemetery, where it was received by the Rev. George Wilkinson, by whom the funeral service was read. The customary three volleys having been fired over the grave, the artillery corps left for town by train, and the remainder of the procession marched back to Williamstown. The flags along the line of route were lowered to half mast out of respect to the deceased officer, and a numerous assemblage gathered in the cemetery to pay their last tribute to his memory. The deceased was only 27 years of age, and although unmarried was the sole support of his widowed mother. He was at one time in the British Navy, but when the late reduction was made in the public expenses at home, he was reduced, and accepted the position he held on board the Nelson at the time of his death.
On 2 July 1873 the Cerberus log recorded "Wyllys Sub-Lieutenant reported for being off deck in his watch. The charge being proved Captain Panter informed Wyllys that he should stop his pay for three months making a fine equal to £11.10.0."
We published a short time ago an account of the services and qualifications of some of the officers in the Victorian Navy, but omitted to mention those of Sub-lieutenant Wyllys, who is now second in command of H.M.V.S. Nelson. Mr. Wyllys served seven years and 101 days in the Royal Navy, and when he left the service held a certificate of qualification as navigating lieutenant. He also holds a certificate of qualification in general pilotage, and a certificate setting forth, his competency to take charge of and navigate any of Her Majesty's Ships. These certificates were all obtained after examination by naval boards. Mr. Wyllys is the only sub-lieutenant in the Victorian Navy. The Argus, 14 August 1873.