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Victorian Naval Forces Muster

for the Colony of Victoria. (muster range 1853-1910)*


Last Name:Biddlecombe
First Name:John
Birth Date: 01-11-1868
Branch:Victorian Navy

John Biddlecombe


Commander John Biddlecombe; R.A.N. of Geelong, Vic., b. 1 Nov., 1868.

A card held by the Australian War Memorial states :-
BIDDLECOMBE, Commander John
RAN (Retired)
of Geelong. Vic.

  • Joined M.T.S. "Worcestor" 1884 as Midshipman R.N.R.
  • Entered "Victorian Navy". 14.2.94 as Sub-Lieutenant.
  • Lieut 17.4.1896
  • Retired from Vic Navy with rank of Commander. 6.2.1904.
  • Served in honouary capacity at Navy Office during early part of war, in connection with work of Naval Transport Board

Address:- Golf Hill Geelong, Vic

Pages 57 and 58 of Volume 1 of A BIOGRAPHICAL REGISTER states :-

BIDDLECOMBE, John (1869-1929). Naval officer and pastoraliast., Vic. born Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, Eng., 1869; died Golf Hill, Shelford, Vic., 11


Service in South Africa

Commander Biddlecombe

Lieutenant Biddlecombe left for South Africa sometime after 23 July 1901 when he was reported by the Argus as being present at the Royal Humane Society Awards and was reported (below) as departing from South Africa on 11 December 1901. While in South Africa Commander Biddlecombe was attached to the 6th Dragoon guards and qualified for the Queen's South Africa medal.




The Argus, 21 December 1901


Lieutenant Biddlccombe, of the Victorian navy, says the cost of making an essentially Australian navy would not exceed the proposed subsidy and existing local expenditure combined. Even the money now spent in Australia, and by Australia, says Lieutenant Biddlecombe, would keep 450 full-paid officers and men and their wives and families.

Evening Post (NZ), 25 April 1903


The Argus, 30 October 1908



Commander Biddlecombe

Burial at Geelong

"Commander Biddlecombe was born at Great Yarmouth, in the County of Norfolk, England in 1869. He completed his education in Germany. Having served as a pupil at the Thames Nautical Training College on board HMS Worcester, he became apprenticed to Messers. Donald Currie and Company when aged 17 years. He served the period of his apprenticeship on board the sailing ship Cluny Castle. From 1889 onwards he served on various vessels of the merchant marine trading to various ports of the world up to 1894. He served for 12 months in the Royal Navy as midshipman and acting sub lieutenant on the Warspite, Excellent, Phaeton, Tamar, Orontes, Eagle, and Vernon. In 1894 he was appointed to the Victorian Naval Forces with the rank of sub lieutenant. Two years later he was appointed lieutenant, and in 1898 he was made gunnery lieutenant. While in the Victorian Naval Forces he served on the Nelson, the Cerberus, and the torpedo boats

In July, 1900, commander Biddlecombe was appointed an officer in a naval contingent for service in China with the rank of gunnery lieutenant, and served with the contingent in China. The following year he left for active service in South Africa, and was attached to the 6th Dragoon guards during the period of the war.

In 1903 he published a book entitled Independence of the Navy.* It was claimed that this book was great weight in influencing public opinion regarding the need for increasing the strength of the Royal Australian Navy. In February, 1904, he retired from the Commonwealth Naval Forces with the rank of commander. In August and September, 1914, he served on the staff of the transport branch of the Navy Office."

The Argus, 15 April 1929

* John Biddlecombe wrote Interdependence of the Empire in Regard to Naval Defence, published by George Robertson in 1897 in Melbourne

Click to download. 1.1 mb

Copy courtesy of Internet Archive


John Biddlecombe's Rum Measure.
Donated by Mrs Biddlecombe of Golf Hill, Shelford in 1934.
photographed courtesy of the State Library of Victoria












 Prot  5' 8½"  39  Prop  Fair BrHaze    

From Volunteer Listing kept by CPO Goding & held by grandson Lawrence Dilks, Williamstown. Prepared by Ada Ackerly, Directory Williamstown Museum, c 1987.

Profile in The Australian Illustrated Enclclopaedia of The Boxer Uprising 1899-1901, Justin Corfield, Slouch Hat Publications, McCrae Australia, 2001.

* 1853 is given as the commencement date for the Victorian Navy as this is the year that Commander Lockyer (RN) went to Britain to superintend the building of HMCS Victoria.
Although the Victorian Navy ended in 1901 the career of Cerbeus etc continued. In 1910 the new ships started arriving & manning levels increased.

Information & photographs of men who served in the Victorian Naval Forces is eagerly sought. Please contact the webmaster.