Sir Anthony Monckton Synnot
KBE AO RAN
5 January 1922|
Corowa, New South Wales
|Died||4 July 2001
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
|Service/branch||Royal Australian Navy|
|Years of service||1939–1982 (43 years)|
|Commands held||Chief of Defence Force Staff
Chief of Naval Staff
HMAS Melbourne (R21)
HMAS Sydney (R17)
HMAS Vampire (D11)
HMAS Warramunga (I44)
|Awards||Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Officer of the Order of Australia
Mentioned in Despatches
Synnot was born in 1922 at Corowa, New South Wales, a descendant of Monckton Synnot and brother of Captain Timothy Monckton Synnot RAN, and a distant relative of the American Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Synnot was educated at Geelong Grammar School. He joined the Royal Australian Navy as a cadet midshipman in March 1939 and trained in Britain with Prince Philip of Greece (as he then was). His first ship was the cruiser HMAS Canberra.
During World War II, Synnot served aboard the destroyer HMAS Stuart in the Battle of Cape Matapan, for which he was mentioned in dispatches, and during the evacuation of Greece and Crete. With the Royal Navy, he saw service on the battleship HMS Barham and was on board the destroyer HMS Punjabi when she sank off Iceland in 1942 after being accidentally rammed by the battleship HMS King George V.
Subsequently, Synnot served for two years on the Australian destroyer HMAS Quiberon on North Sea convoy duty and during the North Africa landings, eventually becoming the ship's executive officer. In 1945, Synnot qualified as a gunnery officer and served on the staff of gunnery schools in Australia. Promoted to commander in 1954, he took charge of HMAS Warramunga in 1956. He became captain of the Daring-class destroyer HMAS Vampire in 1960.
In 1950, Synnot had taken part in the Bridgeford Mission to Malaya, which advised the Australian government on the Malayan emergency. His report on the options for providing naval support for the British laid the foundations for Australian naval involvement in the region and led to Synnot's secondment to command the Royal Malaysian Navy from 1962 to 1965.
On his return to Australia, Synnot attended administrative staff college before returning to sea in 1966 as Captain of the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney, then in 1967, the carrier HMAS Melbourne. He was the only officer to command both aircraft carriers.
After a year at the Imperial Defence College in London, he returned to Australia as director general of fighting equipment. Promoted to rear-admiral in 1970, he became chief of naval personnel and subsequently deputy chief of naval staff. He became commander of the Australian fleet in 1973. In 1974, he was appointed director joint staff in the Australian Defence Department, and played a leading role in the relief effort following the devastation of Darwin by Cyclone Tracy.
In 1976, Synnot was promoted to Vice Admiral and appointed Chief of Naval Staff. He initiated a review of the Navy Office and of the Navy's structure of command and control. He drew up a blueprint for the maintenance of naval capability into the future, and oversaw the Navy's guided-missile frigate project.
Extremely able and practical, Synnot came to be regarded as one of the country's most outstanding defence force chiefs. A strong believer in deterrence and an advocate of close co-operation with America and countries in the Pacific region, Synnot emphasised the need for a strong military capability for national defence and for joint operations with Australia's allies overseas. He was said[who?] to have done more to equip Australia's armed forces with up-to-date military technology than any of his predecessors. In particular, he was instrumental in persuading the Australian government of the need to upgrade the country's air force with the acquisition of the F/A-18 Hornet.
He was also behind the decision to acquire the British aircraft carrier HMS Invincible as a replacement for the ageing HMAS Melbourne. However Britain withdrew the offer to sell Invincible after the Falklands War.
Synnot retired on 20 April 1982.
Synnot was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1971 and knighted via Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1978. He was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia in 1976. He married in 1959 to Virginia Davenport, who died in 1965. He married a second time in 1968 to Anne Colvin (née Manifold), great-niece of former Prime Minister of Australia Stanley Bruce.
Admiral Sir Anthony Synnot died on 4 July 2001 at the age of 79, after suffering from a long illness.
Honours and awards
|Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)||(1978)|
|Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)||(1971)|
|Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)||1976|
|Africa Star||With NORTH AFRICA 1942-43 clasp–|
|Pacific Star||With BURMA clasp|
|War Medal 1939–1945 with palm for Mentioned in Dispatches|
|Australia Service Medal 1939–45|
|Australian Active Service Medal 1945–1975|
|Australian Service Medal 1945–1975|
|Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal||1977|
|Defence Force Service Medal with 5 clasps||40–44 years service|
|National Medal||With two clasps for 35-44 year service|
|Vietnam Campaign Medal|
- Stevens, David; Sears, Jason; Goldrick, James; Cooper, Alastair; Jones, Peter; Spurling, Kathryn, (2001). Stevens, David, ed. The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. p. 227. ISBN 0-19-554116-2. OCLC 50418095.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 1971. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 29 December 1978. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
- It's an Honour - Entry
- Defender - The National Journal of the Australia Defence Association
- It's an Honour - Officer of the Order of Australia - 7 June 1976
Citation: CBE MILITARY DIVISION NY1972. AO MILITARY DIVISION QB 1976. KBE MILITARY DIVISION NY1979
- It's an Honour - National Medal - 14 July 1977
- It's an Honour - National Medal (1st Clasp) - 14 July 1977
- It's an Honour - National Medal (2nd Clasp) - 14 July 1977
- Australian Naval Personalities: Synnot, Anthony Monckton (1922–2001)
- Defence Force - Previous Chiefs
- Media release - Death of Admiral Sir Anthony Synnot
General Sir Arthur MacDonald
|Chief of Defence Force Staff
1979 – 1982
Air Chief Marshal Sir Neville McNamara
Vice Admiral Sir David Stevenson
|Chief of Naval Staff
1976 – 1979
Vice Admiral Sir James Willis
Rear Admiral William Dovers
|Flag Officer Commanding HM Australian Fleet
1973 – 1974
Rear Admiral David Wells