Local Identities

David Guy Holthouse (1936 – 2013)

By Irma Walter, 2019.

David Holthouse was born at Port Hedland in 1936, the son of Edward Holthouse and his wife Jean Mary (née McGregor), of Muccan Station in the Pilbara region of WA.  In 1938 the family moved to the Harvey area permanently, initially to Uduc and in 1950 to Cookernup where they were dairy farmers.

Rear Admiral David Guy Holthouse[1]

David attended the Harvey State School before enrolling in 1949 as a boarder at Guildford Grammar School in Perth. However at the age of 14 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy training college, HMAS Cerberus, on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. There he topped the class in 1950, as well as ‘commanding respect with the boxing gloves’.[2] He then proceeded to England, where he studied naval engineering during the years 1955-60. At the end of the course he was awarded a prize as the best all-round student, as well as the Queen’s Sword as the most outstanding cadet of that year.

While in England, David served in HM ships Triumph, Glory, Rattlesnake and Eagle, and the submarine Anchorite.  By 1958 he held the rank of Lieutenant. Back in Australia again, he served in HMA ships Melbourne, Anzac, Sydney, Hobart and Supply, then as Marine Engineer Officer in Anzac and Queensborough.

In the years 1963-65 he was at the Yarrow-Admiralty Research Department in Scotland, before returning to Australia, appointed as Marine Engineer on the aircraft carrier Melbourne. Earning promotion to Lieutenant Commander in 1966, he served as Engineer Officer on board the destroyer Hobart during 1967-69. The ship saw active service in Vietnam in 1968, but was badly damaged, along with an American cruiser, by missiles launched from US aircraft, in the mistaken belief that they were firing at enemy helicopters. Several of the Australian crew were killed during the incident.[3] David was placed in charge of overseeing repairs on the ship, receiving a Commendation by the Naval Board for his work.

He achieved the rank of Commodore in 1968. He was promoted to Captain in 1976 and served as commanding officer of the Navy’s apprentice training establishment HMAS Nirimba, a shore station at Quaker’s Hill, NSW, in 1978.[4]

From that time David Holthouse held a number of high-ranking positions which included Naval Attaché at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC, and Naval Advisor at the Australian High Commission in Ottawa. His achievements as Chief of Naval Personnel and as Naval Support Commander were rewarded with an Order of Australia Medal in 1991.

After retiring from full-time naval service in 1993, Rear Admiral Holthouse worked as a consultant in the Defence Industry, before joining the Australian Stock Exchange in 1996, as Manager, External Liaison, charged with negotiating agreements with various South East Asian stock exchanges.

In semi-retirement, David Holthouse went on to hold various prestigious positions before purchasing a sheep and cattle property at Braidwood in New South Wales, where he lived with his wife Isobel. He passed away in 2013.

[Further details of David Holthouse’s illustrious career can be found at the Royal Australian Navy website, http://www.navy.gov.au/biography/rear-admiral-david-guy-holthouse.]

Harvey State School, 1948.

Back row (L to R): D Fielder, J Meldrum, J Kenny, V Amadier, R Jenkins, Marie Jones, S Maloney, B Pritchard, T Savage, Unknown, Fran Marston, Kath McMillan, E Gell, Teacher.

Front row: David Holthouse, D Jones, Chris Maughan, G Schooler, Norma Fryer, Fay Norris, W Blake, Marie Fryer, Lorraine Hindmarsh, J Coole, M Scott, Shirley Taylor, Wendy Scott, J Cooper, Gordon Davis, A Higgins.

Photo courtesy of Harvey Districts Historical Society, Federation Display.


[1] Royal Australian Navy website

[2] West Australian, 13 December 1950.

[3] Canberra Times, 2 August 1968.

[4] Canberra Times, 18 February 1978.