HMAS Voyager February 10, 1964

PETER Rogers and two of his three sisters were aboard HMAS Choules on Monday to remember their father Buck, who is regarded as one of the great heroes of Voyager.

Trapped with others in the mess hall, Buck Rogers doggedly helped people to safety, man by man, knowing he would not escape himself.

When it was clear that time had run out, he led the remaining men in prayer and a hymn as the ship went down. 

On that same night, miles away in Bombala, 17-year-old Peter was playing basketball.  

At five minutes to nine a ball smashed into the new watch his father had given him for Christmas, stopping it at the exact time of the collision.

“A friend rang me the next morning and told me they’d heard it on the news,” Mr Rogers said.  

He borrowed a car and drove straight to the wharf at HMAS Creswell where he started asking around for his father.  

“At first they told me he had survived but then someone else told me he had died.”

Mr Rogers said all these years later his family still finds the anniversary of the collision difficult to get through.

Jonathan ‘Buck’ Rogers was awarded the George Cross posthumously for his bravery that night, and this year had a naval recruit school division named after him.

Len Price was also on board that night.  The 17-year-old new recruit was getting ready to go to bed when the chilling call of “hands to collision stations” piped through the ship.

In a matter of minutes he was to lose many good mates and embark on a life haunted by nightmares. 

At his lowest point, he “got to the point of being an alcoholic” and his body was ready to give up. 

 Mr Price said while he believed he had buried most of his “demons”, the sound of tearing metal will never leave him.

“It’s embedded in my mind. It will never go away.  It still gets to me – even today,” Mr Price said.

The Voyager story has been the subject of two royal commissions, but in the words of survivor Bluey Ducker, “they told us how it happened, but they didn’t tell us why”.

FIGHTING ON: Len Price was just 17 when his life changed forever on February 10, 1964.

FIGHTING ON: Len Price was just 17 when his life changed forever on February 10, 1964.


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