Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
John Francis Rayment was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on 20th August 1900. He entered the Royal Australian Naval College (RANC) as a cadet midshipman on 31st December 1913 as a member of the 1914 entry. During his time at the RANC he proved to be a good sportsman, gaining his colours for rugby and athletics. He was also made a cadet-captain and on passing out was awarded ‘maximum time’ and the prize for mathematics.
He was appointed midshipmen on 1st January 1918 before embarking for overseas service in the United Kingdom (UK). There he joined the battle-cruiser HMAS Australia which at that time was serving as part of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet. On 1st September 1919 he was promoted sub-lieutenant before joining the destroyer HMAS Swan on 1st October 1919. Between 1919 and 1921 he served variously in HMA Ships Swan, Australia, Anzac and Swordsman during which time he was promoted lieutenant on 1st December 1920.
During 1922 he undertook further training in the UK specialising in navigation. Further sea-going appointments followed in HMS Royal Sovereign HMA Ships Anzac, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and HM Ships Champion, Argus, Carysfort and Queen Elizabeth. During that period he held a number of appointments as navigating officer and was subsequently promoted lieutenant-commander on 1st December 1928.
Lieutenant-Commander John Rayment was appointed officer-in-charge of the RAN Hydrographic Depot, Sydney, in December 1932, a position he held for four months, pending the availability of Lieutenant-Commander (H) C.G. Little who, at that time, was otherwise engaged in survey operations in Queensland. At the same time he was appointed the Master Attendant in Sydney.
In July 1933 he joined the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia in which he served for 12 months before being posted to HMAS Cerberus for duties in Navy Office, Melbourne. This was followed by a further period as the Master Attendant in Sydney.
On the outbreak of World War II, Lieutenant-Commander Rayment returned to sea as the Intelligence Officer in HMAS Australia. On 24 December 1941 he was promoted Acting Commander and appointed Squadron Navigating Officer when Australia became the RAN flagship.
HMAS Australia saw extensive service throughout the Pacific theatre of operations and was often in the thick of action. For his ‘skill, resolution and coolness’ during the Solomon Islands campaign, Commander Rayment was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. In June 1944 he was mentioned in despatches for ‘outstanding zeal and devotion to duty whilst serving in HMAS Australia in the operations which led to the capture of the western end of New Britain’.
On 21 October 1944 during operations in Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, Australia was hit by a Japanese suicide plane which crashed into the foremast. Six officers and 23 ratings were killed and her commanding officer, Captain E.F.V. Dechaineux DSC, RAN, and Commander John Rayment both died of wounds. This form of attack (which came to be known as ‘Kamikaze’) was to be the first of many upon Australian and US ships in the Pacific War.
Commander John Francis Rayment is commemorated on Panel 91 Column 3 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial in the UK and a number of places throughout Australia have been named in his honour. These include: Rayment Park in Perth; Rayment Place in Gowrie, Canberra; and Rayment Street in Perth.
John is also mentioned in an interesting Australian Navy newspaper article that was published in 1996, regarding the discovery of his personal binoculars and their presentation to his son CDRE Mike Rayment, who had retired from the Royal Australian Navy and was then living in Canberra. The Rayment Society holds a copy of this and many other records concerning the life of John Francis Rayment.
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