The Esther Williams Trophy is one of two trophies that have circulated among ships of various navies, after originating in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Initially, in 1943, the trophy was a joke between two friends, Lieutenants Lindsay Brand and David Stevenson (later the RAN's Chief of Naval Staff), serving in HMAS Nepal, an N-class destroyer attached to the British Eastern Fleet. Stevenson wrote on a photograph of Esther Williams, "To my own Georgie, with all my love and a passionate kiss, Esther"; Brand (aka "George") put the screen idol over his bed. The photo was taken to another ship by a fellow officer, and the "trophy" was then circulated by officers among some 200 other ships including in United States Navy, Royal Navy, and Royal Canadian Navy ships in Asian waters.
The original photo became the "trophy copy" to be kept in a safe location. A "fighting copy" was displayed where officers from other ships could attempt to steal it or take it by force, often with a good deal of roughhousing between the officers of the ships involved; one of the more violent raids, by officers of USS Boxer attempting to retrieve the trophy from HMAS Warramunga, resulted in three Americans and one Australian being hospitalised. After the "fighting copy" had been successfully removed from the custodial ship, the "trophy copy" would be presented to the new owners with appropriate ceremony. At various times, the holders of the trophy have either flown an Esther flag or sent naval signals (signed "Esther") to other nearby ships to indicate where the trophy resided. In 1946, an officer from HMS Jamaica started a tradition when he composed the "Esther Rescued" signal (indicating the trophy's changing of hands) in poetry.
In 1957, "Esther" was retired by the United States Navy and sent to the RAN's Naval Historical Collection at Spectacle Island in Sydney. The trophy was brought into circulation again in 1997 by officers from HMAS Brisbane, and has been given official standing by senior officers, for instance when an RAN admiral officiated when Brand was re-introduced to the trophy on 30 June 2004 for only the fourth time since 1943. A documentary about the trophy's history was produced in 2007.
Following the death of Esther Williams in June 2013, the trophy was officially retired. The last unit to officially capture the trophy, RAN Clearance Diving Team Four, presented the trophy to HMAS Stuart for transportation to the Navy Heritage Centre at Spectacle Island.
Williams is a common European surname. This list provides links to biographies of people who share this common surname.Military history of Australia
The military history of Australia spans the nation's 230-year modern history, from the early Australian frontier wars between Aboriginals and Europeans to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 21st century. Although this history is short when compared to that of many other nations, Australia has been involved in numerous conflicts and wars, and war and military service have been significant influences on Australian society and national identity, including the Anzac spirit. The relationship between war and Australian society has also been shaped by the enduring themes of Australian strategic culture and its unique security dilemma.
As British offshoots, the Australian colonies participated in Britain's small wars of the 19th century, while later as a federated dominion, and then an independent nation, Australia fought in the First World War and Second World War, as well as in the wars in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam during the Cold War. In the Post-Vietnam era Australian forces have been involved in numerous international peacekeeping missions, through the United Nations and other agencies, including in the Sinai, Persian Gulf, Rwanda, Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, as well as many overseas humanitarian relief operations, while more recently they have also fought as part of multi-lateral forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In total, nearly 103,000 Australians died during the course of these conflicts.