Plimmerton Boating Club's rescue craft named after Alexander Deryck Barron - Story by Allan Dodson
In 1941 Alexander Deryck Barron, known as Deryck, was to die on active service in the worst loss of life for the Royal New Zealand Navy; the first Plimmerton Boating Club’s Rescue Craft was named in his honour.
19 December 1949 launch of the Plimmerton Boating Club rescue craft, 'Deryck Barron'. Evening Post photo.

Deryck Barron was born 29 November 1919 son of Harold Stephen and Fanny Borthwick Barron of Lower Hutt. The Barron family took their holidays at Plimmerton and the family were involved in local yachting.  The Barron Cup was presented to the Plimmerton Boating Club in 1931 for competition between Plimmerton and Paremata in Rona-Jellicoe class boats.[1]  Deryck sailed for Plimmerton as a youth and in 1938 crewed with A Edginton to retain the Cornwall Cup for the Club.[2]

In 1938 Deryck Barron was working in Wellington for the New Zealand Shipping Company Limited as a shipping clerk, when he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (Wellington - New Zealand Division) as a cadet seaman with the service number W/3696.[3]

With the outbreak of World War Two, New Zealand Reserves were mobilised. Deryck Barron was called up, reporting to HMNZS Philomel as Able Seaman Barron on 18 April 1940. He was in the first batch of New Zealand Naval Reserves, in response to the British Admiralty call to the New Zealand government for more sailors to man the increasing number of warships being brought into service.[4]  His service record notes he was ‘Lent Royal Navy’ arriving in England 1 May 1940. Able Seaman Barron was initially attached to the shore training establishment HMS Victory then to HMS Phoebe, finally to HMS Neptune in September 1941.[5]

HMS Neptune -

It was intended that New Zealand would provide a crew for HMS Neptune and this Leander-class light cruiser would serve alongside HMS Achilles and HMS Leander. HMS Neptune was originally due to sail for New Zealand in May 1941 but the loss of cruisers during the Crete campaign meant HMS Neptune was attached to the Malta based Force K.[6]

While HMS Neptune was in Alexandria, Egypt, she was visited by a unit of the New Zealand National Broadcasting (NBS) on 13 November 1941 when messages from the officers and men on board were recorded.  Only 10 percent of the crew were selected, by ballot, to record messages to their friends and families. Deryck Barron was one of those selected. These messages were recorded onto discs to be sent back to New Zealand for broadcast in a weekly programme called ‘With the Boys Overseas'.[7]

The HMS Neptune messages were timed for Christmas 1941. It is possible that none of the messages would have been heard by the families at home because on the morning of 19 December 1941, HMS Neptune hit enemy mines off the coast of Libya and sank. Only one of the crew of 764 survived this incident. The loss of the HMS Neptune was New Zealand's Navy’s worst disaster with 151 of the crew being from New Zealand.[8]

At the 1948 Annual General Meeting of the Plimmerton Boating Club it was resolved "to acquire a suitable boat with engine for pick-up and general rescue work". This rescue boat was built by Shetland Islander, Jock McCallum, of Abel Smith Street, Wellington, the design based on an original lifeboat. Named the Deryck Barron, the rescue craft was launched 19 November 1949, crewed originally by Frank Newman, Fred Jobson & Fred Sellens.[9]

The Deryck Barron was later modified to add a small part deck and remained in service until 1972 when it was replaced by a new Rescue Jet.
1970 Deryck Barron prior to replacement by the Rescue Jet - Mary Casey collection
The original Deryck Barron, now renamed, is still in the Wellington area and has recently been refurbished.  


[1] 1931 December 30 - Evening Post

[2] 1938 January 01 - Evening Post

[3] 1938 October 18 - Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve form - W/3696 Barron Alexander Deryck

[4] NZ History on Line - New Zealand at War

[5] 1940 - Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve form - W/3696 Barron Alexander Deryck

[6] NZ History on Line - HMS Neptune

[7] Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Nga Taonga Korero - 1941 HMS Neptune

[8] NZ History on Line - HMS Neptune

[9] Plimmerton Boating Club website - history

Last Updated: 26/03/2015 3:54pm