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SIR THOMAS MITCHELL.

INVENTOR, SOLDIER. SUR-

VEYOR, EXPLORER.

 

STORY OF THE "BOMERANG"  

PROPELLER.

The present generation probably knows Sir Thomas Livingston Mitchell only as one of Australia's great explorers and an extremely capable Surveyor-General. But how many are aware that he was the Duke of Wellington's "great draughtsman" In the Peninsula cam- paign, and that he was the inventor of a pro- peller, the design of which was based, on the Australian boomerang?

The search for a method of screw propul- sion of ships intrigued many inventors dur- ing the latter half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. An Englishman, K. P. Smith, patented a screw propeller in 1836, and shortly afterwards Captain John Ericsson, formerly an officer of the Swedish army, patented another.

Far away in little-known New South Wales, Sir Thomas Mitchell must have been evolving the idea of his boomerang propeller-he spell- ed it "bomerang," while newspapers used "bomarang," "boomerang," and "bomerang." The first test was made In the Sydney Harbour in May, 1852, an iron propeller being fitted to the "screw-steamer" Keera. The "Em- pire" was enthusiastic. "WhllBt tho capital- ists of Europo are embarking huge and ex- pensive machinery In large vessolB of 1400 or 1500 tons burden, to bo moved by acrctv pro- pellers, they are all abroad as to the form most proper for tho screw, . . The true principle for the construction of this has been derived from the aboriginal nativos of, Aus- tralia!" " .

The results of this trial were considered satisfactory, and Sir Thomas Mitchell took his Invention to England. In 3853 the propel- ler was fitted to the Genova, and a trial was made on tho Mersey. Then the- Admiralty gave it a test on H.M.S. Conflict. Two trials were «made with the Admiralty dockyard cut screw. In the first trial a speed of 8.975 knots was attained; in the second (on a very calm day), 9.742 knots. The boomerang pro- peller was used in the third trial, and tho average Bpecd attained in a course of six runs was 9.913.

The subsequent history of Sir Thomas Mit- chell's Invention Is obscure, but it is stated that at least one ship afloat to-day is using It. Considerable difficulty was experienced in the early days in adapting the, boomerang propeller to vensclB designed for tho "screw" propeller.

"WELLINGTON'S AIDE-DE-CAMP.

A daughter of Sir Thomas Mitchell, Mrs. j

Dauncey, Is alive in England, and two grand- sons reside in Sydney-Mr. L. F. Mann" and Mr. G. V. F. Mann, the latter being director of the National Art Gallery. The family is a very ancient Scotch one, and has been traced

back to 1410. Mr. G. V. F. Mann has in bls| private possession an interesting series of original drawings, maps, and plans, covering practically the whole of the Peninsula cam-' palgn. These were sent out from Scotland to Mr. Mann. '

The future Surveyor-General of New South Wales Drst started his military career as. a volunteer, at the age of 10. With his regi- ment, the first battalion of the Rifle Brigade, ho was at the storming of the fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajos. Subsequently he served on Wellington's general staff, where he was commissioned aud appointed the Duke's war A.D.C.

It was whilo on the general statt that ho was employed in making tho topographical sketches which were UBod by tho great general In his operation's. Mr. Mann has many of these original sketches. They were executed in pencil and coloured. Each page of the sketchbook shows a section of the terrain, ar.d when placed together they form what In the great war were known as "mosaics.'.' The drawing is of wonderful excellence, so wonder- ful indeed that Goulburn, tho British Chancel- lor of the Exchequer, stated In the Houso of Commons that his military plans "would ever remain a monument of the glory of England." The future Surveyor-General of New South Wales was known as "the Duke's famous draughtsman."

At the close of tho Peninsula campaign the Duke of Wellington sent his "famous draughts- man" to Spain and Portugal, and although introduced by Canning, the British Ambassa- dor at Lisbon, to the .protection of the Spanish

THE "BOMERANG" PROPELLER.

' AN INTERESTING MODEL;

Models of the "Bomerang" propeller Invented by Sir Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor General of New South Wales, and .bequeathed to the Australasian Pioneers' Club by the Inventor's Bon, the late Mr. R. B. Mitchell, who died at Edinburgh in 1916.

The unmounted modol is that of the propeller used in the trials on H.M.S. Con- flict in 1853. Tlie two other models are mounted with a diagram as a background, illustrating the sweep ot tho blades.

_

Primo Minister, "such waB the jealousy of his surveys enterialned In Spain, and so vengeful its expression, that he was often at tho hazard of his Ufo, with a theodolite io one hand and a rifle in the other."

Yet, such was the natural genius of Sir Thomas Mitchell that nil hlB splendid survey- ing achteveme'nts were accomplished without the training which a. surveyor of to-day is compelled to undergo

In Mr Mann's possession there arc also somo of tho original bkctchcB mado by his grand- father In connection with Sir Thomas's mili- tary manual and platoon exercises which for veiy many years were a necessary part of the equipment of young ofllcerB joining the army. Tho plans of battles were for a long time tho onlv studies for the bcnlor military students at Sandhurst, As a relaxation ho translated the "Luaiad" of Camocns ^

In an inleivnl of his strenuous work in Now South Wales, In 1861 he fought a duel with Mr. Stuart Alexander Donaldson, who becamo the first Primo Minister of New South Wales.

Sir Thomas Mitchell's exciting career was ended by an attack of bronchitis lu November, 1S55. _

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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