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Ralph John McNabb

Preliminary record

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Portrait of Lt Ralph McNabb. Image kindly provided by service person (July 2022). © Royal New Zealand Navy

Portrait of Lt Ralph McNabb. Image kindly provided by service person (July 2022). © Royal New Zealan …

All Rights Reserved AWMM


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Ralph John AWMM
  • Surname
    McNabb AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    • Y20929 AWMM
    • 20929 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Mahia Peninsula AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status


Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
    • Marine Engineering Rating/Military AWMM
    • Administration Officer/Military AWMM
    • Weapons Electrical Rating/Military AWMM
  • Enlistment
    • 17 January 1973 AWMM
    • 3 October 1977 AWMM
    • 27 May 1996 AWMM
    • 15 June 2010 AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • 1990 - Bougainville (Operation BIGTALK)
    2002 - East Timor (UNMISET)
    2006/07 - Sinai, Egypt (MFO)


    Ralph McNabb joined the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) as a Rating in January 1973 spending his first 12 months of service training to be an Electrical Mechanic. In January 1974 he posted to sea for the first time onboard the survey ship HMNZS LACHLAN.

    In 1978 he was one of a handful of Able Ratings selected to undertake the Advanced Electrical Course designed to train Leading Ratings for promotion to Petty Officer. His selection was an aberration due largely to a shortage of Leading Ratings in the Electrical Trade.

    On completion of the Advanced Electrical Course in December 1978, he posted to HMNZS TARANAKI serving there until January 1981. During his posting to TARANAKI, he was promoted to Leading Rate and qualified professionally for Petty Officer. In July 1981 having completed a Petty Officer Command Course, he was promoted to Petty Officer and posted to HMNZS ROTOITI. His time on board ROTOITI was the highlight of his sea service due mainly to the challenges associated with a sole charge position, along with the comradeship and commitment he experienced serving as part of a small team in a minor war vessel.

    He remained onboard ROTOITI until February 1984 when he posted ashore to run the Electrical Maintenance Workshop in HMNZS PHILOMEL. However, little did he know that his shore posting would last only four months and that he would be flying to the United States in June of that year, to join HMNZS CANTERBURY in Seattle. His posting to CANTERBURY was to last until March 1987 when he posted to HMNZS TAMAKI to take up a position as an instructor in the Electrical School. Whilst instructing at the Electrical School he was promoted to Chief Petty Officer.
    In October 1989, he posted to HMNZS WAIKATO as the Chief Electrician. He considers his time onboard WAIKATO to have been a rewarding experience allowing him to expand upon his administrative and managerial skills.
    Having been selected for promotion to Warrant Officer in September 1991, he was duly promoted in January 1992 and immediately took up the position of Engineer Training Officer (Electrical) in charge of the Electrical School. Later that same year he applied for and was selected to be the Technical Posting Clerk, a position that saw him responsible for the career management of approximately 600 ratings.
    He posted to the Marine Engineering School (MES) in September 1996 as the MES Warrant Officer. During his tenure at the MES, he joined the Marine Engineering Branch Restructure team (MEBR) and campaigned for the splitting of the Marine Technician into two streams, Propulsion and Electrical which became a reality in October 1998. He also, as a senior member of the Electrical Trade, assuaged the integration of the Electricians, formerly members of the Weapons Electrical Branch up until June 1993, into the Marine Engineering Branch. In March 1999, he was awarded the New Zealand Meritorious Service Medal in part, for his involvement with the MEBR.

    In January 1999 he was posted to the staff of the Fleet Personnel Officer as the Personnel Services Advisor (PSA) where his primary role was the investigation of complaints and the processing of applications for discharge. In June 2002 he took a break from the Navy and deployed to East Timor for six months with the NZ Army. Whilst in East Timor he was employed as the Administration Officer in the National Command Element located in Dili, the capitol of East Timor. Upon returning to the Navy in December 2002, he resumed his duties as the PSA where he remained until August 2003, when he commissioned from the ranks as a Branch List Administration Officer in the rank of Lieutenant.

    In January 2004, he posted to Naval Staff in Wellington to take up the position of Assistant Director Naval Personnel Complaints (ADNPC). In October 2006, he deployed to the Sinai Peninsular for six months as part of the New Zealand military contribution to the Multi-National Force and Observers serving as the Aide-de-Camp to the Force Commander. On completion of his deployment to the Sinai in May 2007, he returned to Naval Staff to resume the role of ADNPC.

    In May 2009 he was granted the acting rank of Lieutenant Commander (substantive promotion granted in December 2010) and posted into the position of Deputy Director Naval Personnel Policy and Development where he remained until transferring from the RNZN into the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserve (RNZNR) in June 2010. During his tenure in the RNZNR, he was actively involved in providing medallic advice on an as required basis to the Medals Policy Section located in Defence Headquarters. He also transferred back to the RNZN on two occasions totalling approximately 12 months. On the first occasion he was employed rewriting the complaints chapter in Defence Force Orders and setting up the Complaints Investigation Cell in Defence Headquarters. On the second occasion, he worked on the NZDF Long Service Awards Review.

    On the 1st of June 2021 he retired from the RNZNR having attained the age of 65 years and completed a total of 46 years’ service in both the RNZN and RNZNR. At a farewell luncheon hosted by the Chief of Navy (CN) on the 17th of May 2021 he was awarded a CN Commendation: ‘For his commitment to the service and his shipmates.’ AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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