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Athanasius Treweek

Lieutenant Colonel Athanasius Pryor "Ath" Treweek (1911–1995) was an Australian academic, linguist, mathematician and code-breaker.[1] He was the son of Walter Henry Treweek (a teacher who came from Cornwall to Australia in the 1880s) and Mary Matilda Dwyer a nurse. They married in Cooma, New South Wales, Australia on 11 February 1909. She was 37 and he was 43. He was an only child and his father died in 1920 of the Spanish influenza when Ath was 8 years old. His mother could only work as a nurse by living in at a hospital so he was sent to a boarding school in Bowral.

After attending St Ignatius' College, Riverview, where he was dux in 1928, "Ath" Treweek (as he was generally known) won the 1932 Cooper Scholarship for first place in Latin and Greek examinations conducted by the University of Sydney. Ath took both a First in Latin and Greek, with the University Medal in Classics, and an Honours degree in Mathematics. The combination led to a PhD thesis on fourth-century Greek geometry.[2] He joined the Greek Department at University of Sydney in 1938, eventually going on to become a Professor of Greek at that very same institution.

In 1937, in anticipation of impending war, he had taught himself to read Japanese. He was already a Major in the Citizen Military Forces commanding a field battery in the Sydney University Regiment. Following the outbreak of World War II in 1939, he was seconded from the Australian Army to FRUMEL in Melbourne which was linked to the American Sixth Fleet. He duly reported at the Navy.[3] Office, Melbourne for full-time duty on 19 June. He was part of a team instrumental in breaking Japanese naval codes.[4][5][6][7] A Japanese success there would have been a major blow for the Allies. Decoded signals following the battle confirmed the Japanese had lost four aircraft carriers. This ended Japan's offensive capability: from then on, its strategy was defensive. It was the turning point.

The notebooks of his research for his Ph D are online [8] Emeritus Professor Bill Ritchie wrote: Apart from his particular interest in Greek mathematics, Ath's interests were especially in the language, of which he had a particularly fine knowledge. He was a very effective teacher at all levels, and especially for those whose bent was towards philological studies. He will be remembered with respect and affection by a generation of classicists.[9]


Athanasius Treweek's wife, Hazel Elizabeth Logue (1919–2005) OAM, MBE, was an academic and teacher. She held a BA(Hons) and a MA from Sydney University and also trained as a teacher at Sydney Teachers College. She was the first of her family to go to university. She left school at 14 but studied at night for her Leaving Certificate. Then did her BA(Hons) as an evening student. They married in 1942 and had three daughters Elizabeth Mary Pryor Treweek, Helen Pryor Treweek, Ann Pryor Treweek and one son David Pryor Treweek. The eldest daughter, Elizabeth Mary Pryor Treweek, died shortly after birth in 1945. Their son, David Treweek, who died at 35, predeceased his parents.

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  3. ^ Breaking Japanese diplomatic codes : David Sissons and D Special Section. ISBN 9781925021073. 
  4. ^ North, Richard ((retrieved 6 June 2006)). "Master codebreakers". University of Sydney Gazette.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ Mack, John (2002 (retrieved 6 June 2006)). "Academe and the Military". Website.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Donovan, Peter (2002 (retrieved 6 June 2006)). "Sydney University, T.G. Room and Codebreaking in WWII". Gazette of the Australian Mathematical Society.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ page 42-43 of Battle Surface: Japan’s Submarine War Against Australia 1942-44 by David Jenkins ISBN 0-09-182638-1
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