Naval Officers Club
NEWSLETTER Number 112, 20 March 2018
German Raider PINGUIN (HK33) At 17,900 tons and 155 metre in length, PINGUIN’s armament included: 6 x 15 cm SK L/45 guns; 1 x 75mm gun; 1 x twin 3.7 cm SK c/30 anti aircraft guns; 2 x twin 20 mm anti aircraft cannons; 2 x torpedo tubes; and 300 mines. Aircraft: 2 x Heinkel He114 B and later 1 x Arado Ar 196 A-1.
Near Battle - German Raider and RAN Ship Meet in Backstairs Passage By Lieutenant-Commander Paul Shiels RAN (Retired) Many stories have been told of German Raiders in Australian waters, none more so than Kormoran and HMAS Sydney. But, on the east and south coast of Australia two German Raiders were predominant – the Pinguin and the auxiliary minelayer Passat. Kapitän (Captain) Ernst Kruger of Pinguin and his navigator, Kapitänleutnant (senior Lieutenant) Wilhelm Michaelson developed a plan to mine six approaches to well-known Australian ports. The plan hinged on the need to complete all minefields and escape before ships started to sink. To do this in minimum time two ships were
needed. It was decided to capture a ‘prize ship’, convert her to an auxiliary minelayer thereby assisting Pinguin with the task. The plan was actioned when, in 1940, the Norwegian tanker, Storstad on her way from North Borneo to Melbourne was captured by the German raider Pinguin. Storstad was commissioned into the German Navy as Passat. The ship was placed under the command of Oberleutenant (Lieutenant) Erich Warning by Kapitän Kruger of Pinguin. Prior to joining the German
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Naval Officers Club Newsletter ISSN 1445-6206 Number 112, 20 March 2018 Editors: Stephen Jeisman Doug Stevens Rick Bayley Paul Shiels John Thornton Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Naval Officers Club PO Box 648 Pennant Hills NSW 1715 Www.navalofficer.com.au Email: email@example.com Electronic Funds Transfer: Westpac Naval Officers Club account 17-4666, BSB 032-087 Patron: Vice Admiral T Barrett AO CSC RAN President: Captain Rick Bayley RAN Ret firstname.lastname@example.org Vice President: RADM Simon Cullen AM CSC RAN Ret Committee Members: David Blazey (Membership Sec.) email@example.com Geoff Cole (Webmaster) firstname.lastname@example.org John Ellis (Hon. Treasurer) email@example.com Kingsley Perry (Hon Secretary) firstname.lastname@example.org Jim Warren (Social functions) John Hazell (Social functions) John Hodges Richard Francis Divisional Chairmen: Andy Craig (QLD) Stephen Jeisman (SA) Bob Mummery (WA) Warwick Gately (VIC) Mike Taylor (ACT) Chairman…*@navalofficer.com.au * Insert state/territory abbreviation Hon. Auditor: Nick Horspool Membership: Total: 608 NSW: 248, VIC: 107, ACT: 114, QLD: 60, SA: 24, WA: 38, TAS: 7 NT: 1, UK: 2, USA: 2, France: 1 Canada: 1, New Zealand: 2, Malaysia: 1 NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
Naval Officers Club Newsletter is published by
The Naval Officers Club of Australia Incorporated State and Territory Divisional contacts on this page. Details of forthcoming social events around the country will be found on the Page 4 Notice Board in this issue.
Contents Near Battle – German Raider & RAN Ships
Captain J P Stevenson AM RAN Rtd
Near Battle – German Raider & RAN Ships (Continued) 6 Charles Darwin in Australia
Social – NSW Harbour Cruise
Battle of Atlantic Memorial
Social – NSW Parliament House Lunch
Naval Graves Project
108th Minesweeping Squadron
Radfan Campaign of 1964
Social – Victoria
RAN Aviator in Vietnam
Social – NSW Lord Nelson Lunch
Obituary - Lieutenant John Rischbieth
Mystery of AE1
Tobruk & Beyond
Anzac Day for Patrol Boats in Gladstone
NEW MEMBERS CMDR S.W. COLLINS RANR CMDR G. DOBBIN RD RANR LCDR D. OLIVER RAN Ret LCDR J. WELTMEYER RAN CAPT. P.A. WARWICK AM CSM
Details withheld for privacy reasons in this Public edition
LAST POSTS CMDR R.M. JESSURUN RAN Ret LEUT R.D. LONGSTAFF RANR Ret LEUT M.J. Oâ€™CONNOR AM RANVR Ret LEUT J.B.W. RISCHBIETH VRD RANR Ret
QUEENS PARK, NSW ROSEVILLE, NSW GISBOURNE, VIC LEABROOK, SA
ADDRESS CHANGES Details withheld for privacy reasons in this Public edition
LCDR G.A.F. CONNOLLY RANR LCDR D.C, ROSE RAN Ret CMDR R.T. STEWARD RAN Ret
EMAIL CHANGES CMDR T.M. BUTLER RAN Ret LCDR G.A.F. CONNOLLY RANR CMDR I.R. COOK RAN LCDR S.B. COURTIER RAN Ret CMDR J. DELANEY RAN Ret CDRE C.J. ELSMORE LEUT R.J. GREEN
Details withheld for privacy reasons in this Ret Public edition Ret
LCDR P.A. JONES RAN Ret CMDR T.M. MURPHY RAN Ret CMDR P.A. OSBOURNE RAN Ret CAPT K.A. RICKARD AM RFD ****RANR Ret CMDR G.P. ROBINSON RAN Ret CAPT J. SKETCHLEY RAN Ret
Notice board This page carries club announcements, details of forthcoming social events, and other information.
Division Social Functions NSW
Contacts details at end of each notice: John Hazell (JH) email@example.com Kingsley Perry (KP) firstname.lastname@example.org Jim Warren (JW) email@example.com
Annual Sea Day + Lunch at Caloundra Second Half of June Organised by Wal Farquhar Details to be advised
Casual Catch-up Last Wednesday of Month at 1700 The Cricketers’ Bar, Hotel Windsor Just turn up - bar prices
Annual General Meeting & Lunch (JW) Thursday 19 April at 11.30 Royal Automobile Club Dress - Jacket, tie optional Cost - $90 cash on day. Register with JW
Quarterly Lunch Wednesday 20 June at 12.00 Toorak Services Club Cost $50-55 - Register with Warwick Gately
Coral Sea Commemoration & Lunch (JH) Saturday 5 May from 11.30 Australian National Maritime Museum Dress — Jacket, tie and medals Cost $100 — payment to Hon. Treasurer by cheque or EFT
Orion Room, Southern Cross Club AGM & Lunch Monday 2 April – 11.30 Cost $25 - Register with Mike Taylor
Pub Lunch (KP) Thursday 14 June from 12.00 Lord Nelson Brewery Pub Cost - $50 on day Register with KP
Lunch Wednesday 2 May - 12.00 Cost $25 - Register with Mike Taylor
WESTERN AUSTRALIA Bob Mummery, Fremantle Sailing Club, General Meeting & Bistro Dinner Thursday 12 April from 17.45 & Thursday 14 June from 17.45
SOUTH AUSTRALIA Stephen Jeisman
Encounter Dinner Saturday 7 April at 19.00 Naval, Military & Air Force Club Cost $100 approx. Dress - Black Tie Registration & payment details to be advised
Bi monthly Luncheon Thursday 10 May at 11.45 Thursday 12 July at 11.45 Cost Approx $30 pay on day - Register with BM
Notices for all Club members Changes of Contact Details: Advise Membership Secretary by writing or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) Payment of Club dues: Members who are not Life Members and pay their dues annually are reminded that dues are payable on 1 March each year. Prompt payment supports your Club.
NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
Remittance of Funds to the Club: Payment for dues or merchandise can be made by either cheque or EFT. Make the cheque out to “Naval Officers Club” and accompany it with written advice of both the sender and what the funds are for. If using EFT, the account details are on page 2; also advise the Hon Treasurer by email the same day (email@example.com) . . 4
Captain John Stevenson RAN (Rtd) Awarded AM Captain John Philip Stevenson RAN (Retd), at 96, has been awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to veterans through a range of roles. The veteran community became foremost to Captain Stevenson once he retired from the Navy after 35 years service. Many ex-service personnel have benefitted from the leadership, diligence and help offered through his active participation that came about through his naval service. Captain Stevenson joined the RAN College in 1935 and on graduation saw service in the RN. At the outbreak of war and as a junior officer, he was serving in the Mediterranean until 1942. This was followed by escort duties in HMAS Napier in the Indian Ocean until mid-1945. The then Lieutenant Stevenson was present in Toyko Bay onboard HMAS Shropshire during the Japanese surrender. Olympic Games After the war, Lieutenant Stevenson specialised in Navigation & Direction. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in 1950 and Commander in 1954. A highlight was naval equerry to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh for the 1956 Olympic Games. Next he commanded the Battle Class Destroyer HMAS Anzac (1957-58) in the Far East Strategic Reserve. This was followed by several other postings before commanding HMAS Melbourne in 1969. Captain Stevenson retired in 1970 following the collision between Melbourne and USS Evans. In November 2012, he received an official apology from the Federal Government stating he’d been treated unfairly by the government of the day and the RAN. “He is delighted to be receiving an AM and he is really moved by this recognition as are many others who know him and the service he gave to this country,” his daughter Kerry Stevenson said. Captain Stevenson celebrated the special honour with a morning tea on January 26. He was joined by family and friends including several retired Admirals.
Captain John Stevenson AM RAN (Retired)
Did You Know? Until 1954, non-Executive Branch wore colour between their stripes signifying their branch: Engineers
Supply & Secretariat
Prior to 1915, non-Executive Branch officers did not wear a curl. The Engineers first received approval in 1915 followed by all other officers in 1918. Medical And Dental continue to wear colour. 5
Passat was 8,998 tons and carrying 12,000 tons diesel oil when captured. The oil was used by both ships. Modifications were carried out in the vicinity of Java converting the ship into an Auxiliary Minelayer fitted to carry 110 mines. One of Passat’s early encounters occurred when passing Wilson’s Promontory, Victoria when she was challenged. A signal lamp from shore challenged, her seeking identification. Oberleutenant Warning replied by lamp that they were the Norwegian Tanker Storstad from Miri, (North Borneo) en-route to Melbourne. When questioned why they were so late arriving in Melbourne, Warning explained they had experienced very bad weather en-route! The morse conversion ended with the shore station wishing them well and to keep their eyes open for German Raiders!
Near Battle—German Raider and RAN Ship……..Continued from Page 1
PASSAT, formerly the Norwegian Tanker Storstad
Navy at the outbreak of war, Warning had been Staff Captain of the 51,700 ton passenger liner Bremen. Passat had a crew of three officers, eight petty officers and 19 ratings plus five members of her original Norwegian crew who volunteered to work in the engine room. Pinguin in company with Passat laid mines along the east and southern coast of Australia. Primarily, these two ships laid a series of mines in the approaches to Newcastle, Nelson Bay, Sydney, Hobart, Port Philip and Adelaide. Coastwatchers Passat was used as an auxiliary minelayer, supply ship and as a transport for the prisoners taken during Pinguin’ s raids. The tanker had particular advantages as a minelayer, not least being the oil she carried and as the Norwegian registered tanker Storstad she had Melbourne as her destination. Few coastwatchers and for that matter few naval ships suspected a tanker of being a pseudo German warship, a role normally given to freighters.
German Arado Ar 196 aircraft as carried by PINGUIN launches off a Catapult
If only they had known? Why, didn’t Wilson’s Promontory advise that Storstad had just passed and would be arriving in Melbourne late? Why didn’t Wilson’s Promontory ask for Storstad’s ETA Melbourne? Why was she east of Port Phillip Bay when she most probably was coming from the west? Again, why wasn’t something done when the ship didn’t arrive in Melbourne? So many questions have gone unanswered!! On 7 November 1940 after Passat had left the area and was now laying mines in Backstairs Passage SA, the steamer Cambridge struck a mine and sank off Wilson’s Promontory. HMAS Orara rescued 58 survivors with one lost. (Ironically, HMAS Orara, re-named Santos, sank after hitting a mine in the Yangtse River on 19 June 1950, near Woosung in the Republic of China.) Passat was now laying a minefield across the ten miles of Backstairs Passage which lies between the eastern end of Kangaroo Island and Cape Jervis
HMAS WARREGO coming alongside
NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
on South Australia’s mainland on the night 7/8 November 1940. To ensure an accurate lay, Passat’s chart indicated where the mines were to be laid. Red lines were drawn on the chart between Kangaroo Island to the mainland across Backstairs Passage. On top of these lines were little blue crosses signifying the mineﬁeld to be laid in the southern shipping lane to and from Adelaide. Passat also used the lighthouses at Cape Willoughby and Cape Jervis both of which were fully operational as accurate navigational aids. The narrow ‘Backstairs Passage’ made HMAS SWAN post World War II with Midshipman’s it an ideal ‘choke’ point. ’Gunroom’ at the stern Pinguin laid her ﬁeld at the western end beIt was passing tween Cape Catastrophe and West Cape (at the foot and thought to be a naval vessel. of Yorke Peninsula) through which shipping passed through the narrowest part of Backstairs Passage to Port Pirie, Whyalla and Port Augusta. The plan where the mines were to be laid. The naval vessel steered towards Passat, which was to meet up with Passat 700 miles west of Perth continued on with her mission. On board Passat a on 15 November. Anchored bow wave could be seen rising as the naval ship inWhilst laying mines, Passat and a naval vessel be- creased speed. Oberleutenant Warning determined it lieved to be either HMAS Warrego or HMAS Swan was impossible to turn back now. met in Backstairs Passage. “Action stations” were ordered. Warning beThe Report of Proceedings and War Diaries for lieved the cover of Passat had been revealed and exNovember 1940 for both RAN ships had them either pected the naval vessel carrying out destroyer type in or in close proximity to Backstairs Passage on 7/8 manoeuvres to recognise Passat’s true identity as a November 1940. Another 6 naval auxiliary vessels German Minelayer. attached to HMAS Torrens (Naval HQ SA) were paAs the men moved quickly to their action statrolling SA waters at the time. After patrolling the tions, the ‘German Naval Battle Ensign’ was made Gulf of St. Vincent, Investigator Strait and Backstairs ready to be hoisted at a moment’s notice. The naval Passage, HMAS Swan anchored at Eastern Cove, vessel was right ahead of the Passat now, crossing Kangaroo Island late on 7 November. At 0140 on the her bows. 8 November, HMAS Swan weighed anchor and proceeded en-route to Melbourne via Backstairs Passage in company with HMAS Warrego who had earlier anchored a short distance away in Nepean Bay. It was more than probable, Passat met one of these RAN ships. It was soon after mine laying operations commenced that evening, a vessel was reported approaching by watchkeepers in Passat. The outline of Backstairs Passage, Nepean Bay and Eastern Cove the area PASSAT, the oncoming vessel HMAS WARREGO and HMAS SWAN were on night 7/8 November could plainly be seen
Despite the desperate situation, Warning had not yet ordered minelaying to be stopped. He believed that only luck could save him from discovery and was anxious not to waste a moment. Besides, if there was to be any gunfire he preferred to have as many mines overboard as possible! Warning ordered the signalman to send a signal by lamp: ‘Keep clear of my bows!”. He sounded the ship’s siren. The Australian ship acknowledged and then came around to parallel the course. Passat altered course and continued laying mines as efficiently as possible. In now complete darkness the unknown Naval ship swung around to pass by Passat ‘s stern. Unbeknown to the Australians the overtaking light on Passat was located behind the funnel leaving several metres of darkness between funnel and stern. By swinging so close to the stern, it began to look to the Germans as though the Australians suspicions had been aroused. At the very last moment Passat stopped the minelaying.
German ‘Prize’ Crew in PASSAT manning a machine gun 7 October 1940
Swan’s ships log books can divulge more? By a strange coincidence the Prime Minister Robert Menzies chose that very evening to broadcast a speech of warning. He stated that Australians must congratulate themselves on having escaped the rigours of war so far, but, he said: “A word of caution was now necessary: Australian waters could become the scene of hostilities at any time; even that very night!!” What happened to Passat after her encounter? It was a question that undoubtedly should have been investigated. On the 9 November HMAS Warrego and HMAS Swan, now en-route to Melbourne, were joined by HMAS Orara and began searching for wreckage and survivors from the City of Rayville (the first American ship lost to hostilities in WW2 and before Pearl Harbour). It was sunk off Cape Otway by a mine on 8 November 1940. Two mines were destroyed in the search area one by HMAS Warrego and one by HMAS Swan. After leaving the area both ships continued on to Williamstown, Melbourne. The sinking of Cambridge and City of Rayville resulted in the closure of Australian ports and coastal
CITY OF RAYVILLE, first US ship sunk in hostilities in World War II
The Naval ship had apparently assumed that the light represented the stern of Passat and it was now carrying out a dashing manoeuvre to come up under her stern. The extreme darkness gave the Australian naval vessel no opportunity to recognise the error. At this stage, the crew of the Passat thought they had been detected and awaited their fate. Warning seeing the urgency of the situation, swung Passat sharply to starboard and avoided a collision. Witnesses said that the naval ship passed so close under the stern that anyone could have jumped down onto the deck of the naval ship. Unbelievably, although the Australian passed so close the crew of the naval vessel did not notice the mines and minelaying equipment on the stern of Passat. Perhaps the HMAS Warrego and HMAS NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
HERFORD mined at Entrance to Spencer Gulf 7 December 1940
Cross of the Iron Cross. Pinguin had many disguises whilst roaming the seas between New Zealand, Australia, the Indian Ocean and Antarctica sinking a total of 200,000 tons of shipping. Pinguin eventually met her fate on 8 May 1941 when she encountered HMS Cornwall in the Indian Ocean. After the action, HMS Cornwall rescued 22 Prisoners of War and 60 crew with the loss of 341 crew and 213 Prisoners of War. On September 2nd, 1942, Passat was bombed and damaged in an allied air raid off St. Nazaire, France during which 80 were killed. Passat was scuttled on the 11th August 1944 raised and broken up locally in 1949. 230 mines were laid by Pinguin and Passat around Australia with 40 washing up onshore.
HMS CORNWALL engaged and sank PINGUIN in the Indian Ocean 8 May 1941
waters swept for mines. It was what the Germans had expected and aimed for. Other vessels to encounter mines were the coastal steamer Nimbin 1052 tons, that sunk 8 miles off Norah Head, NSW on 4 December 1940. It was on its way to Sydney. Tugs Wato and Woonda The trawler Millimumul sank 33 miles east of Broken Bay NSW after a mine became fouled in its trawl on 26 March 1941. The Minister for Navy, Mr Hughes, announced that seven of the crew of 12 were lost. These fatalities were not classified as on Australian soil, as had two RAN sailors killed at Beachport SA on 14 July 1941 by a mine explosion. The ﬁrst casualty at the entrance to Spencers Gulf was the passenger cargo vessel Herford on 7 December 1940. The mine blasted a forty-foot hole in the ship’s hull and she lost all power. The Adelaide based tugs Wato and Woonda were sent to her aid and found her almost ashore some 24 hours later. In poor weather and with the ship drawing over forty feet of water at the bow she was towed stern ﬁrst into Port Lincoln harbour. Some months later she was successfully towed to Port Adelaide and temporary repairs made so that she could proceed to Sydney. Later, on 29 March, 1942, the unescorted Hertford was torpedoed by U-571 about 200 miles south of Halifax, Canada. The ship sank four minutes later by the stern. Whilst in the Antarctica searching for whaling boats and their factory ships, on Christmas Eve, 1940 Kapitän Kruger was Kapitän Kruger awarded the Knight’s
Coastal Steamer NIMBIN sunk by mine off Noah Head NSW 26 March 1941
Acknowledgements 1. Ghost Cruiser HK33’ (Pinguin) H. J. Brennecke chronicles the German Raider’s adventures. 2. ‘Hitler’s Pirate Fleet – The Deadliest Ships of World War II’ by James Duffy 3. Report of Proceedings and War Diaries of RAN ships for November 1940. Australian War Memorial and National Archives documents. 4. Newspaper articles 1940 and 1941 (courtesy Trove) 5. Late Commander R. J. Pennock RAN article on Beachport SA mine incident, ‘WARTIME’ Issue No. 20) 6. Pictures by Australian War Memorial and Google Search. 7. Chart AUS780 is reproduced under licence by permission of The Australian Hydrographic Office .
Charles Darwin in Australia By Commander John Ellis RAN Rtd Charles Darwin is well known for his theories of evolution through his books, On the Origin of the Species and The Descent of Man. Most would relate his theories with his time in the Galapagos Islands but probably know little of his time in Australia. HMS Beagle, under the command of Commander Pringle Stokes, surveyed part of the southern coast of Argentina and Terra del Fuego in company with HMS Adventure from 1826-30. During this deployment Stokes suicided and Lieutenant FitzRoy brought Beagle home with the hydrographic work incomplete. Beagle was then ordered to return to South America to complete the surveys and to continue across the Pacific to confirm meridians of longitude with accuracy in numerous locations around the world. Robert FitzRoy, a grandson of the Earl of Grafton, sought a companion to accompany him, considering that his junior lieutenants and midshipmen would not match his social standing and intellect. He approached Cambridge University and Charles Darwin’s name was offered. Following their meeting in London, FitzRoy invited Darwin to join him. Darwin accepted, aware he would be paying his mess bills and covering any of his other costs. His mess bills amounted to around £50 per annum. The first four years of Beagle’s second voyage were spent off the coasts of Argentina, Terra del Fuego and Chile. Whilst Beagle was surveying, Darwin often spent time ashore. He was taken to see the skeletal remains of large animals in Argentina. In the high Andes he found sea shells, leading him to question existing concepts of the age of the planet, how land masses were formed and the age of extinct, large animals. In Terra del Fuego, there was another job. When FitzRoy returned home in 1830 he brought with him four natives of Terra del Fuego. His plan was to scrub them clean, clothe them, teach them English and introduce them to Christianity and the King. When they returned, they could transform their miserable fellow natives and live happily ever after. By the time, Beagle sailed a few days after Christmas in 1831, one of the natives had died but the remining three, upon reuniting with their families and friends, shed their clothes, revertNOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
Charles Darwin in 1840
ed to their native tongue and wished FitzRoy goodbye and good luck. After five weeks in the Galapagos, Beagle crossed the Pacific, stopping at Tahiti and the Bay of Islands near Auckland to record local meridians of longitude. Darwin found Tahiti and the people charming. The Maori, compared to the Tahitians, he found dirty, surly and inhospitable and the settlers to be the very refuse of English society. Beagle anchored in Sydney Cove on 12 January 1836. For FitzRoy, it was time to replenish water and stores, and confirm the meridian. For Darwin, who was invariably seasick whilst at sea, it was an opportunity to travel up country. Darwin spent three days walking around Sydney, the population of which was 23,000 and extended from Sydney Cove south to Campbell Street. In comparing less than 50 years of British settlement in New South Wales with over 200 years of Spanish settlement in the Americas, he was “full of admiration at the whole scene. It is a most magnificent testimony of the power of the British nation.” He then hired a man and two horses to take him to Bathurst, the main settlement over the Blue Mountains. As in South America, he sought to gain a gen10
eral appreciation of the country. He recorded his observations in a field book having already filled 14 other books. Some of his notes recorded the plight of Aborigines, comparing their struggle for existence against the influx of stronger colonists with what he had witnessed in Argentina. He stayed the first night in an inn at Emu Crossing, modern day Penrith, and the following at an inn at Weatherboard, today known as Wentworth Falls. He spent time walking down the Jamison Creek to see it tumbling down into Prince Regents Glen. This was his first view of the spectacular cliffs of the Blue Mountains and years later he speculated on how the cliffs and valleys might have been formed. Following a stop in Blackheath, he walked down to Govetts Leap before riding on to Wallerawang which was then the first large scale pastoral property west of the Blue Mountains. The old homestead is now submerged under the lake in the Coxs River that cools the nearby power station. This point of the journey gave him sightings of platypus, potoroos and lion ants. He recorded evidence of bushfires and coal deposits, and his disappointment in not seeing kangaroos and emus. His notes record the marked difference between fauna in Australia and the rest of the world and how each animal or bird adapted to its local environment. Could there have been two creators – one for Australia and one for everywhere else? These notes were the earliest hint of his later theory of natural selection and he speculated on the time period necessary to explain the cliff formations. The ride from Wallarawang to Bathurst was along the line of the present highway; the daytime temperature was 48℃ and 36℃ inside. With a letter of introduction to the commandant in Bathurst, he stayed in the Army barracks where the Bathurst Bowling Club now stands. Caught in Bathurst during a hot, dry summer, his opinion of the district
was poor. “There’s a hideous little red brick Church standing by itself on a hill.” Holy Trinity Church at Kelso had been opened nine months earlier and was the first church in Australia to be consecrated by a bishop. The author’s father was rector of the parish for 25 years from 1950. The return to Mount Victoria took the path of the first road to Bathurst via O’Connell and Rydal. One of the Beagle’s midshipmen was Philip Gidley King, a son of Philip Parker King who had sailed in Beagle with FitzRoy on her first voyage. Philip King snr was then at home at Dunheved, the family spread at South Creek and Darwin had met him in Plymouth when he joined Beagle in December 1831. So, it was one night with the Kings then on to Vineyard at Rydalmere, home of Hannibal Macarthur before returning to the ship. The magnificent Vineyard was demolished in 1961 to make way for a carpark. Darwin’s observations on Sydney’s society were recorded before sailing for Hobart. He disliked the theme of a society that depended upon convicts as servants and noted, “I am not aware that the tone of Society has yet assumed any particular character; but with such habits and without intellectual pursuits it must deteriorate and become like that of the United States.” Whilst Darwin was travelling, FitzRoy went to the observatory check the meridian. The observatory had been established by Governor Brisbane at the rear of Government House in Parramatta. Beagle took six days to sail to Hobart and anchored in Sullivan’s Cove. For Darwin it was an opportunity to become familiar with Hobart and examine the local geology. Hobart, he noted, was inferior to Sydney. Sydney was a city, Hobart was but a town. Her population was 13,830. He became aware of the plight of the Aborigines who had been rounded up and banished to Flinders Island. He recorded “Thirty years is a short period, in which to have banished the last aboriginal from his native island. I do not know a more striking instance of the comparative rate of increase of a civilised over a savage people.” He took long walks and noted the climate better suited than Sydney to quality vegetables and fruit. He crossed the river by paddle steamer ferry and was impressed to learn that the vessel and machinery had been built in the colony. Sandy Bay he noted was part of an old volcano and during that walk he collected nine samples of fossilised plants. He was keen to ascend Mount Wellington. His first attempt was thwarted by the “thickness of the wood” and the next day, taking a guide, he was suc-
Kelso Church in 1865
Voyage of the Beagle
cessful. His walks and evenings with the Surveyor but you are too great and ambitious for affection, General and the Attorney General gave him insights yet not great enough for respect. I leave your shores to the colony for a letter home. “It is necessary to without sorrow or regret.” The passage home was leave England and see distant Colonies of various via the Cocos Islands, Mauritius and Cape Town. nations to know what wonderful people the English Darwin left the Beagle in Falmouth on 2 October are.” As he contemplated the next leg of the voyage 1836 and took a coach home to Shrewsbury, walkhe reflected on his certain sea sickness and the com- ing in unannounced on his father and sisters as they parison to imprisonment. Did he have in mind 13- were sitting down to breakfast. His dog remembered year-old midshipmen when he wrote, “I believe him and wagged his tail, indicating it was time for there are very few contented Sailors. They are their morning walk. caught young and broken in before they have Darwin married and settled down to write a reached years of discretion. Those who are em- record of his voyage that was well received. He deployed sigh after the delights of shore, and those on veloped his theories, realising the controversy they shore complain they are forgotten and overlooked. would create. On the Origin of the Species was not All think themselves as hard used, that they are not published until 1859 and then at the urging of his sooner promoted. I thank my good stars I was not Cambridge colleagues. Robert Fitzroy, a halfborn a Sailor.” brother of Charles Fitzroy, Governor of New South Beagle sailed from Hobart on 17 February and Wales, was Governor of New Zealand before taking anchored in Princess Royal Harbour on 7 March. up management of the then new Meteorological OfDuring the week in and around Albany, Darwin ob- fice where he introduced the synoptic weather map served the geology, collected 66 different insects, using information cabled from North America. The many shells and recorded the local fish and animals. Beagle sailed for Australia in 1838 to chart that part Albany was settled only nine years earlier to foil the of the West Australian coast not covered by Flinrumoured French plans to establish a colony. ders. Darwin had taken three tortoises home from Two years later the Swan River colony was Galapagos, however he had them returned to warmestablished and Albany was left to drift. It consisted er Australia in the Beagle. Wickham, the skipper, of about 40 small cottages and the governor’s resi- donated them to the Botanical Gardens in Brisbane dence, now Strawberry Farm, a National Trust as- about 1840 and Harriet the last of them died in Steset. On leaving for the final leg home, Darwin rec- ve Irwin’s Australiana Zoo in June 2006. orded, “Farewell Australia! You are a rising child, _____________________________________________________________________________________
NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
Social Events ACT Orion Room Lunch 5 February
Term-mates Matt Taylor, and Wally Rothwell, Orion Room, in the foreground are Mike Harrison, Rod Coles, Sam Hughes and David Hill
aviators Mike Astbury. and Brian Courtier
Bob Morrison, NOC Vice-President Simon Cullen, Dennis Gribble
Ian Spaulding, Jim Smail, Graham McKinnell
Viv Littlewood with Louise Nicholls and Harry Josephs, who are to be married on 14 April
NSW Harbour Cruise MV Magistic A sparkling, sunny summerâ€™s day on Sydney Harbour is hard to beat at the best of times. When combined with excellent food, drinkable wines and the fellowship of 61 members and their guests on board the MV Magistic on Saturday 17 February, the scenario is without peer. Waiting to board John & Dana Vandyke, Will & Helen Martin
Gail & John Hodges, Beverly Bayley, Berry & Michael Stock
Wendy & David Olivant with John Ellis
Above - Nigel Stoker & Ron Osborn Below - Bob Guest & Tom Harrison
Kingsley & Lesley Perry, Jim Warren, Susan Canham, Mark Warren NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
Battle of Atlantic Memorial
A charity committee has been established to raise the funding to erect a Battle of the Atlantic Memorial (BOAM) in Liverpool, UK, The BOAM chairman Vice Admiral Mike Gretton, whose father Vice Admiral Sir Peter Gretton served as an Atlantic escort group commander, said the aim was to unveil the monument in 2019, the 80th anniversary of the battle which began in the first year of World War II. The BOAM needs to raise ÂŁ2.5m for the 28m monument to be built on Pier Head. Australian N class destroyers as well as RAN personnel serving in RN ships participated in this campaign. Described by Churchill as the most important campaign of World War II because it made possible the success achieved in achieved in other campaigns, particularly the D Day landings in June 1944. Termed the â€œBattle of the Atlanticâ€? by Churchill, it was the longest continuous campaign of the war, lasting from the outbreak of war in 1939 until VE Day in May 1945. The primary objective was to bring sufficient people and material across the Atlantic to open a second front in western Europe. Despite its significance, the Battle of the Atlantic does not have a major memorial in Britain. The BOAM committee is therefore seeking to erect a memorial to commemorate those who perished and those who survived. The bravery and dedication of those sailors from various nations will be remembered by this memorial which is to be established in the city of Liverpool where the command headquarters for the campaign was based. In addition to commemorating the Battle and those involved, the memorial will have an educational role, informing the public, particularly young people, about the Battle and its significance. Assistance will be provided by the Merseyside Maritime Museum which has a gallery catering specifically for the Battle of the Atlantic. This gallery will be
developed as an academic centre where researchers and visitors can learn more about the Battle. Additional assistance will be available through the Western Approaches Museum. The memorial will commemorate the merchant navies of Britain and allied nations, and the merchant sailors from various countries, especially India and China, who served in them as well the armed forces of Britain including the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the Army and the Royal Air Force plus the armed forces of Canada, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Poland, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, the Soviet Union and the United States.
Further information on making a donation at: https://secure.thebiggive.org.uk/charity/ view/323/battle-of-the-atlantic-memorial
HMAS Macquarie, South East Asia Command, 1946 Lieutenant Michael Fogarty RAN Rtd This article is not a medal roll for HMAS Macquarie when it served with South East Asia Command (SEAC) in 1946. Such a personal attempt would be both presumptuous and precocious. It would be a false gesture to infer otherwise. The issue of the Naval General Service Medal (1915-1962) with clasp S.E. Asia, 1945-46, is one thing. Repatriation claims and other accompanying benefits can only be determined at an official level. Research has enabled development of an unofficial list of some of those officers and sailors who were deployed on that brief post -war mission. An exhaustive study of the ship’s ledgers has indicated that many of the crew were eligible for the medal and/or clasp. It is doubted whether any official composite list survives. While some 157 served in Macquarie, another account indicates that the aggregated total was 170. No effort has been made to individually identify each and every RAN member who may be eligible. For example, while several young RAN officers served in HM ships in Netherlands East indies (NEI – now Indonesia) in 1945-46, they were not attached to HMAS Macquarie. They, too, were issued with the award for their own RN service. In such a tentative exercise, it does not demand that the subject be managed to death. Some surnames may be incorrectly spelt, with indeterminate initials and wrong service numbers. A few sailors were discharged before deploying so ledgers could be inexact. If a given rank is awry, then that will not detract from
its authenticity. After all, this author can take no official responsibility for any list which is not in his remit to verify. Being both provisional and informative, from extensive research, it may be left to Navy to authorise its probity, rectitude and governance. Any veteran or surviving relative who seizes on this roll, as proof of any claim, should be gently disabused. Many will have been awarded the medal; some may not, if they have not been able to satisfy the formal eligibility criteria. Medal iconography is beset with its own politics. It is enough that this account should partly source RAN history overall. Why was Macquarie tasked on that operation and what was the prevailing political and military background which necessitated it? Simply put, Macquarie, ably commanded by Lieutenant Commander Max Hinchliffe, DSC, RAN, served in the NEI in July and August, 1946. It was but one of 120 ships in SEAC command, under Admiral Louis Mountbatten. These were its objectives: • Transporting war crimes investigation units
HMAS Macquarie NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
the victorious allies could restore order and control of a situation which urgently needed both imperatives, if the civil populace was to be protected. Anger turned against some Dutch settlers, who had only been recently released as internees. SEAC also adopted a humanitarian role in recovering and repatriating the POW community as well as Japanese troops who would be shipped back to Japan. The RAAF had a small but respectable role which is outside the ambit of this story. Our army had a few of its personnel there but their presence is not recorded here. SEAC had a complex agenda and its responsibilities are summarised below. • Effecting the transfer of power, from the demobilized Japanese to the allies • Enforcing the Japanese to surrender their arms and their military inventory • Account for allied internees and prisoners of war • Establishing a provisional military administration to keep the peace The British considered eventual claims of sovereignty as an internal question between the returning NEI government and the Indonesian people and its leaders. Australia had no enthusiasm to fight a colonial war on behalf of the Dutch. The British were actively involved against the nationalist movement losing over 500 troops in military operations. Australia favoured a bi-lateral settlement of competing claims. The nationalists were suspicious of Australia’s involvement and on one occasion the tension was realised when an armed convoy from Macquarie was ambushed in a skirmish, with no casualties. The Seaforth Highlanders on board carried out countless search operations. Canberra was leery about attaching Dutch personnel to Macquarie as we were not a proxy army supporting their ambitions. In a period of 28 days, armed parties searched 50 islands in the Sunda Strait group. One Perth survivor, Lieutenant Bill Gay, a former POW, was onboard. The effect on this officer, after his own captivity, can only be imagined. I have corresponded with several Macquarie men and their advice was instructive. They considered their service was prosaic but often adventurous in a conflicted situation. There was the odd incident with “natives” and some sailors were threatened at ports. Macquarie rendered exemplary service and, some seven decades on; it is incumbent to record its contribution in a very ambiguous episode in the history of both nations. T The Naval Officer-in-Charge of Batavia encapsulated their contribution, at times arduous, exciting and boring. “Your efficient handling of the difficult and unusual operation … reflects great credit on the commanding officer, officers and ship’s company, whose conduct ashore has been exemplary.” One sailor saw it differently. There were some unauthorised
Deploying POW searcher parties Carrying war graves registration units These bald facts disguise the overall contribution. It was also an emotional and heart-felt response. It was a vain attempt to recover any survivors from HMAS Perth which had been sunk earlier in 1942, in a onesided battle with a superior Japanese invasion fleet. No men were found. The Sydney Morning Herald of 12 October, 1946 confirmed this fey venture (“Fruitless search for survivors of lost cruiser”). Despite the cessation of hostilities with the Japanese, in mid-August 1945, the region was still restive and Macquarie’s mission was far from peaceful. Indeed, there were diplomatic sensitivities to be acknowledged. Australia had no overt role to restore Dutch sovereignty, to permit it to re-assert its claims on an ante-bellum colonial possession. But order had to be restored, to separate the warring parties from each other, this was the lot of the British army augmented by its Indian troops. Canberra had residual sympathy for Indonesia’s nationalist aspirations. Some background is necessary, if we are to appreciate why Macquarie served. The Japanese occupation of the NEI awakened fervent nationalist sentiments. On their capitulation, emerging nationalist leaders filled the vacuum, in an opportunistic grab for power before • •
Dimensions & Displacement Displacement
1,489 tons (standard) 2,120 tons (full load)
301 feet 6 inches
36 feet 8 inches
Triple Expansion, 2 Shafts
2 x 4-inch guns 3 x 40mm Bofors
7 x 20mm Oerlikons 2 x Squid triple barrelled anti-submarine mortars 1 x hedgehog Depth Charge Throwers
visits to local kampongs in search of rice wine and tourist “amenities”. Once they were menaced with guns and knives in a less accommodating village. Context is all, so what happened, as a sailor recounts? “We would call into an area, the search parties would land by motor boat, do their questioning (of locals) and return, very unspectacular.” Yet the same sailor had prescience beyond his young years, unless age and wisdom later resourced his memories and their significance. “An ordinary ship with an ordinary crew, who were placed in the (invidious?) position of having an unorthodox series of duties to carry out.” He was too modest and history should augment his reflections if we are to better comprehend this key assignment. As a postscript, Max Hinchliffe sought approval from the Naval Board for the issue of the NGSM with clasp S.E. Asia 1945-46, to recognise Macquarie’s deployment from 4 July to 30 August 1946. In June, 1947 Navy confirmed their eligibility for this award to those on board who served in the period and area. My list (not included in this article) attempts to record those whose eligibility could be confirmed after official confirmation, if they were subsequently issued with the medal and clasp. Max might have sought some consolation. After his return to Sydney, the SMH of 27 November, 1947 reported that a court-martial held that he, as commanding officer, was reprimanded for negligence by default, hazarding his ship. Macquarie had struck an uncharted reef off the west coast of Sumatra,
but the ship was only slightly damaged. In summary, this author has accounted for that mission previously. See Michael Fogarty, “Small wars you may have missed: the minor campaigns of the RAN, 1936-56”, in David Stevens, Maritime Power in the 20th Century, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998. This article is not a complete political or even operational history. For example, it has not been necessary to attenuate events from the ship’s reports of proceedings. Nor has any attempt been made to inspect the ship’s log books, which offer a more complete rendition of the activities and routines which transpired. The story belongs to all of its crew members, well led by Lieutenant Commander Max Hinchcliffe. The youngest crew member would be at least 90 years old and many of those veterans are no longer with us to recall their service a long time ago in a faraway land. My list is a place to commemorate their contribution. My list is both interim and provisional, as it can only supplement any official list yet to be published, if needed. While it may contain errors, it remains a work in progress. It is time to honour them. Let us now salute these intrepid men.
Mike Fogarty is a former naval officer and diplomat. He has a BA (Social Sciences) and a Master of Arts (Military History). 14 November, 2017.
HMAS Macquarie NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
NSW Parliament House Lunch The traditional NSW Parliament House Christmas luncheon continues to be the signature event for the NSW Division and was held on 13 December. A total of 150 members and guests enjoyed a fine meal in the superb setting of the Strangers’ Dining Room. In keeping with tradition our guest speaker was a female of note – on this occasion Commodore Sarah Sharkey CSC RAN provided some entertaining insights into “Contemporary Challenges of Defence ‘Jointery’ for Health”. MC Simon Cullen maintained order and discipline with a supporting act from our Parliamentary Host, the Honourable Anthony Roberts MP, who assumed this role after the resignation from Parliament of our long term host, Honourable Jillian Skinner, MP.
Sue & Steve Hamilton, David & Sue Cunningham
Commodore Sharkey with her uncle, NOC member Commander Barnie Bambrick, RAN Rtd
Helen Robertson, Virginia Stevens, Mike& Berry Stock, Brian Robertson
Commodore Sharkey, Beverly Bayley, Anne-Marie Hazell Tony Horton Presenting flowers to Commodore Sharkey
Parliamentary Host Anthony Roberts MP
Rothesay & Margaret Swan, Rick Bayley, Commodore Sharkey, Cecile Hunt, Chris Oxenbould, Tony Hunt
The Naval Graves Project By Mark Fleming Hunter (1st OIC Communication School HMAS Cerberus) was cleaned up by the RAN Communication Branch Association, after being researched and located by NGP. Work is restricted to the weeding and cleaning of grave sites and the monitoring and lobbying for repairs and upkeep of official naval cemeteries. The research side of the project, collecting newspaper reports of the deaths and collecting biographical information on the men and women buried within the graves, including service records where possible are funded by the individual members of the project. Over 95% of the active members of the
The Naval Graves Project, (NGP), was founded to preserve the naval history of Australia by researching, locating and tending the graves of those men and women who served in naval forces in Australia from Forby Sutherland of HMS Endeavour to the current times and beyond. They include Australian naval forces before and after Federation as well as those of the Royal Navy and other Commonwealth and allied naval forces. NGP was originally created to look after pre -1914 Naval Graves, outside official Naval & Military cemeteries in the Sydney area. However, in response to concerns about the upkeep of these official cemeteries the project has grown over the years to include all Naval Grave sites, throughout Australia. The project now has more than 750 graves in its database in over 73 cemeteries nationwide. Service Records The group’s activities include holding a small Dawn Service at Rookwood Cemetery on ANZAC Day. On 1 June, 2014, NGP hosted a ceremony of Remembrance at Rookwood for the 21 sailors killed onboard HMAS Kuttabul on that date in 1942; 18 of the 21 are buried and/or remembered there. It was seen that 2 out of 3 of the graves were visited in the week prior to 1 June. Books were displayed containing the service records of all the RAN men who were killed. This ceremony has become an annual event. Free tours of the 3 Naval Sections at Rookwood are available by request. Members of the project are also available to give talks or tours of the graves of Naval personnel at St Thomas’s, Crow’s Nest, the Camperdown Cemetery near Newtown and other Sydney cemeteries. In time the project will have the ability to give talks and tours at other cemeteries throughout Australia. NGP has representatives in all the State Capitals and some regional areas in NSW and Victoria. It is entirely non-profit; most of the work done to the graves so far has been funded by the members of the group with two exceptions. Work on the grave of William Jenkins of HMAS AE2 was funded by the Silent Service Motor Cycle Club and carried out by the NGP, while the grave of William
NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
The Naval Graves Project founded to preserve Naval History
group are ex-navy or relatives of navy folk. The project really is “Sailors looking after Sailors”. The group hopes to show the general public that our people matter, and they look after each other in life and honour and respect the memories of those who helped make the navy they served. NGP has a Facebook page with currently over 280 members nationwide, it is a closed group, however anyone with an interest in history or naval history is welcome to join, there are no fees. Australia has a rich naval heritage which the NGP will continue to promote and look after. For further information, contact Mark Fleming on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0416 351 052
108th Minesweeping Squadron Based in Malta 1960—1961 CMDR Peter Poland, OAM RN Rtd Up until the end of 1959 there were basically two Squadrons of minesweepers based in Malta, but a decision was taken to transfer one Squadron and the support ship, HMS Woodbridge Haven, to Singapore. The Squadron remaining in Malta was the 108th and consisted of Walkerton (MS 108), Burnaston, Maxton, Shavington, Ashton, Leverton, Stubbington and Crofton. The support ship was HMS Forth which was also the mother ship for the submarines based in Malta. The Squadron’s main task was to take part in minesweeping exercises with minesweepers of the NATO countries around the Mediterranean. These included ships from the US, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey. We did a large number of these and they usually were scheduled with a visit to either the relevant naval base or a nearby port. We certainly became very proficient in the art of minesweeping. All the ships were
fitted with the conventional wire sweeps together with acoustic hammers and the large magnetic sweep which was towed. It was a noisy job particularly with the sweep generator going on and off all the time to produce the magnetic pulses. Not all eight minesweepers took part in every exercise. On occasions one or two ships went on visits to smaller ports. Another popular activity was Families Days Many of the young officers and crew had families based in Malta. In the middle of 1961 Iraq decided to invade Kuwait and six of the squadron were despatched hurriedly to Bahrein. Life in the un-airconditioned ships was grim. Stubbington was in a maintenance period so did not go, nor did Maxton. A few months later and the Bahrein contingent were recalled but Stubbington and Maxton were sent to Aden to be near if needed. Life in Aden was very different from Malta but one minesweeping exercise was held with US and Pakistani ships based in Karachi. Eventually the two returned to Malta at the end of 1961. The Ton Class minesweepers were fine ships. They bounced a bit in rough weather – and we did get it in the Med. Their size meant that one got to know one’s ship’s company. And we were almost all young, mostly Lieutenants in command. With bridge control and variable pitch propellers they were wonderful ships to handle. They could ‘stop on a sixpence’!
108th Minesweeping Squadron—bottom to top Walkerton (Squadron Leader), Maxton, Ashton, Stubbington, Burnaston, Shavington, Leverton and Crofton — 1960
Radfan Campaign of 1964 By Commander Viv Littlewood RAN Rtd As a Lieutenant, Viv Littlewood undertook two years exchange service with the Royal Navy on completion of the Long Direction Officer’s Course. He was posted to HMS Centaur as 815 Squadron Direction Officer. The ship initially deployed to Singapore in late 1963 from where it was despatched to Aden in April 1964. Those who have watched `Last Post’ on the ABC will have seen the type of country in the region. All that was missing from the TV version was the sand – which got into everything!
territory spreading up to the border with Yemen. A high commissioner was responsible for the colony’s administration and the main responsibility for defence of the region was with the RAF. With the aim of creating a stable country for eventual independence, the British created a Federa tion of South Arabia, which 16 of the states joined, and established a federal government. By 1962 Yemen was in the throes of civil war between royalists and republicans, the latter of which were being supported by Egyptian troops as part of Nas-
ser’s dream of a great United Arab Republic. Of course, after the Suez Crisis, he wanted to see an end of the British in the Middle East, and began to actively support the National Liberation Front (NLF), which was a left wing organization pushing for an independent Aden. Insurgents began crossing the border from Yemen into South Arabia and carrying out terrorist attacks in the various states. The Radfan Campaign
Aden had been a crown colony for over 100 years and had become a strategically important base. The colony comprised a good harbour at Steamer Point; Little Aden (location for the BP oil refinery); Crater City (where most of the locals lived) and Khormaksa RAF base. In addition, Britain administered the Western and Eastern South Arabian Protectorates, which comprised 20 tribal states, each headed by a sheik or equivalent, with
NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
and required an engine change, a Belvedere helicopter went out to the ship to bring one into Khormaksa. Unfortunately the aircrew accidentally tripped the sling and a Rolls Royce engine fell about 100 feet onto the runway! The Air Engineering Officer was not happy! As a member of the squadron, I relocated to Thumier where my task each morning was to assist a RAF squadron leader plan the day’s flying operations. In addition, when traffic was expected to be heavy at a particular LZ, I was landed there with a radio on my back to control events. On one occasion a company of Paras was to be brought back after being in the field for two weeks. They had to climb a 200 foot cliff from a valley in order to reach the LZ. I started with two Belvederes and four Wessex, but the weather closed in with visibility down to about 50 yards. The RAF stopped flying but the Navy pilots continued. When I heard a Wessex approaching I would call the pilot to slow down and he would creep in below the level of the LZ until he saw the cliff face. He would then stop and climb slowly until the cliff disappeared so that he could come forward again, eventually reaching the LZ. At that altitude and in that heat, each Wessex could carry a maximum of six soldiers, so quite a few sorties were needed to lift out 130 Paras, who were very grateful to the Navy! Sadly, a few days later a Wessex was landing on a very narrow LZ when a wind sheer toppled it over the edge. The pilots survived but the aircraft was a write off, and four of the Royal Marine passengers were killed. The camp was protected by a barbed wire fence, with a machine gun fitted sentry post on each corner. On one night the enemy planned to capture one of the sentry posts then, when people came out
Lieutenant Littlewood meeting General Officer Commanding
In 1964 the NLF felt strong enough to take on the British and decided that the Radfan was to be the scene of battle. The Radfan comprised a range of 45,000 feet mountains about 60 miles north west of Aden and abutted the Yemen border. At that time, there was only a small garrison of British troops supporting the locally recruited South Arabian Army, so they quickly brought in units to create a brigade, comprising the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment, 1st Battalion East Anglian Regiment and 45 Commando Royal Marines. The brigade headquarters was established at Thumier, which was a relatively flat area with an air strip; and the troops were supported by RAF Hawker Hunters, two Beverly transport aircraft and two Belvedere helicopters. This is where 815 Squadron enters the story, because more helicopters were needed to move troops around the battle field. The sonars were removed from the Wessex and the squadron moved ashore to RAF Khumaksa, from where they were to fly daily to and from Thumier. Centaur went off for a visit to Mombasa. When she returned, 892 Squadron provided several Sea Vixens to back up the RAF’s Hunters – until disaster struck. When one of the Vixens went U/S
Aden 1965 23
of their tents next morning they would be machine gunned down. Fortunately, on their way to the attack they activated a trip wire which surrounded the camp, and were all killed by the sentries. After that I always slept with a pistol under my pillow! After six weeks the military objectives had been achieved (ie the dissidents had been killed or pushed out of the Radfan), and the brigade withdrew, leaving the South Arabian Army (SAA) to maintain security of the hinterland. Unfortunately operations had caused a lot of damage to the local farmers’ crops, so hearts and minds were not won over!! Post Radfan In order to provide security for Aden and support for the SAA, the British Army now left a garrison of 45 Commando (which remained continuously with trickle postings) and a battalion from various regiments (which changed every nine months). The Wilson Government at Whitehall now stated the policy of withdrawal from Aden `no later than 1968’ – and that no military assistance or support would be provided for the new independent country. This was a terrible blow for morale among both the British administration and Federal Government. In 1965, the insurgents renewed their efforts, with numerous crossings from Yemen and increased terrorist attacks in the tribal state areas. A rival organization, based on trade unions in Aden,
now challenged the NLF, which resulted in more fighting among pro-independence groups until the NLF emerged strongest. By 1967 the NLF had captured most of the tribal states, and the sheiks all fled to Saudi Arabia. This led to the collapse of the Federal Government then, after a mutiny of local police and soldiers on 20 June, the British virtually lost control of Crater City, and the administration withdrew to Little Aden. When the British finally withdrew in November, a Marxist government established the People’s Democratic Republic of South Yemen. In 1999, this country merged with Yemen, where civil war still rages. As an intelligence officer told me on my arrival at Aden, while Australian and English boys might be given a cricket bat for their 13 th birthday, an Arab boy would receive a rifle and, if the Arabs were not fighting the British, they were fighting among themselves.
The Task Force assembled in the Gulf of Aden, prior to the evacuation, November 1967. With civilian government gone, a massive task force assembled in the Gulf of Aden for the final withdrawal. This task force included Sea Vixen and Buccaneerequipped aircraft carriers, commando carriers, several destroyers, frigates and a submarine ______________________________________________________________________________________
NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
Victoria Social 2017 closed with an enjoyable and well attended lunch (24 members and guests) at the Toorak Services Club on 6 December which included an informative and entertaining talk by Peter Osbourne on the parameters of the Future Frigate Project. Peter took many questions responding with candour and humour. Members also welcomed Captain Katja Bizilj CSC RANR to Victoria. Opportunity catch-ups have continued each month at the Windsor Hotel and among the regulars have been Dennis Gale, Steve Turner, Terry Makings, Andy Mackinnon, Graeme Keys and Jim Wilson. If in Melbourne on the last Wednesday of each month at 5:00pm then please join in. For 2018, quarterly lunches will continue at the Toorak Services Club with tentative dates being 20 June, 19 September and 12 December.
Warwick Gately & Jim Dickson
Jim Dickson, Dennis Gale & Bill Woodward
Warren Kemp ,Peter Osbourne & Bill Woodward Peter Osbourne & John Redman
Peter Wickham & Jarko Sommi John Matthews & Stephen Turner
Paul Willee & Jarko Sommi
Mike Moore & Peter Wickham
Jane Teasdale & John Redman
Reflections on a RAN Aviator’s Tour Ashore in Vietnam By Captain Andrew Craig RAN Rtd One way of Getting There
about the modus operandi of the US Army, while the Americans were at something of a loss to understand how a bunch of RAN personnel had landed in their midst. For all that, the arrangement worked well simply because the players were keen to make it work. At this time the 135th was supporting various US Army units in operations to the east and north of Saigon. It also supported the Australian Task Force for large combat assaults that were, at that time, beyond the capacity of 9 Sqn RAAF. Blackhorse was a typical US Army base – tent accommodation, diesel burning multi-hole latrines, plenty of mud/dust depending on the season etc. The tents had been sandbagged up to about chest height – a necessary precaution as the Viet Cong mortared and/or rocketed the place with enthusiastic regularity – fortunately with indifferent accuracy. If advance warning was received (rarely), the aircraft were evacuated and the crews slept in them wherever they came to roost. There was a US artillery unit at Blackhorse which conducted fire missions at all hours of the day and night. To the new guy, any explosions were matters of concern, but one very soon learned that ‘BANG …. swoosh’ meant the round was outgoing whereas ‘swoosh …. BANG’ meant in-coming. The 135th initially operated as an ‘Experimental Military Unit’ to reflect its combined US Army/RAN composition but, with the success of the arrangement, it soon operated as a standard US Army assault helicopter company. Combat assaults usually involved a ten ‘slick’ formation of UH-1H Hueys supported by a heavy fire team of three UH-1C gunships (or a light fire
Due to a perceived shortage pf RAAF helo pilots, 8 RAN pilots (of which I was one) were posted from 723 Squadron to No 5 Squadron RAAF (Canberra) in February 1968 and for subsequent active service flying the ubiquitous UH-1H Huey with No 9 Squadron RAAF – based at Vung Tau, South Vietnam. I joined 9 Sqn with the last group of RAN pilots at the end of May 1968 and, in so doing, we created a surplus of pilots – such are the vagaries of the Service! Thus, it was possible to arrange detachments if one could find a suitable ‘host’ unit. On 7 June 1968 I was detached to the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANHFV) at Blackhorse – a US Army base near Xuan Loc, some 30 kms east of Saigon. I was keen to do this as it was generally regarded as being the place where you got ‘real combat flying’ – whatever that was. ‘Naïve enthusiasm’ was a phrase that later came to mind. RANHFV (First Time) In all, there were four RAN flights covering the period from September 1967 to June 1971 – each had a tour of one year. This was the first flight. It was under the command of (then) LCDR Neil Ralph and had been in country for 9 months. RANHFV was fully integrated into the US Army’s 135th Assault Helicopter Company and the CO of RANHFV was the company 2-i-C. A number of the more senior RAN aircrew were Platoon Leaders. The RAN personnel knew a good deal about the flying and maintenance of helicopters, but not much
NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
helos with shrapnel. In the event, all the aircraft got off in an uncontrolled scramble in which it was every aircraft for itself until clear of the area. A few days later I was flying a gunship (TAIPAN 23) with Lieutenant John Leak (with whom I had joined the RAN College in January 1959). The 135th was lifting the 1st and 4th battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment from Binh Ba to somewhere up by Long Binh (east of Saigon) and we were flying gunship support. In the course of one lift we were flying at about 1500 feet over ‘black’ territory when there was a dull thump, the nose pitched up then the helo quickly rolled inverted, became uncontrollable and fell out of the sky. By sheer good luck, we hit the ground (through the jungle canopy) in a more or less level attitude. I blacked out momentarily on impact and ‘came to’ to find the collective under my armpit, the roof of the helo down round my head and John Leak trying to shut down the engine. This proved impossible as the engine control lines had broken so we got out of the aircraft as fast as possible. John was in some pain from an injured back as was Leading Seaman Green (one of the gunners). We eventually crawled about 10 metres from the aircraft and took stock. By this time my back was beginning to hurt too. The situation was not encouraging. We were immobile on the ground in enemy territory, about 10 metres from a fully armed gunship with a running engine, the exhaust from which was burning the foliage that had fallen over it. The prospect of being in the centre of a reasonably spectacular fire seemed high. Further, the engine was probably acting as an audio magnet for anyone interested enough to want to find us. Fortunately, our descent had been witnessed by most of the flight so recovery was initiated comparatively quickly. I have no idea how long we were on the ground, but the dust-off helo from Blackhorse, where there was a US Army hospital, duly arrived and winched us out. I was last out and can recall feeling very exposed for the five minutes or so that I was alone on the ground. We were flown to the Blackhorse hospital, xrayed , found to have suffered spinal fractures sedated and turned in. The following day the Australians were moved to the 1st Australian Field Hospital at Vung Tau. Our stretchers were stacked one on top of the other in a Huey and off we went. About halfway through the flight, the aircraft had a hydraulic failure and ‘fell’ what felt like about 1000ft while the pilot sorted it out. In reality, it was probably a downward lurch of about 50 ft. A hydraulic failure in a Huey necessitates a running landing and this was duly accomplished at Vung Tau where three whey-faced RAN aviators were loaded into an ambulance and taken to 1 AFH. After a few days the fractures stabilised and we could hobble about but it was clear that we wouldn’t be flying for some time. Consequently, we were medevac’d to Australia on the routine RAAF medevac C130.
team of two gunships) and a command and control aircraft. The slick callsigns were EMU (number) - said to have been derived from Experimental Military Unit and, fortuitously, the name of the Australian bird) while the gunships were TAIPAN (number). When not engaged in combat assaults, the company was tasked with any and all sorts of helicopter support. This ranged from ferrying the Chaplain about on Sundays, to medevac, to ‘hash and trash’, to support of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), to VIP transport, etc etc. Not for nothing were Hueys regarded as the trucks of the Vietnam war. Of all the unknowns associated with RANHFV operations, perhaps the most nervously anticipated by a new pilot was the formation flying. At that time, very little formation flying was carried out in 9 Sqn RAAF (or at NAS Nowra for that matter) whereas the 135 th usually flew everywhere in ten helicopter formations. My baptism came straight away as I was scheduled to fly on a combat assault near Lai Khe (some 50 kilometres north of Saigon) the day after I joined. I was gratified to find that, once you got used to all those helicopters operating within feet of each other, that aspect of the flying became fairly routine. We landed and shut down at Lai Khe about lunchtime and broke out C rations. Halfway through this curious culinary experience, there were a series of explosions from the far end of the airfield, closely followed by a few more much closer. The fact that lunch was being interrupted by incoming mortars became puckeringly clear. There was a rush to man and start the aircraft – hastened by some more rounds landing very close and spraying some of the
Taipan 23 having been hauled out of the jungle by Chinook and delivered (unceremoniously) back to Blackhorse 27
Thus, some three weeks after deploying, I found myself back in Australia again - albeit in somewhat changed circumstances! In the dry language of officialdom, our mishap was put down to ‘Lateral control failure, probably caused by ground fire’. Return: 9 Sqn RAAF (again) In due course I was judged fit to fly and found myself back at 9 Sqn RAAF in October 1968. Flying with the RAAF had its frustrations. 9 Squadron chose to conduct its operations very much ‘by the book’ in a war which demanded speedy decisions often in circumstances in which adherence to ‘the book’ could get you into all sorts of bother. The end result was that, in many instances, ‘the book was abandoned in the interests of getting the job done. By comparison, 135th AHC operations put much more responsibility onto the shoulders of the aircraft captain – and a great relief that was as operational decisions could be made (and were expected to be made) ‘on the go’. 9 Sqn flew in support of the Australian Task Force – a plus as the soldiers were absolutely professional. There were comparatively few full-blown combat assaults and by far the most challenging flying was the insertion and extraction of SAS patrols. Not unreasonably, the SAS chose insertion points for maximum tactical convenience and cover rather than adherence to the RAAF ‘book’. This resulted in some very tight insertions and, SAS operations being what they were, some very ‘interesting’ patrol extractions. By early 1969 the RANHFV had again become short of pilots and I was transferred to it. By this time the 135th had moved from Blackhorse to a huge camp known as Bearcat near Long Thanh some 25 kilometres east of Saigon.
Dawn Take-off; Bearcat
RAN Helicopter Flight (again) By now, the first flight had been relieved by the second under the command of LCDR Graham Rorsheim. Bearcat was an improvement on Blackhorse. The camp was huge and contained many units of all sorts, including the main Thai barracks. The Thais were something of a law unto themselves and their modus operandi touched many areas of Bearcat. They were inclined to buy Cool cigarettes from the PX, ship them back to Thailand and import shoeboxes full of marihuana in return – which was then sold to (primarily) US troops. A nice little earner but one which had uncomfortably predictable results. One night, when doing rounds of the maintenance area, it occurred to me that there were comparatively few maintainers around and those mostly RAN. It also occurred to me that I could detect a ‘certain pungent aroma’. A cursory check soon revealed that it was coming from a nearby bunker and, on shining a torch into the bunker, all that could be seen through the smoke were rolling eyes and grinning mouths. Many of the US Army maintainers were African Americans and they seemed particularly, but by no means exclusively, susceptible to the approaches of the Thai dope pushers. Plainly we were going to get little out of the majority of the maintenance team that night. Pre-flights the following morning were especially painstaking! The Thais were inclined to keep all their ammunition in their barrack blocks with unsurprising consequences. One evening the flight was approaching Bearcat when it became obvious that there was a considerable fire in the camp accompanied by explosions and much smoke. As we got closer, we could see that the Thai barracks were in flames and exploding ammunition of all sorts was providing a fireworks display. The show lasted until well after the flight landed and vantage points were sought on the roof of the 135 th barracks from which the spectacle could be enjoyed at leisure with a cold beer. Our accommodation at Bearcat was in standard US Army two-storied, weatherboard barrack blocks which, compared to the Blackhorse tents, were almost luxurious although very hot. The blocks were built in the form of a hollow square that was bisected by a road. A bunker was built in the area enclosed by each set of
Combat Assault – Ben Tré It was common practice to remove all the Huey’s doors to facilitate ingress and egress
NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
blocks. It was some six feet deep and roofed with wooden beams and earth. The top of the roof was a fine ‘sitting out’ area and was a very popular place on which to relax with a beer after a day’s flying. On some evenings entertainment was provided by an AC-130 gunship conducting fire missions in the area. At night this appeared as a solid stream of tracer hosing down to the ground from about 1000 ft but without a visible source. Inside, the bunker was dank and clammy and infested with rats – which further reduced its appeal. One of the company officers was wont to amuse himself by shooting the rats with his .45 service pistol. Fortunately the roof was thick and no bullets ever emerged but it was nerve-wracking as he took some delight in conducting this exercise unannounced - to the unwelcome surprise of the beer drinkers sitting on top. A typical day started at 0400 with a slow progress to the flight line, a pre-flight and engine run to check that all was in order. The aircraft were then shut down and we wandered off for breakfast then back to the flight line in time for a dawn launch. A typical task required a command and control helo, ten slicks and a heavy fire team. Our prime area of operations was the Mekong Delta, about an hour’s flying time south west from Bearcat. We were primarily flying support for the 9th ARVN Division. And an occasional US Army unit. Supporting the ARVN had its moments as they were entirely capable of telling you what they thought you wanted to hear about the state of enemy activity in and around the landing zone – and often did! This could produce some real surprises as you approached what was advertised as a ‘cold’ LZ only to receive significant fire. At the time this was irritating to say the least but, with the benefit of hindsight, I can understand why they were prepared to stretch the truth to get out of a hot situation. An interesting extension of the thought was that they obviously felt that we would not pick them up if the PZ was ‘hot’. I never experienced a pick up or drop with the 135th that was refused because of enemy fire – and it was certainly not for want of it. We flew six hours plus per day and ten hour days were not at all uncommon. Your backside certainly knew it when it had a Huey strapped to it for ten hours! An intriguing task was spotting for USS NEW JERSEY. I can’t remember the range at which she was firing but she was nothing much more than a blob on the horizon yet her fall of shot was amazingly accurate. The 16 inch round weighed some 2000 lbs and, in the American vernacular, ‘really ripped up the rhubarb’. For one who had, until then, only seen NGS from the firing end (and from destroyers at that) the accuracy of the big guns and the devastation caused was a considerable eye-opener. I flew my last tasks of the tour on 26 May 1969, returned to Vung Tau on 27 May and flew to Australia on 28 May 1969. The most enduring memories of the tour include: • The ‘operational cultures’ of the RAN and the
RAAF were poles apart. Perversely, the ‘operational cultures’ of the RAN and the US Army were far closer. • The unlikely combination of US Army and RAN aviators actually worked very well (apart from the odd spat). • The 135th seriously practised the business of ‘Get the Bloody Job Done’ (the company motto). Risks were certainly taken but the aim was to get the job done and, if the rule book had to go out the window from time to time – such was life. • For sheer destruction, it was hard to beat the B-52 strikes which were used for bunker busting and striking troop concentrations. They bombed from about 30,000ft and a typical strike comprised three aircraft each carrying upwards of 70 x 500lb bombs. This reduced an area of jungle some 2 kilometres long and one kilometre wide to a ploughed paddock. • A good deal of ‘self-help’ was needed to keep the barracks area reasonably clean and presentable and everyone had to pitch in. Many of the jobs were entirely unglamorous and not in a Naval Officer’s usual repertoire. We all rapidly mastered the ‘art’ of digging diesel-fired latrines and the mysteries of bunker building. I daresay there was a certain amount of vested interest in both ‘skills’. Finally On return to Australia people asked ‘How did you find your tour in Vietnam?’ Some were looking for a point of argument while most were politely interested – bearing in mind that the conflict was still a very sensitive issue in Australia. I don’t recall thinking too deeply about it – and I don’t think any of us did. It was one of the jobs that came with being a Naval officer and we were happy to get on with the business of ‘Getting the bloody job done’. For all its risks and quirks, I’d have to say I did enjoy the considerable professional challenges of the tour – not an opinion that one bandied around lightly amongst one’s civilian friends at that time.
War and Peace 29
NSW Lord Nelson Lunch 25 January
Howard Furness, David Snow, Nigel Britton
Stafford Lowe, Pippa Holloway, Robin Archer, Tom Harrison
Barry Spencer, Andrew Dale, Richard Francis, Kerry Stephens John Ellis, Bryan Wilson, Ralph Derbidge, Mike Pike, Jim Warren _____________________________________________________________________________________
Captain J C Morrow DSO DSC RAN – HMAS Australia 1951-2 Dear Editor, A quick note to thank you for such an excellent issue (NOCN 111). So many interesting articles. I actually served under Captain J C Morrow when he commanded HMAS Australia in the early 1950s. I was an Upper Yardman and detailed to be his “cabin hand” for a short period, during my training in the ship. J C was a “tough cookie”…believe it…! Don McLaren (Newport, NSW) Cyclone Tracy Article Dear Sir, I refer to the editor's footnote to the ABC news story in the December 2017 Newsletter regarding the tragic loss of HMAS ARROW during Cyclone Tracy in Darwin. Although you mentioned the stranding of HMAS ATTACK (Lieutenant Paul de Graaf) I think NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
it is appropriate to include the two other patrol boats of AUSPABRON 3 at that time - HMAS ASSAIL (Lieutenant Chris Cleveland) and HMAS ADVANCE (Lieutenant Peter Breeze). For the record, as there were three naval cyclone moorings available in Darwin Harbour for the four patrol boats, I decided to anchor and as a result was able to weigh and proceed to sea when conditions in the harbour during the night became atrocious. ADVANCE returned alongside after midday on Christmas Day, much to everyone's relief. Meanwhile ASSAIL broke free from her mooring, and found relative shelter whilst manoeuvring within the harbour extremities during the night. ADVANCE damaged her starboard propeller (cause unknown) whilst ASSAIL was more fortunate and suffered no damage. It was a rather bumpy night at sea and, as emphasized by Bob Dagworthy, the teamwork of each of the ships' companies was paramount in surviving the incredible storm. Peter Breeze (Raymond Terrace NSW)
Obituary Lieutenant John Rischbieth RANVR (1917 – 2017) Long standing member of the South Australian Division of the Club, Lieutenant John Rischbieth RANVR, passed away in October, last year, two months after his 100th birthday. Born on 17 August, 1917, John was educated at Queen’s College in North Adelaide before proceeding to St Peter’s College where he played football and took up rowing which led to being a member of the Saints First Eight that won Head of the river in 1933. Towards the end of John’s schooling, the assistant headmaster of St Peter’s, Lt Col J.H. Hill MC, organised a trip for 15 schoolboys to Europe. Arriving in England, the boys visited bastions of learning such as Eton, Oxford and Cambridge, saw the Aldershot Military Tattoo and went onboard HMS Prince Albert to view Jubilee Review of the Royal Navy at Spithead. The group was also received at Buckingham Palace, where John shook hands and chatted with King George V. The boys then went on to Sweden before heading to Germany. Here, they stayed at youth hostels, Hitler Youth camps and were escorted around places of interest by members of the Hitler Youth. In Berlin, they were supposed to meet Adolf Hitler but when he was delayed the mayor of Berlin received them and they were shown around the nearly-completed stadium for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. While there, John and the other boys observed the militarism which was sweeping Germany following the rise of Adolph Hitler. This left the group with a sense of unease. On the voyage home, John and his fellow travellers concluded that war was coming. Accordingly, he joined the Naval Reserve upon his return to Australia. Having completed his education, John joined the firm of George Wills and Company but when war broke out in 1939, he was mobilised as an Ordinary Seaman. Posted to HMAS Moreton Bay, John sailed to Hong Kong where the ship patrolled the northern approaches to the harbour. Due to his diligence, John was selected for officer training and in January 1941, he joined the light cruiser, HMAS Hobart, as sub lieutenant. Over the following months, HMAS Hobart was deployed to the Mediterranean where she survived bombings by enemy aircraft, attacked enemy positions at Tobruk and evacuated troops from Crete.By January, 1942, John had been promoted to lieuteant as assistant air defence officer and his ship had returned to Australia. Arriving in Fremantle, the Hobart was ordered to escort a convoy to Java before proceeding to Singapore. On 3 February, 1942, HMAS Hobart sailed from Singapore, becoming the last major allied vessel to leave before the
Lieutenant John Rischbieth RANVR
surrender. During the following weeks, John and his ship were constantly involved in escort duties as the allies fought desperately against the Japanese. On 25 February, the Hobart was attacked by 27 bombers while refuelling from a tanker at Tanjong Priok. Although the ship was only slightly damaged, the refuelling operation could not be completed, and Hobart was unable to join the allied force that was to be defeated during the Battle of the Java Sea two days later. Returning to Australia, John continued to serve on HMAS Hobart and in May his ship joined an allied task sent to face the Japanese in the Coral Sea. During the battle, the Hobart’s crew observed the approach of a squadron of four-engine aircraft which John, as an air defence officer, correctly identified as American. Unfortunately, the Americans failed to recognise the Hobart as Australian and began bombing the cruiser. Fortunately, the bombs missed, and John lived to tell the tale. Following his time in the Coral Sea, John joined the corvette, HMAS Dubbo, as First Lieutenant for the remaining years of war. Upon leaving the navy at the end of hostilities and having married in 1944, John joined his wife, Joan, and returned to the firm of George Wills and Company, eventually becoming managing director.
The Mystery of AE1 Dr Spurling, whose son was a submariner, introduces this story with the fact that, soon after the outbreak of World War I, an Australian submarine, HMAS AE1, had disappeared off New Guinea without trace. Following the declaration of war in August 1914, the Admiralty directed the then very new RAN to proceed to the German colony of New Guinea and secure the radio station at Rabaul. This force included the two submarines that had arrived from Portsmouth in May 1914 to join the RAN. AE1 disappeared three days after arriving off Rabaul. How did Australia acquire submarines? How and when was a navy established in Australia prior to World War I? There follows an excellent coverage of the steps that resulted in the formation of the Royal Australian Navy, beginning with the establishment of the naval base for the Royal Navy at Garden Island in Sydney in the 1860s. Although some workshops, sail loft, chapel and prison were built at Garden Island, dry docking facilities were at Cockatoo Island. Whilst the Admiralty recognised the relevance of their presence in the Pacific during the late 19th century, home waters prefered more modern and capable British warships. The poor standard of warships based in Sydney during the late 19th century saw the Australian colonies develop some form of naval capability. Larger vessels included HMCS Protector in South Australia and HMVS Cerberus in Victoria. Some colonies had a naval brigade wherein men gained some naval training. They were usually from merchant seaman backgrounds. Many in the Admiralty regarded these developments by the colonials with disdain. After all, here in England we know about navies, developments in warship technology and how to train and discipline men. Interpretations of colonial society by some in England led the Admiralty to declare that it would not be possible to instil appropriate standards into Australian recruits. London proposed that the colonies, then the new Commonwealth of Australia, should finance the British ships based in Australia. With Federation imminent a committee was formed to of consider a navy in Australia controlled and manned by Australians. A dominant committee member was Captain Creswell, who was Dartmouth trained but had resigned from the RN when a senior lieutenant to try raising cattle in central Queensland. After few years in the bush, dusty cattle did not appeal NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
and he was attracted to the South Australian Navy where, in time, he commanded the Protector to support Admiral Seymourâ€™s forces in quelling the Boxer Rebellion. With South Australia off to China, the colonies of Victoria and New South Wales decided to join in with their naval brigades. The British admirals commanding the Australia Station were not all supportive of Creswellâ€™s concepts, however local politicians were listening as they were unhappy with financing local British assets. Once Admiral Henderson reported on a way ahead for a navy in Australia, the Australian government responded with orders for some of the ships recommended, including two submarines. Six had been proposed. The earliest submarines of the RN were the A class and were numbered from 1 to 10 rather than named. The next were the B class. By 1912 they were up to E class and those for the RAN were AE1 and AE2. The government accepted that this new navy would require officers and ratings from the RN to assist in manning these ships and that such dependence would be necessary for many years. The gestation and birth of this new navy encountered many difficulties. As new ships were commissioned into the RAN, some men came from the Commonwealth Naval Forces, the composite of the former colonial navies. Some were
recruited in Australia and some were transferred from the RN. Most ships had RN officers and men on loan. Australian ratings considered they were left at the back of the queue by RN officers when opportunities loomed. RN officers perceived that Jolly Jack from England was easier to handle. Victualling standards also created dissatisfaction with stories getting into the press. The two submarines for the RAN were built in Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers and were commissioned in February 1914. Three days later they sailed for Sydney, escorted by a light cruiser. This would be, by far, the longest ocean passage for submarines at that time. Eighty-three days later they sailed into Sydney Harbour. En route, there were mechanical failures, some towing and very uncomfortable living but great pride in the men with their achievement. In addition to the submarines’ logs CERA Marsland kept a detailed diary, now held by the Australian War Memorial. Once in Sydney the commanding officers of both submarines strove to overcome design, mechanical and personnel problems. Their superiors in ACNB were largely unmoved by these appeals as they struggled with recruiting and training. With war declared the RAN was the naval capability to counter the German fleet based in China. Radio facilities in German colonies also had to be put out of action. The German fleet chose to avoid the recognised superiority of the Australian fleet, led by a battle cruiser and sailed from China for home across the Pacific. One light cruiser was directed to the Indian Ocean to harass British shipping. During those early weeks of war Admiralty intelligence had little concept of German fleet movements in the Pacific. Clearly they had sailed south for Rabaul to protect their radio station. Just forty days into the war Rear Admiral Patey in HMAS Australia informed Navy Office in Melbourne that AE1 had not returned from a patrol with HMAS Parramatta off Rabaul. The Minister for Defence announced to the public that the submarine had been lost. The newspapers reported the loss then speculated on what might have happened – was it a mine, a collision, an uncharted rock, the perilous nature of submarine operations or equipment failure? Rumours followed that the unscruplous enemy had sunk the submarine. Some factors
were appreciated in naval circles. Australia had ordered submarines designed for operations in European waters and they had sailed half way around the world without a work up. The long voyage revealed many mechanical and design faults that saw the submarines in dockyard hands once in Sydney. The outbreak of war saw the refits curtailed and an unsuitable depot ship made available. Dr Spurling is critical of Rear Admiral Patey’s response to the loss. Sixty years later Commander John Foster, RAN was based in Papua New Guinea where he heard the story of the lost submarine. The mystery dominated the remaining years of his life. He was able to arrange a search with side scan sonar in 1976 and again in 1990. Despite lack of success, in 2002 he was encouraged by the descendants of the crew to keep going. Unable to achieve Government funding Foster self funded further searches, to no avail. Before he died in 2010 Commander Foster formed a committee, AE1 Incorporated, that plans to continue the search with the latest equipment and techniques. Dr Spurling attributes some responsibility for the loss to the birthing pains of the RAN. There was disunity arising from the RN not releasing control of Australia’s fleet and Australian Governments not prepared to challenge the RN. Throughout her book she brings to life the officers and men who formed the crew of HMAS AE1. Despite the lack of firm results in solving the mystery this book is commended to those interested in the formative years of the RAN and the submarines in particular. The book has not been edited very well and although well illustrated, about 40% of the photographs are without captions. Postscript: AE1 was found in December 2017: Ed
The Mystery of AE1 Australia’s Lost Submarine and Crew by Kathryn Spurling Missing Pages Books, 1914 200 pages
Tobruk and Beyond. War Notes from the Mediterranean Station 1941–1943. On Thursday 10 May Rear Admiral Ian Crawford AO RAN Rtd will be launching ‘Tobruk and Beyond’ the daily notebooks and other writings of Vice Admiral Sir Albert Poland KBE CB DSO DSC RN Rtd, which have been compiled and edited by his son, Commander Peter Poland, one of our Members. The book launch will be held at the Australian National Maritime Museum commencing at 6 pm. Any members of the NOC, partners and associates who wish to attend will be welcome. Bookings are essential by phoning the ANMM: 02 9298 3644 or on line at anmm.gov.au, in both cases quoting ‘Tobruk and Beyond’ or by contacting Peter Poland on 02 9371 8373 or email@example.com Light refreshments will be available as will copies of the book. An illustrated collection of personal records from the Mediterranean theatre of the Second World War. Vice Admiral Sir Albert Poland arrived in Tobruk in March 1941, just weeks before the siege commenced. From Tobruk he coordinated the campaign to keep up the supply of munitions and provisions to the British Army, despite dangers and appalling losses. The Rats of Tobruk were able to hold out against Rommel for so long because of the amazing work of the British, Australian and South African navies. Subsequently he went on to command a Destroyer flotilla in actions that kept the Mediterranean accessible to Allied shipping, for which he was personally commended by Winston Churchill. This book is a compilation of his journal entries, writings on the war, correspondence between him and superiors, as well personal photographs. His eye witness notes offer remarkable day by day insights into events that shaped history.
Sydney author Peter Poland was born in 1932 to a naval family. Between 1846 and 1976 there were 21 Polands in the Royal Navy. He commanded four ships including HMS Zest, in which he visited Sydney Harbour in 1968. Peter retired from the Royal Navy in 1971 as a Commander and brought his family to Australia. He is a founding member of the Woollahra History and Heritage Society, and has published three books, including The Flag’s Up (Halstead 2017).
NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018
HMAS Wollongong (III) to Visit Gladstone For Patrol Boat Reunion Following the incorporation of the former HMAS Gladstone in the Gladstone Maritime Museum in 2017, the City of Gladstone has been selected to host a Patrol Boat Reunion on Anzac Day 2018 for personnel who have served in patrol boats of the Attack, Fremantle and Armidale classes. Lead attraction will be the visit of Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Wollongong and the opportunity to meet and march with the crew and inspect the
The ‘Old and Bolds’ (Extract from ‘The RNVR’ by J. Lennox Kerr and Wilfred Granville)
Even before World War II was declared the Admiral Commanding Reserves had been getting applications from World War I veterans wanting to join. Many were accepted and not all were content to take shore jobs. An Auxiliary Patrol Yacht Campeador was placed at the disposal of the Admiralty by its owner and captained by the owner Mr. Turner. Other crew included Surgeon RearAdmiral J.. R. Muir RN (Rtd) and Commander C. H. Davey RN (Rtd). The youngest of these officers was 58. Except for Turner who was made a Lieutenant, the others were appointed ‘Temporary Sub-Lieutenants RNVR’. While on patrol on the morning of 22 June 1940, the Campeador was blown up by a magnetic mine and in a matters of seconds had gone down taking with her all the gallant crew. Many other ‘Old and Bolds’ were willing to serve under harder conditions. Lieutenant Commander G. H. Drummond RNVR who won the Victoria Cross in World War I was 50 when the next war came. He offered his services at once and when refused a commission he joined as a seaman. With tragic irony Able Seaman (late Lieutenant Commander) Drummond was killed on the eve of being recommissioned as an RNVR officer. The list of ‘Old and Bolds’ was endless. Most served ashore at the Admiralty and Shore Establishments, but many wrangled their way to sea. Heading a flotilla of naval patrol boats being ferried from the US to bases in the UK was Admiral Sir Herbert MeadeFetherstonhaught GCVO, CB, DSO, RN (Rtd) holding the rank of Temporary Lieutenant RNVR. His age was 70!
Armidale Class HMAS Wollongong at sea
‘Gong’. No doubt, this will be start of future patrol boat gatherings bringing together a cross-section of former and serving patrol boat personnel. Many are expected to make the trip from all parts of Australia where old and new are expected to renew friendships and reminisce about life on these vessels. The City of Gladstone, Mayor and Councillors are very supportive of the event as is the Gladstone Maritime Museum. There’s tremendous goodwill amongst the Gladstone community. So, the reunion can expect to be a memorable occasion where townsfolk; and former and serving patrol boat personnel can mix freely and enjoy the occasion.
Fremantle Class HMAS Gladstone at Gladstone Maritime Museum
For further details about the reunion contact Lindsay Wassell of the Gladstone Maritime firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile 0419 722495.
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NOC Newsletter Number 112, 20 March 2018