1945 > WW2
LCDR R. Lauchlan, RAN, was appointed to OBE for outstanding service as Squadron Anti-submarine Officer to CDRE(D), Eastern Fleet, in the Burma Campaign.
Japanese bombers attacked the 85-ship Minesweeping and Hydrographic Group in Surigao Gulf. HMA Ships WARREGO, (sloop), and GASCOYNE, (frigate), were on the escort screen which shot down one of the aircraft.
LCDR J. M. Ramsay, RAN, of HMAS NAPIER, (destroyer), embarked in ML 829 for a reconnaissance of Akyab, Burma. He was the first Allied officer to enter the port since its surrender to the Japanese in May 1942.
The Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 5 to 9 January. HMA Ships AUSTRALIA, SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA, GASCOYNE and WARREGO were engaged.
HMA Ships AUSTRALIA and ARUNTA were hit by Japanese kamikaze planes. A Zero carrying a large bomb dived on ARUNTA from low altitude but clever manoeuvring caused the aircraft to miss and plunge into the sea within metres of the destroyer’s steering gear room on the port side. ARUNTA was holed and damage was caused to her steering motors. Stoker PO R.A. Hand and AB H.L.E. Sellick were killed. In the same attack a second kamikaze dive was made vertically into HMAS AUSTRALIA’s upper deck, amidships on the port side. The explosion killed 25 and wounded 30 of the cruiser’s crew. A fire set by the explosion was soon extinguished and reports indicated damage was slight and fighting efficiency was not greatly impaired.
HMA Ships GASCOYNE, (frigate), and WARREGO, (sloop), and the USS BENNION, (destroyer), engaged two Japanese destroyers in a running battle near Luzon. The faster enemy destroyers withdrew and escaped.
HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), was hit by a Japanese kamikaze plane for the third time. The ship’s casualties were 14 killed and 26 wounded.
HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), was hit twice by kamikaze bombers in 15 minutes. The first aircraft skidded into the ship’s port side and the second exploded alongside, blowing a hole 4.3m by 2.4m in the cruiser’s side. AB L.G. Jeffery and AB A.J. Mitchell were awarded the DSM for ‘devotion to duty’ in this action.
The landing ship-troops, HMAS WESTRALIA, (CMDR A.V. Knight, DSC, RANR(S)), fought off a determined attack by kamikaze aircraft at Lingayen Gulf, The Philipines. A Zero fighter was shot down only 3 metres from the ship’s stern and the after end of the ship was showered with flying wreckage. One rating was slightly wounded. The ship’s steering gear was temporarily disabled, but was repaired within twenty minutes.
HMAS AUSTRALIA suffered her fifth kamikaze attack. The Japanese aircraft struck the cruiser on the top of her third funnel. CMDR G.H. Gill, RANVR, reported: “Australia was the recipient of many signals before her departure from Lingayan Gulf, both from American, and her fellow Australian ships”:- VADM Oldendorf, (TG 77.2) signalled: “Your gallant conduct and that of your ship has been an inspiration to us all. Sorry to lose you at this time.” Berkey, (CTG.77.3), said: “Sorry the hell birds concentrated on you. My deep regrets for losses in the stout ship’s company.” RADM Weyler, in his letter forwarding the Report of Bombardments, commented; “The performance of AUSTRALIA is particularly to be commended. Heavily hit three times and with the greater part of her dual-purpose battery out of commission, she nevertheless executed scheduled fires in her usual effective manner.” Kinkaid, Commander Seventh Fleet, in a report to the Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet, remarked, “HMAS AUSTRALIA received two minor and three major hits from enemy suicide planes. Despite the resulting damage and casualties, the fire schedule was executed in a very satisfactory manner. Her performance during the entire operation was excellent.”
HMA Ships, WESTRALIA, MANOORA, and KANIMBLA landed troops on Luzon.
HMA ships COWRA and KAPUNDA, (minesweepers), bombarded Japanese troop positions at Halmahera, New Guinea.
Twenty German POWs escaped via a tunnel from the officers’ POW camp at Dhuringle, VIC. One of the escapees was CAPT Theodore Detmers, who was the Commanding Officer of the raider KORMORAN. Detmers was recaptured on 20 January, some 32 km from the camp. He was sentenced to 28 days solitary confinement in the camp
HMAS NAPIER, (destroyer), and the Royal Indian Navy ships JUMNA and NARBADA, supported by HDML1248 and ML854, launched the assault on Myebon, Burma, (operation Pungent).
Japanese aircraft sank the Fremantle-based British submarine HMS PORPOISE, in Malacca Strait. PORPOISE had been involved in the ill-fated operation RIMAU, when she conveyed Z force operatives to the Singapore area in late 1944. PORPOISE was the last British submarine lost during World War II.
A fire broke out at No. 8 Berth, North Wharf, (Port of Fremantle), and engulfed the merchant ship MV PANAMANIAN, which was alongside loading flour. The fire took seven days to be totally extinguished. The submarine tender HMS MAIDSTONE also caught fire, and had to be moved by tugs to prevent the fire spreading to other ships. The fires were fought by RAN, RN, USN and civilian personnel. The fire in MAIDSTONE was quickly brought under control, but the PANAMANIAN became a total loss. Only one life was lost in the fire, that of AB Kenneth Shooter, a RNZN sailor serving in HMS RULER, who fell down a hatch onboard PANAMANIAN while fighting the fire on 23 January.
HMAS NAPIER, (destroyer), supported RN units involved in Operation Matador, which was the assault on Rameree Island, Burma.
Fremantle-based USS BLACKFIN, (submarine), sank the Japanese destroyer SHIGURE in the South China Sea.
HMAS NORMAN, (destroyer), supported RN units in Operation Sankey, the assault on Cheduba Island, Burma.
HMAS MELBOURNE, (aircraft carrier), ex HMS MAJESTIC, launched at Vickers Armstrong Yard, England.
HMAS WARREGO and US motor minesweeper YMS 316 marked inshore shoals for the US landings at Subic Bay, Philippines. The vessels continued this activity until 19 February, often landing armed parties in areas not cleared of the enemy to erect survey markers.
HMAS WARREGO (sloop), and her US tender, YMS 316, carried out inshore surveys and buoyed wrecks off Bataan Peninsula while US troops fought their way off the landing beaches.
Fremantle-based USS BOARFISH, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport ENKI MARU off Indo China.
The main units of the British Pacific Fleet, one battleship, four fleet carriers, three cruisers and 10 destroyers arrived at Fremantle. The BPF was to number 336 vessels at its peak strength.
The Fremantle based USS BARBEL, (submarine), was sunk by Japanese aircraft off Palawan. There were no survivors.
HMAS NEPAL struck an uncharted obstruction in the Kaliendaung River in Burma, damaging her starboard propeller. The destroyer was withdrawn to Colombo for repairs.
The Fremantle-based USS PAMPANITO, (submarine) sank the Japanese transport ENGEN MARU in the approaches to Singapore.
The air/sea rescue vessels, (search and rescue craft), HMA Ships AIR FAITH, (LEUT R.R. Lewis, RANVR), and AIR TRIAL, (SBLT V.G. Maddison, RANVR), were commissioned. These vessels were built (along with all sister vessels), in Canada and the United States between 1943 and 1945, and transferred to the RAN under the Lend-Lease Agreement.
The Fremantle based USS PAMPANITO, (submarine), sank the Japanese passenger-cargo liner EIFAKU MARU in the approaches to Singapore.
Carrier-borne aircraft from the British Pacific Fleet landed at Nowra, NSW. The air station was in use by the RAAF from 7 May 1942 until it was transferred to the RN as an air station on 15 October 1944. On the departure of the RN the station was in disuse until taken over by the RAN and commissioned as HMAS ALBATROSS in 1948.
The main body of the British Pacific Fleet arrived at Sydney. At its peak strength the BPF numbered 336 vessels.
HMAS NIZAM, (destroyer), lost 10 men overboard when a freak wave caused her to broach to off Cape Leeuwin, WA. LCDR W. Cook, RAN, estimated the angle of heel between 60° and 70°. Similar incidents of broaching were reported from other ships of this class.
The air/sea rescue vessels, (search and rescue craft), HMA Ships AIR HOPE, (LEUT R. W. Dunn, RANVR), and AIR SPRAY, (SBLT W. A. Booth, RANVR), were commissioned.
The River class frigate HMAS LACHLAN was commissioned. LACHLAN was laid down at Mort’s Dock, Sydney, and launched on 25 March 1944. LACHLAN, carrying the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, made a ceremonial entry into the Captain Cook Graving Dock, Sydney, officially opening the dock.
CMDR A. P. Cousin, RANR(S), was appointed to the DSO for conspicuous service while commanding HMAS MANOORA in amphibious landings at Tanahmerah Bay, Wakde Taem, Morotai, Leyte, Lingayen, Tarakan, Labuan and Balikpapan.
ADML Sir Bruce Fraser, RN, arrived in Sydney in command of the British Pacific Fleet.
CMDR K. H. Oom, RAN, was appointed to the OBE for conspicuous service while surveying in advanced areas in command of HMA Ships WHYALLA and SHEPPARTON.
HMAS SHROPSHIRE, (cruiser), with HMA Ships ARUNTA and WARRAMUNGA, (destroyers), shelled enemy positions on Corregidor Beach in the Philippines.
The services reconnaissance department (SRD) craft HMAS RIVER SNAKE, (LEUT J. P. Gowling, RAN), was commissioned at Fremantle.
HMAS WARREGO, (sloop), completed a survey of Lingayen Gulf in preparation for the landing.
Fremantle-based US Submarines GUAVINA and PARGO sank a Japanese tanker and a destroyer. GUAVINA torpedoed the tanker EIYO MARU off Malaya, and PARGO torpedoed the destroyer NOKAZE off the east coast of lndo China. NOKAZE was the 126th and last Japanese destroyer sunk during the Second World War.
HMAS NAPIER, serving with the 7th Destroyer Flotilla, bombarded Japanese positions on the Burma coast in support of Allied land advances.
Garden Island Naval Dockyard was formally acquired by the Commonwealth of Australia.
The service reconnaissance department (SRD) craft HMAS GRASS SNAKE, (SBLT Bromley), was commissioned.
Egypt became the last nation to declare war on the Axis Powers. Turkey, Iceland, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Syria, Lebanon, Uruguay, and Venezuela, also joined the Allies in this period.
HMAS SWAN, (sloop), supported the advance of the 6th Australian Division along the New Guinea coast with close support gunfire. The sloop silenced enemy batteries and destroyed a wireless station east of Aitape.
HMAS SWAN, (sloop), engaged enemy troop concentrations in the Wewak-Aitape area of New Guinea with gunfire.
Fremantle-based USS BLENNY, (submarine), sank the Japanese tanker AMATO MARU off Saigon.
The air/sea rescue vessels, (search and rescue craft), HMA Ships AIR MERCY, (SBLT E.J. Johnson, RANVR), and AIR SPEED, (SBLT J.C. Williams, RANVR), were commissioned.
HMS MAJESTIC, (aircraft carrier), later renamed HMAS MELBOURNE, was launched by Lady Anderson, wife of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Barrow, England.
The air/sea rescue vessel, (search and rescue craft), HMAS AIR SENSE, (SBLT J. R. Young, RANVR), was commissioned.
HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, (aircraft carrier), became the first ship to enter the Captain Cook Graving Dock at Garden Island, Sydney. ILLUSTRIOUS was heavily damaged in operations off Okinawa.
HMAS WARREGO, (sloop), completed a survey of Japanese-held Subic Bay, Philippines, in preparation for an assault by US amphibious forces.
HMAS MACQUARIE, (River class frigate), was launched at Mort’s Dock, Sydney.