On This Day - 4 March

HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), coaled from the collier BURESK in the Abrolhos Islands north of Rio de Janeiro. The collier was a new ship named after the German collier sunk by Sydney in the Cocos Islands in November 1914.
HMAS CANBERRA, (cruiser), intercepted the German raider supply ship COBURG and a captured tanker, KETTY BROVIG, south of the Seychelles Islands Group. These two ships were support vessels for three German raiders then active in the Indian Ocean. CANBERRA opened fire on COBURG, and her crew then scuttled the ship, then she launched her Seagull aircraft which intercepted the KETTY BROVIG and dropped bombs close by her to make her stop, but the ships crew began to scuttle the ship. The Seagull aircraft landed close to the KETTY BROVIG, and her observer, (LEUT C.V.S. Malleson, RN), swam across to the ship to try and prevent the ship's crew from scuttling her, but he was too late. He retrieved some of the ships papers before being taken off the ship. Despite attempts to salvage the vessels, they were both at the point of sinking, and were dispatched by gunfire from CANBERRA.
Event #1 HMA Ships, MARYBOROUGH, (CMDR G.L. Cant, RAN, Commander of the Australian corvettes), BURNIE, GOULBURN, BALLARAT, TOOWOOMBA, WOLLONGONG, and BENDIGO, (corvettes), were headed for Australia, from Tjilatjap. Event #2 The sloop HMAS YARRA, (LCDR Robert Rankin, RAN), MMS 51, (minesweeper), and the merchant ships ANKING and FRANCO, were overwhelmed and sunk in the Indian Ocean by Japanese fleet of 3 cruisers, (ATAGO, TAKAO and MAYA), and destroyers, commanded by VADM Kondo. YARRA, senior ship in the convoy, engaged the enemy fleet after ordering her convoy to scatter. Of the ship's complement of 151, 138 lost their lives, and the 13 survivors were later picked up by a Dutch submarine. LS R. Taylor, in charge of the last remaining gun, continued to fire after the abandon ship order, until he too was killed.
Event #1 The Fremantle based USS BLUEFISH, (submarine), sank the Japanese tanker OMINESAN MARU in the South China Sea. Event #2 HMAS SHROPSHIRE, (cruiser), and US Ships NASHVILLE, PHOENIX, DALY, and HUTCHINS, destroyed Japanese guns on Hauwei Island, near Hollandia, New Guinea.
The Fremantle-based USS BAYA and SEAROBIN, (submarines), sank four Japanese ships. BAYA torpedoed the enemy tanker PALEMBANG MARU off the coast of Indo-China, and SEARONIN torpedoed the transports SHOYU MARU, NAGARA MARU, and the converted gunboat MANYO MARU, in the Java Sea. SEAROBIN made the first successful submerged radar attack by a submarine.
The Navy Memorial Chapel at HMAS WATSON, (shore base, Sydney), was dedicated.
HMAS TOBRUK, (landing ship heavy), transported 10 Iroquios helicopters to the Middle East as part of a multi-national force of observers enforcing the cease-fire agreement between Egypt and Israel. RAN aircrew and maintainers operated the helicopters, which were based in El Gorah, in Northern Sinai. They were withdrawn in 1986.
The Indonesian Navy patrol boat KRI SIADA, ex HMAS BARBETTE, ran aground on North West Reef off Cape York, QLD. She was later re-floated and towed to Thursday Island for repairs.
HMAS OVENS, (Oberon class submarine), sank the stripped hulk of the navy tank cleaning vessel, ex-HMAS COLAC, off Sydney, with a Mk.48 torpedo.
'On This Day' is based on the book "Navy Day by Day: Historic Naval Events in Australia and Abroad" written by the late Lew Lind. More information.

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