On This Day - 21 October

RADM Sir George E Patey, RN, assumed command of the Australia Station from ADML Sir George King Hall, RN, as the Station's last RN commander-in-chief.
HMAS MOURILYAN, (auxiliary patrol boat), searched Torres Strait for German raiders reported in the islands.
Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Jellicoe, presented his report on the future development of the RAN, to the Australian Government.

The Bathurst class minesweeper, (corvette), HMAS KAPUNDA, was commissioned. KAPUNDA was laid down in Poole & Steel Ltd, Sydney, on 27 August 1941, and launched on 23 June 1943.

The minesweeper HMAS LAUNCESTON, (LCDR P. G. Collins, RANR), rescued 64 of the crew of the merchant ship MARIABAN, which was sunk by a Japanese submarine in the Northern Indian Ocean on 13 October.

The Brisbane-based USS GUDGEON, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport CHOKO MARU, in the Bismarck Archipelago.

Coastwatcher SBLT Rev W. G. G. Wiedemann, RANVR, enlisted direct into the service from his Victorian parish, to provide on-the-spot information for the planned Allied landing at Cape Gloucester. Wiedemann wrote: 'I was in the Parish of Kilmore, VIC, and they wanted anyone who had been on Cape Gloucester. They could not find anyone, so the Sixth Army got in touch with me, and we did a terrain study in Melbourne. Then, the next thing they wanted was for me to join up with the Marines as a civilian. Just as they were getting that through, they decided it would be better if I went up with the Marines as a combatant, and it was necessary for me to have a commission to move among the big fellows, generals, etc., so they thought of the Navy. They got busy and got things moving, so that I was able to commission, and was attached to HMAS LONSDALE for convenience sake. That was going on when we sailed on 26 September, 1943. I was brought into the RAN on 21 October, 1943'.
A Japanese kamikaze aircraft crashed into the foremast of HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), killing 30 officers and ratings, including CAPT E. F. V. Dechaineux, RAN, AUSTRALIA's commanding officer. Sixty-four officers and ratings were wounded, including CDRE J. A. Collins, RAN, the task force commander. CAPT C. A. G. Nichols in HMAS SHROPSHIRE, (cruiser), reported:
'During the dawn stand-to a low flying aircraft approached from the land between AUSTRALIA and SHROPSHIRE. It was taken under fire and retired to the westward. Observers in SHROPSHIRE reported that the aircraft, (a Val Aichi 99 dive bomber), was hit and touched the water, but recovered. It then turned east again, and although under heavy fire, passed up the port side of AUSTRALIA, and crashed into the foremast at 0605. There was a large explosion and an intense fire was started'.
The Attack class patrol boat HMAS LADAVA, was commissioned. LADAVA was laid down in Walker's Yard, Maryborough, QLD, in February 1968, and launched on 11 May 1968. Mrs Robert Tabua, (Wife of a Former Member of the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly), performed the launching ceremony.
HMAS MELBOURNE, (aircraft carrier), lost her second Skyhawk fighter-bomber on her deployment in the Indian Ocean. The first was lost in the Andaman Sea on 2 October. Both pilots were recovered.
'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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