Mr Stan Nicholls wants to silence debate on what did and did not happen to HMAS Shropshire during World War II.
So he has written a 330-page hard-cover book on the eight-inch heavy cruiser, which played a major part in the sinking of the Japanese battleship, the Yamasharo.
Mr Nicholls, 64, who served on the Shropshire for more than two years, began writing the book six years ago. He said yesterday that he had never written anything before, other than hundreds of government reports.
Originally, he planned to distribute photocopies of the story to fellow members of the HMAS Canberra and HMAS Shropshire Association but interest among the ship’s former crew was so strong the association set up a committee to organise its publication.
‘At reunions you hear the fellas reciting stories of what did and didn’t happen to the ship so I thought I’d better get to the truth,’ he said.
Formerly called the HMS Shropshire, the ship was given to the Australian Navy to replace the HMAS Canberra, which sank in August 1942.
It was engaged in active service in the South and South-West Pacific until 1947.
In its encounter with the Yamasharo, Mr Nicholls said the Shropshire fired 32 broadsides, 19 of which were direct hits.
He described the ‘scary’ feeling of crew as they watched the thousands of Japanese sailors drown rather than allow themselves to be rescued.
‘Only three came aboard, the rest stayed in the water,’ Mr Nicholls said.
The book contains about 200 photographs and charts and includes several amusing anecdotes. The HMAS Shropshire was eventually returned to the British who scuttled it during the 1950s.
(By courtesy Adelaide ‘Advertiser’, 18/1/90)