On This Day
1939 > WW2
On This Day - 1939
- June 4, 1940
LEUT R. J. Robertson, RAN, was awarded the DSC and MID for conspicuous gallantry while serving in HMS MALCOLM, (destroyer), at the evacuation of Dunkirk, and in operations off the Dutch and Belgian coasts.
- December 31, 1939
CMDR S. H. K. Spurgeon, RAN, was awarded the DSO for conspicuous service in anti-submarine operations while commanding HMS ECHO, (destroyer), in the North Sea. CMDR Spurgeon was the first Australian decorated for gallantry in WWII.
- December 25, 1939
HMAS STUART, (destroyer), was battling heavy seas off Corsica. Christmas fare was a piece of cake and a glass of beer.
Christmas Day on HMAS PERTH, (cruiser), was heralded by the playing of the hymn ‘Christians Awake’ over the ship’s PA system. The menu for Christmas dinner was:- soup, roast turkey, York ham with French beans, green peas, roast and boiled potatoes, Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, fresh fruit and nuts.
- December 22, 1939
HMAS PERTH, (cruiser), attempted to tow the British merchant ship HOUSTON CITY off rocks, near Plum Point Lighthouse, Jamaica. The line parted and the tow was abandoned. The ship was floated clear on the next high tide.
- December 21, 1939
A cartoon in the Australian magazine, The Bulletin, depicted a cruiser with a badly crumpled stern passing the flagship, and the Admiral turning to the Flag Captain:- ‘Send for her Captain Prendercast. I’ll teach him to play boomps a daisy’.
The cartoon alluded to HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), colliding with a wharf at Fremantle some weeks previously.
- December 19, 1939
The cruiser HMAS PERTH, (CAPT H. B. Farncomb, RAN), was shadowed by the USS VINCENNES, (cruiser), while on the Yucatan Channel patrol in the West Indies. VINCENNES demanded PERTH’s identity, but PERTH refused to comply.
- December 18, 1939
German Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, described the arrival of the Australian Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean as ‘a consignment of junk’, and ‘Australia’s Scrap Iron Flotilla’. The five WWI destroyers, HMA Ships STUART, VAMPIRE, VENDETTA, VOYAGER, and WATERHEN, emblazoned the name in glory under the command of CAPT H. M. L. Waller, RAN.
The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS COOLEBAR was commissioned. COOLEBAR was laid down in Ardrossan, Scotland, in 1911. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, the North Coast Steam Navigation Co, NSW, on 18 December 1939.
- December 13, 1939
HMAS SYDNEY, escorting liner STRATHALLAN (23,722grt) with the 2nd Australian Imperial Force to the Middle East, was relieved by HMAS ADELAIDE which continued the escort round the Leeuwin Promontory
- December 12, 1939
The armed merchant cruiser/landing ship HMAS MANOORA, (CMDR A. H. Spurgeon, RAN), was commissioned. MANOORA was laid down in Alex Stephen & Sons Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, in 1935, for the Adelaide Steamship Co. Ltd. She was requisitioned on 14 October 1939.
- December 11, 1939
The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS BERMAGUI was commissioned. BERMAGUI was laid down in Ailsa Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Troon, Scotland, in 1912. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, the Illawarra & South Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Sydney, in December 1939.