On this day:

1940 > WW2

23 Sep 1940

HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), participated in the combined British-Free French attack on French ships at Dakar, Operation Menace. AUSTRALIA engaged two enemy destroyers attempting to leave the port, and drove them back. Later in the day a third destroyer, L’AUDACIEUX, was sighted heading out to sea, and guns from the fleet set her on fire.

24 Sep 1940

HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), fired on two battleships and a cruiser in Dakar. The enemy cruiser was observed to be hit and caught fire. During the day AUSTRALIA’S Seagull amphibian was shot down by French fighters, and the crew was

25 Sep 1940

HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), patrolled south of Cyprus with HMS PROTECTOR, in search of a Vichy French transport bound for Beirut.

Two shells from the French Ship RICHELIEU, (battleship), struck HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), during a bombardment of French units in Dakar. AUSTRALIA lost her Walrus amphibian, which was shot down, and lost with its crew.

26 Sep 1940

CAPT H. L. Waller, RAN, (CAPT(D) 10th destroyer flotilla), transferred his flag to HMAS VAMPIRE, (destroyer), whilst HMAS STUART, (destroyer), underwent a refit at Malta

27 Sep 1940

The boom working vessel HMAS KANGAROO, was commissioned. KANGAROO was laid down in Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney, on 15 November 1939, and launched on 4 May 1940. Mrs Boucher, (Wife of CDRE M. W. S. BOUCHER, RN, Second Member of the Naval Board), performed the launching ceremony

28 Sep 1940

HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), was directed to return to Britain from the Mediterranean

29 Sep 1940

ADML A.B. Cunningham, C-in-C, Mediterranean, signalled the Battle Fleet: “STUART is dying on us. I am sending her back to Alex”. The ‘dying’ HMAS STUART, (destroyer), shared in the sinking of the Italian submarine GONDAR, before she reached port.

HMA Ships CANBERRA, and SHROPSHIRE, (cruisers), operated in the Indian ocean searching for the German ship ADMIRAL SCHEER, (pocket battleship). Serving in SHROPSHIRE was HRH MIDN Prince Philip of Greece, later to become Admiral of the Fleet, the Duke of Edinburgh.

30 Sep 1940

HMAS STUART, (destroyer), and Sunderland flying boat L2166, participated in the sinking of the Italian submarine GONDAR, which was on its way to Alexandria with three human torpedoes on board.

The auxiliary anti-submarine vessel HMAS KYBRA, was commissioned. KYBRA was laid down in the Coastal Construction Co, Montrose, Scotland, and launched on 13 January 1926. She was requisitioned for the RAN in 1940. KYBRA was the first small ship of the RAN to be fitted with radar and became a Radar Training Ship.

02 Oct 1940

HMAS SYDNEY, and HMS ORION, (cruisers), bombarded Italian defences on the port of Maltazana, Dodecanese Islands.

12 Oct 1940

HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), was paer of a force that sank the Italian destroyer ARTIGLIERE.

13 Oct 1940

HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), stood by while HMS YORK, (cruiser), sank the crippled Italian ship ARTIGLIERE, (destroyer). The enemy vessel was damaged in a night engagement with HMS AJAX, between Malta and Crete. AJAX was attacked by a mixed force of destroyers and torpedo boats, and is credited with the sinking of the large torpedo boats AIRONE and ARIEL, in addition to immobilising the ARTIGLIERE. HMAS VAMPIRE, (destroyer), picked up one officer and twenty-one ratings from the destroyer.

18 Oct 1940

Navy House opened in Melbourne.

HMAS MARYBOROUGH, (minesweeper), was launched at Walker’s, Maryborough, QLD.

20 Oct 1940

HMAS YARRA and HMS AUCKLAND, (sloops), engaged three Italian destroyers east of Massawa. Later HMS KIMBERLEY, (destroyer), encountered one of the Italian ships, drove it ashore, and destroyed it with torpedoes. The Italian radio announced the loss of the FRANCESCO NULLO.

25 Oct 1940

HMAS BURNIE, (minesweeper), was launched at Mort’s Dock, Sydney. BURNIE was transferred to the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1946, and renamed CERAM.

28 Oct 1940

Italy invaded Greece, and Greece joined the Allies. HMA Ships SYDNEY, (cruiser), STUART, VAMPIRE, VENDETTA, VOYAGER, and WATERHEN, (destroyers), were deployed to escort supply convoys to Greece.

W.M. Hughes succeeded A.G. Cameron as Minister for the Navy.

29 Oct 1940

HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), rescued 9 the crew of 13 of a Sunderland flying boat which had force-landed in heavy seas, and gale-force winds, west of the Hebrides. 4 airmen lost their lives. In the rescue, CMDR J. M. Armstrong and 12 ratings were lowered over the cruiser’s side on ropes to snatch the airmen from the sea.

30 Oct 1940

HMAS NORMAN, (destroyer), was launched at Thornycroft’s Yard, UK.

05 Nov 1940

CAPT Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, RN, was awarded the VC posthumously for outstanding bravery while commanding the armed merchant cruiser HMS JERVIS BAY, when he engaged the German pocket battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER. His action saved a number of ships of the convoy at the cost of his own ship and his life. CAPT Fegen was Executive Officer of the Royal Australian Naval College from 1928 to 1929.

06 Nov 1940

HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), and HMS AJAX, landed troops and equipment at Suda Bay, Crete.

07 Nov 1940

HMA Ships SYDNEY, (cruiser), VAMPIRE and WATERHEN, (destroyers), landed troops and stores at Suda Bay, Crete.

09 Nov 1940

HMAS ORARA, (minesweeper), picked up three boatloads of survivors from the mined merchant ship CAMBRIDGE, off Wilsons Promontory, VIC.

11 Nov 1940

The cruiser HMAS SYDNEY, (CAPT J. Collins, RAN), joined in a raid into the Straight of Otranto, with HM Ships ORION and AJAX, (cruisers), NUBIAN and MOWHAWK, (destroyers), as a subsidiary raid to the Battle of Taranto. They sunk 4 merchant ships, without damage to any of the raiding force.

12 Nov 1940

The auxiliary patrol vessel HMAS VIGILANT, was commissioned. VIGILANT was laid down in Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney, and launched on 12 February 1938. She was renamed SLEUTH in April 1944, and HAWK on 13 March 1945.

HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), and HMS MOWHAWK, (destroyer), attacked an Italian convoy of four merchant vessels and two destroyers, north of Otranto. All four merchant ships were sunk, and the destroyers were driven off. When SYDNEY rejoined the Mediterranean Fleet, the C-in-C, ADML A. B. Cunningham, signalled:- ‘Did you have a wild Australian night?’

14 Nov 1940

The following awards were made to the crew of HMAS STUART, (destroyer), for the sinking of the Italian submarine GONDAR:- LEUT N. J. M. Teacher, RN; LEUT J. G. Griffin, RANVR; LEUT T. S. Cree, RANVR; PO R. A. H. MacDonald; PO L. T. Pike;

16 Nov 1940

HMAS GOULBURN, (minesweeper), was launched at Cockatoo Island, Sydney.

HMAS SYDNEY, (CAPT J. Collins, RAN), took part in troop transport operations to Greece.

20 Nov 1940

HMAS GOORANGAI, (auxiliary minesweeper), was sunk in a collision with the liner DUNTROON, in Port Phillip Bay, VIC. The full complement of 24 from GOORANGAI were lost. This was the first RAN loss of WWII.

22 Nov 1940

HMAS CANBERRA, (cruiser), picked up three boatloads of survivors from the merchant ship PORT BRISBANE, in the Indian Ocean. PORT BRISBANE was sunk by the German raider PINGUIN.

28 Nov 1940

The N class destroyer HMAS NAPIER, (CAPT S. H. T. Arliss, RN, CAPT(D), 7th flotilla), was commissioned. NAPIER was laid down in Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering co Ltd, Govan, Scotland, on 26 July 1939, and launched on 22 May 1940. CAPT Arliss was the brother of the actor George Arliss.

30 Nov 1940

HMAS ARUNTA, (Tribal class destroyer), was launched at Cockatoo Island, Sydney.

03 Dec 1940

The Australian Naval Board asked the British Admiralty to redeploy Australian ships in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, to counter the operations of German raiders.

05 Dec 1940

The Bathurst class minesweeper, (corvette), HMAS BATHURST, (LCDR A. V. Bunyan, RANR), was commissioned. BATHURST was laid down in Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney, on 10 February 1940, and launched on 1 August 1940. Mrs A. B. Doyle, (Wife of CAPT Doyle, RAN, Engineering Manager of Garden Island Dockyard), performed the launching ceremony.

06 Dec 1940

HMAS BATHURST, (minesweeper), was commissioned under LEUT A. V. Bunyan, RANR(S), at Sydney. BATHURST was the first of 60 vessels of this class built in Australia for the RAN, RN, and the RIN.

10 Dec 1940

HMAS BALLARAT, (minesweeper), was launched at Williamstown Dockyard, VIC.

11 Dec 1940

An Australian National Security Regulation was issued, making the fitting of minesweeping paravanes compulsory on all Australian ships over 800 tons.

15 Dec 1940

CAPT H. L. Waller, RAN, in HMAS STUART, (destroyer), was appointed Senior Naval Officer Afloat to command the Inshore Squadron comprising HMA Ships VAMPIRE, VENDETTA, VOYAGER, and WATERHEN, (destroyers), HMS TERROR, and a number of minesweepers, gunboats, and anti-submarine trawlers.

16 Dec 1940

HMA Ships VOYAGER and VENDETTA, (destroyers), supported HMS TERROR, (monitor), in the bombardment of Bardia, Libya.

17 Dec 1940

The cruiser HMAS SYDNEY, (CAPT J. A. Collins, RAN), sailed from Suda Bay to join the fleet in the Adriatic Sea.

18 Dec 1940

The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS GUNBAR, was commissioned. GUNBAR 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 30 September 1940.

19 Dec 1940

HMAS NIZAM, (destroyer), was commissioned under LCDR M. J. Clark, RAN, at Clydebank, Scotland.

21 Dec 1940

HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), sustained damage when bombed in dry dock at Liverpool, England.

A 1588 kg aerial torpedo fell between the ship and the dockside, but failed to explode.

'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.

Browse entries