On This Day
1941 > WW2
On This Day - 1941
- December 11, 1941
The Australian Government requested the British Admiralty to return HMAS HOBART, (cruiser), and HMAS YARRA, (sloop), to Australian waters.
The minesweeper HMS LADY SHIRLEY, (LCDR Callaway, RANVR), was sunk by the German submarine U374 in the Straits of Gibraltar. There were no survivors. A search for the missing vessel was carried out by HMS ST, NECTAN, commanded by LEUT Osborne, RANVR.
- December 10, 1941
Japanese bombers sank HMS PRINCE OF WALES, (battleship), and HMS REPULSE, (battle-cruiser), in the South China Sea. HMAS VAMPIRE, (destroyer), picked up survivors. One of those lost in the sinking of HMS REPULSE was MIDN R. I. Davies, RAN, who commanded an Oerlikon gun on the port side of the battle-cruiser. The Naval Review wrote: ‘An Australian midshipman was still firing his Oerlikon gun at an aircraft; several enemy aircraft were brought down by Midshipman Davies after the order to abandon ship had been given.’
- December 9, 1941
The Director of Naval Intelligence, CMDR R. B. M. Long, RAN, warned the Government:- ‘It is likely in view of Japan’s present attack against Hawaii that raids will be made by heavier units other than submarines against strategic areas such as Newcastle’.
The first Japanese aircraft were sighted over Rabaul. The aircraft were reported by radio when they passed over Tabar Island by Coastwatcher SBLT C. L. Page, RANVR.
- December 8, 1941
HMA Ships VAMPIRE and VENDETTA, (destroyers), and BURNIE, GOULBURN, BENDIGO, and MARYBOROUGH, (corvettes), were at Singapore when Japan mounted her first air raid at 0300. MANOORA was also at Singapore, and KANIMBLA was on passage from Penang to Singapore.
The siege of Tobruk ended.
The nine RAN ships employed on the Tobruk Ferry were HMA Ships STUART, VAMPIRE, VENDETTA, VOYAGER, WATERHEN, (destroyers, the ‘Scrap Iron Flotilla’), NAPIER, NIZAM, PARRAMATTA, and YARRA. WATERHEN and PARRAMATTA were lost in the operation. Australian ships were credited with making 139 individual passages, with 39 by VENDETTA being a record number of runs of any ship in the Tobruk Ferry.
HMAS VAMPIRE, (destroyer), put to sea that evening with ships commanded by the British naval commander, ADML Sir Tom Phillips, RN, HM Ships PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE, (battleships), TENEDOS, ELECTRA, and EXPRESS,(destroyers).
The war signal, ‘Commence hostilities against Japan,’ was received at 7.43 am.
The auxiliary patrol vessel HMAS KURU, was commissioned. KURU was laid down in Sydney in 1938. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, the Northern Territory Administration, in December 1941.
The auxiliary patrol boat HMAS LARRAKIA, was commissioned.
- December 7, 1941
The Siege of Tobruk ends after 242 days. RAN ships supported the Allied forces in Tobruk by running a ‘ferry service’ bringing in ammunition, food, water, medical supplies, and fresh troops, while evacuating wounded and prisoners of war.
- December 5, 1941
HMAS YARRA and HMS FLAMINGO, (sloops), were heavily attacked by German bombers between Mersa Matruh and Tobruk. FLAMINGO was hit in the engine room and was taken in tow by YARRA. The ships arrived safely in Tobruk.
HMS REPULSE, (battle-cruiser), screened by HMAS VAMPIRE and HMS TENEDOS, (destroyers), sailed from Singapore for Darwin.
The ships were recalled when Japanese convoys were sighted steaming for Malaya.
- December 4, 1941
HMAS NEPAL, (destroyer), was launched at Thornycraft’s Yard, England.
The Australian Government deferred a decision to sail Australian shipping in convoys.
- December 1, 1941
An RAN interrogation team, consisting of CAPT Farquar-Smith, CMDR Dechaineaux, CMDR Ramage, and LCDR. Salm, (Royal Netherlands Navy), questioned prisoners from the German raider KORMORAN.
CAPT H. B. Farncomb conducted a separate inquiry into the loss of HMAS SYDNEY.
HMAS BUNDABERG, (minesweeper), was launched at Evans Deakin, QLD.
- November 30, 1941
The Australian Naval Board announced that six boats and two rafts, carrying a total of 315 German survivors from the raider KORMORAN, had been either picked up at sea, or found on the WA coast. On the same day the Prime Minister, Mr. J. Curtin, announced the loss of HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser).
- November 29, 1941
ADML A. B. Cunningham, C in C, Mediterranean, signalled: ‘I deeply deplore the loss of HMAS PARRAMATTA. This fine little ship had built up for herself a splendid standard of efficiency and achievement fully in accord with the record of the Australian ships in the Mediterranean’.