On this day:

1941 > WW2

13 Aug 1941

HMAS COLAC, (minesweeper), was launched at Mort’s Dock, Sydney. COLAC was the longest surviving vessel of her class. Employed as a tank-cleaning vessel at Garden Island until 1983, she was sunk as a target on 4 March 1987.

16 Aug 1941

HMAS KARANGI, (boom defence vessel), was launched at Cockatoo Island, Sydney.

21 Aug 1941

HMAS NIZAM, (destroyer), was damaged by near-misses from German bombers east of Tobruk. NIZAM was taken in tow by HMS KINGSTON, but after self-repairs NIZAM returned to port under her own steam.

22 Aug 1941

The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS BIRCHGROVE PARK, was commissioned. BIRCHGROVE PARK was laid down in 1930. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, R. W. Miller & Co Pty Ltd, on 9 May 1941.

HMAS STUART, (destroyer), left the Mediterranean. With the departure of STUART, the famous 10th Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet ceased to exist. The 10th was Australia’s ‘Scrap Iron Flotilla’.

23 Aug 1941

C-in-C Mediterranean, ADML A. B. Cunningham, signalled the Australian Naval Board:- ‘It is with great regret that we part with HMAS STUART from the Mediterranean Station. Under the distinguished command of CAPT Waller, she has an unsurpassed record of gallant achievement. She has taken a leading part in all the principal operations of the Mediterranean Fleet and has never been called upon in vain for any difficult job’.

25 Aug 1941

The sloop HMAS YARRA, (CMDR W. H. Harrington, RAN), sank the Persian sloop BABR at Khorramshahr. YARRA attacked under the cover of darkness, and illuminated the enemy vessel at her berth. YARRA’S guns pounded the BABR at point-blank range until she sank. While this operation was in progress HMS KANIMBLA, (an Australian manned armed merchant cruiser), attacked the port of Bandar Shapur, seizing the port installations and enemy shipping in the anchorage. During this latter action, PO J. T. Humphries, RAN, KANIMBLA’S diver, was sent aboard the burning German merchant ship HOHENFELS. The ship’s sea-cocks had been opened, and the vessel was rapidly filling. PO Humphries dived in the flooded engine room, and in complete darkness found and closed the cocks, saving the ship from sinking. PO Humphries was awarded the George Medal in February 1942, for his outstanding gallantry.

27 Aug 1941

HMAS YARRA, (sloop), towed the abandoned and burning Italian merchant ship HILDA, from Bandar Abbas to Chahbar Bay, Persia, where she was taken over by a tug.

29 Aug 1941

The following gallantry awards were made to personell of HMAS YARRA for her action in the Persian Gulf:- DSO: LCDR W. H. Harrington, RAN; DSM: PO N. Fraser, DSM: PO Steward R. J. Hoskins DSM: PO Stoker D. D. Neal.

30 Aug 1941

The Bathurst class minesweeper, (corvette), HMAS BALLARAT, (LCDR A. D. Barling, RANR(S)), was commissioned. BALLARAT was laid down in Williamstown Dockyard, VIC, on 17 April 1940, and launched on 10 December 1940. Mrs Dunstan, (Wife of the Premier of Victoria), performed the launching ceremony.

02 Sep 1941

Awards for conspicuous service in the Persian Gulf were gazetted, as follows:-DSO CAPT W. L. Adams, RN, (of HMS KANIMBLA). DSO CMDR W. H. Harrington, RAN, (of HMAS YARRA)

03 Sep 1941

The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS MARRAWA, was commissioned. MARRAWA was laid down in Holland in 1910. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, Australian Steamships Pty Ltd, Melbourne, in 1941

05 Sep 1941

HMAS CANBERRA, (cruiser), escorted the troop ships QUEEN MARY and QUEEN ELIZABETH from Sydney, to join troop convoy US 12A.

06 Sep 1941

In the first two years of WWII, Australian shipyards fitted 214 ships with defensive armament, degaussed 198, and equipped 216 with paravane sweeping equipment

14 Sep 1941

The auxiliary boom defence vessel HMAS KARA KARA, was commissioned. KARA KARA was laid down in Saltney, England, in 1926. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, Sydney Ferries Ltd, on 27 February 1941.

15 Sep 1941

The N class destroyer HMAS NORMAN, (CMDR H. M. Burrell, RAN), was commissioned. NORMAN was laid down in John I Thorneycroft & Co, Southampton, England, on 27 July 1939, and launched on 30 October 1940.

16 Sep 1941

The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS KIANGA was commissioned. KIANGA was laid down in Narooma, NSW, in 1922. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, the Illawarra & South Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd, NSW, on 28 July.

The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS ALLENWOOD, was commissioned. ALLENWOOD was laid down in Wright’s Yard, Tuncurry, NSW, in 1920. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, A. Taylor & Co Ltd, on 16 September 1941.

17 Sep 1941

HMAS NAPIER, (destroyer), loaded 300 troops of the Surrey Regiment, and 1000 demijohns of rum, for Tobruk

18 Sep 1941

HMAS NIZAM, (destroyer), struck a submerged wreck in Tobruk Harbour, and tore away 6 metres of her forecastle deck. The collision did not impair NIZAM’s seaworthiness, and she returned to Alexandria under her own steam for repairs.

HMAS WARRAWEE, (auxiliary minesweepers), was commissioned.

20 Sep 1941

HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), was damaged by heavy seas in the Great Australian Bight. A turret was jammed to port, and the training gear was damaged.

21 Sep 1941

The production of mines in Australia reached 3000 per year. Orders were received for 1500 for the Admiralty, 2500 for the RAN, 300 for New Zealand, and 100 for Noumea

23 Sep 1941

The Bathurst class minesweeper, (corvette), HMAS WARRNAMBOOL, (LEUT E. J. Barren, RANR(S)), was commissioned. WARRNAMBOOL was laid down in Mort’s Dock, Sydney, on 13 November 1940, and launched on 8 May 1941. The vessel was lost in 1946 while sweeping a minefield off Queensland.

24 Sep 1941

The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS WARRAWEE, was commissioned. WARRAWEE was laid down in 1909.

25 Sep 1941

HMAS VOYAGER, (destroyer), arrived home at Sydney for a refit.

27 Sep 1941

HMAS STUART, (destroyer), arrived home at Williamstown, VIC, for a refit

30 Sep 1941

HMAS NESTOR, (destroyer), arrived at Devonport, England, for docking and repairs after being damaged by a premature depth charge explosion off Gambier. Several turbine feet were broken, and structural damage was sustained.

04 Oct 1941

The German submarine U111 was sunk by HMS LADY SHIRLEY, (trawler), off the Canary Islands. Forty German prisoners were taken by the trawler. For outstanding courage in the action, the following awards were made:

  • DSO – LCDR A. H. Callaway, RANVR
  • DSC – LEUT I. Boucaut, RANVR.

HMAS GAWLER, (minesweeper), was launched at Whyalla, SA.

06 Oct 1941

HMAS BROOME, (minesweeper), was launched at Evans Deakin, QLD.

07 Oct 1941

N. J. O. Makin became Minister for the Navy, succeeding W. M. Hughes.

HMAS CAIRNS, (minesweeper), was launched at Walker’s, QLD. The ship was transferred to the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1946, and renamed AMBON.

HMAS NORMAN, (destroyer), sailed for Sevdhisfjord, Iceland, to transport a British Trade Union Congress Delegation to Archangel, Russia.

09 Oct 1941

The Bathurst class minesweeper, (corvette), HMAS TOOWOOMBA, (LCDR P. H. Hurst, RAN), was commissioned. TOOWOOMBA was laid down in Walker’s Yard, Maryborough, QLD, on 6 August 1940, and launched on 26 March 1941.

The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS ORARA, was commissioned. ORARA was laid down in Kinghorn, Scotland, in 1907. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners the North Coast Steam Navigation Co, NSW, in September 1939.

17 Oct 1941

HMAS CESSNOCK, (minesweeper), was launched at Cockatoo Island, Sydney. CESSNOCK was sold out of service in 1947, and was renamed NAN-AU

20 Oct 1941

HMAS HOBART, (cruiser), and HM Ships AJAX and GALATEA, (cruisers), bombarded enemy batteries east of Tobruk.

22 Oct 1941

CAPT J. Burnett, RAN, informed the crew of HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), that a German raider was operating in Australasian waters. The identity of the raider, STIERMARK, (the original name of the KORMORAN), was known to the Australian Naval Board on 17 October 1941. CAPT Burnett concluded his address with an exhortation to his crew that he expected every man to be up to the highest pitch of training.

24 Oct 1941

CAPT H. M. L. Waller, DSO and Bar, RAN, was appointed to HMAS PERTH, (cruiser).

26 Oct 1941

The Bathurst class minesweeper, (corvette), HMAS WOLLONGONG, (LEUT G. A. Keith, RANVR), was commissioned. WOLLONGONG was laid down in Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney, on 29 January 1941, and launched on 5 July 1941. Mrs J. A. Beasley, (Wife of the Minister for Supply and Shipping), performed the launching ceremony.

27 Oct 1941

The destroyer HMAS NORMAN, (CMDR Henry Burrell, RAN), embarked a British Trade Union delegation at Archangel, Russia, for passage to England.

30 Oct 1941

The cable repair ship HMAS INNISFAIL, was commissioned. INNISFAIL was laid down in Mackie & Thompson Ltd, Govan, Scotland, in 1912. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, Australian Steamships Pty Ltd, Melbourne, on 3 September 1941.

01 Nov 1941

HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), arrived at Desolation Island to search for a German raider. The cruiser laid a minefield before departing. Post-war records showed the island had been used by the raider ORION for a refit, some time before AUSTRALIA’s visit.

CMDR A. S. Rosenthal, RAN, was awarded the DSO for outstanding gallantry while commanding HMAS NESTOR, (destroyer), during Operation Substance, the passing of a convoy from the west to Malta, on 15 December

CMDR A. S. Rosenthal, RAN, was awarded a Bar to the DSO for the sinking of a German submarine in the Atlantic.

03 Nov 1941

LEUT Ashley-Brown, while commanding a boat from HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), found the abandoned French sealing vessel L’ESPERANCE, grounded on Cat Island in the Kerguelen Group. The ship had been abandoned in a hurry, and a large hole had been blown in her bottom by a German demolition charge. Three graves were found on the beach nearby.

HMA Ships NAPIER and NIZAM, (destroyers), landed troops of the British 50th Division at Famagusta, Cyprus.

11 Nov 1941

HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), sailed on her last voyage as escort to the transport ZEALANDIA.

13 Nov 1941

HMS ARK ROYAL, (aircraft carrier), was torpedo by the German submarine U81, 25 miles east of Gibraltar. LEUT V. A. T. Smith, RAN, was awarded the DSC for outstanding service in the ship, between April 1941, and the date of the sinking. Smith was an observer in the carrier, and was shot down twice by German aircraft during operations in the Mediterranean.

'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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