On this day:

1943 > WW2

01 Jan 1943

HMAS MINDARI, (gunnery instruction centre), was commissioned at Woolloomooloo, Sydney.

CMDR N. K. Calder, RAN, was appointed to OBE for dedicated service while commanding HMAS BUNGAREE in mine-laying operations in the Pacific.

Coastwatcher LEUT W. J. Read, RANVR, arranged the evacuation of 29 civilians from Teop Harbour, Bougainville. The party was taken off by the USS NAUTILUS (submarine).

The shore establishment, HMAS BASILISK, was commissioned at Port Moresby, New Guinea.

The store-carrier, HMAS MATAFELE, (LCDR C. F. Symonds, RN), was commissioned. MATAFELE was laid down in Hong Kong in 1938 and served with Burns Philp & Co Ltd. She was requisitioned by the RAN on 1 January 1943, and commissioned at sea.

02 Jan 1943

Brisbane-based USS SEADRAGON, (submarine) sank the Japanese submarine I-18 off New Georgia.

HMAS WHYALLA, (corvette), and survey vessels STELLA and POLARIS, were attacked by 18 Japanese aircraft while surveying in the Milne Bay area.

03 Jan 1943

The Bathurst class minesweeper, (corvette), HMAS BUNBURY, (LEUT J. S. Bell RANR(S)), was commissioned. Mrs F. A. Cooper, (Wife of the Treasurer of Queensland), performed the launching ceremony. BUNBURY was laid down on 1 November 1941, in Evans Deakin Yard, QLD, and launched on 16 May 1942.

05 Jan 1943

The following awards were made to HMAS VENDETTA, (destroyer), “for courage, endurance and devotion to duty” while under Japanese air attack in dock at Singapore, and during the tow of the then immobilised vessel from Singapore to Melbourne:-DSC LEUT W. G. Whitting RANR(S)DSC Gunner (T) J. C. Lace DSM CPO A. J. ThorneDSM DSM AB W. Roberetson

10 Jan 1943

The destroyer, HMAS ARUNTA, (CMDR J. C. Morrow, RAN), arrived at Darwin with 24 officers and 258 other ranks of Lancer Force, and 31 Portuguese evacuated from Betano Bay, Timor. An earlier attempt to evacuate the force resulted in the loss of HMAS VOYAGER.

13 Jan 1943

Fremantle-based USS SEARAVEN (submarine), sank the Japanese supply ship SHIRAHA MARU in the Philippines.

14 Jan 1943

Fremantle-based USS GUDGEON, (submarine), landed a party of Philippine Army personnel and stores on Negros Island.

15 Jan 1943

Stoker G. H. McCredie and Steward R. Smith, of HMAS PERTH, died of wounds following the bombing of the POW ships MIKITIEI MARU and MOJI MARU by Allied planes in the Bay of Bengal.

16 Jan 1943

Brisbane-based US submarines GREENLING and GROWLER, sank the Japanese transports KINPOSAN MARU and CHIFUKU MARU off Rabaul.

17 Jan 1943

Japanese submarine I-21 sank the merchant ship KALINGO, 110 miles east of Sydney.

18 Jan 1943

The Australian tanker MOBILUBE was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-21, 60 miles from Sydney.

22 Jan 1943

The Japanese submarine I-21 torpedoed the merchant ship PETER H BURNETT 420 miles east of Sydney. The destroyer USS ZANE, and corvettes HMAS DELORAINE and HMAS GYMPIE, were sent to tow her back to Sydney. They failed, and eventually the task was handed to the corvette HMAS MILDURA, (LCDR C. J. P. Guille, OBE, RANR), which carried a heavier, (but non-regulation), towing cable. MILDURA succeeded in bringing the stricken vessel safely to Sydney Harbour. Within weeks all corvettes were instructed to carry the heavier style towing cable.

The stores vessel, HMAS PATRICIA CAM, (LEUT A. C. Meldrum, RANR), was attacked and sunk by a Japanese sea plane off the Wessel Islands in northern Australia. The plane attacked from out of the sun with engines cut and dropped a single bomb which struck amidships, and blew the bottom out of the ship. PATRICIA CAM sank within one minute. The Japanese aircraft then attacked the survivors in the water with another bomb, and machine gun fire, before landing among the survivors, picking up the Reverend L. N. Kentish, who was taking passage in PATRICIA CAM to his mission at Echo Island. The aircraft then departed. The survivors from PATRACIA CAM managed to get ashore and were rescued seven days later by HMAS KURU. 5 ratings and 3 natives onboard were killed in the attack, or died from wounds and exposure. The Reverend Kentish was taken to Dobo, (Aru Islands Group), where he was questioned and later executed by the Japanese.

23 Jan 1943

The examination vessel HMAS MATTHEW FLINDERS was commissioned. MATTHEW FLINDERS was laid down in Fleming & Ferguson Ltd, Paisley, Scotland, in 1914. She was requisitioned by the RAN from the Queensland Government on 23 January 1943.

Brisbane based USS GUARDFISH, (submarine), sank the Japanese destroyer HAKAZE off Rabaul.

24 Jan 1943

The Brisbane-based USS WAHOO,(submarine), attacked a Japanese destroyer in Wewak Harbour, New Guinea.

26 Jan 1943

The Brisbane based USS WAHOO (submarine), sank the Japanese transports BUYO MARU, FUKUEI MARU, and an unidentified vessel off the coast of New Guinea.

Natives from Marchinbar Island rescued survivors from HMAS PATRICIA CAM. Coastwatcher Jensen radioed Darwin and arranged their evacuation.

28 Jan 1943

The examination vessel HMAS JOHN OXLEY was commissioned. JOHN OXLEY was laid down in Bow, McLachlan & Co, Paisley, Scotland, in 1927, and requisitioned from her owners, the Queensland Government Harbours and Marine Department on 28 January 1943.

HMAS STUART, (destroyer), was damaged in a collision with the US Liberty ship HENRY DEARBORN at Townsville.

29 Jan 1943

HMAS KURU, (patrol vessel), rescued 16 survivors of HMAS PATRICIA CAM from Marchinbar Island in the Arafura Sea.

30 Jan 1943

USS CHICAGO was sunk by Japanese torpedo bombers off Rennell Island. The cruiser lost her bows in the Battle of Savo Island in 1942 and was repaired at Cockatoo Island.

01 Feb 1943

Brisbane-based USS Greenling, (submarine), landed a party of Coastwatchers on the east coast of Bougainville.

HMS WELSHMAN, (minelayer), was sunk off Crete. LCDR L. Gellatly, DSC, RAN was serving in the ship when she was lost, but he survived the sinking. He had been awarded the DSC for service in WELSHMAN in 1942 and was later MID for his fortitude and devotion to duty when the vessel was sunk.

The Bathurst class minesweeper, (corvette), HMAS SHEPPARTON, (CMDR C. G. Little, RN), was commissioned at Melbourne. Lady Goudie, (Wife of the Commissioner of Public Works, Victoria), performed the launching ceremony. SHEPPARTON was laid down in Williamstown Dockyard, Melbourne, on 14 November 1941, and launched on 15 August 1942.

The anti-submarine training ship/target ship HMAS BURRA BRA, was commissioned. BURRA BRA was laid down in Mort’s Dock, Sydney, in 1908, as a passenger ferry. She was requisitioned for the RAN on 13 March 1942, and converted for naval service by Poole & Steel Ltd, Sydney.

02 Feb 1943

HMAS MANOORA returned to service after conversion from an armed merchant cruiser to a landing ship, infantry.

HMAS WHYALLA, (minesweeper), bombarded Japanese fortifications at McLaren Harbour, New Guinea.

05 Feb 1943

Reverend L. N. Kentish, Methodist missionary, was executed by Japanese troops on Dobo Island in the Arafura Sea. The Japanese rescued Kentish from the sea after HMAS PATRICIA CAM was sunk. He was suspected of organising Coastwatcher operations in the Arafura Sea.

08 Feb 1943

HMA Ships TOWNSVILLE and MILDURA, (corvettes), were escorting a convoy when the Japanese submarine I-21, (CAPT Matsumura), torpedoed the Australian merchant ship IRON KNIGHT, off Montague Island, NSW. Some survivors were picked up by the French ship LE TRIOMPHANT, (destroyer).

10 Feb 1943

HMAS WARRAMUNGA, (Tribal class destroyer), picked up survivors from the merchant-ship STARR KING, torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese submarine I-21 east of Sydney.

12 Feb 1943

CMDR G. G. O. Gatacre, DSC, RAN, was awarded a Bar to the DSC for conspicuous gallantry while serving in HMAS AUSTRALIA during the Battle of the Solomon Islands.

LEUT G. Howe, RANR(S), piloted a captured Japanese sampan at night through the enemy-held Russell Islands on a reconnaissance mission by US troops. He was awarded the USA Legion of Merit for contributing to the strategic planning of the Allied campaign in the region.

16 Feb 1943

The Brisbane-based USS AMBERJACK, (submarine), was sunk off Rabaul by the Japanese torpedo boat HAYPDORI and Sub-chaser No. 18.

19 Feb 1943

The Brisbane-based USS GATO, (submarine), and aircraft sank the Japanese transport HIBARI MARU off Bougainville.

20 Feb 1943

HMAS GASCOYNE, (frigate), was launched at Mort’s Dock, Sydney, and HMAS ATARAT, (minesweeper), was launched at Evans Deakin, QLD. ARARAT was the only Australian minesweeper to bear a ‘K’ pennant number.

The Brisbane-based USS ALBACORE, (submarine), sank the Japanese destroyer OSHIO off the north coast of New Guinea.

22 Feb 1943

Convoy Pamphlet, consisting of the super liners QUEEN MARY, AQUITANIA, ILE DE FRANCE and NIEUW AMSTERDAM, and the armed merchant cruiser QUEEN OF BERMUDA, sailed from Fremantle to the Middle East to embark the Australian 9th Division, which was returning to Australia. The convoy was escorted at times by Australian, British, Dutch, and US warships.

25 Feb 1943

General Patch, Commanding General at Guadalcanal, signalled the Australian Coastwatchers: “Your magnificent and courageous work has contributed in great measure to success of operations on Guadalcanal”. ADML Turner, Commanding US Amphibious Forces signalled: “Large share credit our successes against enemy due splendid men in Coastwatcher service”.

01 Mar 1943

The Brisbane-based USS GREENLING, (submarine), landed a party of Coastwatchers on the south coast of Bougainville.

Stoker Cecil Stokes of HMAS PERTH, dies from Malaria on the Thai’Burma Railway. He was the first PERTH survivor to succumb to disease and ill treatment during the construction of the infamous Burma railway.

05 Mar 1943

The Fremantle-based USS TAMBOR, (submarine), landed an American Special Services party and stores at Mindanao.

15 Mar 1943

The Brisbane-based USS TRITON, (submarine), was sunk by three Japanese destroyers in the Admiralty Islands.

20 Mar 1943

The examination vessel HMAS ELLAN, was commissioned. ELLAN was laid down in 1942, and requisitioned from her owner W. F. Hobson, Sydney.

21 Mar 1943

HMAS QUICKMATCH, (destroyer), escorted the former RAN seaplane carrier, HMS ALBATROSS from Durban to Madagascar.

22 Mar 1943

The Fremantle-based USS GUDGEON, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport MEIGAN MARU off Java.

The Bathurst class minesweeper (corvette), HMAS GLADSTONE, (LEUT J. W. Penny RANR(S)), was commissioned. GLADSTONE, was laid down in Walker’s Yard, Maryborough, QLD, on 4 August 1942, and launched on 26 November 1942.

23 Mar 1943

Task Force 74 was constituted at Challenge Bay. It consisted of Task Group 74-1, HMA Ships AUSTRALIA and HOBART, (cruisers), and Task Group 74-2, HMA Ships ARUNTA and WARRAMUNGA, (destroyers), and USS LAMSON.

24 Mar 1943

The Bathurst class minesweeper, (corvette), HMAS FREMANTLE, (LEUT A. N. Boulton, RANR(S)), was commissioned. FREMANTLE was laid down in Evans Deakin Yard, Brisbane, on 11 February 1942, and launched on 18 August 1942.

28 Mar 1943

Australian transports BANTAM and MASAYA were sunk by Japanese dive bombers at Oro Bay, New Guinea. BANTAM was later salvaged and towed to Sydney.

29 Mar 1943

The Brisbane-based USS GATO, (submarine), evacuated 39 women and children and 12 Australian Commandos from Teop Island in the Solomons.

30 Mar 1943

The Brisbane-based USS TUNA, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport KUROHIME MARU in the Admiralty Islands.

'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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