On this day:

1944 > WW2

02 Jan 1944

HMA Ships ARUNTA and WARRAMUNGA, (destroyers), provided covering fire for the Allied landings at Saidor, New Guinea.

03 Jan 1944

The Fremantle-based USS KINGFISH, (submarine), sank the Japanese tankers RYUEI MARU and BOKUEI MARU in the South China Sea.

07 Jan 1944

The Fremantle-based US submarines KINGFISH, RASHER, and BLUEFISH sank three Japanese tankers in the South China Sea. KINGFISH torpedoed the FUSHIMI MARU, RASHER the KIYO MARU, and BLUEFISH the HAKIO MARU. The success of submarine sinking of tankers had a decisive effect on Japanese Fleet operations later in 1944.

12 Jan 1944

HMAS AUSTRALIA and USS NASHVILLE, (cruisers), commenced refit in Sydney.

15 Jan 1944

Fremantle-based USS THRESHER, (submarine), sank the Japanese transports TATSUNO MARU and TOHO MARU off the north coast of Luzon.

17 Jan 1944

The River class frigate, HMAS BARCOO, was commissioned at Sydney.

19 Jan 1944

Coastwatcher LEUT B. W. G. Hall, AIF, commanded a party of six Europeans and two natives in a guerrilla war on Long Island off New Guinea which forced the Japanese garrison of 500 troops to evacuate the island.

21 Jan 1944

Cook R. W. Andrews was swept overboard when a freak wave caused HMAS NEPAL, (destroyer), to almost broach to south of Cape Town. The man was sighted when an albatross was observed pecking at his scalp. He was picked up and treated for a fractured leg and beak wounds.

22 Jan 1944

The Fremantle-based USS TINOSA, (submarine), sank the Japanese merchant ships KOSHIN MARU and SEINAN MARU in the South China Sea.

27 Jan 1944

The Fremantle-based USS THRESHER, (submarine), sank the Japanese transports KIKAZAKI MARU and KOZEI MARU in the Philippines.

28 Jan 1944

The landing ship, infantry, HMAS WESTRALIA, (CMDR A. V. Knight, DSC, RANR(S)), was attacked by a Japanese bomber off Milne Bay, New Guinea. The ship suffered some damage and one crew member wounded.

02 Feb 1944

The services reconnaissance department craft HMAS ALATNA, was commissioned.

04 Feb 1944

The Australian Government resolved “that all higher Royal Australian Navy appointments would be Australian”.

07 Feb 1944

LEUT B.M. MacFarlane, RANVR, was lost when midget submarine X-22 was rammed and sunk by HMS SYRTIS during exercises in Pentland Forth, Scotland. LEUT MacFarlane commanded X-8 in the attack on the German battleship TIRPITZ, but was forced to withdraw when X-8 parted her tow.

RADM Crutchley’s flag was hauled down in HMAS AUSTRALIA and transferred to HMAS SHROPSHIRE. SHROPSHIRE was the cruiser gifted by the RN to Australia to replace HMAS CANBERRA which had been lost at the Battle of Savo Island in August 1942.

10 Feb 1944

HMAS STUART, (destroyer), was taken in hand by Garden Island Naval Dockyard for conversion to a fast transport.

11 Feb 1944

HMAS LAUNCESTON, (minesweeper), and HMIS JUMNA, (sloop), sank the Japanese submarine RO-110, 20 miles south-east of Vizagapatam. RO-110 had torpedoed the merchant ship ASPHALION but was quickly tracked by the Asdic of the escort vessels.

12 Feb 1944

The Japanese submarine I-27 attacked a troopship convoy south of the Maldive Islands. The submarine fired a salvo of torpedoes of which two struck the troopship KHEDIVE ISMAIL, which sank in two minutes. Of the 1550 personnel onboard there were only 200 survivors. Among those lost were a number of RAN ratings. I-27 was then attacked and sunk by the destroyers HMS PETARD and HMS PALADIN.

15 Feb 1944

The Fremantle-based USS ASPRO, (submarine), sank the Japanese submarine I-43 off Truk.

17 Feb 1944

ADML Royle, (First Naval Member), accompanied by Mr. Essington Lewis, (Director General of Munitions), boarded HMAS WARRAMUNGA at Milne Bay for a front-line tour of Buna, Langemak, and Lae.

22 Feb 1944

The Fremantle-based USS PUFFER, (submarine), sank the Japanese troop ship TEIKO MARU off Borneo.

23 Feb 1944

The fleet tug HMAS SPRIGHTLY, was commissioned. SPRIGHTLY was laid down in Levingston Shipbuilding Co, Orange, Texas, USA, on 6 June 1942, and launched on 7 August 1942. She was transferred to the RAN under the Lend-Lease Agreement in 1944.

HMAS TAMWORTH, (minesweeper), landed 133 survivors from the torpedoed tanker ERLING BROVIG at Aden. The tanker and the transports SAN ALVARO and E. G. SEUBERT, were torpedoed by the German submarine U188 in the Indian Ocean. SAN ALVARO stayed afloat after the attack but was later sunk by TAMWORTH with depth charges.

The Brisbane based USS BALAO, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport NIKKI MARU in the Arafura Sea.

25 Feb 1944

Fremantle-based USS RASHER and HOE, (submarines), sank three Japanese ships. RASHER torpedoed the TANGO MARU and RYUSEI MARU, off Bali, and HOE the NISSHO MARU south of Mindanao.

26 Feb 1944

The Brisbane-based USS GATO, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport DAIGEN MARU north of Hollandia, New Guinea.

28 Feb 1944

The Brisbane-based USS BALAO, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport AKLURA MARU off Somoral Island.

29 Feb 1944

HMA Ships SHROPSHIRE, (cruiser), and WARRAMUNGA, (destroyer), were units of the covering force for the American landings in the Admiralty Islands.

02 Mar 1944

RADM V. Crutchley, VC, RN, commanding Task Force 74 was ordered to position his ships north and northwest of the Admiralty Islands for the attack on Hyane Harbour.

HMAS WARRAMUNGA, (destroyer), and US Ships AMMEN and BUSH, (destroyers), attacked Japanese fortifications on Hauwei Island off Hollandia, New Guinea.

03 Mar 1944

The destroyer, HMAS WARRAMUNGA, (CAPT E. F. V. Dechaineux, RAN), and the US Ships AMMEN and WELLES, shelled Japanese targets in Hyane Harbour, Manus Island. Later in the day all three ships came under enemy air attack.

04 Mar 1944

The Fremantle based USS BLUEFISH, (submarine), sank the Japanese tanker OMINESAN MARU in the South China Sea.

HMAS SHROPSHIRE, (cruiser), and US Ships NASHVILLE, PHOENIX, DALY, and HUTCHINS, destroyed Japanese guns on Hauwei Island, near Hollandia, New Guinea.

07 Mar 1944

CAPT E. F. V. Dechaineux, RAN, assumed command of HMAS AUSTRALIA, (cruiser).

08 Mar 1944

The Fremantle-based USS LAPON, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport TOYOKUNI MARU in the South China Sea.

09 Mar 1944

The Fremantle-based USS LAPON, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport NICHIREI MARU in the South China Sea.

11 Mar 1944

HMAS ARUNTA, (destroyer), along with US destroyers, closed to 4000 yards to bombard Japanese positions at Seeadler Harbour, Manus Island.

14 Mar 1944

HMAS SHEPPARTON, (minesweeper), landed troops at Talasea, New Britain.

HMAS BENALLA, (minesweeper), surveyed Seeadler Harbour, Manus Island, while under enemy gunfire.

15 Mar 1944

Southwest Pacific Force, which included units of the RAN in the Pacific, was re-designated the Seventh Fleet.

18 Mar 1944

The Fremantle-based USS LAPON, (submarine), sank the Japanese transport HOKUROKU MARU in the South China Sea.

20 Mar 1944

The Fremantle-based USS ANGLER, (submarine), evacuated 58 refugees from Panay in the Philippines and landed them at Darwin.

22 Mar 1944

HMA Ships AUSTRALIA, (cruiser), and ARUNTA, (destroyer), with the USS MULLANY, (destroyer), carried out a sweep of the New Guinea coast east of Tanahmerah Bay and destroyed a number of Japanese barges.

23 Mar 1944

The Fremantle-based USS DACE, (submarine), landed a coastwatcher reconnaissance party, under CAPT G. C. Harris, on Cape Tanahmerah, Dutch New Guinea, to gather intelligence for the proposed landing at Hollandia.

24 Mar 1944

The Fremantle based USS BOWFIN, (submarine), sank the Japanese transports SHINKYO MARU and BENGAL MARU.

An explosion and fire onboard the Fairmile motor launch, HMAS ML 427, caused the deaths of three RAN personnel. ML 427 was alongside the wharf at HMAS LADAVA, (Milne Bay), undergoing repairs when a spark from a battery terminal ignited fuel in the bilge. Those who died, (or subsequently died from their injuries), were Stoker C. J. Jones, Motor Mechanic R. L. McKee, and Motor Mechanic E. J. Williams. Motor Mechanic J. A. Page, who was passing by, saw the explosion and stopped to render assistance. He subsequently rescued two men from the vessel and was later awarded the British Empire Medal, (BEM), for gallantry.

25 Mar 1944

Manus Island was captured by the Allies. Seeadler Harbour was developed as a major naval base and by September 1944 it rivalled Pearl Harbour. It was equipped with a 100,000 ton floating dock and cranes with a lifting capacity of 180 tons.

HMAS LACHLAN, (frigate), was launched at Mort’s Dock, Sydney.

'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