- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- Ship histories and stories, History - Between the wars
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Anzac I
- March 2011 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The new Australian ‘S’ class destroyers HMA Ships Stalwart, Success, Swordsman, Tasmania and Tattoo, plus Anzac, formed up in a single line ahead at 10 to 15 knots and, once outside the Heads, the ships spent close to two hours searching for Renown. There was a near collision between Success and Tasmania but, finally, the Prince of Wales and the official party trans-shipped to Anzac at 1300. The other destroyers took up their escort stations and increased speed to 27 knots to bring the Prince to Melbourne. ‘It was a striking run up the bay and produced a magnificent spectacle…’ presumably for those spectators lucky enough to see it through the fog. Indeed, aboard the destroyers this moment of high speed was looked forward to with eagerness and delight, not only to impress the Prince, but also because ‘…the speed capacities of these magnificent oil-burning destroyers had not been as yet properly tested.’
The leader and the flotilla never operated at full strength again; normally only two or three destroyers were in service at the same time. However she did have one unique duty to perform, in that she took her place in the escort for the scuttling of the mighty but decommissioned battlecruiser HMAS Australia on 12 April 1924.
Anzac paid off at Sydney on 2 October 1926, and remained in reserve until she re-commissioned on 10 January 1928. Her commanding officer at this time was Commander C.H. Ringrose, her engineer being Lt. Cdr H.V. Edgar, DSC, RAN. In April 1929 Commander J.H. Durnford, RAN, took command, followed on 24 July 1930 by Lt. Cdr. J.A. Collins, RAN, who in later years was to become Vice Admiral Sir John Collins. On 6 January 1931 Lt. Cdr. J.C.D. Esdaile, RAN, took over as the last skipper of Anzac. The engineer at this time was Lt. Cdr. (E) W.H.S. Rands, RAN, who was to later gain fame as the flotilla engineer of the famous Scrap Iron Flotilla.
The Washington Naval Treaty between England, America and Japan called for a restraint on the number of ships and their sizes. This called for a drop in the number of RAN servicemen, and by 1919 enlistment was reduced to 3,500. After the Royal tour in 1920, when twenty three ships of the RAN escorted the Prince of Wales into Sydney, the ships in service had dwindled down to thirteen. The Great Depression era which followed also saw the fleet slowly reduced in numbers. By 1931, Anzac was the only destroyer in commission. In actual fact, the RAN could only man the two new cruisers HMA Ships Australia and Canberra, the seaplane carrier HMAS Albatross, and Anzac. Whereas the heavy units carried full peace time complements, Anzac had to make do with a reduced crew.
On 30 July 1931 her time had run out. She was transferred to ‘F’ class reserve and her place as sole destroyer taken over by Tattoo. Two years later, on 30 July 1933, Anzac paid off for disposal. A new flotilla leader had been secured to take the place of Anzac, so she wasn’t needed any more.
She lay idle until 8 August 1935 when sold to Abraham and Wilson of Redfern in Sydney for the princely sum of £1,800. After everything of value was removed the bare hull was towed out of Sydney Harbour for the last time. On 7 May 1936 Anzac was sunk by the guns of the fleet as a gunnery target.
So ended the career of the RAN’s first flotilla leader.
The name Anzac disappeared from the Navy List and it would be another twelve years before it appeared again, when Mrs. J.A. Collins launched the new Battle class destroyer Anzac (II) in August 1948. In 1943 the steering wheel from the first Anzac was still in existence at the Navy League Depot in North Sydney. For many years, the 20 foot motor boat was also kept at the Snapper Island Maritime Museum in Sydney Harbour, but its current location is unknown.