- Letter Writer
- Biographies and personal histories, History - WW2, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Platypus
- March 2014 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
I have just read G. W. Ireland’s recounting of his experience in Darwin during the first and continuing raids and I would like to add that my father, Thomas John Barden, was attached to this ship and was present that morning of the first raid. He said they were coming on the ship’s deck after morning tea and looked skyward to see wave after wave of Jap bombers. Dad was operating in an attached workboat and his crew shoved off to get away from Platypus for obvious reasons. Apparently one eager sailor on board their boat opened up at the planes with a mounted machine gun. My father suggested firmly to cease firing so as not to draw return fire and concentrate on helping the poor souls struggling in the water.
Dad did not elaborate with detail but did mention a nurse they found dead in mangroves some days after that first raid. I am sure their efforts during those days involved many harrowing experiences, while most commentary has chosen to concentrate on the negative side of Darwin’s dark days.
For your information AB Thomas Barden served in HMAS Sydney in the Mediterranean during 1940 and was her sole casualty during the Cape Spada Battle when a piece of shrapnel from a hit on the funnel did a circuit of the Range Finder Room and lodged in his right thigh. Dad kept a diary of his time aboard Sydney and I have great admiration for him and other young men who endured great stress during that time. Dad was only 18 years old at this time. Obviously my father was not on Sydney’s final voyage although he applied to cut short his leave to join his shipmates but fortunately this was denied.
By Editor: George Ireland was Coxswain of HMAS Platypus and wrote of his experiences which were published in the March 1985 edition of this magazine. This letter by Michael is fortuitous as in one of our current book reviews Carrier Attack Darwin 1942 there is also mention of the contribution made by Platypus.