- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- Biographies and personal histories, History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Creswell, HMAS Moresby I, HMAS Yarra II
- June 1993 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
On 14th August, 1992, shortly after HMAS CRESWELL’S annual Passing Out Parade, Miss Trish Rankin presented her father’s medals to Captain C.S.H. Harrington, RAN, Commanding Officer of HMAS CRESWELL.
Fifty years previously in March 1942, Miss Rankin’s father, Lieutenant Commander R.W. Rankin, RAN, was killed in action whilst in Command of the sloop HMAS YARRA. Ironically Rankin had assumed command of YARRA in February 1942 from Lieutenant Commander W.H. Harrington, RAN, the father of CRESWELL’S Commanding Officer.
The YARRA was a veteran of actions in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean theatres of war. In 1942 she was engaged in the desperate attempts to stem the Japanese tide of invasion in South East Asia.
In early March YARRA departed the island of Java as escort for a convoy of five vessels bound for Australia. At 0630 on 4th March, Australia was only four days steaming away when the convoy encountered a Japanese task force of three cruisers and two destroyers.
Rankin ordered the convoy to scatter and turned YARRA towards the enemy in a vain attempt to delay them long enough to allow the convoy to escape. YARRA was out-gunned and outranged as the cruisers stood off and sank the convoy one by one. By 0800 only YARRA was left; drifting helplessly after shells had wrecked her engine room. Two of her guns were out of action and many of her men lay dead or wounded.
Lieutenant Commander Rankin ordered “abandon ship”. Shortly afterwards a salvo of shells hit the bridge killing Rankin and all on duty there.
Thirty-four men were able to get away from the blackened hulk of the YARRA; however, the effects of wounds and exposure took their toll. On 9th March a mere 13 of YARRA’S ship’s company of 151 were rescued by the Dutch submarine K11. None of the ship’s officers were amongst the survivors.
Rankin entered the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay in 1921 and graduated in 1924 with the prizes for engineering and mathematics. He was also a keen sportsman being awarded his colours for rugby. After specialising in surveying he spent several years in the survey vessel HMAS MORESBY.
Lieutenant Commander Rankin’s medals include the 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Africa Star, Burma Star with Pacific Star Clasp, 1939-45 War Medal and Australian Service Medal.
These medals will go on display in the College Mess along with Lieutenant Commander Rankin’s sword, which had been previously donated by his widow, Mrs Molly McLean.
Rankin also has the honour of one of the new Collins class submarines being named after him.