- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- Biographies and personal histories, WWII operations, Obituaries
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Vendetta I
- April 1992 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Commodore Rodney Rhoades RAN, who commanded HMAS Vendetta of the celebrated “Scrap Iron Flotilla” which supplied Tobruk during the World War II siege, has died in Sydney. He was 83.
The flotilla was named in mockery by German propagandists but it outlived contempt to achieve acclaim, as did the “Rats” it served.
Commodore “Dusty” Rhoades had a distinguished wartime career in destroyers, seeing action in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Far East.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was mentioned in dispatches.
He was heavily engaged in the evacuations of Greece and Crete, but it was his exploits on the Tobruk “spud run” that earned him fame. In seven weeks, operating from Alexandria and Mersa Matruh, Vendetta delivered 4,000 men and hundreds of tonnes of ammunition and supplies to the embattled garrison.
Rodney Rhoades was born on April 8, 1909 at DoubleBay, joined the RAN as a 13 year old cadet and graduated from the RoyalAustralianNavalCollege in 1926. He was serving in the destroyer Vampire when the war began.
In March 1940, the then Lieutenant Rhoades was appointed to command Vendetta, at 30 the youngest Australian officer to command a fleet destroyer.
He escorted Malta convoys, bombarded Italian positions on the Libyan coast and in 1942 saw action during the allied North African landings.
On leaving Vendetta, he commissioned HMAS Quickmatch in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and IndianOceans.
After the war, Commodore Rhoades joined the RAN air station at Nowra before leaving for Britain on exchange duty with the Royal Navy.
As commanding officer of HMAS Opportune, on escort duty during a State visit to England by King Fredrick and Queen Ingrid of Denmark, Commodore Rhoades was made a Chevalier of the Order of the Dannebrog by the king.
A RAN funeral service took place at the chapel of HMAS Watson.