Japanese forces on Timor signed the surrender document on board HMAS MORESBY, (survey vessel/escort).
HMAS Moresby I
The Japanese submarine I-177 torpedoed the Yugoslav merchant ship RECINA, 19 miles off Cape Howe. Nine survivors were picked up by HMAS MORESBY, (survey ship).
The minesweeper HMAS PIRIE, (LCDR C. F. Mills, RAN), was escorting the supply ship HANYANG into Oro Bay, New Guinea, when they were damaged in savage air attacks by 12 Japanese aircraft. PIRIE managed to shoot down one of the attacking aircraft, but she was struck by one bomb which passed through the bridge, killing the Gunnery Officer (LEUT J. W. Ellershaw, RANVR), before hitting the upper deck and exploding, where it killed six of PIRIE’s gun crew. PIRIE was also strafed by cannon fire, and four personnel were wounded. HANYANG was also hit by one bomb, and three of her crew were killed.
HMA Ships ARUNTA, KALGOORLIE, ROCKHAMPTON, DOOMBA, MORESBY, BINGERA, YANDRA, KYBRA, and WHYALLA were assigned to convoy escort duties from Sydney as a result of the Japanese raid on Sydney Harbour.
The ‘Declaration of war on Germany’ was issued. The Imperial war telegram was received in Canberra at 2150. It read; ‘Total Germany, repeat, total Germany’. At 2115 in a radio broadcast, Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced; ‘It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially, that in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that as a result, Australia is also at war’.
LCDR E.A. Feldt, RAN, was appointed Staff Officer, (Intelligence), at Port Moresby. Feldt directed the Coastwatcher organisation in Papua and New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, until relieved because of ill health in 1943.
The strength of the RAN at the commencement of hostilities in WWII was:
2 heavy cruisers, HMA Ships AUSTRALIA and CANBERRA; 4 light cruisers, HMA Ships SYDNEY, HOBART, PERTH, and ADELAIDE; 5 destroyers, HMA Ships STUART, VAMPIRE, VOYAGER, VENDETTA, and WATERHEN; 2 sloops, HMA Ships SWAN and YARRA; 1 survey vessel, HMAS MORESBY; 2 armed merchant cruisers HMA Ships MANOORA and WESTRALIA.
Three liners, MORETON BAY, ARAWA, and KANIMBLA, were converted into armed merchant cruisers and manned by Australians, but as units of the RN. Eight smaller vessels were requisitioned and equipped as minesweepers.
The permanent naval forces totalled 5440 and the reserve naval forces totalled 4819 personnel.
The, surveying vessel, HMAS MORESBY, (CAPT J. Edgell, RN), a former 24 class convoy sloop HMS SILVIO, was commissioned at Sydney. MORESBY was laid down in Barclay, Curle & Co., Scotstoun, Glasgow, in 1917, and launched in 1918. After WWII she was layed-up in 1924-1925, refitted in Pembroke Dockyard, South Wales as a surveying vessel.