This is part 3 of an hitherto unpublished personal account was given to the Editor shortly before the death of the author, together with several other brief accounts of his wartime experiences.
I joined Vendetta at Cockatoo Dock on 26 September 1944 and took over as Commanding Officer from Lieutenant Commander J.S. Mesley on 27th September.
On 3rd October we moved down to Kurraba to oil, thereafter ammunitioning, and out to sea for trials on 5 October.
Left Sydney on 9 October. Into Brisbane on 10th for fuel etc. and left on 11th – time enough to renew my acquaintance with the Borovansky Ballet which was dancing in that city.
Through the China Straits on 14 October and arrived in Milne Bay at 1100. Sailed for Langemak next day. I noted that it was a very interesting trip, particularly through the Ham and Veal Passage where we used our A/S set to give range off the reefs. Later I found that the dockyard had connected the training gear of the A/S set to the wrong leads, and when we thought the oscillator was trained to starboard it was in fact facing to port. What sort of a defence would that have been if we had run aground?
Sailed for Madang on 17th October and very proud to bring my old V&W ship alongside under the watchful and critical eye of my old Captain of Voyager days, Commander J.C. Morrow DSO RAN.
He was Commander D of the escort forces working from Madang.
Left at 2200 for Manus and arrived there a.m. 18th October. Exercises with a submarine on 19th, and found out the fault with the oscillator. Lieutenant Hinchliffe was the flotilla A/S officer.
Back to Madang after a gunnery (AA) shoot off Manua. Secured with an anchor down, and a line to the coconut trees ashore. Bombardment practice at sea for a couple of days.
I noted a wonderful birthday party on board on my 28th birthday, when the food and drink were greatly appreciated by some of my less fortunate soldier friends from ashore.
Bombardment exercises. I went up in a Beaufort one day when it spotted for Swan. The pilot tried but didn’t quite succeed in making me ill.
Left on Operation Battleaxe on 31st October with Commander D, Commander Morrow embarked in Vendetta, Swan (Peter Hodges) and Barcoo (Colin Hill). Fuelled at Dredger Harbour and then in to Langemak. Slipped at 0530 on 2 November for Lae, left there at 1900/2nd November with Swan, Barcoo and a Liberty ship. Arrived off Jacquinot Bay (New Britain) before dawn on 4 November. No resistance whatever. Anchored close in and landed the army. Went ashore with Commander D and Group Captain Lachell, thereafter remained at anchor until midnight 5/6 November. Took up bombarding positions off Wide Bay at 0600/6 November and after 20 Beauforts had carried out a strike, we closed in to 4,000 yards and carried out a bombardment. We had 30 minutes fun – close range (800 yards) on one target. Results very hard to tell as the jungle hides everything. Back to Jacquinot Bay with the remark in my diary ‘ What a war!’
To Langemak for fuel, and back to Madang arriving on 9th November.
There I got a signal confirming a buzz that I had been appointed CO of Nizam which was refitting in Melbourne.
Lieutenant Commander Gilbert S. Gordon RAN arrived later on 9th November and took over officially on 11th November.
At 0400 on 12th I was rowed ashore in the whaler by the officers, terribly proud that the ship’s company turned out at that hour to farewell me.