- Garrard, Richard Noel (Jerry) , RANR
- Biographies and personal histories, RAN operations, WWII operations, History - WW2
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Stuart I
- March 2006 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
between two warships and destroyers flanked behind us! – salvos (of guns) from Italian battleships fell very close dozens of times and shriek and whistles of the shells everywhere – fleet after fleet of bombers were attacking us all the time and bombs were everywhere – shrapnel was flying but luckily none were hit – destroyers in five lines (Stuart leading) made an attack with 4.7’’ guns blazing and ack ack guns going at aircraft as well – wonderful sight with destroyers turning at 30 knots and blazing away and bombs and shells dropping everywhere – (also with our Wallaby Jack [Australian flag] streaming in the wind from the top of our foremast) – gas attack signaled so we were almost smothered – while working hard – mud and grime everywhere – closed up on guns for seven hours, sopping wet and hungry – Italian ships turned and ran and we couldn’t catch them, although Stuart was doing 36 knots – arrived in Malta at 6:00am with only 15 tons of fuel left!’
The above is now known as ‘The Battle of Calabria.’
(The day I was due to leave the ship on draft to the UK). The Chief Buffer made me change into overalls – rescue a new rating from the Crows Nest where he had chickened out, so lowered him to the deck. Then had to go up the mast again and finish his painting job on the topmost yardarm. Just made the Draft in time.
The quartermaster piped, ‘Able Seaman Garrard to report to the Captain’s Cabin immediately.’ So off I went, wondering. ‘Please sit down,’ he said, ‘I see that you’re on draft to the UK – well, this is confidential (I’m sure it’s OK now after 64 years), but I want to give you a choice. I have received my Draft back to Australia, and I would like to offer you the opportunity of joining my private staff. We will discuss this for a while and then you may choose which one you will accept.’ Phew! – Finally, with some reluctance, I chose the UK in order to meet my father’s family in Suffolk. He immediately accepted my choice, thanked me for everything during the past 18 months, wished me all the best for the future, and with some warmth, shook my hand.
On Sunday 15 March 1942, I learned of the loss of HMA Ships Perth, Yarra and Swan, and the loss of Captain Hector Waller – the Navy’s best.
I have never forgotten him and the special times we had together.
In the Anzac Day March of 2002, two veterans unfurled a banner at the beginning of the march. It read:
‘Hec’ Waller, Captain of the Scrap Iron Flotilla
He led, we followed