On This Day - 24 February

The Admiralty informed the Australian Government that "in the event of war in the Far East in the near future no major redistribution of forces is intended other than to send one battle-cruiser, one aircraft carrier, and one cruiser, from Gibraltar to the Indian Ocean, and return those Dominion cruisers now serving with Imperial forces to their Dominions". HMAS PERTH, and HMS BONAVENTURE, (cruisers), landed a force of commandos on Castellorizo Island in the Dodacanese. The landing coincided with the landing of a stronger enemy force. HMS JAGUAR, (destroyer), staged a covering diversion with a torpedo attack on enemy shipping in the island's harbour.
HMAS YARRA, (sloop), passed her last mail to HMAS VENDETTA, (destroyer), 200 miles south of Christmas Island. VENDETTA was being towed south from Singapore to Australia for repair. YARRA returned to the Netherlands East Indies, and was sunk eight days later defending a convoy en-route to Australia.
The service reconnaissance department (SRD) craft HMAS GRASS SNAKE, (SBLT Bromley), was commissioned. Egypt became the last nation to declare war on the Axis Powers. Turkey, Iceland, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Syria, Lebanon, Uruguay, and Venezuela, also joined the Allies in this period. HMAS SWAN, (sloop), supported the advance of the 6th Australian Division along the New Guinea coast with close support gunfire. The sloop silenced enemy batteries and destroyed a wireless station east of Aitape.
VADM Sir John Collins was appointed as Chief of Naval Staff, thus becoming the first RANC graduate to reach the Navy's highest position.
VADM Sir Roy Dowling was appointed as Chief of Naval Staff.
HMAS QUIBERON, (destroyer), conveyed Her Majesty the Queen Mother from Circular Quay to Manly.

VADM Sir Henry Burrell, CB, OBE, was appointed as Chief of Naval Staff.


VADM Sir Wilfred Hastings Harrington, DSO, CBE, KBE, was appointed as Chief of Naval Staff.

VADM Sir Alan McNicholl was appointed as Chief of Naval Staff.
VADM Chris Ritchie, AO, RAN, (Chief of Naval Staff), released a signal to the RAN concerning the safety of Anthrax injections issued to RAN personnel who were involved in the 2nd Gulf War in 2003. VADM Ritchie advised "no long term side affects have been observed and there is no real reason to believe the vaccine is not safe". Issue of the vaccine had been cancelled in late November 2001 when a number of SAS personnel, (being deployed to Afghanistan), had adverse reactions, but this information was not made public until early 2004. When vaccinations recommenced in early 2003, some 97 personnel serving in HMAS DARWIN, (frigate), suffered from a reaction to the vaccine which was well in excess of the 3% average expected. Additionally about 30 personnel serving in RAN ships deployed to the Arabian Gulf refused to have the vaccination, and were removed from their ships and returned to Australia. Similarly the USN had also cancelled Anthrax vaccinations during 2001-2002 due to concerns about the safety of the vaccine.
HMAS ARUNTA, (CMDR W. Bairstow, CSC, RAN), provided assistance to the Panama registered container ship MV MSC DENISSE that was drifting southeast of Christmas Island with a flooded engine room. ARUNTA provided engineers to pump out the engine room. HMAS STUART, (CMDR P. Spedding, OAM, RAN), was also en-route to provide assistance. Both ships were employed on Operation Reflex II immigration patrols.
'On This Day' is based on the book "Navy Day by Day: Historic Naval Events in Australia and Abroad" written by the late Lew Lind. More information.

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