- Wood, Owen W
- Biographies and personal histories, Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Voyager I
- December 1997 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
I would like to comment on the loss of HMAS Voyager I – Monograph No. 25, transcript by Commodore Bryan Cleary, RAN (Rtd).
I was serving in HMAS Voyager at the time of her grounding and loss in Betano Bay, Timor, in 1942. My name is Telegraphist P. O. Wood, P.A., 1696 RANR. Here are a few facts for the Society supporting my Captain, Lieutenant Commander R. Robison. I believe he was unkindly treated in the article by the late Vice Admiral Sir Henry Burrell.
Photograph No. 1 (left) was taken approaching Betano Bay at approximately 5 pm local time. Photo No. 2 at 6 pm local time when we started unloading 2/4th Commando Group around the stern of Voyager.
At this time (Photo No. 2-below right) our whaler inshore was taking soundings and has on board the “pilot”, Sub Lieutenant Bennett on loan from Darwin who was supposed to be experienced in the Timor Coastline and had served in that area in HMAS Kuru.
It appears we are caught on a reef. It was impossible for our Captain to reverse engines with so many soldiers in frail collapsible boats at the stern. Lieutenant Commander Robison had anchored in this position, it being well off the shore (refer Photo No. 2). Vice Admiral Burrell, N.O.I.C. Darwin and others are really unjust in their judgement of the Captain. He should have been exonerated by the enquiry.
The sailor in Photo No. 3 (left) left the ship after the disaster and joined his soldier brother in the 2/2nd Commando. I believe his name was Ordinary Seaman Stone*, 18 or 19 years of age.
(*Able Seaman, C. J. Webb – Eds)