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Compiled & Edited by Dr.Pat.ffyske Howden, Cone St, Macleay Island Q 4184. Ph/fax 07/34095100.


9 Dec 1941: Hobart departs the Mediterranean for Australia.

29 Dec: Hobart, returning from the Mediterranean, takes over the escorting of Convoy BM 9A off Colombo. Joins HM Ships Dragon, Danae and HMAS Vampire and goes though Sunda Strait to Singapore.


3 Jan 1942: Arrive Singapore with convoy and experiences first attack by Japanese planes.

7 Jan: Arrives Tanjong Priok for fuel and provisions.

11 Jan: Arrives Fremantle.

27 Jan: Hobart is assigned to ABDA Command.

2 Feb: PM Hobart in company with HMS Tened0s departs Singapore for Batavia.

3 Feb: PM Hobart goes to the assistance of merchant vessel Norah Moller being bombed by three Japanese planes. Norah Moller is hit amidships and Hobart takes off her wounded and passengers. The planes make a fruitless attack on Hobart but are beaten off.

4 Feb: Hobart reaches Tanjong Priok with 57 passengers including 28 wounded plus six who died on passage.

18:14 Hobart departs Tanjong Priok under orders to join HM Ships Exeter, Jupiter, and Encounter at the northern entrance to Banka Strait and search for enemy forces north of Banka island. Hobart steams north through Banka Strait to meet the other three ships.

5 Feb: 07:48 Hobart rendezvous with the three British ships.

12:00 The force is attacked on three separate occasions by high level bombers. Hobart is near missed but suffers no damage. Afterwards, the force rounds Banka Island, closes Klabat Bay and returns via Gaspar strait between Banka and Billiton Island to Tanjong Priok. Captain Howden notes that the accuracy of the Japanese bombers is more deadly than that of the Germans and Italians.

6 Feb: 07:00 Hobart arrives Tanjong Priok.

7 Feb: Hobart and destroyer HMS Electra depart Batavia to relieve Danae and HMIS Sutlej and to escort a convoy through Sunda Strait consisting of merchant vessels Devonshire and Felix Roussel bound for Bombay with women and children.

9 Feb: Hobart, after passing through Sunda Strait disperses Devonshire and Felix Roussel to Bombay unescorted and takes over from HMS Cornwall the escort of convoy JS 1 carrying the first flight of the AIF ex Middle East to the NEI (Nederland East Indies).

13 Feb: Hobart, whilst on route as escort of JS I to Oosthaven is signalled by Commodore Collins, RAN, to join a striking force at Oosthaven consisting of Dutch cruisers Deruyter, Java, Tromp and Dutch destroyers Van Ghent, Banckert, Piet Hein and Kortenaer.

14 Feb: 09:00 Hobart arrives Oosthaven to find Dutch ships already there.

09:15 HMS Exeter arrives Oosthaven and is later joined by U.S. destroyers Bulmer, Barker, Stewart, Parrott, Edwards and Pillsbury.

09:15 to 16:00 Rear Admiral Doorman flies to Batavia to discuss the impending operation with Vice Admiral Helfrich. Via Banka Strait appears to be the quickest route to get to the enemy. It was, however, decided to take the longer and more difficult route through the unlighted Gaspar Strait and to take the Japanese in the rear from north of Banka Island. Then, subsequently if practicable return through Banka Strait.

16:00 Force departs Oosthaven and forms into two columns. Dutch cruisers led by Doorman in De Ruyter to starboard and the British led by Hobart as Senior Officer to port. The six US destroyers screened ahead; and the Dutch astern.

15 Feb: 09:23 Force sighted by a Japanese shadowing plane whilst steering in a NW curve approximately 60 miles east of Banka.

11:50 First bombing attack by two formations of Japanese aircraft.

12:17, 12:29 Second and third bombing attacks.

12:30 Doorman, because of lack of Allied air cover, decides to return to Batavia via Gaspar Strait.

12:42 Doorman reverses course at a point 40 miles east of the N.E. point of Banka Island.

14:00, 14:20, 14:41,14:50, 14:54, 14:59, 15:03, 15:17, 17:13, 17:28 Bombing attacks by formations of Japanese aircraft. Ships skilfully handled and only near missed. Hobart estimates 109 aircraft took part in the attacks, the heaviest of which occurred when three formations of 9, 8 and 7 aircraft respectively carried out simultaneous attacks on HOBART.

16 Feb: 09:52 Hobart, Exeter, Tromp, Barker and Bulmer anchor in Tanjong Priok.

20 Feb: Massing of enemy ships at Jolo reported. Invasion of Java in preparation and could be at both ends of the island simultaneously.

21 Feb: Vice Admiral Helfrich (Dutch) decides to divide his available surface forces into eastern and western striking forces. Hobart, based on Tanjong Priok and with Exeter, Dragon and Danae and destroyers Encounter, Jupiter, Electra, Scout, Stronghold and Tenedos: engaged in escorting 'SJ' convoys.

24 Feb: Eastern and western groups reinforced by the arrival of heavy cruiser USS Houston and destroyers USS Paul Jones and USS Alden (Eastern) and HMAS Perth (Western).

25 Feb: Large Japanese convoy and escorts reported moving down Macassar strait.

11:25 Helfrich orders all available fleet cruisers and destroyers (excluding Dragon, Danae, Tenedos and Scout - because of their age and lack of speed, unsuitable for a fleet action) to reinforce Doorman at Surabaya.

15:00 Commodore Collins despatches Perth, Exeter, Electra, Jupiter and Encounter from Tanjong Priok to Surabaya. Hobart unable to Join Doorman because of bomb damage to fleet auxiliary War Sirdar. This ship unable to fuel Hobart in time for her to sail with the others. Helfrich considers it too risky to send Hobart alone to Surabaya.

26 Feb: Enemy convoy of 30 transports escorted by four cruisers and three destroyers reported in western Java Sea, moving south in the vicinity of Banka Island.

21:15 Hobart Dragon, Danae, Scout and Tenedos depart Tanjong Priok to form Western Striking Force. The Force sails to try to intercept the Japanese convoy and steam north for 90 miles.

27 Feb: 03:00 Howden's force reverses course.

03:45 Collins signals Howden (Senior Officer) that those Japanese ships are reported 55 miles north of him. As it is not possible to establish contact before dawn, Howden continues south and awaits the result of a dawn reconnaissance.

08:00 Hobart and consorts turn north for one hour intending to attack if reconnaissance discloses an enemy force not overwhelming superior, but will withdraw eastward to Join Doorman if the odds are too great. No further sightings south of Banka are reported and the force steers towards Tanjong Priok.

14:20 After being attacked and bombed by eight Japanese aircraft, Hobart and her force enters Tanjong Priok with five wounded ratings.


Collins' orders to Howden are a token gesture for it is obvious that the force which consists (apart from Hobart) of old and obsolete ships and which is numerically and materially so much inferior to that which the Japanese could oppose it with, would stand little chance in an engagement. The instructions to Howden, therefore, are that if he fails to meet the enemy by 04:30, he is to retire. Collins' carefully worded signal correctly ensures so far as possible that this weak force would not meet the Japanese and be uselessly sacrificed.

28 Feb: 00:45 Hobart, Dragon, Danae, Tenedos, Scout and Dutch destroyer Evertsen depart Tanjong Priok with ships unable to fuel and with Howden under the impression that Japanese intend to land at Bantam during the night of 27-28 Feb and would seal off Sunda Strait. He decided to proceed north of the Strait and thence sweep northwards with the object of intercepting.

05:00 No enemy sighted. Howden reverses course.

06:16 Enters Sunda Strait and proceeds at minimum speed of 24knots through much wreckage consisting of abandoned lifeboats and rafts. Shortly after dawn Hobart and her force pass convoy consisting of depot ship HMS Anking; three tankers War Sirdar (5542 tons), British Judge (6735 tons) and Francol (26O7 tons) minesweepers Gemas and MMS 51 escorted by HMAS Yarra and HMIS Jumna. Wind light ENE, sea calm with passing showers. During passage through the northern part of the strait, the ships are heavily and consistently bombed.

09:00 Hobart's Force, (less Evertsen) clears the strait and heads NW for Padang. Howden notes Evertsen apparently becomes separated from the force and was not seen after about 0400 on the 28th. (She had, in fact, returned to Tanjong Priok).

23:40 Hobart at speed with her force northwest along the west coast of Sumatra, some 120 miles south-east of Padang intercepts enemy report from Perth just north of Sunda Strait.


1 Mar: AM Having sent the destroyers on ahead, the cruisers including Hobart arrive Padang. Hobart embarks 512 refugee - army, navy, airforce and civilians, including women and children - from Tenedos.

PM Departs Padang with Tenedos for Colombo leaving other ships of the force to follow. Thus concludes Hobart's involvement in the debacles of Singapore and Java.

It is interesting to speculate on just how "lucky" the Hobart really was. Had she been able to fuel from War Sirdar on 25 February she would have sailed with Perth and company to Surabaya and probably have met the same fate as her sister ship in the Battle of Sunda Strait on 1 March. Of the ships involved with Hobart, Evertsen was engaged by enemy cruisers on the morning of 1 March and beached on Sebuku Island. HMS Anking, was sunk by Japanese gunfire at 06:30 on 4 March along with HMAS Yarra, MMS 51 and Francol. War Sirdar grounded on Jong Reef at 04:20 on 28 February and after several unsuccessful attempts by HMAS Wollongong to tow it failed, Wollongong advised War Sirdar to abandon ship and land on Agentium Island.

(My Mother's understanding from Harry is that he fooled the Japs who he figured were there waiting in ambush. Non-fuelling was only an excuse to not be ambushed! - ed).





Address given by COMMODORE DACRE-SMYTH RAN (ex-HMAS Australia)


Last known address on Feb '93: 22 Douglas St, Toorak, Vict 3142 - tel 03-98276821

Edited By Pat.ffyske Howden, son of Captain Harry L.Howden


At this moment, exactly forty years ago, the Japanese Submarine I G.0.11 torpedoed HMAS Hobart near New Hebrides, south of the Solomon Islands.

I saw the explosion from the bridge of HMAS Australia, where I was Officer of the Watch. 14 men died in that moment: 8 officers and 6 ratings.

In many ways it was but one incident in an action-packed war fought by a gallant ship, but it is a good moment on which to focus our attention as we meet tonight to honour the memory of the ship and those who served and died in her.

Let us also remember the remainder of her war: her early months in late 1939 and early 1940 in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea under Captain Howden.

The entry of Italy into the war in June 1940. Her Walrus aircraft bombing Massawa in June. Her first attack by Italian bombers in July. Her going aground in a gale at Berbera in August, and her small landing party's saga at Berbera shortly afterwards, armed with only a saluting gun.

Her return to the war zone after a Cockatoo Island refit in June 1941, then entering the Mediterranean in July.

Her actions at Port Tewfick in July. Her duties on Malta convoys under Admiral Cunningham in September. Service at Haifa. Her bombardment near Tobruk in October. The sinking of Barham and Parramatta in November. Her return to the Pacific in December 1941 when Japanese entered the war.

Singapore and the East Indies in January and February 1942 including Black Sunday 15 February when 52 bombs were aimed at Hobart by 27 aircraft in one attack alone. She suffered a total of 13 attacks by 109 aircraft.

The Java Sea tattle, which she just missed.

April 1942: I saw her arrive in Sydney, with so many shrapnel holes still in her funnel and upper works that we Christened her the "pepperpot".

4 - 8 May 1942: The Coral Sea Battle, where Hobart and my ship Australia, were the only Australian ships, and both escaped damage during heavy aircraft attacks. Hobart bagged 3 Jap bombers (footage exists taken from Chicago of Hobart - ed).

Jun 1942: Captain Howden handed over to Captain Showers (1950s Sydney Uni, Physics under Prof.Mesell liaison with Lucas Heights Nuclear facility - ed).

7 Aug 1942: Guadalcanal landings.

9 Aug: The disastrous Savo Island battle - once again luckily Hobart was 11 miles from the action, where Canberra, Astoria, Quincy and Vincennes were lost in what consequently became known as Ironbottom Sound.

Nine months monotony in the Barrier Reef until July 1943 when on this night near Vanuatu 40 years ago, her luck faltered and she was torpedoed.

The escorting destroyers O'Bannon, Nicholas and Radford - so proud of their protective achievements when they joined us that day; so embarrassed when the torpedo struck - but it had been fired from 10miles away , and incidentally at Australia. So they could be forgiven for not detecting the submarine.

Australia did not turn away, but we didn't go on to full speed, as we've been accused of doing In fact, I reduced speed by mistake, for the drill called for ringing on 22 knots when a ship in company was torpedoed. This I did, forgetting that we'd been doing 25 knots! Hobart limping back to Espirutu Santo, thence Sydney for repairs. A long repair job and finally in December 1944, recommissioned under Captain Dowling.





(ex-HMAS Australia). Last known address on Feb '93: 22 Douglas St, Toorak, Vic 3142 - Ph 03-98276821.

Compiled & Edited by Dr. Pat. ffyske Howden, son of Captain Harry L. Howden

Cone St, Macleay Island Q 4184. Ph/fax 07/34095100.


Sat May 2 1942: Australia was proceeding in company with Hobart to Hervey Bay about 120miles north of Brisbane. We rounded Breaksea Spit by afternoon to anchor in the NE corner of the Bay that is some 40miles across at its widest. Also in the Bay were USS Whipple, an American flush-decker. HMS Bingara, Kybra & the RA Fleet Aux tanker Kurumba which came alongside us on Australia to fuel soon after we anchored, with Hobart secured on her other side.

When fuelling was complete at 21:00 we slipped & weighed for sea in company with Hobart & Whipple.

Sun 3: We proceed NE to the Coral Sea to meet Task Force (TF) 17.

Mon 4: Ships were sighted in the forenoon to establish themselves as USS Lexington with TF 11 having returned from their refit at Pearl Harbor. With them we were to join TF 17 the day following. On our joining forces, Whipple detached from us to the southward.

Tues 5: Perkins met us soon after daw, having come from TF 17. Two hours later we sighted Yorktown & the Force. She had just returned from a very successful attack by her aircraft on Tulagi - the Jap held capital of the Solomons - on Florida Island. Their bombers had sunk 9 ships in harbour!

Wed 6: All forces were united in the morning into TF 17 that now consisted of 2 carriers Yorktown & Lexington, the heavy cruisers Minneapolis, New Orleans, Astoria, Portland, Chester & Chicago (from which footage of Hobart is known to have been taken - ed), Hobart & ourselves. Plus modern destroyers Farragut, Aylwin, Monaghan, Dewey, Walke, Phelps, Morris, Anderson, Hammann, Russell & Perkins. There was also USS Sims & USS Neosho, a tanker similar to Platte from whom some of our cruisers fuelled during the day.

Just before 11:00 aircraft were Radar-detected so we went to Repel Aircraft Stations though no planes sighted.

Thu 7: We had been steering NW during the night & at dawn were quit close to Luisiade Archipelago. As this was within range of Jap bases, we remained closed up at Action Stations, 2nd Degree, through the day.

At 6:45 we detached from the main force as TF 17.3, with Chicago, Hobart & the 3 destroyers Walke, Farragut & Perkins. TF 17 were to proceed to the north of the Archipelago & attempt to intercept various Jap forces reported to be moving south; whilst we were to remain south of the Archipelago in the region of Jomard Entrance. This is just south of Duboyne Island where Jap forces had been reported. It was our duty to prevent any attempt by them to come through the Passage towards Moresby.

Chicago radar reports were frequent during forenoon with several unidentified planes sighted. At 14:24 we fired on 11 planes which appeared. They turned away before hits scored - still unidentified. Shortly later a USN Devastator appeared that had lost its parent carrier & seeking directions. As we also didn't know the carrier's exact location, we directed the plane towards the mainland.

Soon after it disappeared ahead, a formation of 8 Jap Mitsubishi Type 97 Torpedo Bombers appeared bunched on our port bow flying very low, & they attacked immediately. Perkins, who was screening us, shot one down in flames. The remainder continued their attack. As we turned towards them, 2 torpedoes narrowly missed us, passing only yards from the starboard side. As the bombers flew past us, they raked our upper deck with machine gun fire. Our close-range guns shot down one of them beside our port beam just as he launched his torpedo at Chicago. The attack was soon over, but before they withdrew we had shot down 3, with others badly damaged.

Almost immediately after this episode, 19 high level bombers - probably Fiat BR20 Heavy Army Bombers, attacked from a height of about 14,000ft, dropping at least 20x 500lb bombs close to us, besides those aimed at other ships in the Force. Although some of these were extremely close, we were not hit. When the aircraft withdrew, no damage was found by any vessel other than a few machine gun & shrapnel holes. Only 2 fatal casualties were suffered, both on Chicago, plus a few minor casualties on other ships. (Hobart is reported to alone have shot down 3 bombers - ed).

During the remainder of that day we were occasionally shadowed by a large 4-engine flying boat. No further attacks.

No enemy surface craft were seen during the day & intelligence sifted from Aircraft Reconnaissance reports suggested that Yorktown & Lexington had caused the Jap forces, including 2 carriers, 4 heavy cruisers & many destroyers, to retire northward. One carrier at least had been very seriously damaged, probably sunk by Lexington's aircraft.

During the afternoon we received signals from tanker Neosho, who had turned back for Noumea the previous evening, indicating that she was being bombed & later that she was sinking - despite a Catalina plane report 3 days later that she still floats!

Fri 8: Our Force had moved east some 200miles during the night whilst still at Action Stations then & next day. Several aircraft again sighted, one approaching within range without identifying itself. We opened fire causing it to turn away again. That day, both Perkins & Walke had short breakdowns for different reasons - the latter only able to use one engine which limited speed to 17knots. It was decided that Hobart should fuel Walke in the afternoon & then detach from us to proceed to Townsville. This plan was carried out, the 2 ships parting company shortly after dark.

Sat 9: We were still patrolling SW of the Luisiade Archipelago. Farragut came alongside us to fuel before noon. Fortunately no enemy aircraft were sighted during this operation or at any other occasion during the day. We were steering south. By late afternoon we sent our aircraft to Townsville with private mail from the ship's complement (frequent shrapnel damage had caused the similar amphibian to be removed much earlier - ed).

Sun 10: Our intention was to rendezvous a tanker in the Whitsunday Passage south of Port Cairn. To this end we entered the Barrier Reef by evening through Grafton Passage near Townsville.

Mon 11: Shortly before noon the squadron arrived in Cid Harbour to anchor in the Whitsunday Group. Kurumba (Coral Sea Veteran? - ed), was already there & she immediately commenced fuelling Chicago plus one of the destroyers; whilst we fuelled the others.

Tue 12: By morning all had fuelled, so weighed anchors & proceeded to Brisbane. Chicago had departed earlier with Perkins for Sydney.

Wed 13: We approached Brisbane in the forenoon. After a lengthy difficult approach through reefs, channels & finally the river, we secured alongside. (This Coral Sea Battle was Captain Howden's last sea command - ed).



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