HMAS HOBART SECRET
DIARY BY KEITH BARRY AS BRIDGE ANTI-AIRCRAFT LOOKOUT DURING COMMAND OF Capt. HARRY
Keith's last known
address 280 River St, Ballina 2478.
Compiled & Edited August 2000 by
son Dr. Patrick ffyske Howden, BackYard TEch, Cone St.
Macleay Island, 4184, Australia.
Tel/Fax: (07) 34095100.
Wed 26 Nov 1941:
I joined Hobart whilst in Dry Dock undergoing some repairs and
was shown over the ship to familiarise ourselves with the various parts
of ship. Detailed to the Main Top, changed and commenced duties.
General Routine on board. Cleaning ship. Duty on board Alexandria Naval
Up at 6am. General Routine part of ship. Two hours sailing orders
received from Mid-day tomorrow. Alexandria Naval Base.
Alexandria Naval Base. All ready for sea. Air Raid Warning sounded and
all closed up at Defence Stations. Nothing eventuated. No Leave.
Remained in Harbour
Alexandria Naval Base. General Routine to noon. Leave granted to 9pm.
Walked all over Alexandria visiting various places to satisfy curiosity,
such as the well-known 'Sister Street' Diner at the Jewish Club. Cabaret
and then a ride in a 'Garry'.
Mon 1 Dec 1941:
Alexandria Naval Base. General Routine with ship duties. In the evening
we closed up at Defence Stations for the night. Three Air Raid Alarms
during the night but no action; enemy driven off. No Leave granted to
day. Hobart was duty Cruiser.
Admitted to the Sickbay with a bad cold and Tonsillitis.
Alexandria Naval Base. Confined to bed in the Sick Bay. During the
forenoon an Egyptian workman was brought into the Sick Bay dead; a steel
plate had dropped on him on board. Blood all over him, a terrible mess.
Later taken ashore for burial.
Confined to bed in the Sickbay. Still in Harbour.
Fri 5: Released
from Sickbay at 10am. Still in Harbour, Alexandria Naval Base. General
Routine. No Leave. Ship under 2 hours sailing orders.
Left Harbour at 12:30pm with two English Cruisers, HMS Carlisle
& Galatier and four Destroyers to escort back to Alexandria a
ship carrying valuable War Material for our Troops. One ship had been
sunk before we made contact with this Convoy. Night very cold. My first
experience of seasickness and was to be my last.
At sea south of Crete. The ship to be escorted was sighted at 1pm and
was also joined by two other Cruisers HMS Ajax & Neptune.
No action during the trip. Received the news that Japan had bombed Pearl
Harbor. America declares War on Japan.
Arrived back into Alexandria Harbour at 4:30am and refuelled from The
Mole (Breakwater). General Routine on board for the Ships Company. Air
Raid Alert soon after tea. No action. Raider driven off by fighters.
Rose at 6am and told it would be a busy day and was it busy! Completely
refuelled and stored ship with provisions. Air Raid "Red" at
1pm. Left Alexandria Harbour for the last time at 6pm for an unknown
Somewhere in the Suez Canal. Entered the Suez at 7am passing De Lesops
Monument on the right 15 minutes later. Costic Mines preventing an
uninterrupted trip down the Canal. Having to stop periodically and
drift. All vibrations had to cease. Passed Ismalia (now an AIF Camp) at
lunchtime. News received that HMS Prince of Wales &
Repulse had been sunk off Malaya by Japanese aircraft.
Somewhere in the Red Sea. Colombo bound. Everybody overjoyed at the
thought of going home, well at least towards home. The "Buzz":
Christmas Dinner in Colombo.
Somewhere in the Red Sea. Very Hot.
Off south-western Arabia. Arrived in Aden at 6am for refuelling. A busy
Port. Some large Convoy enters Aden from South Africa with Troops
apparently bound for Singapore. We departed from Aden at 12:l5pm for
Colombo. Ship due to arrive there on Thursday 18. Closed up at Defence
Stations for the night.
Somewhere at sea in the Indian Ocean. Church Service at 10:30am. Piped
Down for the day except those on watch. I was closed up at Defence
Station for the afternoon.
Somewhere at sea Indian Ocean Colombo bound. Nothing exciting happening
on board. Routine duties.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean Colombo bound. New heard that a Wireless
Station on Minooka Island had not been heard from for 5 days. The island
is 2 days steaming from Colombo and was once a Leper Island. It was
believed it could be in Japanese hands. Hobart detailed to
investigate. At 7:15pm a vessel was sighted and when challenged it would
not answer our challenge for quite awhile. Captain Howden ordered to
train our eight 6" guns on the vessel in readiness to blow her out
of the water. Then identified herself as a Norwegian. Passed all was
well. It could have been another Sydney episode but we were
prepared. Closed up for the night.
Arrived at Minokoi Island at 6.45 am. Landing Party despatched to
investigate. Landing Party armed to the teeth in case of trouble. When
the Landing Party returned it was learnt that the Wireless operator had
been sick with Fever. All reported safe; continuing onto Colombo.
Arrived at Colombo Harbour at 9:30am. Harbour crowded with shipping.
Moved into position by two tugs to the rear of HMS Exeter
(8" Cruiser). Leave granted from 2pm to 6:45am.
Harbour Routine. Duty on board. Raining heavily. Quiet day.
Harbour Routine. Shifted berth to the Engraving Dock for the fitting of
a Multiple Pom Porn gun 8' barrels) onto the Quarter Deck. Leave granted
from 1pm to 6:45am. Went shopping, visiting a few Hotels and finally
staying the night at the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Harbour Routine. Pom Porn gun in place. Church Service on board at 10am.
Colombo's first Air Raid alarm. 2:30pm turned out to be friendly
aircraft. Closed up at Defence Stations for the night.
Harbour Routine at Colombo. Leave from 2pm to 6:45am. Spent the day
having a general look around all sections of Colombo. Returning back on
board at 5pm.
Harbour Routine at Colombo. Moved from Dock back to a Buoy in the middle
of Colombo Harbour. Duty on board. Piped down for the afternoon.
Everybody looks forward to our Christmas Banquet. Quiet day.
Christmas Eve harbour routine. Draft of 70 Ratings for HMS Australia
arrives on board to take passage. Something in the wind with
"Buzzes" flying around all over the ship. Disappointed at the
thought that they may miss out on their Xmas Banquet. At 7:30am Hobart
proceeds to sea to join a Convoy for the Straits of Sunda with HMS
Newcastle. At 8pm Hobart, Newcastle and Falmouth
takes over the Convoy. All down in the mouth at putting to sea.
At sea somewhere in the Indian Ocean, Singapore bound.
CHRISTMAS DAY: Joined
by another Convoy of South African and British Troops. CHRISTMAS MENU:
Duck Bacon Beans Peas Potatoes; Plum Pudding with Brandy Sauce, Nuts:
Bottle of Beer.
Cold Pork Potatoes; Fruit & Jellies.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean Singapore bound. HMS Falmouth
picked up a contact on its ASDIC Anti Submarine Detector at 10:30am and
left us to investigate. Reported later that she had lost contact.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Falmouth rejoined the Convoy at
6am. Later that morning Falmouth and another naval vessel left
the Convoy and proceeded back to Colombo. Hobart left in charge
of Convoy. Weather becoming warmer as we approach the Equator.
Ships in company were Lancastershire, Ethiopia, Rhaeter, Devonshire and Moreham.
I was 1.5 hours adrift
from Watch and given a Commander's Report for not closing up on time.
Somewhere still in the Indian Ocean. Convoy is expected to arrive in
Singapore next Saturday 3. This was piped over the Intercom. Convoy
joined by two English Light Cruisers HMS Dragon & Durban
and the Australian Destroyer Vampire.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Everybody alert as we approach the East
Indies War Zone. Ships in perfect formation and zigzagging. All quiet.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean. An alarm sounded at 3pm A Merchantman
believed to be the German Raider Atlantes but signalled the name
of Buchanan. HMS Dragon intercepted her and reported her
friendly. Two more Destroyers HMS Jupiter and Encounter
joined the Convoy at 3:30pm as extra Anti Submarine Screen. Raining
Thu 1 Jan 1942:
NEW YEARS DAY. At 5:20am Hands were piped to have Stores ready for
transferring to HMAS Vampire. At 7:30am an Escort Plane arrives,
a Dutch Catalina and as we enter the Sunda Straits. Mount Krakatau
'Volcano is the first land mark we see since leaving Colombo. Four
Brewster Buffalo Fighters appear as escorts.
At 10am we enter the Sunda Straits passing Bangka Island on the
starboard side and Sumatra on the port side. Raining very heavily to
give us good protection. Bangka Straits are a narrow channel which makes
manoeuvrability very difficult Escorted by four Brewster Buffaloes and a
Pat. In my book here
is where you father was brilliant! Knowing the conditions of this
Channel and that we were to be subjected to enormous aerial bombing in
days ahead of us, but he managed to dodge them all.
In the Java Sea 100miles south of Singapore at 10am. Strong Escort
against Submarines and possibly enemy air attacks. Arrived at the Naval
Base, Johore Straits late in the afternoon. Proceeded alongside jetty to
refuel. Ship then ready for sailing when we had our first Air Raid in
Singapore at 9:30pm. Three Japanese Bombers very high - everything opens
up. None shot down.
Singapore Naval Base, Johore Straits. Shifted berth from Torpedo Jetty
at 6:30am to anchor 100yards from previous berth. No leave granted as
ship was proceeding to sea at 4:30pm. Air Raid Alarm at 1:15pm. Another
at 2:30pm. Left anchorage at 7pm to proceed back to Bangka Straits for
another convoy bound for Singapore. Cold and raining.
Java Seas. Picked up Convoy of 7 Warships including: Hobart, HMS
Danae, Electra, Express, Stronghold and two Corvettes HMAS
Burnie & Goulburn. Also 5 Merchantmen: Elmadena, Risaldar, Jalarajah,
Rahait and Silver Berch - all of the
Indian Steamship Company. Then we returned to Singapore.
Java Seas. On our way back to Singapore with the Convoy. Raining all
morning. Crew are happy with less chance of Air Attack. Left the Convoy
at 4:45pm off the Johore Straits and proceeded back to Batavia (Java).
En route to Batavia. Arrived at Tandjung Periuk (Sea Port for Batavia)
at 5pm. No action on the way. Leave to the Port Watch from 7pm to
midnight. Taken to town by Dutch Army Buses and visited the Allied Club
(once German Club). Met several Dutch residents who gave us a wonderful
time. Visited the Hotel Indies and the "Yen Pin" Cafe. Shops
close at dusk due to the blackout precautions. Returned on board at
Hands rose at 5am. General ship routine in part of ship (Main Top).
Departed from Tandjung Periuk at 6:15am. Soon after leaving harbour it
was piped that we were on our way to Fremantle expecting to arrive on
Sunday 11 Jan. Great excitement on board at the thought of getting
closer to home. Speed 25knots. Entered Sunda Straits at l0am and through
to the Indian Ocean at 1l:15am.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean Fremantle bound. Steaming in a heavy
swell. Excitement running still higher for Australia. Seas increasing as
the day wore on. No other excitement.
Still in the Indian Ocean. Seas exceptional. Blowing a Gale. The ship
tossing and rolling in surf 40 to 50feet high. Not feeling too well,
spending most of the time above decks. Everybody wearing their "Mae
Wests" '(Lifejackets). At 7:30pm a "Carley Float" cuts
loose around the decks - it had to be chased & secured.
Heavy Seas still running. Arrived at Fremantle at 11:30am 270 bags of
mail discharged. Refuelled and restored ship. Duty on board. Great to be
back in Australian Waters.
All Hands up early to Paint Ship. Leave granted from 4pm to 7:30am the
(I wont add what I did
that day Pat. I had a great time ashore. I met up with a very nice Lass
and would have married had I gone back that way later)
All Hands up early again to continue Painting Ship. Leave again granted
from 4pm to 7:30am the next morning. Spent the afternoon and evening
ashore; back on board at 1:30am.
Duty on board. General ship routine with more painting. The ship looking
pretty smart in her new camouflage.
At Fremantle. Working part of ship until 12noon. Leave granted from
12:45pm to 7:30am the next morning. Off to Perth again back on board at
At Fremantle. Working part of in the forenoon. Leave again granted from
4pm to 7:30am the next morning. Off again to Perth for the rest of the
Duty on board. Painting the Funnels all day.
Church Parade at 9:45am. Leave from 11am to 11:30pm. The ship was to
proceed to sea at 6:15am this morning, but sailing orders cancelled. The
"Buzzes" are circulating around the ship and Singapore again
seems very strong. We are none too happy about that so probably our last
leave ashore in Australia for awhile.
At Fremantle. General ship routine. Painting of ship completed. Leave
granted from 4pm to 11:30pm. Leave was unexpected. Spent our last day
ashore. Back on board at 10:30pm.
Departed from Fremantle at 8:30am to escort a convoy of 3 ships to
Singapore. Practice 6" shoots with a Minesweeper towing target plus
a dummy air attack. A Leading Seaman - still under the effects of
alcohol from the previous night ashore - and the Gun Layer of aft Gun
Turret were 5degrees off mark and almost blew the Minesweeper out of the
water (he lost his Leading Rank).
At sea somewhere in the Indian Ocean, Singapore bound. A slow Convoy
with a speed of 8knots. Joined by HMAS Kanimbla (Armed Merchant
Cruiser) with 7 other ships from Darwin all bound for Singapore. Seas
At sea somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Another ship joined the convoy.
Hands paid at 11am. Total number of Merchant ships in the convoy now 11.
Still in the Indian Ocean. General ship routine working part of ships.
Piped Down after mid-day for the afternoon except for those on watch.
Sat 24 to Tues 27:
Still at sea in the Indian Ocean. Nothing of interest. General ship
Wed 28: At sea in the
Indian Ocean. During the afternoon Kanimbla leaves the convoy.
Joined by two Destroyers HMS Stronghold & Tenados. Stronghold
came alongside with Official Mail re Orders of Movements. Entered Sunda
Straits at 1pm.
Entered Bangka Straits at night to avoid Aerial Bombing. Continuing on
Passed through the Bangka Straits at 6am. Shortly later an English
Destroyer passed us towing a Submarine that had its Coning Tower blown
away. At 5pm our first action in this theatre of the War when 5 Japanese
Bombers attacked. A barrage opened up at 5.15pm by 4" Anti Aircraft
guns. A stick of bombs narrowly missing one of the ships astern. No
damage reported from any of the ships. 130 shells fired by Hobart.
Two alarms given during the night but nothing came of them.
Arrived at Keppel Harbour, Singapore at 5am with the Convoy. As we
approached the Harbour the guns ashore could be heard apparently firing
across the Johore Straits. The Japanese had reached the Causeway that
links Singapore with the Mainland. Things were becoming desperate for
Singapore. No leave granted obviously. Singapore under Martial Law.
First Air Raid for the day at 10am when 27 Enemy aircraft appeared
dropping thousands of Propaganda Leaflets - but no bombs - calling on
the Troops to surrender. A Party was sent ashore to evacuate the Naval
Sun Feb 1 1942:
Keppel Harbour, Singapore. Eight Air Raids all day. One raid at 11:30am
with 18 aircraft each dropping 2 bombs. Hobart very nearly hit. A
stick bomb struck right along the back of the wharves, smashing the
Railway Station, hitting a Coal Dump, sending a shower of coal
everywhere and damaging scores of buildings, starting raging fires and
killing scores of people. Torpedo Shed bombed with a terrific explosion
from thousands of pounds of TNT sending it sky-high.
Departed from Keppel
Harbour at 6pm after taking on as much stores as possible and fuel.
Captain Howden commandeered an Austin 8 motor car plus petrol & a
young Chinese Amah and had them lifted on board. 150 Ratings were
brought aboard for Batavia. HMAS Vendetta quits being towed by HMS
Stronghold, also for Batavia. The hardest part of our departure was
seeing our own soldiers on the wharf and couldn't take them knowing full
well what could happen to them within the next week or so.
(I still fail to see why Hobart etc didn't effortlessly evacuate entire
Singapore military in a few hours!! - Pat.H).
Java Seas. We are accompanied by HMS Tenados Batavia bound
leaving Singapore to face terror. Very depressing.
Bangka Straits. An Air Raid just as we were entering the Straits by 3
enemy bombers dropping 6 bombs each missing us by approx 25feet. Prior
to this air raid, word had been received of 3 planes that bombed and set
fire to a British Merchantman. The ship was just ahead of us. A short
time later fire and smoke could be seen on the horizon. We proceeded
immediately to her assistance and found she had been hit aft of the
funnel and the bomb had passed through to the engine room killing about
30 people below decks. She was blazing fiercely. Tenados went
alongside to get the fire under control. We took on the wounded and
survivors. There were 4 or 5 boatloads, mostly Chinese, all very badly
burnt with their raw red skin torn and blistered from blast and fire,
bleeding very freely. A terrible sight. There were 40 survivors. Four
were buried at sea. Name of the ship was the SS Norah Moller that
had to be left to her own fate.
Tandjung Periuk. Arrived here at 8am the Port of Batavia and disembarked
the wounded from Norah Moller to a fleet of Dutch Army Ambulances
waiting on the wharf and the batch of Ratings from Singapore who were
survivors of British Warships that had been sunk around Singapore.
Refuelled and stored ship. Leave for the port watch from 2pm to
midnight. Leave cancelled at 4pm and all but 30 Ratings who missed the
ship were recalled. The 30 that missed the ship ransacked the places and
made up for what the rest had missed out on the wharf at Singapore
before it was bombed and destroyed. Departed from Tandjung Periuk 6pm at
Ship met up with HMS Exeter (River Plate Fame) and Destroyers Encounter
& Jupiter and then proceeded to intercept a Japanese Convoy
reported by plane off Bangka Straits and Bangka Island. Joined forces at
8pm. three Japanese Air Attacks caught us by surprise as the bombs were
on their way before we realised they were overhead. Bomb narrowly
missing our bows by 5yards and put a dent in the Paint Shop, showering
the deck with shrapnel. I myself was hit and sent to SickBay treatment
for days after. The two other attacks missed us by miles. Enemy Convoy
Arrived back in Tandjung Periuk at 6am. Anchored outside of the Harbour
waiting for a position at the Jetty. Shifted berth at 2:30pm. Leave from
3:45pm to midnight. Shipping was beginning to accumulate due to the
plight of Singapore should it fail.
In Tandjung Periuk Harbour. First Air Raid Warning of the day at 12:25pm
and a second at 2.15pm. Nothing eventuated. Prepared for sea and
departed at 6pm. We had an accident as we left the jetty. One of our
propellers hit the concrete jetty. Secured back alongside to attend to
whatever damage had been done. All quiet.
Left Tandjung Periuk at 6am to meet two ships on their way from
Singapore conveying women and children. They had been bombed all the way
down from Singapore and luckily escaped. We escorted them out into the
Indian Ocean to freedom. About 6oomiles into the Indian Ocean met up
with another convoy of 8 ships en route to Java.
Passed through Sunda Straits during the night and left those two ships
at 11:30am and proceeded to meet another convoy of 8 ships headed for
Java. No excitement.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Met the convoy at mid-day escorted by HMS
Cornwall Cruiser of the Canberra Class which then left us and
returned to Colombo to leave us in charge of the Convoy. En route to
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean. HMS Exeter joins us at 8:30pm and
we proceed to Sunda Strait.
Thu 12: HMIS Jumna (Indian Sloop) H27 leaves the convoy at 11m. Convoy
speed 6.5knots very slow. No activity.
Fri 13: Convoy split
up at 4pm. We escorted 5 ships to the Oostenhaven (Telukbetung?)
entrance in Southern Samatra. 3 other ships with Exeter leave for
Batavia. We left the 5 ships at 9pm, proceeded up Sunda Straits and
receive word by wireless to turn back to Oostenhaven for refuel and
await further orders. Something was brewing and all sorts of rumour
Arrived at Oostenhaven at 11am where we discovered the whole of the
Dutch Fleet were there waiting consisting of 3 Cruisers De Ruyter, Java and
Tromp plus 4 Dutch Destroyers. We secured
alongside a Norwegian Tanker for refuelling and after securing alongside
only to find she was carrying Gasoline for Aircraft and had to
return to the Naval Anchorage.
At 1pm Exeter
with 6 American four-funnel Destroyers arrive. Something brewing
obviously. Anchors weigh at 4:30pm and Hobart leaves with 3 Dutch
Cruisers, four Dutch Destroyers, the Six American Destroyers and Exeter
at 27knots - what a sight to see. Looks a formidable battle fleet, the
only Force left to repel any Jap landings. Now proceeding to intercept a
Japanese Convoy consisting of 6 Cruisers & 16 Destroyers headed for
Received a report from Catalinas (our Patrol Aircraft) that in this
reported convoy were 25 Troop Transports with their Escorts as
previously stated, as opposed to our 5 Cruisers and 16 Destroyers.
Captain Howden spoke to the Ships Company over the Intercom wishing us
Good Luck and God speed. Everybody uneasy but all willing and eager to
do battle with the Nips. Closed up at Action Stations for the rest of
What a day!! During the night a Dutch Destroyer runs aground on our
right flank. Exeter departs and breaks off to assist the
Destroyer and rejoins the Fleet at 5:30am after removing most of the
crew and leaving a skeleton gun crew on board. 8am, 3 Reconnaissance
planes are catapulted off to find the Japanese Convoy. Soon these planes
reported 7 Cruisers and 3 Destroyers headed our way at high speed at
about 120miles ahead. We went at high speed to engage the enemy. 11:30am
the Blitz started continuously until 6pm by 128 planes dropping an
average of two bombs each. There were 72 near misses for the afternoon
with approximately 6oo bombs. We were subjected to Dive Bombing,
Torpedo and high level bombing.
We maintained high
speed zigzagging and put up a tremendous barrage with all guns blazing
from every ship. At 2:30pm during one of those raids there were 3
formations of enemy aircraft with 9 planes in each forming a
"V" pattern which made a run on Hobart dropping 54
bombs. Captain Howden observing the bombs leaving the aircraft
immediately ordered astern on 2 propellers to swing the ship to port.
Bombs then straddled Hobart down the starboard side leaving us
with 8 shrapnel casualties, 2 very serious. We all thought our number
was up. The Gun Layer Scotty Newland of the after POM POM was badly
injured. Hobart credited with two to four probables. Hobart
had fired 509 Rounds of 4.7. The forward Pom Porn 52 Rounds, the aft
Porn Pom 67 Rounds, the 6" guns 39 Rounds as Anti-Aircraft Barrage.
Exeter was straddled and very nearly hit. Sighted the Dutch
Destroyer that had run aground at 5pm and had been continually bombed
all day at low level when the Japs realised that she was aground. She
was in halves and burning from stern to stern. Columns of black smoke
reaching high into the sky. Ammunition occasionally exploded and the
port side was completely blown out. The Convoy we originally set to
intercept not sighted, probably turned away. During the evening the
Fleet set about returning to Batavia.
Arrived back Tandjung Periuk at 9am. Refuelled and brought ammunition
aboard. Quiet day awaiting further orders. General ship routine. Leave
granted for the afternoon.
General Ship Routine. "Orcades" (P & 0 Liner)
converted to a Troopship arrives with troops for Java. Another quiet
day. Pictures on board at night "You're a Sweetheart"
Another quiet day. General Ship Routine. One would think there was a War
close at hand. Pictures on board that night "The Saint of New
York". Leave granted.
General Ship Routine. Word received that Darwin had been bombed.
Occasional Air Raid Alarm. Nothing eventuated. The Port Officials
(Dutch) now in a panic as the Japanese Forces close on Java.
takes charge of shipping and Harbour Installations.
Again General Ship Routine with the Restoring of provisions. No butter,
tea or sugar. Living on Dutch tinned butter. Had a surprise visit from
my brother George whom I thought would have been a Prisoner of the War
Sailing Orders received for 8am later cancelled. Crew kept on board on
Departed Tandjung Periuk at 12:30arn with Orcades and Destroyer
escort for the Indian Ocean. Passed out through Sunda Straits and
proceeded to the Indian Ocean all day. That night Orcades headed
Left the Orcades between 8pm & 12midnight and proceeded back
to Tandjung Periuk. All quiet.
En route to Tandjung Periuk and on the way back Captain Howden informs
us that HMAS Perth was in Tandjung Periuk. The crew thought she
was to be our relief. Passed through Sunda Straits during the night.
Arrived in Tandjung Periuk at 8am. Air Raid just as we were about to
enter Harbour. Oil tanks hit and ablaze, secured alongside a British Oil
Tanker War-Sidar and soon after 9 enemy aircraft again raided us.
Too late to slip from the tanker. We were the target. One bomb went
right through the tanker fo'cle and through the bottom of the ship
before exploding to lift us up out of the water; the remaining bombs
That was really close.
The tanker began to list on its side onto the Hobart. When she
had been righted we slipped from alongside and remained outside the
Harbour until the planes had dispersed. We then proceeded alongside the
Jetty and found that the oil had been contaminated by Fifth Column spies
through adding salt water to the oil.
The crew very busy discharging empty shell cases. At 5am this morning a
Dutch Catalina Patrol Plane reported a Jap Convoy travelling south
towards Java. Put to see at 8:30am with HMS Dragon & Danae,
2 Light Cruisers and two Destroyers to intercept.
Somewhere in the Bangka Straits. Out all night and no sign of enemy.
Returned to Tandjung Periuk at 2:30pm and while returning we were raided
by 9 enemy bombers. No hits scored but peppered by shrapnel from near
misses. Seven shrapnel casualties, 3 serious with one very nearly
paralysed in the spine; the other his lung punctured. This latter,
A.B.Currie, was between life and death. Dive-bombed just after berthing
at 4pm but planes were driven off by concentrated firing from all war
ships in the Harbour. Left Periuk again to engage an enemy convoy of 30
Transports with Cruisers and Destroyers in the Sunda Strait and Bangka
Strait. We remained in those Straits all night but still no sign of the
Before leaving Periuk
we were ordered to engage this enemy if found. We were then ordered out
of the Javanese Theatre as the position was hopeless. On leaving the
Port, Captain Howden informed the ships crew that Perth & Exeter
had been hit from action with a Japanese Force headed for Surabaja at
the eastern end of Java and these were apparently the Convoys that been
reported from time to time that we never saw. He also informed us that
in all probability we would have to fight our way out of the Sunda
Straits before reaching the Indian Ocean. We were light on fuel because
of the work of the Fifth Column and would 100:1 chance of getting out if
the Japanese were encountered.
We were all itching to
get away from Periuk and the Theatre of War seeing it was hopeless &
so the crew were edgy but spirits very high. Captain Howden when
speaking over the Intercom remarked that Hobart sustained the
heaviest concentrated aerial bombing of any warship in this Theatre.
At Dawn found us at the Indian Ocean end of Sunda Straits with still no
sign of the enemy but naturally ever on the alert. We were now 100miles
approximately from Palembang in Sarnartra where strong Japanese Air
Bases had been established. We head into the Indian Ocean beyond the
range of bombers. Hobart, Dragon, Danae, two
Destroyers HMS Scout & Tenados were detailed to
evacuate Refugees (Civilians and Troops) from Padang on the West Coast
of Somartra who had driven back. These included troops from Singapore
who had escaped. 11:30am both Destroyers left us and proceeded to Padang
while we waited off for them. All quiet.
Sun 1 Mar 1942:
Dawn found us cruising up and down the West Coast of Sumatera off Padang
waiting for the Destroyers who were expected to pick up these people at
7am. No sign of the Destroyers so Radio Silence was broken to ascertain
the problem. It meant danger to us remaining too long in the area. At
9am the Destroyers were sighted and came alongside the Cruisers Tenados
& Hobart at 9:30am when 500 refugees were discharged with
post haste. These consisted of British & Australian soldiers,
Malayans, Chinese & Civilians. As soon as we took on our lot Hobart
immediately left the other Cruisers while they took on their lot and
told to join up later.
Mon 2: HMS Dragon &
Scout rejoined us later in the forenoon.
Proceeding onto Colombo with the happy thought of getting away from the
hopeless position around Java. The crew heard many Evacuees experiences.
The rest of the day and night quiet.
At 11:30am Indian & British Troops were transferred from Dragon
& Danae to Hobart at sea and continued onto Colombo. HMS
Dragon refuelled in mid ocean from an Oil Tanker and proceeded, as
she was detailed to do another job elsewhere. Captain Howden informed us
that Perth had been radioed to rendezvous with the Oil Tanker Apple
Leaf so many miles at sea indicating the position. If Perth
did not make that rendezvous by a certain time it would be known that
all was lost as no word had been heard from her. She never made it and
was later we learnt she had been sunk in battle.
Colombo Bound. General Ship Routine although somewhat curtailed due to
overcrowding so, except for those on watch, it was time to relax and
wind down after 2 months of continuous bombing or closing up at Action
Left Danae and Destroyers at l0am to have speed trials in lieu of
what happened when slipping from the Jetty in Periuk. The results were
32.8knots. We arrived in Colombo at 2pm and secured along side HMS
Ranchi (Armed Merchant Cruiser). The Evacuees left the ship at 4pm.
Leave from 4:30pm to 7:30am next morning. How the crew longed for that
to let their hair down & get rid of the tension.
Departed Colombo at 5.30pm with 5 Troopships, 3 Oil Tankers, Battleship Ramilles,
3 Destroyers & Two Corvettes. At 7pm Ramilles & 3
Destroyers left the convoy & proceeded to Trincomalee (Ceylon) Naval
Base. We carried on with the Convoy, all Troopships carrying AIF Troops
home to Australia, Fremantle Bound. No need to express the thoughts
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean. We were informed that the Convoy was
expected to arrive if Fremantle on 19 Feb. The route we were to take was
down the east coast of Africa into the Southern Ocean then east and
north to Fremantle as a precaution against Japanese occupation of any
islands in the Indian Ocean.
Raining very heavily.
General Routine on board.
Sun 8 to Tue 17:
Convoy Duty Fremantle bound somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Nothing
exciting. General Ship Routine.
General Ship Routine. The American Light Cruiser Phoenix and two
4-funnel Destroyers meet the Convoy and join the escort to Fremantle.
250miles off Fremantle. During the forenoon an American Catalina joins
the escort and in the afternoon a Lockheed Hudson Bomber joins the
Convoy for Patrol work. We are one day late into Fremantle.
Rottnest Island off Fremantle was sighted at 8:15am and berthed at
10:45am. Harbour full of ships like at Colombo and Batavia. Fremantle
refused to believe that Hobart was still afloat as the ship was
reported sunk by "Tokyo Rose".
General Routine from 7am. Quiet day.
Thanksgiving Service held on board for our safe deliverance from the
Japanese Theatre of our ship & all Corvettes that had reached
Fremantle. Departed from Frernantle at 2pm with a Convoy of 5 ships
having the AIF bound for Adelaide. Escort consisted of 5 Troopships, 2
Merchantmen, 2 American Destroyers, 2 Corvettes and Hobart.
Somewhere in the Great Australian Bight bound for Adelaide.
Tue 24 to Wed 25:
General Routine on board. Left the Convoy to proceed back to Fremantle.
There were some sad faces. Not know the reason.
Arrived back in Fremantle at 8am. Leave from 4pm to 7:30am next morning.
Departed from Fremantle at 6pm with SS Monterey & piped that
the ship was proceeding to Melbourne. Heavy swell running.
At sea in Great Australian Bight. Seas very heavy. It was piped on board
that ship was now proceeding to Adelaide to drop off some of the Troops
that had missed the previous Convoy.
Sun 29 to Mon 30:
General Sea Routine on board. All quiet.
Arrived at Adelaide 11am. Hobart waited outside of Harbour while Monterey
discharged the Troops that had missed their Ship in Fremantle. Proceeded
at 3:30pm for Melbourne.
Arrived off Port Phillip Bay at 2pm and berthed at 6:45pm. Leave from
8:30pm to midnight.
Shifted berth at 8:30am to Williamstown for refuelling. Duty on Board
while the Melbournites went ashore.
Departed from Port Williamstown at 9am to proceed to Sydney alone.
Arrived off Sydney Head at 9am and berthed at 10am. All hands out at
Dawn to get their first glimpse of Sydney Heads for ages. A Great sight.
15 days leave for Interstate Natives. Sydney Natives get the second
From here on Pat I don't
know where your Dad went. I left the ship to do a Radar Course and later
joined Warrego but we can all
thank God for a great Skipper. They're maybe some who fell foul of him,
who probably cursed him as it is with anyone who falls foul of discipline.
Being an ex-Police Officer I know only too well. But they can thank him
also. I wish you well with your "Green" Research or whatever.
What I have given you is from the time I joined Hobart to when I left. You
can pick out what you want. I hope it is of some use.