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Mon Jan 1 1940: At sea escorting convoy. Calm sea. Glorious flying A/C. No NY celebrations this year. I spent a little too long in the sun and got burned.

Tue 2: At sea with convoy as above. Calm sea. Flew off our A/C this morning and carried out full calibre 4" HA shoot and close range AD firing at target towed by A/C from Glorious.

Wed 3: At sea with convoy, another glorious day, smooth sailing. Gloster Gladiators from Glorious gave fine exhibition of aerobatics just before dinner (Noon). Afternoon spent sunbathing.

Thu 4: At sea weather calm. Full calibre 6" gun shoot with reduced charges. 4 rounds/gun. Glorious towed the target. Because when men congregate in the 'Heada' they have nothing better to do than talk, rumours tend to get passed around. This one says we are returning to Sydney on Feb 14th. Perhaps stemming from the fact that our Capt. Harry Howden is to give a farewell dinner to C-in-C Colombo.

Fri 5: At sea calm & quiet.

Sat 6: Left convoy about 06:30 and turned about for Colombo. Turn was made with Cape Guardafuia in sight. Tonight we noticed a strange phenomenon as we apparently sailed through marine growths making it look as though we were sailing through a sea of milk.

Sun 7: Usual Sunday routine. I did not go to church. Sea calm; speed l9kts. The 'buzz' about returning to Sydney has lost much of its punch; no really strong rumour has taken it's place. It rained, it is also 'Pash' Petterson's birthday.

Mon 8: It rained again this morning; sunny after about 09:00. Today I have the job of cleaning the messdeck. Nothing untoward.

Tue 9: Quiet, nothing eventful.

Wed 10: Arrived Colombo 08:30. Aircraft had been flown off at 06:15 and returned at 09:30. Drew 18/9 out of bank. Mail inwards with letters from Mother, Rita and Helen. Dave off ashore to give message to J.L.Davies and get reply concerning dinner tomorrow night. Aust stamps are now available aboard and all letters posted are to bear them. Now it appears they are removing all reference to India from our mail. This seems ridiculous in view of the fact that a few days ago we could send Indian newspapers home. Ships in Colombo are Sussex, Gloucester" and AMC Carthage. Began letter to Helen.

Thu 11: Payday. This morning Christmas hampers from the Australian Comforts Fund were distributed. Mine came from Mrs.Herbert Brookes of South Yarra and contained Christmas pudding, cake, cream, peaches, cheese, cards, sweets, nuts and fruit, toothbrush, 20 cigarettes and a Colgates toothpaste. A very welcome gift and a very pleasant surprise indeed. Birmingham came in this morning about 10:30: looking as though she had been at sea for some time. Left again at 17:00 for an unknown destination. We went ashore at 14:00 and after doing a little shopping met Jim (J.L.) Davies of the ANMLA. Co. (NB. National Mutual Life Assn.) and went with him to his home. Had a most enjoyable evening drinking, smoking, chatting and last but, not least a scrumptious dinner. There were also three other fellows there and Jim Newton who lodges with the Davies. Mrs.Davies' name is Hilda. We returned aboard about midnight after being invited to another feast on a future occasion. Bought six coffee spoons & a silver butter knife. Hope to get more later on when I have cash to spare.

Fri 12: Colombo Harbour. Ashore 16:00 Purchased Ovaltine and then went swimming at the Galle Face Hotel pool after Jascha Heifetz in "They Shall Have Music" at the Regal cinema 18:00 session that lasted 1-3/4 hour. We had dinner at the Bristol Hotel and then returned aboard at 22:15.

Sat 13: Colombo & Duty.

Sun 14: Colombo. Ashore 14:00 swimming at the GFH pool. Photo by DLM.

Mon 15: To sea at 08:00 providing cover for convoy to Malacca St. & return. Sussex & Eagle in company; big exercise program this trip. I am now a 'Y' operator and get a lot of time. 2 watches in harbor is one of the privileges.

Tue 16: At sea for Malacca, fairly calm but some chop with poor visibility and rain.

Wed 17: At sea with Sussex & Eagle for Colombo. Exercising HA shoots.

Thu 18: Dawn torpedo attack & 4" at low angle at towed target. Colombo 11:00, Eagle 10:50, Sussex 11:20. Bank balance 16-13-11. Ashore to BSSI dance. Very good time indeed.

Fri 19: Duty. Informed W/T3 exam will take place on Monday 22 Jan. This is a surprise for which I am very poorly prepared.

Sat 20: Ashore 14:00 to afternoon tea party at Weatherburn's. Darts, gramophone and a game of chance. Prizes were given for three darts on a 1R note, the prize was the note. After tea a conjurer came in and gave a performance and also performed the "Mango" tree trick. A little later we returned to the fort and after satisfying the inner man at the GOH (opposite the ferry wharf) went to see Dorothy Lamour in "Speyton of the North" at the Empire theatre, after which we returned aboard. Ranchi entered harbour 18:30.

Sun 21: Usual routine in the morning with Divisions & Church. Ashore at 14:00 for a swim and then back aboard for a Flashing & Semaphore exam.

Mon 22: 08:15 boat to Navy Office for exam. P&D (Prac & Oral), coding Instr' and prac' coding. OD'!s also sitting and one TO from Gloucester for W/T3 beside myself. Obtained Cable route maps from Cables & Wireless Ltd.

Tue 23: Ashore again 08:15 for technical paper. Dave & Plane go to Trincomalee. Practical in Gloucester, very few questions asked.

Wed 24: Were to have gone to sea at 08:10 but, did not sail. Leave was granted from 14:00 but, I am on 'Y' duty.

Thu 25: Sailed for Trincomalee 08:30 in company with Eagle and Sussex.

Fri 26: At sea exercising action, closed up most of forenoon. Must write Helen soon & send "Illustrated Weekly of India". Arrived Trincomalee just before 15:00 and dropped anchor 15:03. Sussex and Eagle followed us through the boom gate a few minutes later. Leave was granted from 17:00 until 22:00. It rained a few drops whilst we were waiting for the Pinnace and we (one watch only - Red) went off for a little recreation if nothing else. Hoping for a swim I took a towel and trunks. Our intentions were doomed however, as there was no entertainment whatsoever. We also found good food very hard to obtain. After having a couple of drinks and dinner at a Resthouse we went around to the Canteen. In the canteen were a few beer guzzlers at work and others dining. The dining rooms appear to be about the best place to eat in Trinco. We were quite glad when 22:00 came and we could return aboard. I expected very little here but find it a damn sight worse than was expected. It is, in fact, the worst place I've ever been to in any of HMA ships. Lord I will be glad when we shake the dust of India & Ceylon from our feet and once more turn towards Australia or some other place populated by white people. Ceylon may be a tourist paradise but it is a sailor's curse when leave is limited to a three-mile radius of the landing.

Sat 27: Trinco Harbour, nothing eventful. Boats away sailing, We won the Inter-ship deck hockey v Eagle.

Sun 28: Trinco harbour, usual harbour routine. Some fights ashore as three P0's were beaten up.

Mon 29: Out at 16:45 for a shoot, returned again about 21:30. Sussex did not return with us.

Tue 30: Trinco harbour, sailing races vs Eagle, cutters, skiffs and whalers. The regatta was called off half way through owing to rain.

Wed 31: Sailed from Trincomalee 09:30 in company with Eagle to rendezvous with ANZAC troop convoy off swept channel to Colombo.


Thu 1: Sighted (?) & Suffren about noon off Colombo. We hung around until fairly late and then sighted Otranto and made haste to catch up with the rest of the convoy. Passed Otranto about 16:30 and there was much cheering as we passed close to her. Our band was playing from its area on 'B' deck.

Fri 2: Met the rest of the Convoy during the forenoon Eagle, Sussex & Ramillies in the van with Hobart as rearguard. Ships in convoy are: Strathnaver, P&O 22,383t; Strathaird (NZ), P&O 22,284t; Empress of Japan, Canadian Pacific 26,932t; Empress of Canada, CP (NZ) 21,517t; Orford, Orient 19,941t; Orcades, 23,500t; Otranto, 20,033t; Orion (NZ), 24,OOOt; Dunera, (NZ) BICo 11,lOOt; Rangitata (NZ) Fed SNCO, 16,737t; Sobieski (NZ) Gdynia America, 11,442t. The Athos, Messageries Maritime 15,000t, joined the convoy from Singapore, the others from Australia & NZ.

Sat 3: Normal routine, nothing of any consequence. The formation of ships was as follows with 3 lines with Ramillies, Eagle & Sussex at their heads:

Ramillies Eagle Sussex

Strathnaver Orcades Empress of Canada

Strathaird Orion Emperor of Japan

Sobieski Athos

Hobart zigzag astern.

Athos dropped out during the forenoon and speed was reduced. Convoy making about 12 ks average.

Sun 4: Uneventful except for an aircraft crash, the Eagle lost a "Swordfish".

Mon 5: Still at sea with 5th convoy bound for Aden. We expect to arrive there on Wed 7th and I hope to get a typewriter. I will draw some money out of the bank in anticipation.

Tue 6: Wrote Helen, Geo.B.Hamilton and Uncle Bert during t'hs middle watch. Made out withdrawal for 20.3.2 = Rs 215. Wrote to Frank Clarke. Dave off in a/c said he would not get ashore but, when we picked them up again he told us he'd been ashore for about half an hour. We dropped anchor a little after 18:00, our time, (about 19:00 Aden DST). Aden is a most desolate looking place and is. I believe, considered a punishment station by the army. There are plenty of hills around the town which is in a crater called Crater City. There is very little in the way of vegetation being only able to see one or two trees.

Wed 7: We departed from Aden about 04:00 after collecting mail & oiling and picked up Sussex and half the convoy. Soon afterwards Sussex left us. Returned money to bank & joined "Paragon" library.

Thu 8: With convoy in the Red Sea, nothing eventful. Pay day.

Fri 9: With convoy in Red Sea. There has been a bit of trouble in the mess and eight men have requested a change. Just shows how popular our "Wombat" is. (Ldg. Teleg "Wombat" Sutton is i/c maintenance, ie. ensures that lead acid batteries are well cared for, reads the "Press" reports, usually in the DF office and is Leading hand of the mess. )

Sat 10: Left the convoy this afternoon and proceeded to rendezvous with Sussex, Westcott and the other half.

Sun 11: Met the other half of the convoy about 03:00 and proceeded on course Northwards in the Red Sea.

Mon 12: Left our charges consisting of Strathnaver, Empress of Japan, Orcades (with draft aboard) Orion and Orford about 17:45 (05:45) and proceeded towards Aden at 18kts.

Tue 13: Was given a shake at 05:40 after clocks had been advanced 1 1/4hours during the night and I had already done the first watch. This to get one DF bearing of Aden Radio on 130kHz. We moored at Aden about 19:30. Ramillies, Eagle, Sussex and a number of smaller craft also there. Drew 215 Re out of the bank and gave 150 to DLM to buy a Remington typer. He returned about 21:00 to tell me that he had seen what he considered a better machine, an Olympia at 130Ra and therefore did not buy the Remington.

Wed 14: Drew an additional Ra50 and went ashore to buy a noiseless portable Ra200 + 12.8 exchange. Also bought Parker Vacuumatic slender pen for Re18.8, wristlet watch and Mah Jong outfit, also a number of smaller articles and 20 cigarettes. Also went for car tour to Aden proper (Crater City), Queen of Sheba's Wells, Sheikh Otharan and Rohat RAF station.

Thu 15: Anchor at Aden. Ramillies sailed this morning. Practice on the typewriter for awhile. Then boat sailing in a skiff. Poor conditions here. The wind very gusty. To make matters worse we had rudder trouble so returned to the ship under foresail only and the last lap under oars. Hoisted in and then carried on with normal work. Last dogwatch. Well satisfied with the typewriter. A cutter won the sailing.

Fri 16: Sailing races today for Officer Coxswains. Ours won. Dempo left port this morning.

Sat 17: Andes arrived during the forenoon. Night orders had indicated leave 13:30-22:30, changed later to 11:00-18:30. Gave John Box Ra 10 to buy cigarettes for me 400 "Luckies" & 200 "Spud" obtained. Making satisfactory progress with typewriting. In the sailing races today our Cutter was first and whaler second. Our skiff also won the skiff race. (From memory Percy Stokan Yeo of Sigs was our Cox'n.). Andes departed 1830, Conte Rosso entered. ETO 21:30. Company not known. Strathaird may be with us on return journey to Australia.

Sun l8: We left Aden at 22:15 and after steaming until about 15:00 met the Andes, 25,800t, Royal Mail Lines steamer 22kt on her second voyage. She would normally be employed carrying passengers between Southampton and South American ports. In this morning's news there was much about the rescue of the British seamen held prisoner aboard the Altmark in Norwegian waters. Naturally Germany made a squeal. Tonight in the BBC news there was much about the Exeter & Ajax & their arrival at Plymouth, where Drake played his famous game of bowls and to which many a victorious naval ship has returned. They also mentioned the landing of the ANZAC troops at Suez. A naval observer gave the week's commentary and he was all blah about the glorious action of Cossack, Ajax & Achilles in the South Atlantic. We are due in Colombo on the afternoon of Th 22nd.

Mon 19 to Wed 21: Uneventful, at sea in company with Andes.

Thu 22: Arrived Colombo Breakwater 1700. Andes, our charge, entered first & we were moored by 17:30. Leave granted from 18:30 to 22:30. Andes is carrying Scottish troops to relieve troops already in China. I caught the 19:30 boat off and went to the BSSI dance. Louise & her pal were not there, but we had a good time with a number of partners. Lord I wish Helen were here with me. 37 bags of mail, mostly parcels. Twenty pieces for me, last though far from least, one from Helen via Bombay. Fred also wrote and says Australia is having a good time.

Fri 23: At mooring in Colombo, Ranchi came out of dock today. Ramillies & Kent also in port. We expect to go into dock soon.

Sat 24: 48 hours leave has been granted to two watches; i.e. half ship's company, first off to be those who missed out in Bombay. Pat O'Shannessy has arranged tours. Ranchi left harbour this afternoon. Suffren entered 18:20. Sailing in skiff quite good but not much wind. Our second whaler won the sailing race.

Sun 25: Party on 48hrs leave go this afternoon, some to Dilatawala camp, others to New a Eliya and still others to Kandy as HQ. Bus trips through the Island. Believe some are to go to private homes or plantations the fortunate few.

Mon 26: Quiet and uneventful. (I was probably on duty also.)

Tue 27: Ashore 14:00, swimming at the Galle Face. Gave Bett Brooker's address to Band Cpl.Penniger of Ramillies. Dinner at the "Metropole". Hour or so at BSSI, darts & draughts with a Danish seaman. Left there at 20:45 for CPRG hall to dance; Hilda & three friends arrived about 21:30. Most impressed by Jean McKenna, a recent arrival in Ceylon. The other "Miss" of the party appeared to be carrying on an express romance with Spicer an Adelaide 'Rocky'. Cabaret turns by "Wallabies", Tap, pyramids, tumbling, and acrobatics on spring mattresses. An excellent performance. After 01:00 the ladies and some of the lads left. We stayed on to the end and returned to the ship about 0200. Tired but, happy. What a night!!!

Wed 28: Ramillies sailed this morning about 08:30. Nothing else of note.

Thu 29: The last day of Feb and a leap year day. Duty; Sussex sailed.


Fri I Mar 1940: Wrote Helen during the middle watch. Ashore about 16:00, met Jim & Hilda, dropped Jim at the golf club & then out to Mt.Lavinnia for a swim, it would have been enjoyable only I felt so rotten. Later at their place I became worse and so I spent the evening on Jim Newton's bed instead of being in the fun. Gida, Lola & her boy friend were also there. They arrived around 22:00. We left in Gida's car around midnight & came back aboard in a dhyso.

Sat 2: In bed in sick bay. Felt very low and slept nearly all day.

Sun 3: Ship sailed at 16:30. I was up after Divisions, still feeling low. Full duty again. Ouch!! Sailed towards the Nicobar Islands to meet Gunboats.

Mon 4: Still the same so Chief is pretty easy on me.

Tue 5: At sea, feeling better though still eating very little.

Wed 6: Stomach OK now. At sea, calm & uneventful. Met Ladybird & Aphis at Nicobar. Turned about for Ceylon at 06:00.

Thu 7: Calm and uneventful. Pains in the lumbar region have been troubling me for some time. Dull continuous pains. Has been mentioned to the Doctor a number of times and now he has decided to do something about it.

Fri 8: Uneventful.

Sat 9: Left Aphis & Ladybird at South of Island last night & changed course for Trincomalee. Arrived Trinco about 10:30. Letter from Helen.

Sun 10: Harbour routine. Uneventful. Refuelled at China Bay and spent some time watching a troop of monkeys.

Mo 11: Ashore about 14:00. Bike through country and groves of coconut palms. Visited Port Frederick - very interesting. Returned aboard about 18:00.

Tue 12: 09:00 Assumed Force 'I' organisation. Sailed at 09:30 in company with Eagle, to escort her across the Bay of Bengal. Expect to leave her Thu 14 and arrive Colombo on Sat 16 after 6" shoot. Wrote article on Audio Oscillator for Radio & Hobbies (Aust) plus letter to them.

Wed 13: With Eagle in Bay of Bengal; uneventful.

Thu 14: Eagle left us this morning at about 03:30 in the vicinity of the Nicobar Islands. We then turned about for Colombo.

Fri 15: Uneventful.

Sat 16: Action stations at 08:00 for long range 6" full calibre shoot. Entered harbour at 10:00. Duty Afternoon, Last dog & middle watches. Letter from Helen. 'Y' watch again. On Monday we are to see SSO.

Sun 17: Colombo; uneventful.

Mon 18: Colombo; ashore swimming and bought a pendant.

Tue 19: Rs60 out. Colombo; much mail came aboard.

Wed 20: 17:00 sailed for Bay of Bengal as a Ferry Service for four minesweepers.

Thu 21: Payday; some photographs ordered.

Fri 22: Wrote Probert & Collie. Sunderlands en-route Penang for Trincomalee, a five-hour flight. We set watch to keep a look out for them. We missed our rendezvous with the minesweepers and our plane went up and located them OK at 10:15. Abingdon, Farehan, Stoke, Derby & Bagshot 710t, six 4" gun. 23 in service; built '14-18.

Sat 23: Entered harbour 16:45. No mail. Duty night.

Sun 24 Mar 1940: Nothing was entered in my diary for this date and typewritten diary begins with Mon 25th March 1940.

Mon Mar 25: Leave was granted as usual from 14:00 so Dave & I decided to go ashore to the Cinema. 17:00 we landed and after a few minutes around the town we went out to the "Empire" where "In name only" was showing. (Kay Francis, Cary Grant and Carole Lombard). Newsreels of interesting war incidents were shown and that new favourite "Roll out barrel" was played a number of times. On leaving there we decided to go for dinner to the Fountain Cafe. Whilst there we rang Jim and found him out. We thoroughly enjoyed the dinner in the cool of the evening on a dimly lit lawn. The lighting was done by a string of coloured lamps across the street side of the lawn; it was most effective and gave the place rather a romantic air.

Leaving the "Fountain" in a taxi we sped out to the Galle Face and spent a few minutes there; returning to the G.0.H. and the jetty around ten.

Tue Mar 26: Ashore at l4:00, did a little shopping, saw Jim, and then returned aboard for Jock, Dave, and my trunks. We all went ashore in the 16:00 boat and after buying a few tools went around to the Metropole to await the coming of Jim at 5:30. We met him and went out to the Galle Face baths where we enjoyed ourselves for some two or three hours, swimming, water polo and then back to the Metropole for dinner. From the Metropole went round to the B.S.S.I. for a few minutes before leaving for a late session at the "New Olympia" where "Here I am a stranger" (Brenda Joyce, Richard Greene and Richard Dix) was showing.

This show like last evening's was very interesting and helped one to forget the war. There are quite a number of good ahows coming to Colombo and I hope to see one or two of them if we remain here. This afternoon HMS CoIombo and HMS Ceres arrived here on their way to Australia. Apparently our own ships are too good for Australia as they are sending these old "kipper" cruisers out there; according to reports they are to be used for training purposes. They are 4,200t ships which were built during the last war and mount five six inch guns three 3" AA.(anti aircraft) and a number of smaller guns. They also carry 8 A.W. T.T. torpedo tubes in twin 21" mountings.

I was able to complete the set of Ceylon picture stamps for Helen. Hope she likes them. Returned aboard about midnight, tired and not so happy after hearing that these cruisers are going to our sunny shores.

Wed Mar 27: Colombo and Ceres sailed this morning at 6:30am and Kent followed an hour later; the latter came straight out of dock and went to sea. We followed Kent at 3:15pm and will carry out exercises with her as part of the "Red" fleet. Gloucester, representing an enemy, is with three Sunderland a/c - the "Blue" fleet - and it is our duty to find her and put a stop to her raiding habits. A mail came aboard today and brought me a letter from Helen.

Thu Mar 28 1940: Carried out exercises as previously enumerated Gloucester, taking the part of an enemy raider was located by the Sunderland aircraft early in the forenoon and the enemy reports began to come in. The exercise was ordered to cease at about 11:00 before we had actually sighted the Gloucester.

We then turned to go to Trincomalee. Lord knows how long we will be there but I heard that we shall be leaving for sea again on Monday.

Fri Mar 29: Exercises completed we are now on our way to Trincomale. Arrived at Trincomale at 1400 and anchored there. Kent was also with us. Finished writing to Helen and posted the letter. Also wrote for Radiotron Designer's Handbook. Sailing in skiff all afternoon and we had a good time too. Returned to ship about 5:30.

Sat 30: To and from oiling berth during the forenoon. Usual routine, no mail.

Sun 31: Nothing eventful. Sailing races during the afternoon. Yesterday the Trincomalee Sailing Club invited our men to participate in their sailing races: I do not know how they ended.

The Skinny R.P.O. (Regulating Petty Officer = ship's cop) was severely dealt with by a couple of the boys tonight. Yates suffered a similar fate.


Mon 1st Apr: Exercises during the forenoon of height-finding and bombing, hands painted ship. Requested skiff for sailing but unlucky. During the middle watch an SOS was received by Aden Radio from the steamer Roslin Castle which had run around near Perim. She asked for immediate assistance "towing". Apparently there was not much damage but a tug was required to tow her off. Ashore at 17:00 bought Illustrated Weeklies issue or quantity 3. Thence to see "Mr.Smith goes to Washington", a most interesting show which we thoroughly enjoyed. Crazy Cat cartoon and trailer of the next show. The Mr.Smith that they showed was cut and there was quite a lot of the story missing.

Tue 2: Exercises this forenoon. Nothing interesting and I did not take part. Requested permission to take skiff away but no luck. Do not intend to go ashore here again for a while certainly not today. Airmail in: none for me.

Wed 3: At sea off Trincomalee. Exercises during the forenoon and afternoon. Kent returned early so we did not get back until 20:30 after carrying out a searchlight exercise.

Thu 4: Sailed to try and intercept a Dutch ship that was suspected of carrying contraband. Kent in company with us. After a short period at sea we learned that she had been intercepted and it was rumoured that Suffren had picked her up. Was hoping we could capture her and go with the prize crew, it would have helped to break the monotony of our patrols.

Fri 5: Arrived Colombo at about 3:30pm. Leave granted as usual from about 6pm until 10:30pm. Quite a lot of time was taken up in reading about a number of warrants: sentences varied between ten days in cell aboard and ninety days in the jail ashore. In all there were nine warrants.

Sat 6: Colombo uneventful. The buzz that we are soon going home is getting stronger now but the Skipper says that no one knows anything regarding our movements.

Sun 7: Ashore in the 2pm boat and out to the new "Fleet Club" which is situated out near the Colombo Swimming Club. Had a couple of drinks there and then to the Galle Face baths for a swim. Left the Galle Face at about 5:45 and went out to the New 0lympia theatre to see "A girl must live"; did not think that it was anything special in the way of a picture. Hope to see Gracie Fields in "Shipyard Sally" next Friday if we are still here.

Mon 8: Colombo, bought postcards of town for H yesterday. Mailed paper to Juranic New York and also sent postcard to H, KJ and BB Nothing else worth mentioning.

Tue 9: Colombo. 12A (ID of exercise) during forenoon; did not take part. Nothing else of interest except that there was no mail for me, and our MD (mess deck) is being fumigated to try and get rid of some of the cockroaches that have been haunting us for the last few months.

Wed 10: At Colombo, exercises. News of new developments in the war caused by the entry of Norway into it on our side and Denmark on the enemy's. Sweden and Latvia also look as tho they will be drawn into the conflict.

Thu 11: Reports of the action fought off Norway in which Germany lost six cruisers, two destroyers and a number of troop and supply ships. It is also reported that certain Norwegian towns have been recaptured. British casualties were not heavy and consisted of two cruisers slightly damaged by splinters, two destroyers lost, one aground and the other sunk, three more destroyers slightly damaged. Air attacks were also made, no losses reported. This morning I went as operator in the plane L2171 (Walrus ID) on an air navigation exercise. Two hours and eight minutes actual flying time. Uneventful. Have started "Y" again listening on the 8,500kc and 12,500kc ship bands for ships of the countries that have just entered the war. Leave granted from 4:15 until 7:30pm only. Recreational leave that is all...

Fri 12: Colombo, although I didn't mention it on Wednesday. We went sailing in a skiff on that day and thoroughly enjoyed it. Yesterday afternoon there was talk of our going to sea today, but nix on it so far. Now we are keeping "Y" again I should be just as content to be at sea. There should be an airmail in today and I hope there will be one for me from H. Letter was received from H later this afternoon. Airmail only arrived - not likely that surface mail will arrive for some time.

Sat 13: Sailed this morning at 9:25 for an unknown destination. Sea is calm and our sailing has even the most lucid of the buzz merchants baffled., Yesterday at 2:30 the Dutch Destroyer Van Galen arrived at Colombo and we turned a guard out to welcome her. Dave Moodis is now better again and will be able to do his own job once more. We hope to have some news of our movements soon but as yet nothing is known. From certain things that I have seen it looks likely that we will be going to Aden and search for Scandinavian ships on the way.

Sun 14: Sighted Afrika this morning at about 7:00am and shortly afterwards stopped and boarded her. Prize crew was sent but I did not go as I had to stand by the aircraft. Davidson who had been detailed to the job missed the boat so there was no telegraphist aboard her when she sailed for Colombo. I was hoping to be able to go even up to a few minutes before we stopped her; no luck however. Many of the boys told Dave what a fool he had been to miss the opportunity of such a trip. The Captain had a talk to us on the quarterdeck soon after divisions were over and told us a little of our job: We would have gone to the south Indian ocean on a cruise for about six weeks if there had been no new developments.

Mon 15: Received news of the sinking of Admiral Scheer by HMS Spearfish. Nothing else of interest.


The sun scends into a cloudless sky

To light this desolation of the East;

No singing-bird is here to greet the day

Or squabble o'er its early morning feast.

No sign of Life upon this barren treeless waste;

The rocks sun-drenched in harsh revealing light

Stand out in all their fearsome bleak array

Stripped of the cov'ring mantle of the night.

A caravan now comes upon the scene

Wood-laden -- and with calm indifferent stare

The lordly camel wends his sloven way,

Regarding all with supercilious air.

Down in the town awakes to filthy life,

The native --' longside his domestic beast;

Amid the stench of garbage, and the reek

That goes to make the "Glamour of the East".

Tho tomb of Cain looks down upon this spot

Where Life in all its sordidness is seen:

Where "fear of God" goes hand-in-hand with filth,

And white-washed walls, the one thing looking clean.

Beyond the Pass, and on the northern shore

Lies Ma'ala, with its garve-yards-heaps of stone,

That cover countless victims of a plague,

Who lie forgotten-friendless-and alone.

Upon the shore, where natives build their boats,

And shark-infested waters ebb and flow,

The searing sun beats down on all alike

With unrelenting, eye-inflaming glow.

Throughout the day this blazing state exists.

The waves of heat distorting all the view;

Whilst sweating bodies slow go their way

Beneath a sky of unrelieved blue.

Darkness descends-- Oh! soothing welcome night;

Sweet respite from that molten mass of flame;

Kind mantle for this soul-destroying spot,

Until the morning strips it once again.

M.A.S. by Official Historian Basil Liddell Hart

(also an author) 1935. (?)


Tue Apr 16 1940: Later yesterday the sinking of Admiral Scheer was published in the Daily News on Hobart noticeboard. as unconfirmed news, it said that she had been torpedoed albeit not known whether she had actually been sunk. Last night at 7:30pm searchlights were sighted below the horizon and we made all haste to intercept the ship that had shown them. Action stations were closed up a few minutes later and we were at action for over four hours. When the ship was finally accosted she proved to be the Dutch destroyer Van Galen. Finished writing to H. and posted the effort during the afternoon.

Wed 17: At sea bound for Aden, this morning the Van Galen was sailing alongside us at 11:30 for a while just off Cape Guardafuia, the sands of which were quite visible with the naked eye from the ship. Van Galen was on the outer and making slightly less speed than we were. Nothing else of moment. Letter Kay Juranic

Thu 18: Arrived Aden at about 9:30am. and Van Galen anchored over the road from us about 2pm. Ashore at 4pm to have a look around for some cheap mains radios and maybe purchase "mill" (typewriter) if they had the new model. No luck at all so returned aboard at 9pm for some sleep.

Fri 19: Aden uneventful in fact this place is going to get on everyone's quince of we remain too long.

Sat 20: Like yesterday: uneventful. Van Galen sailed at midday and the American Steamer Exporter took her place. She also sailed during the first watch.

Sun 21: Spent a happy half-day with Dave Moodie and Percy Williams sailing in one of the skiffs. There was a good wind so we thoroughly enjoyed our jaunt.

Mon 22: Uneventful aboard. Ashore we inspected some Radio Sets by Paillard. Very nice at Rs225 for a 10-tube model. Went to the open air theatre to see Shirley Temple in "Heidi of the Alps". Good show. It was as the result of a misunderstanding that we went there at all as we'd intended to go and see "It's in the Air" with George Formby. As the other theatre was visited instead so we saw Heidi.

Tue 23: Duty. Tried to get the lads to put in for a rotary converter to operate an AC radio from the 220-DC supply. Sadly the response was very poor indeed.

Wed 24: Aden, duty, uneventful. A/c crash at Rohat air field.

Thu 25: This morning we had a short ANZAC service after which all the troops marched past Captain Howden. The skipper speaks after quarters tonight and we are all anxious to see what he has to say to us. Last night, tho I didn't know we were going to se I wrote Gwen and finished the letter to H.

We put to sea at 11:30 and as of 14:30 haven't been informed whence we are bound. This afternoon after quarters the Captain spun a yarn on the quarterdeck but as I had the first dog I did not hear his speech.

Fri 26: Arrived Kamaran this morning at about 7:30 and anchored in the bay. The Skip did his entertaining and we were granted three hours leave. Went ashore to see what there was and found it not worth mentioning. There are practically no white residents in the town and those that are there are civil servants. We had a short talk to one of the Radio ops and his ex-YL. Left there for another place soon after six.

Sat 27: Arrived at Hodeida this morning at about eight o'clock. The Prince of Yemen returned the Captain's call during the afternoon and we all marched past him a little after five. Then spent an hour on the forecastle waiting for him to depart. He left at about six fifteen and we weighed at about seven o'clock for Mocha.

Sun 28: Arrived at Mocha this morning at about six o'clock. Skipper visited the Crown Prince ashore and he came off for and inspection and march past at about 4pm. As I'd had the afternoon watch I did not go to the show today but stayed on the messdeck instead; much more congenial. I don't like the company of some of these Arabian gentlemen.

The gifts from Arab Chiefs at Kamaran included six dozen fowls which we hope to enjoy tonight. From The prince at Hodeida came a number of fowls and two calves and four sheep. Lord knows what was offered today. We expect ot leave for Aden very shortly and will fire a couple of fish (torpedoes) before entering tomorrow morning.

Mon 29: Arrived at Aden about nine o'clock and found the Liverpool awaiting us. Medway and the four subs were gone which had been here when we left on Thursday. Lucia arrived right on midday. Owing to circumstances the shoot which was to have been carried out this morning was cancelled.

Tue 30: Aden Letter from H; replied immediately.


Wed May 1: At 4pm today we left Aden for Djibouti.

Thu 2: Arrived Djibouti 8am. Remained there for twelve hours and then left for Berbera.

Fri 3: Today is my birthday and the first one I've ever spent away from Australia. The day was spent at Berbera in British Somaliland where we arrived at 7pm this morning. The landing here proved difficult and shore parties had to be landed in a whaler. At the local post office some stamps were obtained for H - full set up to one rupee. There are nine in the set and they are very good ones.

Sat 4: Re-arrived in Aden and found the place deserted except for a few merchant ships. Went ashore at 5 with Dave and a couple of others, after a couple of drinks and a meal we went to see Joan Bennet in "Vogues of 1938", it was quite a good show and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Sent a cable to Fred wishing him many happy returns. Wrote Fred.

Sun 5: Aden uneventful.

Mon 6: Aden, uneventful. The Sydney enters the East Indies Station today at 13:00 GMT, otherwise nothing. We all hope that she is coming to relieve us of this hot job. Wrote H.

Tue 7: Aden. Nothing eventful.

Wed 8: Today the Sydney arrived in Colombo and our Prize crew rejoined the ship from Port Said. We are still at Aden.

Thu 9: Aden. Nothing eventful.

Fri l0: People who said at the beginning of this war that it was funny will now have to revise their opinions. Hitler's troops have invaded Holland and Belgium, which is not surprising when all is considered. The first invasion took place at dawn today. This is certainly a place for a changing panorama of shipping. This morning the destroyers Decoy and Defender arrived together with a submarine. Now at 5pm they have all gone again.

Sat 11: Aden: today the sea mail from Australia arrived there were some forty or fifty bags all told and it took a very short time for it all to be distributed and read. amongst that lot I received was a handkerchief from H and also a parcel for my birthday containing crystallised fruits and other delicacies. Sent Cable to H with birthday greetings.

Sun 12: Today the second section of the 2nd AIF arrived at Aden. Ramillies and Suffren were in the escort together with Kent, Decoy and Defender. We anchored outside the boom whilst the convoy refuelled at the fuelling berths. There were 350dozen bottles of Sydney beer brought aboard for us and officers plus a small draft in (group of people).

Mon 13: Still at Aden. Uneventful.

Tue 14: Sailed at l4:50 for a H.A. shoot and to expedite the landing of "Royal African Rifles" battalion at Berbera. Aircraft co-operating was from Khormakser RAF station. Been 7 months away today.

Wed 15: This morning at 06:00 we dropped anchor at Berbera. The transport Karangi was not sighted until a little after midday and soon afterwards she dropped her anchor a few hundred yards away from us. Last night during the middle watch I was unlucky enough to miss an "N" number (special signal ID) and as a consequence I am for the high jump. The S.0. and 0.0.W. (Senior Officer & Officer on Watch) have already been interviewed but the worst is to come tomorrow morning when Big Bill will have a few words to say about it.

Thu 16: This morning at Berbera I saw the Commander and was given a Captain's report, at present it is not known when I will see him.

Fri 17: Late last night the troops were all landed from the Karanja: we expected to sail for Aden but remained overnight. This morning at 07:00 the Karanja sailed; destination unknown. At 08:00 we followed suit and this afternoon tied up at Aden 17:00.

There was a small mail in from England, therefore none for me.

Sat 18: This morning a mail arrived from Australia by the Strathnaver. Received quite a number of letters including one from Mrs C.

Sun 19: Usual Sunday routine, very hot here and this time there's no wind at all. Sailed this afternoon 4pm. Perim Patrol.

Mon 20: Now doing our job of Perim Patrol; one of the most monotonous one could wish for. Chantella and Moonstone & Shoreham are also co-operating with us in patrolling the entrance to the Red Sea and so keeping it safe for British ships.

Tue 21: Was to have seen the Captain this morning but he did not see Defaulters or requestmen, so I never saw him. Still on patrol off Perim and across the entrance to the Red Sea. News received that Germans have been suffering a very defeat in the fight at present going on in France, Belgium and Holland.

Wed 22: This morning the Liverpool at Perim relieved us and we began to cruise around further up the Red Sea. News that the Sydney, Gloucester and Eagle were to pass Perim at 01:15 GMT reached us during the night.

Thu 23: Nothing eventful until we met the Sydney, Eagle and Gloucester at about 16:00. It is supposed that we leave them tomorrow to refuel at Port Sudan and then to return to Aden and Colombo. Yesterday I saw the Captain about the missing of one signal; he was much more lenient than I expected and let me off with a caution. Yesterday there were quite a number of us standing on the Forecastle at dusk as is usual and one of our number seeing a gull hovering nearby put his hand out and the gull alighted on it. Before the gull deemed it time to vamoose he had alighted on two other persons hands and been fondled by many of us.


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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces