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
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'
Mon 8: It
rained again this morning; sunny after about 09:00. Today I have the job
of cleaning the messdeck. Nothing untoward.
Quiet, nothing eventful.
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.
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
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
Colombo & Duty.
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
Tue 16: At
sea for Malacca, fairly calm but some chop with poor visibility and
Wed 17: At
sea with Sussex & Eagle for Colombo. Exercising HA
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.
Duty. Informed W/T3 exam will take place on Monday 22 Jan. This is a
surprise for which I am very poorly prepared.
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.
Usual routine in the morning with Divisions & Church. Ashore at
14:00 for a swim and then back aboard for a Flashing & Semaphore
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 &
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.
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
Trinco Harbour, nothing eventful. Boats away sailing, We won the
Inter-ship deck hockey v Eagle.
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.
Trinco harbour, sailing races vs Eagle, cutters, skiffs and
whalers. The regatta was called off half way through owing to rain.
Sailed from Trincomalee 09:30 in company with Eagle to rendezvous
with ANZAC troop convoy off swept channel to Colombo.
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.
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
dropped out during the forenoon and speed was reduced. Convoy making
about 12 ks average.
Uneventful except for an aircraft crash, the Eagle lost a
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"
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Mon 26: Quiet
and uneventful. (I was probably on duty also.)
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.
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.
Sat 9: Left Aphis
& Ladybird at South of Island last night & changed course
for Trincomalee. Arrived Trinco about 10:30. Letter from Helen.
Harbour routine. Uneventful. Refuelled at China Bay and spent some time
watching a troop of monkeys.
Ashore about 14:00. Bike through country and groves of coconut palms.
Visited Port Frederick - very interesting. Returned aboard about 18:00.
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.
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.
Colombo; ashore swimming and bought a pendant.
Tue 19: Rs60
out. Colombo; much mail came aboard.
17:00 sailed for Bay of Bengal as a Ferry Service for four minesweepers.
Payday; some photographs ordered.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Colombo uneventful. The buzz that we are soon going home is getting
stronger now but the Skipper says that no one knows anything regarding
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.
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
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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
Or squabble o'er its early morning
No sign of Life upon this barren
The rocks sun-drenched in harsh
Stand out in all their fearsome bleak
Stripped of the cov'ring mantle of the
A caravan now comes upon the scene
Wood-laden -- and with calm
The lordly camel wends his sloven way,
Regarding all with supercilious air.
Down in the town awakes to filthy
The native --' longside his domestic
Amid the stench of garbage, and the
That goes to make the "Glamour of
Tho tomb of Cain looks down upon this
Where Life in all its sordidness is
Where "fear of God" goes
hand-in-hand with filth,
And white-washed walls, the one thing
Beyond the Pass, and on the northern
Lies Ma'ala, with its garve-yards-heaps
That cover countless victims of a
Who lie forgotten-friendless-and
Upon the shore, where natives build
And shark-infested waters ebb and
The searing sun beats down on all
With unrelenting, eye-inflaming glow.
Throughout the day this blazing state
The waves of heat distorting all the
Whilst sweating bodies slow go their
Beneath a sky of unrelieved blue.
Darkness descends-- Oh! soothing
Sweet respite from that molten mass of
Kind mantle for this soul-destroying
Until the morning strips it once
M.A.S. by Official Historian Basil
(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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Still at Aden. Uneventful.
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.
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
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
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.