Fri 24: This
afternoon we arrived at Port Sudan and although it was not expected
leave was granted to two watches from 17:00 until 23:00. Dave and I went
off in the first boat and caught the ferry across the river. We then
walked through a park of very rare beauty for this part of the world,
most exotic smells though I couldn't tell what any flowers were. This
park would have been beautiful even in Australia, how much more
beautiful therefore did it seem to us men who have hardly seen a speck
of green these last few weeks. We had a drink at one of the available
bars and then took a taxi to see the town, we found that there was very
little to see and ended up by going out to the brothels. Here one look
was enough and we came straight back into the town again for some food
and more drinks. While Dave gave the orders I went over to the P.O. and
bought a set of stamps up to 3piastres; then back to the "pub"
for a feed and drinks. These were thoroughly enjoyed and after eating we
finished our drinking in the company of some airmen (RAF). Returned
aboard about 9pm after buying a few odds and ends.
Sat 25: We
are still at Port Sudan and do not know when we will be leaving; I
expect that it will be soon.
Sun 26: This
morning at about 4.30am we slipped and set out for the south of the Red
Sea at 21 knots. This speed was maintained and we arrived at our
destination some thirty hours later. The trip was uneventful. Heat rash
is now more in evidence than it was previously and is getting very
troublesome. The "prickly heat" powders and etc we have tried
Mon 27: We
are now back in the southern Red Sea and once again patrolling off Perim
Tue 28: This
afternoon soon after the Khartoum, Kingsley and a number
of other ships had joined us we entered Perim Harbour. There are now
some more light cruisers in this area: Caledon, & Carlysle.
Also there are others the names of which I cannot remember.
Remained in Perim harbour all day, uneventful.
Payday. Spent a short time at sea then re-entered Perim harbour. Would
have sailed again if the wind had risen too much but stayed the night.
Reports in the news do not make us feel very bright about the way the
war in Flanders is going. The new Boulton & Paul "Defiant"
twin seater fighter appears to be phenomenally successful; each day
reports of more successes reach us here.
Fri 31: Left
Perim this morning and once again we are patrolling the Perim area.
Tomorrow we are to do a shoot with the two destroyers and then do a
shipping protection patrol up the Red Sea. Expect to arrive in Aden
again next Tuesday. As each day goes by things become more and more
uncomfortable. Prickly heat appears to be one of the most persistent
diseases one could contract. If reports are correct we will have to
leave the tropics to get rid of it at all. Thoughts of Sydney and of
course H once more come to the fore. How glad I will be to see her
again. The longing to return increases daily.
Sat June 1 1940:
Patrolling up the Red Sea; uneventful.
Sun 2: Red Sea patrol
Mon 3: As
Tues 4: Last
night we passed the Liverpool somewhere in the Red Sea; we are
southbound and they were going northward. Anchored in Aden at about
11:00 and found there was no mail. I decided to go ashore in the first
boat to get a Radio for the messdeck and did so, though after much
searching found none available. Had a few drinks, did a little shopping
and then returned aboard. During the wanderings I came across a couple
of the new Loktal radio tubes and managed to acquire one. Examining it I
find that there appears to be a number of weaknesses in the design the
most serious of which are small pin area and a tendency to break off at
the base. As the pins are very near the elements and therefore stray
capacities should be minimised and the efficiency of the tube increased
Wed 5: At
Aden; hot and little breeze, very uncomfortable. I rather wish the
Italians would make up their minds and let us get something done to
break the monotony of this existence.
Nothing of interest to report, there are two sloops two destroyers and
two cruisers including us here now beside a number of examination
service vessels and a B.D.Vessel.
Fri 7: Heat
rash becoming steadily worse and nothing being done about it so this
morning a good percentage of the ship's company mustered at the sick bay
to get treatment. This created quite a stir, which is only to be
expected when something like 250 men muster for treatment. Some of the
stokers are having a really cruel time and a few have just toppled over
with the heat. One chap took a fit and had to be straightjacketted. One
of the destroyers has, so it is rumoured, been ordered to Bombay to pick
up mail. Hope this is true as we have had none for very nearly a month.
Sat 8: Aden,
ashore at 4.30pm. This evening Sto P.O. (Stoker Petty Officer) Andrews
was buried ashore. Bought chair and after a few lime drinks went to see
Douglas Fairbanks Junior in "The Amateur Gentleman". Then
Uneventful as ever.
Letter from H that was most eagerly read even though the censor had
mutilated it. This evening Italy declared war against England and
France. A formal declaration was made by Mussolini and at about 22:00 we
received the following message:
Number N 523, Number SNl08, Number GM
98 0-U commence hostilities against Italy as from 00:01 BST (Brit
Standard Time) Tue 11 June tor (time of receipt) 18:35z (BST) 19:16.
Armed guards were put aboard certain
of the Italian ships then at Aden and though attempts were made to
scuttle them they were unsuccessful.
Tue 11: We
sailed from Aden this morning early and with Khartoum and Kingston
will protect Allied Shipping in the Red Sea. The sentiment aboard is
good and most of the fellows say "Let's get stuck into them".
It is known that Italian forces in the Red Sea consist of seven
submarines plus a number of Flotilla leaders and Destroyers. From this
it ill be seen their forces are not very formidable. At present we are
doing some twenty five knots towards the entrance to the Red Sea.
Wed 12: This
morning at about 10:30 we arrived back in Aden without having fired a
shot. Leave was granted to one watch only from 18:30 until 23:00.
Thu 13: From
now on more interest is likely to be taken in this diary as we have been
under fire. Last night and this morning we had six air raid alarms. Two
Italian aircraft were brought down; one by fighters and the other by Hobart
and/or Carlisle. The aircraft have done very little damage so
far. They blew a few holes in the tarmac at Khormakser and bombed the
barracks as well. Considering the number of aircraft that have been over
very little damage has been done, probably due to the great heights from
which the AA barrage has forced them to operate. From observing events
it appears the airman are not at all keen to get too close to our guns.
This morning at ten thirty we left Aden to provide distant cover for the
Today it was reported that there had been no air raids on Aden since we
left. This afternoon we met the Khandalla in charge of the Kingston
and Flamingo soon afterwards we entered the Red Sea as S.0.
(Senior Officer) of the convoy. Flamingo and Kingston
provided an ASDIC (sonar) screen and we manned R.C.0. (Remote Control
Office below bridge) and second Offices on 3,835kc/s. From now until we
finish with these other ships we will be working two watches at night.
Organisation as above. Nothing eventful.
Quite quietly the Italians seem to be carrying on a passive air. So far
they have done practically nothing towards helping Germany win and there
have been no major Naval actions. Yesterday the Captain informed us that
a Norwegian Ship had been sunk by a Sub only eight miles off Aden. The
News today was alarming as there is talk (from Berlin) of France seeking
a separate peace with the Nazis. Practically everyone aboard was
debating what action we should take if this were so. Should terms be
agreed upon and include the surrender of the RN (Royal Navy). I cannot
see this ship going quietly even when ordered.
Today we took charge of the Sharistan after sending the Khandalla
on her way. We are now on our own with the Sharistan both Flamingo
and Kingston have gone to oil.
Tue 18: Met
the Flamingo and the Kingston again this morning. Carried
on towards Perim. There is a rumor that the Walrus on-board is to off
tomorrow and bomb Centrepeak Island.
Wed 19: Last
night a sub was contacted off Perim and today she was engaged by the Moonstone,
later supported by the Kandahar. The latest report was one
received at about six o'clock tonight was to the effect that the Kandahar
had the Sub in tow.
So far nothing is known as to the
success or otherwise of the raid. Information should be forthcoming
Arrived at Aden this afternoon and soon after oiling put to sea again.
Another short time covering the Perim Patrol
Still covering the Perim Patrol; nothing eventful.
Sat 22: In
company with Kingston, Kandahar, Khartoum and the
two sloops Shoreham and Flamingo.
During the earlier part of the first
watch we raised steam for twenty-nine knots and, with the three
Destroyers mentioned, at 22:00 began a sweep of the entrance to the Red
Sea. From C.B.s (confidential code books) obtained from the captured Sub
it had been learned that another was expecting to try and get past the
Patrol at 22:45 approximately. At action stations near1y all night and
returned to our cover unsuccessful after parting company with the other
Sun 23: This
morning it was reported that the Kandahar had sunk by gunfire the
Sub we had been after all night.
This makes the third Italian Sub to go
inside a week. The one Moonstone captured being the first.
Another reported off Port Sudan was located some distance from that port
aground. The third is Kandahar's capture or rather sinking.
Arrived in Aden again at about two
o'clock this afternoon; leave to one watch only. Should get a run myself
Mon 24: Last
night during the middle watch Falmouth reported that she had
sighted a Sub. The signal was addressed to Kimberly and sent over
the group for information of all concerned. This morning it was reported
that the Falmouth had sunk the Sub. She was up in the Persian
Gulf with the Kimberly.
Also reported yesterday was that Khartoum
was sunk in Perim harbour succeeding an internal explosion. Salvage was
not considered worthwhile so everything moveable will be removed. Radio
Operator Ponting has gone out on the salvage tug. Last night I had a
stretcher bought for me.
Ponting returned to the ship today and
does not know whether he will go again or not. At present the 53 (radio
type) is out of order.
Tue 25: Last
night Dave Moody (a/c gunner + radio operator) and I went ashore and had
quite an enjoyable evening. We had a few drinks and then had a meal at
The French Cafe with a party from the Moonstone. The P.O. from Kandahar
gave us all details of the capture of the Italian Sub and the sinking of
another by Kandahar. Also details of Khartoum's
unfortunate mishap. She was sunk in Perim Harbour as a result of the
explosion of an air vessel in the tube that blew the warhead through the
bulkhead into the galley aft and, by bursting the oil line, caused a
fire. The fire continued to spread despite the efforts of the crew and
they could not prevent it from spreading to the aft magazine. Magazine
explosion then caused the ship to sink. Most of the shells, charges and
depth bombs on the gun deck were thrown overboard. Now I believe there
is only small portion of the superstructure showing. As the French have
finally thrown their hands in it makes the war much harder for us though
it will still go on. Lord knows where this will all end; it looks as
though one or other of us must go under. It is our job to see that it is
Uneventful and still at Aden.
Payday. Last night the Kingston reported sighting another
submarine. No one seemed to know whether she had been successful or not;
the Navy told us it was likely another sub had been accounted for.
Ashore at five o'clock and after doing a little shopping had a few
drinks at the Dutch Bar. Leander says an Italian aircraft bombed
them after they had destroyed the sub. Kingston had been forced
to run aground. That adds another to our score making a total of five or
a possible six as the one which, depth-charged when heading for
Djibouti, has not been heard of since.
Aden: relatively uneventful. However this afternoon we were raided by
Italian aircraft. So far as we know no damage done.
Sun 30: This
afternoon we embarked a battalion of Punjabi at Aden and set out for Berbera.
The trip was uneventful.
Mon July 1 1940:
This morning we arrived at Berbera with the Punjab troops, members of
the 2nd Punjab Regiment. They are fine big soldiers and like our cold
water immensely. In fact it is very hard for us to get anywhere near the
cold tap now they are aboard. They have no respect for the cleanliness
of the sick bay waiting room either as they have been pouring half the
water they draw over themselves. In any case much of it is spilt as they
push and shove to get their drinking vessels under the tap. The soldiers
were to be landed today but it is very windy and we do not know when
they will be disembarked. At present they are accommodated in the waist
and in between times wander all over the ship. When I came off watch
from the first last night I found my stretcher had been taken by one of
them. As soon as I touched him he scampered around the capstan and
disappeared in the dark. About three o'clock this morning the wind came
up and many of us had to leave the forecastle and come down below to get
some sleep. On one or two occasions I almost lost my pillow and had to
hang onto my blanket pretty securely to stop it from being carried away
in high winds.
At present with us we have Chantala
doing a similar job to us, Flamingo as A/S (anti submarine)
guard.and co-operating Mark-4 Blenheims. This afternoon at about 12:30
we commenced disembarking the Punjabis and by l6:30 they were all clear
of the ship. We sailed again for Aden at about l7:45 or 18:00.
Tue 2: This
morning at about 06:00 we arrived at Aden once more to find that Leander
had gone: supposedly to Trincomalee. Liverpool has again entered
the station as has A.M.C. Westralia. We expect Liverpool
will arrive in Aden within the next couple of days. So far there is no
rumour of mail arrivals and we cannot hold out any hope either, as there
are no ships calling here now the Suez Canal has been closed.
Wed 3: This
evening the Liverpool arrived at Aden. There were also two or
three messages for the Canberra; it appears she is also on this
Thu 4: Still
at Aden and uneventful.
Fri 5: This
morning at about 05:00 we left Aden in the wake of Liverpool
which left last night. No one knows where she is bound but we are to do
a patrol up the Red Sea to see that the way is clear for the convoy
which is on its way from Bombay. Canberra may be with them.
This morning there appeared some very
heartening news. The greater part of the French Fleet has been sunk,
turned over or captured by the British. Many of their ships were caught
in Oran harbour. The Italian Fleet was in the offing but took no part in
the action because, they say, they could not get steam up in time. That
seems a very lame excuse for the Brits not to capture the Italian Fleet
as such a big job would take some considerable time to do.
Sat 6: Up
the Red Sea on a patrol and then back towards Aden. The Kimberly
reported aircraft in sight during the first dog and we passed the Bombay
short1y after six. With it as escort were Leander. Carslisle,
Kingston, Kandahar & two sloops. There were about a
dozen ships in the convoy, six of them tankers.
Sun 7: This
morning early we arrived at Aden once more and received a nice big mail.
After looking thru all the mail I found there were none from Helen,
worse luck. A declaration of identity form arrived from the Public
Trustee and about time too. We have now acquired a new Hobart
Commander (2nd in command). Tozer by name.
Mon 8: Ceres
is here at Aden with us all the others being up the Red Sea. Have
already answered quite a few of letters and hope to get the others
answered soon after I write H. This afternoon there was an air raid
warning but it was false.
Tue 9: At
Aden still. Big Bill leaves the ship today. Ceres went out early
this morning and we are to leave late tonight. Again we go to sea with a
Wed 10: At
sea we are now in company with the Kirnberly and the Takliwa,
a troop transport from South Africa. We are to help her disembark her
troops at Berbera.
Disembarking Takliwa troops at Berbera. Uneventful. Two
R.A.F. aircraft have been reported down at Djibouti. Sail during the
Fri 12: At
sea again today; we met the Talamba a sister ship of Takliwa
doing a similar job. The latter departed for places unknown. Return to Berbera
this afternoon and begin unloading the Talamba.
Sat 13: The
unloading of the Talamba continues and we are supposed to sail
tonight or early in the morning. Another load of beer is brought aboard
for the Officers. This time by the aft gangway.
Sun 14: We
sailed this afternoon and made straight for Aden. Some time during the
night we parted company with Talamba.
Mon 15: This
morning at 06:00 we carried out a throw-off shoot at the Kimberly
and then at 07:30 dropped anchor at Aden. Ashore at 17:00 after
Uneventful for us but the RAF lost a Gloucester "Gladiator"
two or three miles out at sea. Their fast motorboat rescued the pilot.
Wed 17: At
Aden. This evening one of the blokes brought a monkey off with him. He
has a Commander's report for his trouble.
Today the Galileo Galilei was doing trials and had quite a bit of
motor trouble. I finally got the Registered letters to W.I.A. (Wireless
Inst. of Aust) and to the Manager of R.N.H. (Royal Navy House) away.
Still at Aden. Today I finished the article I was writing for the
"Amateur Radio". Tomorrow I shall send it off. In the news
tonight was the report that HMAS Sydney my old ship had sunk the
Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni in the Mediterranean Sea. No
details of the engagement are known as yet. As a comparison here are the
8 x 6" guns
8 x 6" guns
6 x 3.9" guns
8 x 4" guns
8 x 37mm guns
4 x 3 pounders
3 x 13mm guns .
4 A.W.T.T. (torpedoes)
8 A.W.T.T. (torps)
2 aircraft (Catapult)
Very 1ightly armoured.
Sat 20: This
evening at 20:00 we put to sea for an unknown destination. It is
rumoured we will return on Tuesday next.
Sun 21: On
patrol up the Red Sea. The trip was uneventful until tonight at about
4pm when we first had a "destroyer scare" and then some
aircraft were sighted. Fire was opened and they were kept away from our
ship. It is quite likely that Kimberley got one of them. Kimberley
remained behind when we returned to Aden. Her job was to demolish a sub
that was driven ashore near Massawa. During the run against Italian
aircraft we had a spot of good practice getting into communication with
our three shore stations.
This morning Eric Davidson went into
Sick bay to have a minor operation performed on his teeth, there was
some trouble in cutting the wisdom teeth. He died tonight at about
21:00. A most unfortunate occurrence. The way he went out seems to
indicate negligence on someone's part. Yet who are we to question an
Officer. I believe the cause of his death is officially a clot on the
brain or shock on coming out of the anaesthetic and finding us shooting
at the Italians.
About noon today we arrived back in Aden. This morning our aircraft went
off to do a height-finding exercise. Eric Davo is to be buried this
afternoon. Lots of us were detailed off as mourners or pallbearers. I
think the least they could have done would have been to give us the
opportunity to volunteer. In today's mail I find there are two letters
from Stella Jones in New Zealand. So far there is no sign of any from H.
Lord knows I am longing to hear from her. It is now some six weeks or
perhaps more since I heard from her. Also in the mail was another paper
from W.I.A. (Wireless Inst. Aust). So far there is no sign of
Radiotronics Mag # 102. Number 104 has just been received and I should
not be surprised if there is another Australian Journal and
"Radio" in this mail also.
We went off with the funeral party at
16:45 and were taken out to the cemetery in RAF trucks. Once there we
formed up and people with wreaths were fallen in by one end of the
mourners. At the last minute Mr.Ramsay gave me the wreath from Captain
and Officers. Other wreaths were from Leander, Ceres, Carlisle
and two each from Army and RAF. We could not get any more wreaths so
fresh flowers were provided. In all there were six bunches, one each
from Torpedomen, Signalmen, W/T staff, P.O.Freer and Canteen manager and
the other two from messes 19 & 31.
The ceremony was very impressive and
ably conducted by our Chaplain. Dave Moodie and Frank Howe each took a
number of photos. Box was all about with a new movie camera of his and
as he could not take them himself he got Dave to run off a few feet of
film. After the ceremony we returned to the city and had a feed, a spot
(drink) followed by pictures. We saw "A Yank at Oxford" and I
for one was very pleased with it. Of course it is some time since I saw
a show and that may have been the reason though I don't think so. We
returned aboard at 22:00 and the ship sailed once more at midnight.
Tue 23: Out
at sea once more providing cover for the Perim patrol. This time the
ship is HMNZS Auckland.
Today could not be uneventful, as it was payday. Auckland
reported an aircraft during the afternoon.
Still out providing cover for the Auckland on Perim patrol. This
afternoon it was announced that we were to go to Zeila and would arrive
there tomorrow morning.
Sat 27: The
proposed trip to Zeila has been cancelled and we are once more on our
way to Aden. Arrived at Aden once again this afternoon.
Sun 28: Aden
uneventful unless one counts an air scare at about two o'clock.
Mon 29: Aden
Tue 30: This
morning at about 7am HMAS Parramatta arrived here. A mail was
received during the afternoon and many of us received letters we had
given up for lost.
Went ashore in the four o'clock boat
and saw Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in "Carefree". Quite a
good show but I don't think it was up to their usual high standard. On
way back to the ship I met two fellows from Parramatta, they had
lost their way in the blackout and wanted a hand to find the jetty. This
I provided and then on getting aboard myself forgot to collect my card
and was put on the patch for it.
Wed 31: This
morning I was awarded a Days number 16 (form of punishment) as a
reminder not to forget my card next time. This was not done tho as we
were going to sea and men under punishment didn't fall in. Once again we
are bound for Berbera. This time it is with the Varsova
Thu 1st Aug 1940: This
morning we arrived at Berbera and began disembarking the Indian
troops. Shoreham is with us as A/S (antisub) screen.
Reported this morning that we are aground. The wind was pretty fierce
during the night and the anchor must have dragged. Now at 11am both tugs
are aground also. It seems likely that we went ashore late yesterday
afternoon or last night as the wind was abeam instead of being head to
wind. There is bound to be some trouble over this. Probably need some
time in dock to see if there is any damage. Even in twentieth century
the age of miracles is not dead. This afternoon at about 3:30pm we
slipped off the sand without any external help. As a test to see if
there was any damage we went to sea for about half an hour.
Sat 3: SS
Varsova finished unloading last night and it was expected that there
would be another ship there for us to unload today during the forenoon.
However, we received sykoed (syko coded) orders to raise steam and
proceed to intercept a Greek merchantman. We left Berbera at 13:00 and
about an hour later word was received that some enemy aircraft had
visited the place. No damage was reported. They are very poor bombers.
Sun 4: This
morning in a position very close to Cape Guardafuia we got a bit of
rough weather. This is about the only rough bit we have struck since we
left home. We turned and set off once more for Berbera at about
07:00. During the afternoon we passed close to Berbera but did not
enter. As we went by we were closed up at action stations in reply to an
air raid warning. We proceeded up the coast as far as Bulhao and then
turned back. We arrived Berbera at about 18:00 and anchored near the Jehangir.
Parramatta, Amber and Shoreham also here.
Mon 5: At
Berbera, uneventful except for a bit of an air raid.
Tonight we expected to leave for Aden though now it is rumoured that we
are to stay in Berbera as the Berbera Force. What a job?
S.N.0.R.S. (Senior Naval Officer of area R.S.) certainly has been giving
us all the dirty jobs. None of the good trips but tons of hard yakka.
During the afternoon a seining party went off and about four boxes of
fish were obtained. E.H.'s 20th birthday.
Wed 7: The
food since we have been out of fresh meat has been better than it was
before: bully beef, cottage pie, salmon plain and curried. Also fresh
fish that were caught. This afternoon another party is to go see if they
can get more fish. During the afternoon there was another air-raid a
number of bombs were dropped but no damage of any moment was done. The
fishing expedition was very unsuccessful as few fish were netted.
Thu 8: Today
has been quite the sort of day one will talk of when this long war is
over, if one lives that long. The day began with an air-raid at about
06:00. Then a few minutes later our "Gull" took off to bomb
Zeyla. It returned safely at about 10:00 or a little later. They'd
dropped two 112lb bombs and machine gunned some Dago positions. In the
early raid this morning two Gladiators died and one Blenheim was
damaged. Later in the afternoon the Italian planes returned and had
another go albeit closer to us but no hits. This afternoon about an hour
after the former raid (13:00) they returned with three planes - the
bombs landed much closer. One did slight damage to the Captain's cabin.
Another raid at 13:00 killed three "nigs" ashore.
The tug crew then decided to go on
strike. So now the tug is manned by some of our men and working parties
are ashore to do the yakka. The seining parties have been washed out. It
is ironical when one thinks that this afternoon the Italians came down
and luckily they only killed a few fish! If we'd sent some boats away
before they sank we would have had quite a good haul...
Fri 9: This
morning we were again visited by Italian fighters. No damage done to RAF
aircraft as they have returned to Aden. One of the crates was seen to
falter when a shell burst near it. It is probable that it has failed to
reach home. One of those that attacked during yesterday's raids failed
to get back to its base. Tonight a three-pounder gun is to be landed as
an anti-tank weapon. Lt.Malleson and F/Lt.Davies have gone ashore with
Lewis guns to have a crack at the fighters if they again visit us in the
morning. To sea for a few hours during the forenoon albeit uneventful as
we only went a short way up the coast. Returned to Berbera at
Sat 10: This
morning the Carlisle arrived here and I believe we are soon to
leave. Ostensibly Aden bound to store ship and fuel. Quite a lot of
ammunition also necessary. The dagoes missed out this morning so the
party ashore did not get an opportunity to gun them. The party resulting
from a call for volunteers that went with the 3pounder consisted of P.O.
(Petty Officer) Hugh Jones, A.B.Sweeney and A.B.Hurran; the latter has
just finished a spell in the cells!
Sun 11: Left Berbera early this morning (01:30) and arrived in Aden once more
at about 11:00. First time in port for a fortnight and they give us the
AA (anti aircraft) guard. By gum the RAN cops dirty jobs. Leave was
granted to the usual miscellaneous ratings until 23:00 so Dave and I
went off to have a feed and see a picture. The show we saw was the three
Ritz Brothers in "Life begins in College". A good show as a
cure for the blues. Otherwise it was unexciting.
Mon 12: Aden
uneventful; the dagoes even left us alone for once.
Still at Aden it was thought we should leave during the afternoon but
our sailing was delayed and now I think we will go later tonight. Five
dozen HE (high explosive) 6" shells were embarked and fitted with
Today we are ten months out from Sydney and to celebrate our departure
we returned to Berbera. The skipper is now known as S.N.O.Berbera.
Yesterday it was reported that the Chakdina had destroyed a
floating mine. Also the Navy told us that in one of the fights an
Italian bomber was blown sky high by a Bren gun bullet hitting its load
of bombs and setting them off. As usual on the way over the Navy got
lost and we had to get bearings of Aden radio to send him on his way.
Today we enjoyed two air raids; one during the afternoon and another
later during the dog watch 4-8pm. At about 16:30 local time Kimberly
reported enemy aircraft heading towards us the signal was reported to
the bridge, though we were not at action stations until some seven or
eight minutes after the signal was received. I have been told that the
Officers up on the bridge were to blame for the delay. It is reported
that we are to evacuate Brit. Somaliland. That is a great pity and due
wholly and solely to the lack of proper armaments here. The RAF are just
holding their own, yet the Army have been beaten wholesale. Of course
the navy have been top dogs for the whole of the war so far. By the
appearance of the ship, it has had all breakables taken down off the
walls, I expect we shall be doing some 6" shooting before very
Fri 16: Well
another day has rolled by and that which was rumoured has become fact.
Today we began to evacuate the troops and civilians from Berbera.
The Chakdina left tonight at about 19:00 loaded down with
civilians and their belongings. There are some other ships here for the
evacuation including the Chantala. We are S.N.O.Berbera and have
under us Carlisle & Kimberley. The Amber was
here but has gone back to Aden. She, like us, had a bit of bad luck and
ran aground. Damage was done to her ASDIC sonar gear. Other than that
she got off with only a small leak.
Tomorrow we begin the evacuation in
earnest. There are still many men and much gear to get off. Lots of
stores and other stuff will have to be destroyed. The radio station has
to be to be destroyed. Some of our fellows are to go off with the
demolition party when they set off tomorrow. It has been reported that
the 3pounder gun has been captured but the crew is safe. According to
rumours most of the chaps who went ashore are very drunk on lots of
whisky and other liquor they found. This sort of thing should not have
happened and is due to the incompetence of the officers in charge. They
should not have been allowed to get into such a state as it not only
endangers their lives but also the lives of the other men ashore and in
the ship. Some of our officers should be casheired out of the service
the way they go on. They are incompetent and then have the effrontery to
get us for little things like missing a signal even when conditions are
Sat 17: The
evacuation continues and Italian aircraft still harass us a little.
Today there were two attacks and one or two false alarms. Many of the
men who have been ashore have souvenired different articles, the radio
station was dismantled and most of the receiving gear brought aboard. I
managed to get some of it. Two receiving valves, two variable
condensers, a Ferranti AF3 transformer and an RF choke being my quota.
Maybe I shall be able to get some more before we finish here. So far we
do not know whether the portable Morse transceiver will be landing but
it is all in order and can go away at a few minutes notice. Yesterday a
new series of broadcasts were begun for the benefit of S.N.O.Berbera. I
have done a little time in the third office on 3,750kc reading them but
they seem to be few and far between as I only read one during the
forenoon. I have been neglecting my correspondence lately so will write
to H in a few days I hope.
Sun 18: Last
night during the first watch we were told to prepare to go in the
morning with shore observation party. Lieut Synnott was in charge and
our party consisted of O i/c (Office in Charge) A.B. (Miles) Pennicuick
and self. The gear was ready & we caught a boat about 05:30, soon
after we arrived at Government house and made a signal to Hobart
re troop movements. About 09:00 the gear was set up and we got into
communication. At that distance there was nothing to it. Later it was
learned that we had been called for some three hours and they were quite
anxious about us as they thought we may have disappeared. The S.D.0. was
really responsible for that faux pas as they should have informed the
W.T. (Wireless Telegraphy) office that we were still in V/S visual
signal) touch. But enough of this.
Meanwhile the evacuation was
proceeding apace and by 09:00 nearly all the gear that was to be
embarked had been delivered to one or other of the ships that were
waiting for it. Derby towed two lighters to Aden and left Berbera
at about 16:00. Times are necessarily vague as we only had the one
wristwatch and no one seemed really interested in looking at that except
when we had to come on air. Meantime we took turns to keen a lookout on
the two roads along which it was known the Wops were advancing.
Lt.Synott was very good indeed and did most of the time up on the roof
himself - only going below for anything that was essential, such as
instructing the ship's sailor & stoker truck drivers who had to pick
In our spare time we relieved the
signalmen and explored the place, salvaged gear or searched for drink or
anything else that was likely to be useful to us. I could write pages on
this one day ashore about the suffering of some of the men we rescued
and also about many other things. However this text is mainly to refresh
my memory and not to give anything but a broad outline of the
operations. By 13:00 or shortly after there were only about a dozen of
us left ashore. Lookouts, truck drivers and a party destroying all they
could. The final evacuation took place about 20:30 the same evening and
we returned aboard about 21:00. Tired, but glad to be there
Mon 19: This
morning we shelled Berbera as the Wops had not appeared. It was
rather disappointing to miss the opportunity of giving them a little of
their own back. Shortly after the shelling we left for Aden. Aboard us
were many men who had been wounded in the various actions. In Aden we
were delighted to receive a large quantity of mail from Home. In a
letter from H was a photo but only a small one, also there was one from
my sister Rita.
There is little in the news today about Berbera and RAF seem to have
been given all the praise. This is inconsistent considering the job we
did at the evacuation. Some of the men who were in the fighting say that
the RAF bombed our own positions in Somaliland, this is quite
understandable and would hardly give them much credit for a successful
Today it was decided that we could keep as much of the gear we salvaged
as we could use. This meant the greater part of it and the best. We have
the Italian outfit and a motor generator to go with it. Also in the
receiver part is a genemotor power supply. Beside this gear we each have
what we wanted of the stuff lying around: Meters, 'phones, dials,
condensers and resistors. One of the items I have is a single button
mike. A.M. (voice not code) but what matter.
Still at Aden. Tonight we embarked some of the Black Watch and the rest
of the battalion is to be embarked tomorrow forenoon.
Fri 23: With
the 2nd battalion of the Black Watch aboard we started off to Aden. So
far the trip has been uneventful. The soldiers eat in our messes and
sleep wherever they can lay their heads. They are a decent crowd but
1300 is a bit of a crowd for a ship this size.
Sat 24: At
sea with the Black Watch aboard. Nothing of any moment happened and we
continue to make good time. At present we are doing over 20ks.
Sun 25: At
02:00 GMT today we took over Mediterranean organisation. It is all
broadcast and Malta W/T keeps things moving too.
Early this morning we disembarked all the soldiers. The ship will have
to be cleaned up and then we hope there will be a few hours leave. Some
of the men who have just left say there is plenty of entertainment here
- we hope so anyway. There are about 25 AIF men stationed here so we may
be lucky enough to see several.
Ashore at 14:00 and into Suez. Despite the fact that it was out of
bounds we intended to go to Cairo though the man who had been arranging
the car failed us at the last minute and we had to be content with
entertainments offered in the city. This was not much but we managed to
have a fairly good time. It is in fact about the best run I have had
since leaving Australia. Naturally it cost us a small fortune, though
what is that when such an opportunity comes so rarely. The girls that
were un-attainable were quite hot numbers and those that were obtainable
were absolutely no good. They were so bad that we left the place in
disgust. The St.James Bar and Alexandria Cafe provided most of our
entertainment although we did spend some time skating and also saw
"Maisie" at the Obelisk Cinema. Some snaps were taken and a
handbag bought for H. I did not get any stamps as I thought we should be
able to do so later. We returned aboard at 23:00 and soon in the land of
nod. So ended a day that will live in my memory forever.
Wed 28: The
day began with a terrible morning watch, and what a watch. I had a very
hard time to keep awake and continually missed groups in some of the
many messages received. It is a good job many of them had been received
previously. The forenoon was spent in blissful slumber and we sailed at
09:00 for Aden once more. We have been told that we will oil in Aden and
then leave for some other place. Where that is only the Captain and
perhaps a few officers know. On Monday a draft came in from Australia
and there were two ord sigs (ordinary signalmen) from Doomba and Perth
for us. After partaking of a little lunch I crashed once more and slept
until 15:00. Very soon I shall have to do the last dog watch yet that
will now hold no terrors. If we had remained another day and gone to
Cairo as intended, what wrecks we'd have been.
Still in the Red Sea southbound and uneventful.
Today we were bombed on two occasions and showed some smoke off Jidda at
dusk, just to show the Dagoes are not supreme in the Red Sea as they
have been claiming. We also stopped a Dhow and examined her register.
Sat 31: Once
again we arrive in Aden. At 08:30 this morning we again passed the boom.
Tonight we passed on the outward journey again at about 18:00. We are to
take a Convoy part of the way up the Red and then bring another back.
Wed 4 Sept 1940:
Days have gone by and I have not written this diary up at all. Now we
are still in the Red Sea with a convoy. This time it is a big one and
the only ships in the escort are Kandahar, Chakdina and we.
Altogether there are nine ships in the convoy most of them have
travelled under our protection on previous occasions. The trip has been
uneventful and so we expect to arrive at our destination unharmed.
Thu 5: Today
we were passing near Massua and experienced seven air attacks all told.
Five times we were attacked during the one warning. Single aircraft made
the attacks on five occasions - by a formation of three on one occasion
and by a formation of five. Quite a number of bombs were dropped and
none found a mark on either the convoy or escort.
Fri 6: Again
this morning we were airbombed but as on previous no damage was done. We
have used quite a lot of 4" ammunition in the last couple of days.
The northbound convoy we passed last night has been bombed three times
today. There were 34 ships in this convoy; including the escort there
were 40. There are nine ships in our convoy and three in the escort. The
ships in our charge are numbered as follows:
11 Dilwarra 21 Lancashire(Commodore) 31
Devonshire 41 Talamba.
12 Khedive Ismal 22 Egra 32 Rohna
In one of the air raids over Aden
today some damage must have been done as Aden W/T was off the air for
about two hours over the forenoon. During the last dogwatch we passed
through the Convoy and wished them good luck and goodbye. They carried
Arrived Aden this morning at about 06:00. Mail in one from H only
Sun 8: Today
there was another mail and this time I received two, one from the sect'
of W.I.A. (Wireless Inst. of Aust) and the other from Marie Stock. I
went ashore in the four o'clock boat, my time was spent eating, drinking
and later at the pictures. W.C.Fields in "You can't cheat an Honest
Mon 9: Once
again it was ashore in the early boat and went searching for a record
player for the messdeck; the only one available was priced at 150rupees.
The expedition was fruitless in many respects. The money I intended to
spend on necessary gear was spent on Christmas presents for some of the
Wed 11: This
morning we had a bit of an air raid. One aircraft visited us but dropped
no bombs. The Dagoes are using a type which is too fast for the RAF
fighters we have at present. We installed the spare aircraft set in the
R.C.O. (Remote Control Office) for communication with fighter aircraft
when at sea. Otherwise there is nothing.
Thu 12: This
morning we left Aden at about 05:00 and met the convoy just before
midday. The convoy was in charge of the Shropshire a county class
cruiser. We are to leave them when Perim is sighted and take the fast
section of the convoy up the Red. We will have the Andes, Empress
of Britain, Empress of Canada and Strathaird - I
suppose as they are the fastest. Otranto may be up to the mark
too but I doubt it. The sun set in the west and many ships were
silhouetted against the skyline. The Franconia was making the
sunset hideous by making great quantities of smoke. This morning tests
were carried out with the fighter aircraft and everything was
satisfactory. The 5,590kc watches are now being kept in the R.C.O. and
it is much better than the Second. Wrote W.I.A.
Fri 13: Last
night early in the first watch we left the rest of the convoy and with Andes,
Empress of Britain, Empress of Canada, Coventry, Kingston and
Kandahar set off up the Red Sea at a good rate.
Sat 14: This
morning about six o'clock we left the convoy and turned about with the Reina
del Pacifico once more in our charge. The two boats and Coventry
went in to Port Sudan for oil. So far the trip has been uneventful, no
air raids. It is remarkable how well the Italians are asserting
themselves in the Red Sea.
Nothing eventful happened today. The Italians have left us severely
alone as we plough our way sauthward with the Reina del Pacifico.
Massawa was passed safely during the dogs.
Mon 16: This
morning at about 07:00 we passed Perim. Last night Parrammatta
reported boats landing at Perim Island but later negatived the report.
Yesterday I finished the book "North Wind" a very good story
but very sad in places. As I was reading the last chapter of this story
I could not help thinking of H and comparing our present position with
that of the hero. I try to kid myself that H does not matter a damn to
me, yet at night and at other times too I know that we must both care a
great deal. I often wish that I was married and had someone to buy
things for more than I have, a home to get carpets or other goods for..,
so that when we did return I should not go empty handed.
Today was uneventful. AA (anti aircraft) guard outside the boom.
Today we were air raided early in the afternoon. No damage. Carried out
a full calibre shoot. Salvoes.
Thu 19: Back
inside again. Raided during the night. Twice in the middle watch and
once during the morning. Payday.
Fri 20: This
afternoon at about 13:30 we left Aden to pick up a fast convoy and take
it up the Red Sea. Leander and her Convoy were bombed this
morning and again this afternoon. One ship was hit in the forenoon raid
but nothing known of the outcome of this afternoon's raid. We
rendezvoused with our convoy at about 17:00. Leander was in
charge of York and the Diamond. The ships we have are as
follows Dutchess of Bedford and two others. Coventry and
Kandahar are with us in the escort.
Still at sea. Nothing eventful happened. Coventry left us this
Sun 22: We
have to take this convoy right up to Suez now as the one we were to have
met was not ready. Kandahar left us this morning and I believe
went to Port Sudan for fuel. Wrote letters to H, Invincible Radio and
Mon 23: This
morning I obtained a note from the Paymaster for inclusion in my letter
to H and also added an order to the letter to Invincible. I believe we
are to arrive in Suez some time this evening. As yet no one seems to
know whether we will be remaining long enough to have any leave or not.
Tue 24: Last
night no one seemed to know whether we would anchor or tie up.
Eventually about midnight it was decided to anchor and the pick was
dropped. This morning our boats began to load provisions and stores.
Much of the stores were Melbourne Bitter beer. We are to leave sometime
tonight and no leave was granted, though officers got their beer. What
more could the ship's company want. NO LEAVE FOR SHIP'S COMPANY BUT BEER
FOR OFFICERS. That is the theme of the day. Tonight the news came
through very clearly and we heard of dissension in Dakar (French West
Africa). General de Gaule's men are endeavouring to take over the
government of the colony and have encountered some resistance. Savorgnan
de Brazza, one of the sloops we had in convoy escorts with us has
Wed 25: We
left Suez last night and set out after the convoy which had left some
hours before. At present we are the only escort. The convoy is as
Epress of Canada. Empress of Britain Andes
Strathaird Franconia. Otranto
California Star. ........ Suffolk.
leading and zigzagging in front of the convoy. I expect we shall meet
some additional destroyers and perhaps an anti-aircraft ship tomorrow.
Thu 26: This
morning we met Kingston at about 07:00. She took up her position
at the head of the convoy and we immediately dropped astern to our new
Fri 27: Many
more ships came into the escort this morning. Kandahar, Kimberley and
Flamingo are now with us. Passed Ajax with northbound convoy
a few moments after they joined at 08:00. It was noted that Ajax
has been fitted with tripod masts and RDF. We have not yet passed
Massawa but will do so during the night.
Sat 28: The
usual Saturday routine. Did some work on new Morse practice
audio-oscillator and audio amplifier for the R.C.O. Perim was left
behind at 16:00 and before passing thru, ships formed up in two lines
each of which was headed by a destroyer towing sweeps. Kanimbla
met us at sundown and took over charge of the convoy. She reported both
ours (Vanda Howden) and her skipper's wives at Galle Face, Ceylon.
Sun 29: The
usual Sunday routine. We sail by morning. Airmail in last night arid one
Mon 30: This
morning we sailed at about 06:00 and near 09:00 stopped the Therese
Moller and our Captain had a yarn with her master and gave him some
orders. We are headed East and will escort a convoy back almost to Aden
where the Leander will relieve us of it. Then where? who knows.
Tue Oct 1 1940:
Today I wrote Helen once again to post on arrival in Aden. Incidentally
I posted it sans stamps.
This afternoon at 13:50 we took over
our new convoy B.N.6. Hector and Antenor escorted it.
Convoy as follows:
Rhona Talamba (Vice
Com) Dilwara (Commodore) Shirala President Doumer(F)
Lancashire Takliwa Khandalla Naringa Rajula
Rajput Ranee Garmula Nizam Marisa
Borgestad (Norway) Devonshire Pundit Egra.
The sixpence a day we were getting for
heat money has been discontinued now... You should feel how cold it has
become in the last 24 hours. Aden by Friday.
Wed 2: Today
has been more or less uneventful as we still crawl across the ocean at
about 10 knots. We have one thing to be thankful and that is a cool
southerly wind. Today finally got a line on the submachine gun I
obtained in Berbera and which I felt sure had been brought aboard by
someone who I could not locate. The person who possesses it is
negotiating to exchange it for a pistol so in the guise of a prospective
client I have arranged to view the rifle. If it is what I think it is
then I can make my claims and substantiate them if necessary.
Thu 3: This
morning we met Parramatta and Hindustan. Soon after the
meeting they took over at the head. of the convoy and we dropped astern.
The pay today was a big one as it is the end of the quarter. There is
about £2/10 in tropics too.
Fri 4: The
convoy was taken over by the Leander and some smaller ships this
morning about 08:30 whilst we went on our way towards Aden arriving
around 14:30 and anchored outside the boom until 16:00 when we up pick
and into the berth nearest S.N.O.R.S. office. Caledon is berthed
ahead of us.
Mail was received soon after entering
and in it was one letter from Helen. She is a darling and wrote such a
big and interesting letter. This is the second of the series as an
eleven-page effort arrived last week and now I have seven more pages. I
hope we can go to where there is some news soon, then I can return the
compliment with a little added. Must get her a set of spoons and things
in Colombo as soon as we set eyes on the place again. Tomorrow I see the
man with the gun and then we shall see what we shall see.
Sat 5: Usual
Saturday routine and as uneventful as ever. We are again AA (anti
aircraft) guard having taken over at 09:30 this forenoon. The
negotiations for the carbine (submachine gun) are progressing
satisfactorily although I had a little trouble with Lewis when I first
saw him. Wrote another letter to Helen.
Normal routine and uneventful. Tonight I lay on the upper deck watching
the moon and thinking of H the moon was rising into the heavens through
the Milky Way and the muzzles of our six-inch guns were silhouetted
against the glow. Truly a gorgeous night if it were not for this awful
atmosphere, the kind of night one could enjoy with the girl one loved.
Tonight I saw copies of Helen's photo and they have come out fairly well
but they are rather small for decent reproduction. I must send the sweet
little miss one at the earliest opportunity.
Mon 7: Went
ashore this afternoon and bought a few things. Some radio tubes out at
Crater and then back to Tawahi for a meal and pictures.
Sailed this morning little after six to meet a convoy with Australian
troops and take them up the Red Sea. On our way out of Aden we are
reported to have passed a high speed launch which looked like an M.T.B.
(motor torpedo boat); no one seems to know actually what it was and I
never saw it so have no idea. The No.US4 (not American) convoy is as
No. US4 Slamat Nieuw Holland.
Carlisle, Hobart, Kandahar
Flamingo in escort.
Wed 9: Today
was uneventful, no air raids or anything else to break the monotony of
Thu 10: This
morning we said goodbye to convoy US4 and met convoy SW2 southbound. It
is composed of the following ships:
Waiotira Orion (Commodore)
Dutchess of Bedford
Amra Empress of Japan Sydney Star
Karoa Talamba Ormonde
The escort is still as before: Carlisle
(S.O. Senior Officer), Hobart, Flamingo and Kandahar.
The destroyer Kandahar looked a splendid sight as she shot across
our bows at eight o'clock this morning to take up her station on the
starboard side of the convoy. The convoy we left this morning was turned
over in a position roughly 19degrees north latitude and in the centre of
the Red Sea. It is learned from an authoritive source that the fast
motor boat we passed soon after leaving Aden on Tuesday morning was a
motor minesweeper of the Turkish Navy.
Fri 11: Last
night at about midnight we passed the Leander with a southbound
convoy and the Khandalla left her nest and strung along with us.
We kept on at a steady pace of about 12knots (made good) and passed
Perim during the dogwatch. Carlisle left us at 18:00 local time.
Today we exercised action stations and had three air alarms. Each time
it was our own fighter escort that the Carlisle had detected.
Arrived in Aden this afternoon early. Just after midday and moored ship.
I am now to take over L.H.O.W. (Leading Hand Officer of the Watch) in
Jock's place, as he has to do the D/F overhaul.
Sun 13: This
morning at 06:15 we sailed once again, this time for Colombo. Not to be
outdone they gave us a convoy to meet in the Gulf and escort until
sundown. Leander was her previous escort and the rendezvous was
made about 10:00. When we arrive in Colombo we go into Dock for a refit
and some leave. It is known that they intended we should go to camp at
Diyatalawa for some time and do a musketry course there. It is also
rumoured that the intention is to give forty-eight hours leave though of
course no one knows whether that will be. Our ETA is pm Thursday 17th
Oct. Another payday. This morning it was reported that Lt-Cdr.Fogarty
and Ldg-Tel..C.K.Bunnett had been killed as a result of enemy action. It
is not yet known how this happened. We believe they were the crew of one
of the cruiser-borne aircraft and must have been shot down by Wops.
Mon 14: The
convoy we met yesterday and left at dusk consisted of the following
Trevanack Duffield Bahudut
Jalapadma Chaplbury Jessmore
Raby Castle British Pride.
Tue 15: Last
night early in the middle watch we sighted a suspicious vessel. She was
a ship of about 5,000 odd tons and gave her name as the British
Advocate, though no information could be found in any of our books
and according to the M.D. she should have been in Aden before we left.
We stopped and boarded her and found she was indeed what she made out to
be. The likeness to a known raider is explained by the fact that she had
been in turn German, British, Italian and again British since 1913. She
was taken as a prize during the last war and again soon after the
Italians entered this one. Incidentally she was bound from Durban for
Aden with a load of coal. Aden for orders were her instructions.
Still bound for Colombo, thus far the trip has been uneventful today.
Thu 17: This
afternoon we arrived in Colombo at about 16:00 and leave was granted
from about 18:00 until 06:45 tomorrow morning. Dave and I went ashore in
the first boat and thoroughly enjoyed our run. A few drinks and then a
delicious feed at the Grand Oriental Hotel, Colombo, after which we went
to the "Empire" theatre and saw "I Killed the
Count", not an outstanding show but we enjoyed it nevertheless.
About midnight we made our way aboard once more and were soon fast
Fri 18: The
usual harbour routine, I was duty today so did not get ashore again.
Sat 19: This
morning at 08:00 we went into Walkers dock. A popular belief that we
would get twelve days leave was exploded by some regulation they have
stating that leave cannot be granted for more than forty-eight hours.
Sun 20: Camp
arrangements have been made and the first watch goes to Diyatalawa on
Monday. Visited the Canberra and saw some of my old friends, the Westralia
was also visited and there I saw Harry Henzell and had an enjoyable hour
or so talking over old times with him.
Today like yesterday I only went ashore for a short period to do a
little shopping. Soon my money ran out so I had to return aboard. When I
arrived back at the dock I found the train waiting to take the mob up to
Tue 22: One
of those days that will always be remembered Met Jim Davies in Colombo
and we went with him out to Jim Newton's where we transhipped to Jim N's
car and he took us round to Longden Place. There we found Jim and Hilda
waiting for us and, after a small drink, we piled once more into Jim N'
s car and went out to Mount Lavinia for a swim. The swim over, each put
a beer away and so by car back to Longden Place. There we yarned over a
few drinks until fairly late and then had dinner - a great dinner.
Dinner over we soon decided it was late enough to return to our ship so
Jim N brought us back and we were in bed before midnight. The first
thing we heard on our arrival was that the three pounder's crew were
prisoners of war. Then too there is the report of a naval action in
the Red Sea - so far nothing known of this.
Today was uneventful. I was duty once again.
Today was grand. Ashore in an early boat and did some shopping in town,
most of it at the "Rupee Store." This is the best place in
Colombo for shopping. We are not allowed to say anything in our letters
about the camp or leaving the war zone. H will know nevertheless because
I bought her some spoons and things and send them tomorrow. The dance at
the BSSI was like the usual turnout, pretty crowded albeit still I
managed to have a fairly good time. Wendy and Pamela came in just after
nine o'clock and we had a few dances, In the scuffle I became covered in
"ormig" printer carbon from Wendy's hands. Have arranged to
meet her again next Thursday; must be there even if I have to swim.
Fri 25, Sat 26:
Duty both days so I could get a sub for Thursday night.
Yesterday I sent parcels to Helen; stamps, spoons and another packet of
papers. Now I have four parcels to go, one to H, one to Rita and the
others to H.H.Walters and Marie. This afternoon I went out to the
Colombo Swimming club with a couple of my cobbers and had a really
enjoyable time. After leaving the baths we had a meal at the Fleet Club
and then went to see Mae West and W.C.Fields in "My Little Chicadee".
At the Fleet Club we were introduced to a Mr. and Mrs.Creighton who
asked us to try and get some leave to come down to their plantation some
34 miles by road from Colombo.
Sat 2 Nov 1940:
The days intervening between this and my last entry were spent in
shore-going and in preparing for the trip to Diyatalawa. We arranged for
a car to meet us at midday and as soon as possible after midday. A
little shopping was done and then we were off for Neboda. Leaving
Colombo we travelled south through beautiful palm-lined roads until we
reached the turn off at Kalutara. There we learned that our host and
hostess had been waiting for us and only departed a few moments before
our arrival. We eventually found Neuchatel Estate but unluckily went
into the wrong division. Whilst searching for Creighton's it began to
rain and while wrestling with a cranky car door our driver put us in a
ditch. Dave and I set out on foot to try find the place whilst the
others stayed with the car and with the aid of some coolies soon had it
back on the road. They then found a man who knew where the house was so
they took him along and went there. Mr.C came out later in his little
Morris and found us to take home with him. Once there we found Jack and
Frank had already begun lunch. We finished off a really excellent meal
and then played deck tennis for an hour or so. Deck tennis over we all
piled into our car and went down to the beach for a swim. The sea was
wonderful and we later had tea on the beach which we all thoroughly
enjoyed, returning to the house for a late dinner. Dinner over we fell
to at Table tennis and listening to gramophone and Radio.
Sun 3 Nov:
This morning I awakened to find Poodle (dog) licking my face at about
nine thirty; no bugles or pipes to answer here. During the forenoon to
see how tea was plucked and ascertain the processes it went thru prior
to it's despatch to the tea factory. The work was mainly done by the
women; hoeing and other heavy jobs being performed by the men. It began
to rain early so we returned to the 'house' and enjoyed an afternoon
playing table tennis in many varied ways. The rif1e was taken out just
before the rain came and a magazine of ammunition soon disappeared into
the earth behind a paper target we had set up.
The evening as last, was spent table
tennis and gramophone playing. To bed earlier than before with no
trouble at all to get to sleep.
Mon 4: This
afternoon at 14:00 we left for Diya and arrived there about 20:15. The
last thirty miles through the mist and rain took us over three hours. It
is terrible here after our glorious few days at Creighton's. They are
such wonderful people and have invited us to go back for our last two
days of camp.
Payday, I have purposely left my camp time out of this ad it would take
too much time to relate. Arrived aboard this morning 0630. Took over old
Fri 15: Last
night we went to the BSSI dance and I enjoyed it though Dave swears he
never. Other-wise nil.
Sat 16: To
the races where we lost about ten chips each. Later we had a snack at
the Fleet Club and then saw "The Boys from Syracus." at the
Majestic Theatre. There is a rumour that we will be home for Christmas.
I hope and pray that's so. The general opinion now we are getting a flag
(an Admiral on board) is that we will go to the Red Sea for a short
period and then relieve the Perth of her job. After the theatre
we went to the Co1ombo Swimming Club and spent half an hour there.
Passing through the Club after the swim I noticed that Joyce Rayne had
collected her photos.
Duty. Yesterday morning we moved from the dock out to the oil wharf
where we are now taking in oil, ammunition and stores. The stokers say
that down below the ship is in a terrible condition and that almost
everything that has been done has to be redone by our own staffs.
Gunnery trials are supposed to take place on Tuesday next. I hope we do
not sail tomorrow as I want to go to the Fleet Club dance.
Mon 18: This
evening I went ashore to the Fleet Club dance after spending some time
at the, barracks where the C.P.R.C. are and later out at the Swimming
Tue 19: This
morning we passed through the boom fairly early and carried out
sub-calibre gunnery fringes. We returned to harbour about 16:00. We
never closed down on the group so I was duty and could not get ashore.
Wed 20: We
sailed this morning at about 03:00 for gunnery trials and after they
were completed we carried on towards Aden. We are supposed to arrive in
Aden pm on the 23rd.
Thu 21: At
sea bound for Aden. Uneventful.
Passed Cape Guard this morning bound for Aden. Uneventful.
Sat 23: This
evening at 20:50 Aden time we dropped anchor once more in this cursed
Although we expected to sail early this morning, now no one seems to
know when we will.
Today was uneventful though it is rumoured we are sailing to take a
convoy to Cape Guardafuia tomorrow morning.
Sailed this morning at 09:00. At 13:00 we sighted the convoy in charge
of Leander, Carlisle,Kingston, Auckland and Hindustan.
We took over at about l3:30 and carried on towards the Cape. The convoy
Australind Bahadur (Commodore) Jalakrishna King
Nyco Recorder Myrtlebank Kingswood
Erica Serbina Arunda Askot
Eastlea Daisy Moller.
We now have Kingston and
Hindustan in company with us and as is usual 4379Kcs is being kept
at night necessitating the use of the opposite watch. We have the
middle. According to the pipe we are to get into Aden again tomorrow
night. The buzz about our return grows stronger with each succeeding
day. As yet of course we know nothing.
Whilst we were in Aden a court of
inquiry was held onboard into the reason for our running aground in
Berbera. Findings are unknown.
Wed 27: This
morning the convoy dispersed and we went on our way to Aden with rest of
the escort. On the way a Torpedo run was carried out. Arrived in Aden a
little after 17:00.
Today was uneventful except for the fact that it was a payday. Photos
Still in Aden harbour, uneventful.
Sailed this morning at 06:40 to pick up a convoy round towards the
Persain Gulf. Otherwise uneventful.
Sun Dec 1 1940:
Today at 14:00 we took over a convoy from HMS Hector out in the
Gull of Aden. The convoy consists of the following ships: Tamma, Talamba
(Commodore), El Madina. Turned west immediately after meeting
them and at 17:17 local time a report was received from The City of
Dundee that she had sighted a suspicious vessel and told it to heave
to. This suspicious vessel proved to be the Hector and later
everything was negated.
Making westward at about ten knots we are all on the lookout for signals
on the group for Perth, This morning one was received but found
on decoding to be intended for Capetown. During the afternoon a
number were received and many of them bore both "N" and
"NL" numbers, so we are now certain that she is on the
station. Canberra is also in the East Indies again. Tomorrow we
are due to meet the Aden section of the convoy in charge of HMS
Carlisle. As yet no one knows how far we will be going up the Red
Sea. There are to be 31 ships in this convoy when it has assembled and
it will be the largest we have been with up to date.
Tue 3: This
afternoon we met the other section of the convoy in charge of the Carlisle
and with them made straight for Perim which we passed late in the dogs.
Convoy BN10 now consists of the
Talma Talamba El Madina Trentbank)
Pontfield Garmula City of Dunkirk Riley )
Sygna Hataam Aipherat Macoma )
Alcides British Destiny Tanafjiord Chantala )
(City of Auckland Maringa Silver Maple
(Cazana Star of Suez Aldington Court
(Nyholm Islami Doris
(Submarine "X2"(Galileo Calilei) Elizabeth
The ocean escort is disposed as
Hobart zz Kimberley
zz Ships indicated are zigzagging in
front of the convoy, Carlisle (S.O. Senior Officer) is acting
Wed 4: So
far today has been uneventful, nothing untoward and tonight we will pass
Massawa so that the greatest danger of attack will have passed. Air
escort is continually overhead.
Thu 5: Kimberley,
Carlisle and two or three ships of the convoy left tonight for Port
Sudan. We carried on with the rest of them.
Fri 6: Still
our way up the Red Sea. Uneventful. This evening Islami left to
proceed independently to Jedda.
Sat 7: Early
this afternoon we left convoy BNl0 and took over convoy BS10 from Clive
and Grimsby. They carried on toward Suez with BNI0 and we turned
southward once more with BSl0. Kimberley was in company when we
took over the convoy but has since left. She rejoins tomorrow at dawn.
Convoy BS10 is as follows:
0l 02 03
(Norge) British Sailor (Vice Commodore)
British Renown Vacport
Arena (Norge) Eildon Rosalie Moller
British Hope Katingo Hadjipatera
04 04 06
Clan Mc Arthur(Comm) Imperial Star Lancashire
City of Lille Pinzon Perthshire
Speybank Marcella City of Evansville
Ionnis P Alice Moller Helen Moller
Goulandris (GR) Ayamonte Elpis (Greek)
and City of Evansville leave at 00:30 and 01:00 respectively for
Port Sudan. That is tomorrow morning. Takliwa and Wayfarer
take their places in the convoy. Carlisle joins us at 06:00
Sun 8: This
afternoon the Kandahar and Sagitta joined us as we made
our way towards Aden once more.
Mon 9: This
morning the Carlisle rejoined us and took over S.O. She will
leave us before we arrive in Aden and after refuelling join up with
convoy US7 from Australia in charge of the Perth; this
convoy is due to pass Perim on the l2th.
Massawa was passed safely during the night and we are still doing our
poor 7 knots toward Red Sea entrance. It seems remarkable that Italy who
is supposed to be fighting this war too does not make an attack on us.
We know they have a certain number of aircraft and also some motor
torpedo boats and Destroyers in these waters but still no attack. We are
now very near to the Red Sea entrance and soon will pass into the Gulf
of Aden. The convoy will be taken out until it is clear and then will
disperse, when we will then make our way to Aden. After that our
movements are a matter for conjecture. Carlisle and Kandahar
leave us at 18:30 to go to Aden.
Still at sea with the convoy this time in the Gulf of Aden. We leave
them at 04:00 for Aden.
Arrived at Aden and dropped anchor in the outer at 07:27. Perth
had arrived about half hour earlier. Moved into inner harbour at 10:00
and there oiled. Expected leave and drew few Rs from the bank in
anticipation though no leave. Capetown arrived about 17:00 and
after we had collected our mail from her we left again, this time for
Colombo and Australia.
Fri 15: Mail
distributed at sea, many letters received including two from Helen.
Parcels and other things arrived in Aus' safely. Learned today that six
of us are up for promotion on Tuesday 19th. Dave, Jock, Badger and
Donald for P.O.'s (Petty Officers) and Ponting and self for Leading
Sat 14, Sun 15:
At sea for Colombo. Uneventful.
Usual Sunday sea routine, nothing eventful.
Aircraft off this morning and torpedo run carried out, otherwise nothing
Tue 17: At
01:00 today we received word that a merchant ship had been attacked in a
position two minutes north of the equator. In the message no longitude
was given but from information it was deduced that she had been in a
position between long' 70S and 67E . We set out at 27knots but found our
fuel supply would not last give us a safety margin so we reduced to 20
knots. The position was reached during the evening and we cruised about
looking for the raider. Our amphibian did reconnaissance flights with no
luck. I was Rated A.Ldg.Tel. (Acting Leading Telegraphist) this morning.
Aircraft went off three times today and searched for the raider; still
no luck. We are now some few minutes south of the equator. The sea is
calm and aircraft operations have been good.
Aircraft went off again today uet there has been no report of anything
in the nature of a raider. Refuelled at Addu atoll with Westralia
Fri 20: This
afternoon the Captain had another talk with us and this time showed us a
chart that was much more interesting than the last because it had
Australia marked in vivid red and a great big arrow pointing at it from
the centre of a red circle. The Captain told us that we would arrive in
Fremantle on Jan 28th. He had wanted to get us there before Xmas but
when this raider business came up it became impossible.
Sat 21: At
06:00 this morning we reached the trade route and turned south. At 14:30
the equator was crossed and we are now on our way at a steady sixteen
knots. When we arrive we shall be flying the flag of Rear Admiral Crace
(F.O.C.A.S. = Flag Officer Commanding Australian Station), long term
head of Australian Navy. Aircraft flies off twice daily to cover a big
front in case we should meet the raider.
Usual uneventful routine. Up in the sun every one is baking trying to
get brown for our return to civilisation.
Mon 23: This
morning at 00:01 GMT we changed to A.S. organisation and up to the
present we have been having quite a bit of trouble with it. Reception
has been very poor and at times we have been wholly dependent upon Perth
for reception of messages albeit her strength only about three at that.
Canberra Radio Belconnen comes in well during most nights & some
days. E.I. organisation would have been much better for a couple of days
Tue 24: This
second Christmas eve spent at sea. Oh well! We will be in Fremantle in
four days barring accidents. Sunbathing still going on at a great rate
but the wind is getting cooler now as we proceed southeast. We are
making about seven degrees of latitude southward each day. Not the best
of going but it will still get us there. Seventeen knots has been speed
Christmas dinner was not very flash although they did rather well
considering the ingredients lacking. Anyhow we were all happy, as we
knew that on 28th we should be in Fremantle and are all looking forward
to a spot of leave. It will be 29 days on arrival since we have had the
opportunity of getting ashore.
Thu 26, Fri 27:
Both days uneventful as we still make our way towards Fremantle.
Sat 28: This
morning arrived in Fremantle. As we steamed slowly up the Swan River we
catapulted the aircraft and docked at 10:00. All hands were fallen in
for entering harbour for the first time since leaving Australian waters
in October last. The people of Fremantle gave us a tumultuous welcome
and there were disappointed faces when it was announced that there would
no leave. Wharf leave was granted to anyone wishing to speak to
relatives or friends and we enjoyed our stay even tho we did not sail.
Phoned Helen. We sailed soon after five.
Pretty cold but we are happy to be on our way to Sydney where we are to
arrive on Friday next. Leave will then be granted but no one knows how
much. We hope for at least fourteen days.
Mon 30, Tue 31:
Uneventful as we are bound east. The sea has been rather rough albeit
now quietened down considerably in the last few hours.
Wed Jan 1 1941:
An uneventful Wednesday. It has been announced that the maximum amount
of leave to be granted is nine days and no travelling time either. That
means that I shall only stay two or three days in Melbourne when I do
get my leave as I want as much time as possible in Sydney. I have asked
to go second watch for leave. That will give me a few days in which to
get my gear out of the ship and so make it to avoid a rush. In Melbourne
I intend to try and get a good Ihagee-Exacta camera if it at a
reasonable price. Then too there is a sewing machine to get. That in
itself is a very good investment. Since provisioning in Fremantle the
food has increased in quality 100%.
Fri 3: This
morning at 10:00 we steamed into Sydney. As yet no one knows what leave
will be granted though we expect a max of 14 days plus travelling time.
Ship's log has been divided into two watches. Late this afternoon we
were told first watch for leave would go today and second watch
tomorrow. A care and maintenance party of about fifty hands has been
Sat 4: Leave
began today and I've to return to the ship am on the 21 Jan.
Returned from leave this morning. Was hauled over the coals on arrival
for being 22 hours 45 minutes adrift. This was due to police staff
sending recall to Melbourne when all the time I was in Sydney. Dismissed
without a black mark.
Jan 23: Pm,
sailed for Auckland with Arangi and Nieuw Amsterdam.
Jan 27: Pm,
arrived Auckland and docked at Devonport. Leave from 16:20 to 07:00 next
Early this morning we sailed for Wellington. Crew five short. Gamell is
again amongst those AWL.
Arrived Wellington about 14:30. Ashore 16:30. Danced at Majestic Cabaret
and there met actress Bette Davis.
Sat Feb 1 1941:
Sailed with Nieuw Holland and about 4000 Kiwi reinforcements for
05:00 Arrived Sydney. Sailed same afternoon i/c (in convoy) Queen
Mary, Aquatania, Nieuw Amsterdam.
Fri 7: Mauretania
joined us off Cape Otway after we'd passed south of Tasmania.
Arrived Fremantle about 10:00. Leave from 12:30 - 07:30 next day.
Tue 11: Left
Fremantle this morning at about 8:30 for Sydney. Due arrive there pm on
Arrived Sydney about 13:30 and usual leave was granted. Although I was
not duty I stayed aboard and subbed for a man whose wife had just had
Mon 17: This
afternoon we sailed for gunnery practices with Achilles off
Sydney heads. Sub calibre including night firings were carried out and
we anchored in Chowder Bay about midnight.
Tues 18: Out
for full calibre firings; returning to Harbour about 5pm.
Wed 19: Ship
painted and leave from 16:30. Much muttering as no half day granted.
Usual routine. Leave Nibbler Commander Tozer. Granted leave from 16:45.
Fri 21: Duty
today and leave granted from 12:30. Tozer must have heard some of the
muttering and decided to try and appease the throng.
Sailed early in the afternoon with Awatea for Auckland. She is
loaded with RAAF. Empire Air Trainees I believe. Queen Elizabeth
entered the harbour about five o'clock and anchored in Athol Bight. She
looked even larger than Queen Mary as she was pointing straight
for the zoo and consequently her stern was well out in the harbour.
Arrived at Auckland this afternoon about 1pm and only stayed long enough
to fuel. 5pm or a little later we sailed. A raider hunt was announced
first of all but it was subsequently changed to Melbourne am.
Sat Mar 1 1941:
Berthed alongside Nelson pier Williamstown at 8:30. Sydney had
been there some time and was fuelling when we arrived. We fuelled and
although there was no leave given one could get jetty leave to speak to
friends or relatives. Rita came down about 1pm and I was talking to her
for a while. Gave her 10/- as a birthday present. We sailed about 6:30pm
with a few hands still ashore and it was announced that we are to make
Fremantle on Tuesday.
Mon 3: We
were to have done 25knots all the way to Fremantle but rough weather
made this impossible. Our arrival will probably be delayed a few hours.
There is something in the air. No one knows definitely what is going on
but we suspect a hunt for a raider in the Indian Ocean. A fairly large
concentration of cruisers is rumoured for the job. At 9am we are only
doing about twelve knots owing to heavy seas.
Tue 4: The
motion had lessened somewhat and our speed has been increased to 24knots
Wed 5: Tied
up at Fremantle wharf this morning at 08:30. Made enquires re machine
(gun?) and delivery promised for tomorrow. Telegram to friend who
misunderstood it and replied asking to meet me tonight. What a rush I
had getting away. Even tho I did not leave the ship until about 7:50, I
was only five or ten minutes late. F.O.C.A.S. (Flag Officer Commanding
Australian Station) aboard.
Fremantle and after much palaver managed to get a boat at 12:30. Very
disappointed as the human element let me down badly. The shopping went
off splendidly and trip to Perth was very interesting. Dave told me he
was engaged to a YL I met him with. Name Thelma.
Fri 7: We
put to sea at 16:00 tonight and are going northwest to pick up a convoy.
Sydney as consort.
Tue 11: At
approximately 17.00 today we met Australia as ocean escort to Mauretania
and Nieuw Amsterdam. This meeting took place in a position to the
North east of Cocos Islands.
Sat 15: With
convoy, arrived Fremantle after carrying out sweep in the Indian Ocean.
I have heard these ships are filled with prisoners of war though don't
know whether there is any truth in the matter. Good leave given today.
To one watch for the whole weekend and the other two watches one day
each. Why we cannot get a weekend in Sydney occasionally is a mystery.
Sailed at 08:30 this morning with convoy with Australia and Sydney
as consort after two days in Fremantle during which I did not go ashore.
We are to leave convoy tomorrow when clear of the land. Do not know as
yet whether Sydney & Australia return to Fremantle
Wed 19: This
morning found as cruising eastward south of King Georges sound and there
was much speculation as to what was to happen. The doubts were dispelled
when at about 09:00 it was announced that Melbourne would be our
destination. They did not tell us our ETA but we surmise that it will be
Thu 20: This
morning the American cruisers Chicago, (R.A.Newton), Portland
and the destroyer Clark (leader), Cassin, Conyngham,
Reid and Downes arrived in Sydney and crews were given a
great welcome. They travel free on all trams, trains and buses and are
given free entry to entertainments. They are to arrive in Brisbane next
Tuesday and will remain there for three days.
About 12:30 today we arrived at Princes Pier, Port Melbourne and leave
was granted from 13:15. Rushed up to town and met Rita at 2:30 and we
went out to Melbourne suburb West Preston to visit Leibig's and Nash's,
friend's places. They wanted us to stay, but we moved on to Betty's who
was out. Beatrice Winnell was next on the list & she was out too. So
we same into the city, phoned Bernie & met him after a hurried meal
at the Wentworth restaurant, then to see the "Dictator" at the
Left the folks about 11:30 and
Sun 23: Left
Melbourne this morning for Sydney. Rendezvous with Australia
about 14:00 then on at 21knots.
Sydney into Cockatoo dock for scraping and a few days blank diary
Fri Apr 4:
At 09:00 this morning we left Sydney for Wellington. The prayers of two
people - one Australian and the other New Zealand - are to be answered
after all it appears and my heart sings joyfully. Bette Davis, 40 Rua
St, Lyall Bay. I'll not need to look the address up when we arrive and
leave is granted. Nor will any time be wasted in getting out to that
address next Sunday.
Arrived Wellington NZ at about 18:30 and leave was granted from 18:50
until 07:30 next day. Taxied out to see Bette and found that she had
gone to see a friend of Lucy's at the public hospital. Neville told me
I'd find her in ward 5; so around I went.
We were very glad to see each other
and enjoyed our few short hours very much.
Mon 7: This
morning about 3:30 am. I asked Bette to marry me and she accepted. Plans
are being made for the great day but we do not know when it will be as
yet. Times are against us.
Thu 10: This
morning about 09:00 we made fast in Farm Cove once more. The Convoy Nieuw
Amsterdam and Mauretania went in to Wooloomooloo.
Two letters were despatched to Bette.
Answers hoped very soon.
11 Fri: Convoy
sailed with Sydney and Australia for Fremantle. Queen
Mary and Queen Elizabeth included.
Sailed for Auckland with Awatia.
Arrived Auckland early this morning and fuelled at Devonport. ANZAC
service on the quarterdeck.
Marched three streets of Auckland
headed by Auckland boy's band. RAAF Empire air trainees took part but no
RAN. Leave was granted from 11:00 and tho I had a premonition that
something was wrong I went ashore to see Bette & found she'd
returned to Wellington. Very disappointed and all attempts to phone her
Bumped into girl named Ursula who claimed to have met me at the
Metropole when we had leave here last. When she found I had nothing to
do she invited me home for lunch and out on a car trip to Helensville.
Had a pretty good time but Bette was constantly in my thoughts and how I
wished she were there. More attempts to phone her failed. Letters
written and posted yesterday including photos and "consent"
paper. On return from Springside I went to the Metropole for an hour and
there met Mavis French. A very charming girl but I'm still not very
interested. Bette claims my every thought...
Sun 27: This
morning we sailed for Sydney and we are due on Wednesday.
Sat 3 May 1941:
My Birthday. The SC (Service Certificate) shows I departed Hobart
2 May 1941 & left Brisbane 3 May 1941 as a Leading Telegraphist -
too early for The Coral Sea Battle!
Syd Clark appears to have served on 16
vessels or shore bases to 25 July 1947. He met Jessie Meurant in Sydney
where they married.