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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 are useless.

Mon 27: We are now back in the southern Red Sea and once again patrolling off Perim Island.

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.

Wed 29: Remained in Perim harbour all day, uneventful.

Thu 30: 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 uneventful.

Mon 3: As above uneventful.

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 accordingly.

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.

Thu 6: 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 returned aboard.

Sun 9: Uneventful as ever.

Mon 10: 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 Perim Patrol.

Fri 14: 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.

Sat 15: Organisation as above. Nothing eventful.

Sun 16: 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.

Mon 17: 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 later.

Thu 20: Arrived at Aden this afternoon and soon after oiling put to sea again. Another short time covering the Perim Patrol

Fri 21: 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 ships.

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 tomorrow night.

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 not Britain.

Wed 26: Uneventful and still at Aden.

Thu 28: 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.

Fri 28: 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.

Sat 29: 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 station.

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 middle watch.

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.

Thu 11: Disembarking Takliwa troops at Berbera. Uneventful. Two R.A.F. aircraft have been reported down at Djibouti. Sail during the first watch.

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 run.

Tue 16: 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.

Thu 18: 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.

Fri 19: 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 respective armaments.

Bartolomeo Colleoni    Sydney

5,500t approx              7,000t

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)          1 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.

Mon 22: 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.

Wed 24: Uneventful.

Thu 25: Today could not be uneventful, as it was payday. Auckland reported an aircraft during the afternoon.

Fri 26: 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 still uneventful.

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 another trooper.

 

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.

Fri 2: 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.

Tue 6: 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 about 12:00.

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.

Tue 13: 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 percussion fuses.

Wed 14: 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.

Thu 15: 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 long.

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 adverse.

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 up stragglers.

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.

Tue 20: 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 evacuation.

Wed 21: 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.

Thu 22: 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.

Mon 26: 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.

Tue 27: 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.

Thu 29: Still in the Red Sea southbound and uneventful.

Fri 30: 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. Nothing eventuated.

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 42 Rajula.

23 Takliwa.

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 on independently.

Sat 7: Arrived Aden this morning at about 06:00. Mail in one from H only letter.

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 Man.".

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 folks.

Tue 10: Today uneventful.

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.

Sun 15: 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.

Tue 17: Today was uneventful. AA (anti aircraft) guard outside the boom.

Wed 18: 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.

Sat 21: Still at sea. Nothing eventful happened. Coventry left us this evening.

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 Nichol.

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 been cooperating.

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 follows.

Epress of Canada. Empress of Britain Andes

Strathaird Franconia. Otranto

California Star. ........ Suffolk.

Hobart is 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 station.

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 from H.

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 (Holland)

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.

Sun 6: 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.

Tue 8: 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 follows:

Indrapoera (Commmodore) Christiaan Huygens

No. US4 Slamat Nieuw Holland.

Carlisle, Hobart, Kandahar and Flamingo in escort.

Wed 9: Today was uneventful, no air raids or anything else to break the monotony of our commuting.

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.

Sat 12: 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 ships:

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.

Wed 16: 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 asleep.

Fri 18: The usual harbour routine, I was duty today so did not get ashore again. Much mail....

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.

Mon 21: 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 camp.

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.

Wed 23: Today was uneventful. I was duty once again.

Thu 24: 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.

Sun 27: 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.

Thu 14: 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 job.

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.

Sun 17: 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 Club.

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.

Fri 22: 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 place.

Sun 24: Although we expected to sail early this morning, now no one seems to know when we will.

Mon 25: Today was uneventful though it is rumoured we are sailing to take a convoy to Cape Guardafuia tomorrow morning.

Tue 26: 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 as follows:

 

Australind Bahadur (Commodore) Jalakrishna King Arthur

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.

Thu 28: Today was uneventful except for the fact that it was a payday. Photos from Stafford.

Fri 29: Still in Aden harbour, uneventful.

Sat 30: 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.

Mon 2: 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 following ships:

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 Moller

The ocean escort is disposed as follows.

Hobart zz Kimberley zz

Indus Auckland

Carlisle zz

zz Ships indicated are zigzagging in front of the convoy, Carlisle (S.O. Senior Officer) is acting similarly astern.

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

Khosreau Katy (Norge) British Sailor (Vice Commodore)

Loxane (French) British Renown Vacport

Arena (Norge) Eildon Rosalie Moller

British Hope Katingo Hadjipatera (Greek)

 

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)

 

Perthshire 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 Monday.

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.

Tue 10: 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.

Wed 11: Still at sea with the convoy this time in the Gulf of Aden. We leave them at 04:00 for Aden.

Thu 12: 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 rate.

Sat 14, Sun 15: At sea for Colombo. Uneventful.

Sun 15: Usual Sunday sea routine, nothing eventful.

Mon 16: Aircraft off this morning and torpedo run carried out, otherwise nothing eventful.

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.

Wed 18: 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.

Thu 19: 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 & Appleleaf.

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.

Sun 22: 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 more.

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 so far.

Wed 25: 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.

Sun 29: 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 detailed.

Sat 4: Leave began today and I've to return to the ship am on the 21 Jan.

---------------------------------------------------------

Jan 21: 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 day.

Jan 29: Early this morning we sailed for Wellington. Crew five short. Gamell is again amongst those AWL.

Jan 30: 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 Sydney.

Tues 4: 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.

Mon 10: 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 16th.

---------------------------------------------

Sun 16: 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 another baby.

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.

Thu 20: Usual routine. Leave Nibbler Commander Tozer. Granted leave from 16:45. More dissatisfaction.

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.

Sat 22: 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.

Tue 25: 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 again.

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.

Thu 6: 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.

Mon 17: 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 too.

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 Saturday.

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.

Sat 22: 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 "Capitol".

Left the folks about 11:30 and returned aboard.

Sun 23: Left Melbourne this morning for Sydney. Rendezvous with Australia about 14:00 then on at 21knots.

Mon 24: 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.

Sun 6: 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.

22 Apr: Sailed for Auckland with Awatia.

25 Apr: 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 failed.

Sat 26: 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.

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