- Swinden, Greg
- Biographies and personal histories, WWII operations, History - WW1
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Rankin, HMAS Anzac I, HMAS Albatross, HMAS Brisbane I, HMAS Canberra I, HMAS Moresby I, HMAS Yarra II, HMAS Cerberus (Shore Establishment), HMAS Penguin II, HMAS Australia II, HMAS Melbourne I
- September 1994 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
On 30th March, 1938 Rankin was appointed to the survey vessel HMS GLEANER. In April he qualified as a Hydrographer Grade 3. Rankin served two survey seasons in GLEANER. The Captain’s wife and Molly would often drive to the port that GLEANER was visiting and pick them up for the weekend. It did not matter where they were and it could be anywhere from Scotland to the Isle of Man. In October 1938 Rankin qualified as a Hydrographer Grade 2
Rankin and Molly were in Plymouth when war with Germany was declared on 3rd September, 1939.
On 12th September, 1939 Rankin was posted to HMS DRYAD. Shortly after Rankin went to Glasgow to assist in commissioning the destroyer HMS KELLY. After “swinging the compass” (calibrating the navigational aids) Rankin was joined by his wife and they both attended the party to celebrate KELLY’s commissioning. KELLY’s Captain was Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten later Admiral of the Fleet Lord Louis Mountbatten. ((IBID.))
Rankin and Molly then had ten days leave which they spent in Scotland.
Rankin was appointed to the Fleet Repair Ship HMS RESOURCE on 14th November, 1939 as her First Lieutenant. Molly saw him off at Liverpool where he sailed for Egypt to join RESOURCE, then alongside at Alexandria.
Molly was pregnant by this time and returned to their home in Plymouth. A daughter, Patricia but always called Trish, was born to the Rankins in the Naval Hospital, Plymouth on 17th July, 1940. During their time in Plymouth Molly and Trish survived the heavy bombing of that city.
In mid 1941 Molly and Trish left England for Australia in a large convoy. Rankin’s daughter celebrated her first birthday at sea near the Azores.
Rankin returned to Australia in late 1941 and was reunited with his wife and a daughter whom he had never seen.
Shortly after returning to Australia, Rankin was dispatched to conduct a survey of Pittwater. The Rankins had a small cottage on Pittwater during this time.
In early 1942 Rankin was informed he would be taking command of the Grimsby Class sloop HMAS YARRA. Rankin and his wife flew from Sydney to Brisbane in a flying boat. Molly disembarked in Brisbane and Rankin saw her to shore before returning to the flying boat and continuing his flight north. Molly did not know it then but that was to be the last time that she was to see her husband. ((IBID))
YARRA was a veteran of many actions in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. In early 1942 she was engaged in the desperate attempts to stem the tide of Japanese invasion in South East Asia. Only a few days before Rankin joined, YARRA had been involved in a heavy bombing raid near Singapore and had assisted in rescuing nearly 2,000 troops from the burning troopship EMPRESS OF ASIA.
On 11th February, 1942 YARRA was in Tanjong Priok completing a boiler clean. It was here that Lieutenant Commander Rankin took over command from Lieutenant Commander W.H. Harrington RAN. Harrington had commanded YARRA throughout her time in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean and later went on to become Vice Admiral Sir Hastings Harrington KBE, CB, DSO, and the Chief of Naval Staff 1962-64. ((PARRY, A.F. – HMAS YARRA, 1936-42. Naval Historical Society of Australia, 1980))
On 16th February, YARRA sailed from Oosthaven in Sumatra as escort for one of the last convoys leaving the island. On 22nd February the convoy was 200 miles south of Christmas Island and here YARRA left the convoy and returned to Tanjong Priok on 24th February.
On 27th February Tanjong Priok was heavily bombed but YARRA escaped damage. Later that day YARRA was ordered to sail escorting a convoy of assorted vessels to Fremantle. (The vessels were the tanker FRANCOL, depot ship ANKING and small mine-sweeper MMS.51).
On 2nd March the convoy was sighted by four Australian corvettes near Tjilatjap on the south coast of Java. The next day YARRA sighted two life boats under sail and picked up 34 survivors from the Dutch Merchant Ship PARIGI. The rest of the day was uneventful with the exception of a possible submarine contact that night. Rankin ordered two depth charges dropped but there was no result. ((AUSTIN, K.A. – “YARRA IN BATTLE”. Chapter in Australians in War, 1974))