- Newspaper, The West Australian
- RAN operations, Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Gascoyne I
- June 2007 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Small craft were summoned alongside to evacuate all but the fire fighters and the seriously wounded. Four American doctors who had come aboard, and the sick berth attendant from Gascoyne, who had been doing a magnificent job, made every effort possible to ease the suffering of the wounded men.
It was not until 2.00 am on Boxing Day that the fires were got under control and two more hours elapsed before Buttonwood was informed that her services were no longer required.
By 6.00 am all the fires had been put out but two hoses were kept running to reduce the temperature of the heated metal and cargo and prevent any further outbreak of combustion.
Just as dawn was breaking, a ‘Red Alert’ was given but no raid developed and presently ‘Condition White’ was signalled.
At 6.55 am, Gascoyne slipped from Sommelsdijk and proceeded at full speed to San Pedro Bay to transfer the seriously wounded men to the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship, Refuge.
So ended a night that had been filled with drama, excitement and high courage – a night in which a small Australian warship and her company had played a gallant part. It is unlikely that any member of that company, while he was fighting against such heavy odds, ever thought that he would be rewarded for what he was doing, but not long afterwards, a list of awards showed that the bravery, skills and determination of some of them, at least, had not been forgotten.
Those to whom awards were given were Engineer Lieutenant Maurice Corrigan, RANR (S), who was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire; Chief Stoker Alfred Wrench, who was given the British Empire Medal; and Sick Berth Attendant Alan Cole upon whom the Distinguished Service Medal was conferred. Petty Officer Herbert John Rigg was mentioned in despatches.