- Richardson, G
- WWII operations, Ship histories and stories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Bendigo I, HMAS Vendetta I, HMAS Whyalla I, HMAS Yarra II, HMAS Burnie, HMAS Perth I, HMAS Hobart I, HMAS Cessnock I, HMAS Wollongong I, HMAS Toowoomba I, HMAS Ballarat I, HMAS Taroona, HMAS Bingera, HMAS Adelaide I, HMAS Colac, HMAS Goulburn, HMAS Maryborough
- March 1975 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
21.2.42. Ballarat sailed. It’s funny how we are always left holding the bag. Three alerts today. Wollongong galloped out to relieve us, so we proceeded in alongside. Just as well, as the boys were very close to doing something drastic; there’s been ample opportunities to give us a run ashore, and we’ve been cooped up too long. Wharves are called Tanjong Priok. Oiled alongside War Sirdar, an RN Fleet oiler, Jupiter, Encounter and Burnie are alongside. Orcades sailed with Hobart as escort. Leave is granted for the first time in six weeks. Whacko! Nice place, Batavia.
22.2.42. Alongside. Two alerts in forenoon. Eight soldiers who escaped from Malaya were brought aboard by our skipper. Ballarat and Toowoomba returned to harbour. Slipped and proceeded with Burnie at 1330 to carry out patrols in Sunda Straits. Dragon has returned.
23.2.42. Patrol Sunda Straits at night for enemy infiltration from Sumatra, and anchor in Merak every day. Enemy reconnaissance plane spotted. Ballarat and Maryborough here.
24.2.42. Patrolled all night, closed up and sleeping at the guns. Anchored off Merak this morning and swimming parties ashore. Most beautiful spot on earth, and balm for weary sailors. Exeter and Perth in Batavia. 27 Japs flew overhead today, but I reckon our colouring fooled ’em. It blends nicely with the jungle.
25.2.42. Patrol. Anchored in Merak. From here the well-known volcano, Krakatoa, is clearly visible. It is the tip of the volcano standing 7,000 ft. out of Sunda Straits, which are very narrow here. Can see Sumatra with the naked eye. Over 50 planes (enemy) flying around. All aircraft we see now are Nippons, except Catalinas which are patrolling these Straits. Enemy subs have been active in these waters. Lone fighter circled us, but said nothing.
26.2.42. Anchored off village of Lubuhan, 25 miles from Merak. Ballarat accompanied us. One alert. Carried out patrol. Got to be vigilant tonight as a landing is expected. Only hope these small craft of theirs don’t turn out to be destroyers.
27.2.42. Returned to Merak at dawn. Over 80 planes in one formation passed over on their way to Batavia. It is a noticeable fact that Nippon has no need to send fighters with his bombers now. About 1600, three light bombers dived on us, and we got going with the pom-pom. Smacked one in the tail, and he jettisoned his bombs near Sumatra. Bombs fell a little too close for comfort and shrapnel comes down like hailstones. They made three attacks, but our fire was a little too hot for ’em. I guess I’m entitled to brag a bit as I was on the gun. We heard that Hobart is being attacked by aircraft, and our cruisers and destroyers are engaging Japanese forces at south end of Banka.
28.4.42. Patrol. Corvettes formed up and proceeded south, apparently things are pretty grim. Passing Java Head, our lookout reported smoke on the beach. Picked up survivors of Dutch freighter Dupliex, 50 or 60, mainly Javanese, Burnie and Bendigo carried on and the others were recalled to Sunda Strait. We are to carry on to Tjilatjap, oil and follow them. A convoy escorted by Yarra, Jumna and Wollongong is being attacked by aircraft. The situation is desperate. War Sirdar has been sunk.
1.3.42. Rolling down the Indian Ocean for Tjilatjap. News has reached us that the Japanese have made a large scale landing supported by a heavy naval force at Merak on the night of 28th. We are wondering how our corvettes got on, Goulburn, Toowoomba, Ballarat, and Maryborough. Ballarat rumoured sunk. The b–s must have been coming across as we pulled out. How lucky are we? Another large scale landing has been made on the west coast of Java, 60 miles from Sourabaya. Our cruisers are trying to drive them off. Reached Tjilatjap early in the afternoon and were just inside the river when a signal was received stating that a ship has been attacked by subs about 5 miles out. Swung our bows out over a minefield to turn and proceeded at full speed with the Burnie and carried out A/S sweep. There are three subs hanging around and have sunk 33 allied ships in the past week.
Proceeded in again and ran aground. Shifted weight forward and went full speed astern. Pretty big port, and aircraft crates stowed everywhere. Waited till Stronghold oiled, and then went alongside Burnie. Stronghold is bound for Fremantle. We heard that in Battle of Java Sea the Dutch have lost two cruisers and some destroyers, Jupiter has been sunk and Electra and Encounter damaged. Exeter has had 70 men killed and had to make port, but went out again when things looked black, although badly damaged. Hobart and Perth have been hit, and American cruiser Houston is a total loss. We are unable to confirm these reports. At about 2130, 87 officers and men of Jupiter came aboard. Commodore Collins is on Burnie which is acting as W/T Station for Java. We hear from the survivors that Exeter’s gunnery was marvellous, firing by RD/F and getting out six salvos to Houston’s one. There’s the British Navy for you! We are slipping at midnight and the buzz is Colombo or Fremantle, but we don’t give a hang which. The Japs are in Sourabaya about 60 miles away, connected by good roads and rail. The waters outside are alive with enemy subs and our chances of getting through are exceedingly slim. Slipped and proceeded to sea, passing Yankee sub outside.
2.3.42. We are steaming at full speed for Fremantle, sleeping at Action Stations as this area is swarming with enemy surface craft as well as subs, but our spirits are high. Seas are increasing and things are pretty uncomfortable as there are 140 men living on the mess deck instead of 45. Two planes sighted, one a Catalina, the other unidentified. It will be 48 hours before we can breathe a bit easier.
3.3.42. Still flat out, piledriving like blazes. Enemy bomber circled us, but kept going.
4.3.42. Steering in SE direction, ship is taking a hammering and speed has been reduced. Steering broke down at dawn and hand steering resorted to. Passed Yankee seaplane tender.
5.3.42. Sighted land in forenoon, looks like NW Cape, but we have no charts, steering by dead reckoning. Sea is going down slightly.
6.3.42. Sea has come up again and our hopes of getting in Saturday are reduced. USS Phoenix gave us a scare yesterday.
7.3.42. Sea is immense, and can’t she bounce. Sighted Catalina in the forenoon.
8.3.42. Sighted Rottnest Island just before dawn and a very welcome sight. Burnie on horizon as we go in. Harbour is crowded with men-o-war, subs and ships of all kind. Secured alongside and oiled at 1000.