- Yeomans, Jim
- WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Shropshire
- September 1994 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
HMAS SHROPSHIRE was a lucky ship! All drafts to the U.K. safely traversed the Atlantic at the height of U-Boat sinkings and not a man was lost through enemy action.
Soon after HMAS CANBERRA was sunk, the British Government announced its gift of a replacement cruiser which was to be renamed CANBERRA until it was learned that the U.S. Navy intended to honour its memory by naming a new heavy cruiser USS CANBERRA, so HMS SHROPSHIRE simply changed to HMAS.
At Chatham Dockyard far-reaching changes were made to SHROPSHIRE which included conversion to cafeteria messing, improvements to gunnery control, modernisation of all Radar and later rectification of a fault in transmission which enabled the ship to reach 32.6 knots.
Sailing for home from Scapa Flow on Friday, 13th August, 1943 SHROPSHIRE took her place in Task Force 74, based at Milne Bay with a mixture of Australian and US warships. Her campaign against Japan began in December 1943 in New Britain and then as part of the island-hopping strategy at a dozen locations in Dutch New Guinea and nearby islands.
Then in the small hours of 20th October, 1944 SHROPSHIRE was truly in `Tiger Territory’! Stealing into Leyte Gulf in a vast assemblage of 470 ships, she towed an unwelcome visitor – an ugly black mine, entangled with the port paravane. It was here that our new Radar proved its worth, much to the delight of our new skipper, Captain C.A.G. (Godfrey) Nichols, R.N.
On 25th October in Surigao Strait at 0323, allied destroyers led by HMAS ARUNTA attacked with torpedoes the fleet battle force of Admiral Nishimura. SHROPSHIRE opened fire with main armament on the bigger battleship, YAMASHIRO, and from 32 broadsides, over a period of 14 minutes, registered many hits on the Japanese flagship. This attracted fire from the Japanese flagship and several big shells tore noisily overhead. HUSO sank at 0338 and YAMASHIRO at 0419.
In this great overall sea battle of Leyte, SHROPSHIRE had become the only Australian warship ever to have fired its main gunnery at an enemy battleship and registered hits.
Only one Japanese destroyer was afloat at daybreak, firing defiantly until a shell found its magazine. All told, in the sea battles of 25th October, 19 warships were sunk, mostly Japanese. SHROPSHIRE was plagued by kamikazes in November and again in January 1945 but events of 25th October finished Japanese sea power.
HMAS SHROPSHIRE’S long voyage from Chatham (U.K.) had a conclusion on 2nd September, 1945 in Tokyo Bay with 257 other allied warships including USS MISSOURI at the Surrender Ceremony.