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- December 1977 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
At Manus Island on the 30th September 1944 Commander Mackinnon became ill and was sent to hospital. Lieutenant Commander J.M. Alliston DSC, RN, was sent from Shropshire to take over Warramunga. Alliston developed a great affection for Warramunga.
13th October saw Warramunga leaving Hollandia for the Philippines, where she was kept exceedingly busy. Leyte Gulf was a regular hot spot. The main Australian casualty was Australia, which ship was singled out for special attention by the Japanese ‘Kamikaze’ force. Amongst those killed in Australia was Captain E.V. Dechaineux. His death was keenly felt in Warramunga, and the RAN lost one of its best destroyer captains. A well loved man, he was a credit to Australia as a nation.
Warramunga had the job of escorting the battered cruiser to Manus, and then turned round and headed back to Leyte. After the operations at Leyte, Warramunga took part in the Lingayen landings. At Lingayen as in Leyte Australia came under close attention from the Kamikazes; this time she collected five of the pests. Other ships were Kamikazed and these included the old four stack American destroyer Brooks.
Warramunga went to Brooks’ aid and did a great job extinguishing fires and taking the wounded on board. Warramunga took Brooks in tow. The tow was later passed to Gascoyne whilst Warramunga and Warrego provided the escort. The wounded from Brooks were transferred to USS Pennsylvania and this was no easy matter as the battleship was under way all through the transfer, and to make matters worse was engaged in a bombardment, and altering course frequently. It was a slow tedious job for Warramunga’s motor boat crews, but they took it in their stride.
After this exploit the Warramunga took part on the assault on Corregidor, and later in company with the newly arrived Hobart took part in the attack on Cebu City. On the 10th April 1945 she received her fourth skipper when Commander M.J. Dark DSC RAN relieved Alliston.
Nobby Dark was an old hand with destroyers, having commissioned Nizam. The Philippines was a long campaign and Warramunga took time off to help out in the bombardment of Wewak in New Guinea in May. After this operation she headed back to Sydney for refit which was completed by 5th July.
After a two day spell in Jervis Bay, Warramunga returned to Sydney to pick up Commodore Collins and carry him to Subic Bay in the Philippines. Whilst in Subic Bay the Japanese gave in and on the 18th August Warramunga headed for Tokyo, reaching there on the 31st. Warramunga had the honour of transferring Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, C-in-C BPF from the battleship Duke of York to the Customs House pier in Yokasuka.
With the war over Warramunga turned to more humane duties, which included the recovering of prisoners-of-war. She was engaged in these duties until 22nd of September when she weighed anchor and headed for Sydney.
Peace-time routine soon got under way with Warramunga being part of the running flotilla. A few changes in her appearance had been effected during the war years. Her original 20mms had been replaced by 40mm Bofors guns, and in place of her tripod mast she now sported the very latest type of lattice mast.
She was not finished with Japanese waters, and spent quite a lot of her time as part of the occupation forces in Japan, in fact she was engaged on these tours of duty until 1949.
In 1950 trouble flared up in Korea and as part of the United Nations forces, Australia was to provide two destroyers and one frigate. Warramunga was to do two tours of duty in Korean waters and distinguished herself on numerous occasions.
Her skipper for the first run was Commander Otto Humphrey Beecher. Otto was a wonderful skipper, and very popular with his crew. The friendly bickering between Otto and Bataan’s skipper. Commander ‘Harpo’ Marks, was thoroughly enjoyed by both ships’ companies.
Korea was cold, hard work for the Navy, and in the early days was quite hectic. Warramunga was in the thick of it, she helped cover landings and evacuations, and gave gunfire support to the men fighting on land. She escorted aircraft carriers. As in the case of WW2, her full war record must wait, but a few incidents will help to illustrate her involvement.
In December 1950 during the evacuation of wounded from Chinnampo, Warramunga ran aground at the side of the swept channel, this being only 500 yards at its widest point. Gradually she worked herself into deep water again and completed the operation, many wounded being brought out.
On 9th January 1951 Warramunga was given a break to carry out her half yearly docking. This break was well received as the last patrol had lasted for 45 days away from base, a long time in anyone’s language. The 3rd February saw the old ship back at work again on the gun line, and she spent a two day period as part of the screen of USS Missouri.
To give an idea of the work done by Warramunga, the month of February is a good example. In this month she spent all but five days in the operational area, and steamed over 5,000 miles, but in July of the same year she steamed 8,625 miles, the highest mileage recorded in one month since she commissioned in 1942. She was a hard worked old girl. Warramunga returned to Sydney in September 1951 after spending 13 months in Korean waters.
Refitting began at once and after working up exercises she left Sydney on the 11th January 1952 and headed back to Japan. She was now under the command of Commander J.M. Ramsay, RAN, the present Governor of Queensland. She soon settled into her old routine, and lost no time in proving beyond all doubt that she had lost none of her old efficiency, she was still a good gunnery ship.
As usual she worked mainly with US destroyers, but we must remember that Korea was mainly an American show, and British and Australian naval representation was quite small. But as the war was being conducted as a United Nations effort mixed forces were used when possible. It was not uncommon to see the screen of an aircraft carrier being made up of one Canadian, one British, one Australian and one US destroyer.
On Anzac Day 1952 Warramunga was on the screen of USS Iowa for the bombardment of Chongjin. Iowa carried out a steady rate of fire with her nine 16 inch guns from dawn until late in the afternoon, and very accurate fire it was. Warramunga steamed closer inshore helping the other destroyers in the squadron silence the enemy’s shore defences.