- Zammitt, Alan
- Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 1981 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Yokosuka, one of the main US naval bases in Japan, was visited on 2nd October followed by exercises with the USS Toledo, a new heavy cruiser, and three destroyers. The exercises were followed by another visit to Yokohama. Australia had to put to sea at short notice when a typhoon was heading for Yokohama, even though the cruiser was only on the edge of the typhoon she struck rough seas.
Between Yokohama and Kure, Australia exercised with the county class cruiser Sussex, then Flagship of the 5th Cruiser Squadron. The two ships had served together between 1934 and 1936. Australia won the day shoot. However, Sussex won the night action as although Australia was first to commence firing, her star shells did not work, whereas when Sussex fired her star shells lit up the Australia. The exercises were followed by Australia’s last visit to Kure and ended having an RAN cruiser as part of the British Commonwealth occupation forces in Japan.
Australia arrived at Hong Kong on October 22nd 1947. There, with so many RN ships and activity in the harbour, discipline was fairly strict. If Commander Gellatly saw a sailor out of the dress of the day on the upper deck the sailor would be in trouble. If unauthorised vessels disobeyed the order to leave the side of the ship fire hoses were put on to drive the offenders away. An RN destroyer had most of its lower deck scuttle brass butterfly nuts stolen by one of these boats and was delayed from sailing. One group allowed to visit every warship stationed at Hong Kong was a group of Chinese girls called ‘Jenny’s Side Party’ who painted the ship’s sides near the waterline in return for the right to take away any offal or food left over from the meals. Jenny sold this food ashore. Some of the side party girls were very attractive. However, Jenny made sure there was no funny business. On one occasion when we did not return to Hong Kong for the night after gunnery exercises, Jenny had her girls sleep in the potato locker and guarded them all night.
Vice-Admiral Sir Denis Boyd, KCB, CBE, DSC, was C-in-C of the Far East Station. In those days, the RN was a powerful Navy and Vice-Admiral Sir Denis Boyd had under his command the light fleet carrier Theseus, the 5th Cruiser Squadron, comprising HM Ships Sussex, Gambia, London and sometimes an RAN Cruiser up to 1947; a flotilla of ‘C’ Class destroyers which we operated with were Comus, Consort, Concord, Cossack, Cockade and Constance; a Frigate flotilla, submarines and the depot ship Adamant, and many smaller vessels scattered from Singapore to Japan. Sir Denis Boyd had become famous as the Captain of Illustrious in 1941. He had been Executive Officer of HMAS Sydney and Melbourne in 1926-1928.
When Sir Denis Boyd was to inspect Australia’s ship’s company,. Captain Buchanan asked Vie Zammit to make sure he was on the quarter deck to meet Sir Denis Boyd again.
After leaving HMAS Melbourne as Executive Officer, Sir Denis Boyd wrote:
‘Admiralty, S.W., 2nd September 1928.
THIS IS TO CERTIFY that Mr. S.V. Zammit served with me in HMA Ships Sydney and Melbourne in 1926-28 as Canteen Tenant. I always found him obliging, trustworthy, and energetic in any dealings I had with him personally, and as President of the Canteen Committee, I heard nothing but entire satisfaction in regard to his work for the ship’s company. It gives me great pleasure to be able to recommend this man for future service.
(Signed) Denis Boyd
Ashore in Hong Kong the shops were full of goods that were in 1947 in very short supply, or impossible to buy in Australia. We were able to buy watches, plastic handbags, nylon stockings, ballpoint pens, etc., to take home to our friends in Australia as Christmas gifts.
The Aussie sailed for Shanghai on November 6th 1947. A pilot joined the ship at the mouth of the Yangtse River. The river was a muddy yellowish colour and ran very swiftly. Barges going upstream found it hard going, but on the other hand barges going downstream, just seemed to ride down without any power. Fast Nationalist-manned patrol boats would be seen coming alongside barges and junks searching suspicious vessels looking for pirates or boats carrying supplies to the Communist forces. In the river, corpses would be seen floating past the ship.