- Zammitt, Alan
- Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Sydney III
- October 1982 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
After patrolling was finished in the Montebello area, we headed for Shark Bay, Fremantle, Melbourne, Jervis Bay and Sydney. The weather at Fremantle was extremely rough, and Sydney flew on her aircraft outside the port, stopped with both picks down.
Sydney’s next big show was the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, the ship being used to carry the Coronation Contingent to England. One of the highlights of this cruise was to pass close to the scene of the Sydney–Emden action off the Cocos Islands. We visited Colombo, Aden and Suez, where the south bound convoy included Hellenic Prince (ex-HMAS Albatross) and the Italian SS Sydney.
At Tobruk the contingent was landed to visit the war cemetery. Disembarkation began at 0800 using ‘Z’ lighters which could lift 400 men at a time. From the jetty, 28 British Army trucks took close to 900 men 5 miles to the cemetery, where a ceremony took place.
During the ceremony RAAF aircraft from 78 Wing based on Malta, and our Firefly aircraft, flew overhead.
At Malta, Admiral the Earl Mountbatten inspected the ship and made a short speech. Sydney led the Mediterranean Fleet out of Malta, followed by Black Prince, Gambia, Bermuda and Indomitable. Exercises were carried out for three days with these ships, plus Manxman, RN destroyers, frigates, submarines and aircraft.
These exercises with the Med. Fleet were most realistic with their gunfire being simulated by break-up shot and brown smoke puffs.
Between Malta and Gibraltar we passed a French squadron, comprising the cruisers Montcalm, Gloire (the French cruiser that Australia could have sunk or captured in 1940 off Dakar) and eight other French warships.
Our exercises finished with an attack on Gibraltar by aircraft from Indomitable and Sydney. After a visit to Gibraltar Sydney headed for Portsmouth for the Coronation.
The Queen’s Coronation Review at Spithead in June 1953 was the review of the aircraft carrier. In all there were ten carriers, Vanguard being the only battleship.
On our departure from England we sailed with the Canadian navy including our sister ship HMCS Magnificent. Sydney’s ports of call were Halifax, Baltimore, Jamaica, Colon, Pearl Harbour and Auckland, the ship arriving back in Sydney in August 1953. This tour completed Vie Zammit’s eighth cruise to England in an RAN ship, and the fourth time he had circumnavigated the globe in 25 years.
In Sydney, Captain G.C. Oldham, DSC, RAN, relieved Captain Buchanan, and Commander T.M. Synnott, DSC, relieved Commander J.R. Robertson, who, on 10th February 1964 was captain of Melbourne when the collision with Voyager occurred. Our work up was at Hervey Bay, Queensland, with Anzac as plane guard destroyer. Vengeance and Quadrant were operating in the same area for a time.
Before arriving back in Sydney, HMAS Wagga towed the hulk Kuramia to a position 20 miles from the Heads, and our aircraft used the old Boom Gate vessel for target practice. The third aircraft scored a direct hit, and sank Kuramia.
On 19th September 1953, Sydney sailed in company with Bataan for Korean Waters, via Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Onboard were 1,400 ship’s company, with 36 aircraft and 2 Dragonfly helicopters, which were embarked from HMS Ocean in Hong Kong. Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Lambe was the Cin- C, Far East, at this time.
We relieved Ocean, which ship sailed for the United Kingdom on 11th November.
At Sasebo we joined up with our opposite number, USS Point Cruz. Point Cruz was shortly relieved by USS Saipan. HMS Newcastle was the flagship, and two other Australian ships were operating in the area. These were Tobruk and Murchison, who had been on the station with Sydney during 1951- 52.
Between Kure and Hong Kong, on 29th December, a Sea Fury crashed into the sea about 8 miles ahead of the ship. The pilot, Sub-Lieutenant M.J. Beardsall, RN, was presumed killed. A commemoration to pay tribute to this officer, followed by a church service, was held on the flight deck.
In Hong Kong a Dragonfly helicopter crashed in Kowloon Bay, fortunately the aircrew were not injured. A replacement helicopter arrived in the cruiser HMS Birmingham about two weeks later.
From Hong Kong, Sydney carried out exercises with the 8th Destroyer Squadron, HM Ships Cockade, Consort, Cossack and Defender. During these exercises Sub- Lieutenant P.J.H. McClinton, RN, was struck on the head by a revolving propeller, and died later in the day. The sub-lieutenant was buried in the Happy Valley Cemetery, Hong Kong.