- Zammitt, Alan
- Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Sydney III
- October 1982 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
From Hong Kong, Sydney returned to Iwakuni and Kure, followed by our third armistice patrol off the west coast of Korea.
During this patrol Naval Airman Hazel had both his legs injured in an arrester wire accident. The helicopter flew the injured man to a US Army Hospital, where a doctor saved both his legs from being amputated.
One noticeable fault during the second Korean tour was the series of breakdowns of the flight deck machinery, parts were wearing out from constant service. The flight deck engineer. Lieutenant (E) Tom Fisher and his team did a marvellous job keeping the flight deck machinery in full operational condition. Lieutenant Fisher is now Commodore T.C. Fisher, General Manager of Garden Island Dockyard.
Sydney returned to Kure on 25th February 1954, meeting up with Arunta. Arunta was commanded by Commander Bill Dovers, DSC, RAN, and he had kindly brought up much needed stores for us. After Kure, Sydney spent a week in Kobe. Two members of the ship’s company, CPO Alan Hawken, and LEM Nelson, were buried in the European Section of Kobe’s Kasugano Cemetery. The funeral ceremony was well attended by a large number of officers and men from the ship.
While on our fourth Korean patrol Lieutenant Brettingham-Moore, a Sea Fury pilot, ditched in the sea, but was rescued unharmed.
Captain George Oldham was a popular captain. He was unusual for an officer in that he had a tattoo on his arm, but that didn’t stop him from being a very good ship handler. I believe that he was the first carrier captain to use the Shimonoseki Strait at night as a short cut between Korea and Japan. The Shimonoseki route at places is very narrow, with power cables running across only a few feet above the ship’s mast. On 25th March, sailing from Kure to Korea, and using the Shimonoseki Strait, Sydney narrowly missed three LSTs by going astern on each occasion. One LST was so close one could almost reach out and touch it.
After exercises and visits to Okinawa, where we lost one of our motor boats on a reef, and Japanese ports including Yokohama, USS Saipan took over from Sydney as duty carrier. The troopship Dunera returned the RN aircrew to the United Kingdom.
Sydney sailed for Iwakuni with 68 aircraft, over half of which were landed at Singapore. While in the Formosa Straits, two low flying Chinese Nationalist Thunderbolt aircraft flew directly over the ship several times. After a six day visit to Hong Kong, we arrived in Singapore on 18th May.
Our RN relief carrier was HMS Warrior, which ship was in the dockyard when we arrived. Before we sailed, the carrier ferry HMS Perseus arrived and transferred 12 new Sea Furies and some stores, for passage to Australia. HMS Birmingham, the flagship, gave Sydney a musical send off as the carrier sailed for home.
After winter leave, Sydney sailed for Hervey Bay, and arrived at Manus in October 1954. Vice-Admiral Sir John Collins took part in the exercises, which comprised 8 RN ships, with Birmingham as flagship, and 7 RAN ships under the command of Rear- Admiral R.R. Dowling, Sydney’s captain from 1948 to 1950. Rear-Admiral Dowling became First Naval Member in February 1955, when Rear-Admiral Burrell assumed command of HM Australian Fleet, with Sydney as his flagship.
Sydney visited Fremantle in March 1955, and in April Captain Oldham was transported to hospital. The executive officer, Commander Tim Synnot, DSC, RAN, assumed command for about 10 days. Commander Tim Synnot is the brother of Admiral Sir Anthony Synnot, both brothers were very intelligent and capable officers.
Australia’s first aircraft carrier proceeded to sea, carrying fixed wing aircraft for the last time on 22nd April 1955, after which she flew off her aircraft and disembarked her AVGAS, and became a training ship for PNF and National Service trainees.
In Sydney, Commander A.N. Dollard, DSC, RAN, relieved Commander Synnot as executive officer and the ship sailed for a training cruise to New Zealand.
This was to be Vie Zammit’s last cruise. He retired after Sydney returned from New Zealand. His diary notes that, since commissioning in 1948 until June 1955, Sydney had steamed 251,000 miles.
After leaving Sydney, ‘Jesus’ conducted a newsagency at Regents Park, Sydney, with his sons Alan and David. Victor Zammit died in 1975, at the age of 79, and is buried with his father at South Head Cemetery, overlooking the sea where he spent so much of his life.