- Richardson, G
- Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Australia II, HMAS Warrnambool I, HMAS Bendigo I, HMAS Cessnock I, HMAS Swan II, HMAS Colac, HMAS Townsville I, HMAS Broome, HMAS Warrego II, HMAS Arunta I, HMAS Katoomba, HMAS Hobart I, HMAS Lithgow, HMAS Bungaree, RAFA Kurumba, HMAS Stuart I, HMAS Ballarat I
- June 1975 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
10.10.42. Weighed and proceeded to an anchorage off Flagstaff Hill. Put to sea with an American ship. Bound for Fitzroy Island.
11.10.42. At sea. Carried out a 4-inch shoot during the forenoon.
12.10.42. Anchored off Cairns at 1130 to wait for orders, then weighed and proceeded to Townsville.
13.10.42. Entered Cleveland Bay at 0610 and secured alongside Taroona at 0730. Shifted berth alongside the Arunta. Received mail and back pay. Slipped at 1535, bound for Cairns again.
14.10.42. Arrived at Cairns at 0830.
15.10.42. At Cairns. Beer situation is grim, it is turned on at 1700 for 15 to 20 minutes only.
22.10.42. Slipped and proceeded at 0300 and waited for the West Cactus and Van Heemskirk till 0900. Got under way at 1800 after a lot of messing around. Ballarat came in through the reef with two ships.
23.10.42. At sea, bound for Milne Bay. The buzz is most persistent that the Broome is our relief. I sincerely hope it’s correct.
24.10.42. At sea, just a decent swell. Got washed out of my hammock last night.
25.10.42. Entered China Straits at 0500 in a fine drizzle of rain. Samarai never loses its beauty. In Milne Bay by 0800. There are two ships already in here, and one has unloaded. There was a raid on as we came up and could hear the short range weapons barking. Alert at 2030. We had anchored at dusk and rove a buoy rope so as to slip quickly if that Jap cruiser came in for another shoot. This bay is certainly a trap, and the Jap bases are just up around the corner. We’re all on pins and needles.
26.10.42. Alert at 0430. AA batteries opened up at 0455 and kicked up a hell of a din, and some bombs were dropped. The batteries opened up again later, but heavy rainclouds made visibility nil. I believe the raiders dropped only two bombs, and caused no damage. At Goodenough Island, about 50 miles away, two companies of Aussie troops are engaging an enemy force for possession of a drome that Nippon is trying to build. The hospital ship Manunda is expected tomorrow to take off wounded brought down from the action. Patrol all day, anchored at 1815.
27.10.42. Weighed at 0600 and carried out usual A/S patrol. Between 0900 and 1000 shore batteries carried out practice AA firing. Manunda arrived at 1400. Anchored at dusk. About 2245 we weighed and proceeded out to investigate mysterious lights at the end(s) of the bay, thinking the Japs may have made another landing. (Not that we could do any good against cruisers or destroyers, but duty is a stern mistress.) Closed up and cleared away the 4-inch gun until relieved at midnight by the other watch.
28.10.42. Woke up at 0400 (sleeping in my clothes, fully booted and spurred as it were) and discovered that we were back in the bay again. All our worries came to naught, but I’d still like to have some sea room instead of being cooped up in here. Makes one feel like a mouse in a rat trap. ‘Security Patrol’ of Cobras took off early. Got under way at about 1530 and proceeded with three ships. Van Heemskerk, West Cactus and Bon Hong Liong, Dutch, Yank and British respectively. Manunda pulled out ahead of us. Came through China Straits just on dusk. Now at sea and pitching a bit. Particulars for leave were taken today by the First Lieutenant, so things look O.K. It’s quite a relief to be out of Milne Bay, too. Townsville next stop, and there ought to be a lot of mail.
29.10.42. At sea, bound for Townsville and expect to arrive on Sunday morning. Fairly big swell, and the old ship is rolling all over the ocean. These merchant ships are bad station keepers and slow. Our speed is a mere seven knots, but everybody is in good spirits. If we dip out of leave this time there will be no living on this ship, the boys are pressing their blue suits already.
30.10.42. The sea has gone down to normal now, and there’s just a stiff trade wind blowing. Task Force No. 6 passed us about 0800, consisting of two cruisers escorted by three American destroyers. The cruisers were USS Phoenix and HMAS Hobart. When this same force met [us on the last trip from Milne Bay the Australia was with them. They were headed in the direction of the Solomon Islands, but their speed seemed too slow for that.
31.10.42. Came through Grafton Passage about 0830 and the Van Heemskerk carried on to Cairns on her own. The Katoomba followed us through and made off in the direction of Innisfail. Maintaining this speed, we should arrive before breakfast tomorrow at Townsville. About 2230 the Colac and Broome came past on their own, probably to pick up a convoy in Cairns. Let’s hope the Broome is really our relief. The boys seem a bit doubtful of our chances.