- Zammitt, Alan
- Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Sydney III
- October 1982 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Later, Sub-Lieutenant Sinclair, RAN, was the pilot of a Sea Fury that was hit by flak north-west of Chin-nampo, the aircraft caught fire, and the pilot bailed out. Sadly, Sub-Lieutenant Sinclair was killed by hitting the tail of the plane as he jumped. His body was recovered by helicopter, taken back aboard to the sick bay, where it was wrapped in canvas.
After flying was completed the ship’s company not on watch, were mustered on the after end of the flight deck. A short service was held, a salute of three guns was fired, and his body committed to the deep – with light snow falling. The ship was grey, the ship’s company’s No. 8s looked grey, the sea and the sky looked grey, except on the western horizon, where the sun was setting.
The next day Lieutenant Oakley was shot down, as were Lieutenant Cooper and Lieutenant Commander Bowles, on December 13th during the fifth patrol. Of the 383 sorties flown, there were 25 cases of flak damage, of which five resulted in the aircraft being lost. HMS Constance, one of the destroyers we had been operating with, was hit while bombarding shore targets on 16th December.
Sydney was in Kure for Christmas, each of us received three gift parcels, one from the RSL, and two from newspapers.
Our sixth patrol started on 27th December 1951, and like previous patrols included air patrols over convoys, and giving support to UN held islands being invaded by the enemy.
Lieutenant Coleman, a Sea Fury pilot, was on CAP duty on 2nd January, and disappeared into the Yellow Sea, not by enemy action as far as it is known, most probably he had a blackout or something went wrong with his aircraft.
Sydney once again flew the flag of Rear Admiral Scott-Moncrieff, when he transferred from Belfast. The admiral briefed the air crews himself on targets on the north bank of the Han River. Lieutenant Peter Goldrick, RAN, was wounded when his aircraft was hit by flak, but he managed to return to the ship safely.
Whenever a pilot was in trouble the ship’s company would wait anxiously for news. Commander V.A.T Smith knew what it was like, as he had been shot down twice while serving in HMS Ark Royal.
During the sixth patrol the weather became freezing as cold winds blew down from the frozen Siberian plains. At times the ship’s side had ice caked on it, as spray turned to ice. Many of us had colds and some sailors on watch during the cold nights claimed that the water drops that dribbled from their noses turned to ice.
Leading Airman Reg Holton came down from the flight deck dressed like an Eskimo to make himself a cup of tea. Vie Zammit sat next to him and slipped his false teeth in Reg’s cup. When Reg found the false teeth at the bottom of his cup he felt a bit seedy.
At Kure shopping centre Vie Zammit used to feed and make a fuss of a half-starved mongrel dog. A Jap shopkeeper said ‘You want to buy dog?’ and misunderstood the answer.
The next morning the Sydney was just about to sail from Kure for the last time. Just as the last gangway was about to be landed, the Japanese trader and the dog walked up onto the Sydney‘s deck.
A surprised officer of the watch was advised that the dog was being delivered to the canteen manager.
Promptly the Japanese was told that dogs were not allowed on RAN ships, which quite upset the trader.
As Sydney sailed, there on the pontoon wharf stood the dog and the Japanese trader, both looking very disappointed.
On our seventh and last patrol we carried out AA firings, and then relieved the CVE USS Badoeng Strait on the west coast of Korea. During this patrol Rear Admiral J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, the new Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet, spent several days in Sydney and flew as an observer in a Firefly on a strike mission.
Off Korea we would come across fishing boats which would sometimes come into the sea where we were landing our aircraft. A couple of times during this last patrol Bofors guns had to be fired close to the boats to get them to move out of our way.