- Swinden, Greg
- Ship histories and stories, History - post WWII
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Warrnambool I, HMAS Swan II
- March 2008 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
On the night of 27 January 1942 Vampire, accompanied by the British destroyer HMS Thanet, attacked a Japanese invasion force off the east coast of Malaya and caused some damage to the enemy ships although Thanet was sunk during the action. Vampire’s luck finally ran out on 9 April 1942 when, while escorting the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, she was attacked by Japanese carrier borne aircraft and both ships were sunk near Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Garrett survived this action, but nine of his shipmates were killed.
Garrett was posted to the cruiser HMAS Hobart in November 1942 and spent the next year in this ship. On 20 July 1943 Hobart was steaming, in company with HMAS Australia, on patrol some 200 miles west of the island of Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides (Vanuatu) when she was hit by a torpedo on the port side. Despite conducting a zig zag course to deter torpedo attacks the cruiser had been targeted by the Japanese submarine I-GO11 and her captain had fired a spread of torpedoes at the extreme range of 10 miles. Only one torpedo hit but the damage inflicted almost severed Hobart’s stern and killed 13 men and wounded another seven. Again Garrett survived this action. Hobart limped back to Australia for repairs which were not completed until December 1944.
Stoker Garrett left Hobart in early November 1943 and was posted to shore depots for the remainder of the war. He was discharged on compassionate grounds on 14 July 1945 and then worked as a labourer for the next 18 months before applying to rejoin the Navy. On 10 January 1947 he was accepted back into the Navy with the rank of Stoker and with a new service number (34344).
On 13 September 1947 his luck ran out. The man who had been involved in several actions against the Japanese during World War II and who had survived the sinking of Vampire, and the severe damage inflicted on Hobart was finally killed by a British mine laid by an Australian ship. ((The wreck of the Warrnambool was sold on 3 July 1972 to Southern Cross Diving and Salvage of Dee Why, NSW. An ABC report indicates that one of the RAN’s Clearance Diving Teams inspected the wreck in 2003 and states that she sits in approximately 25 metres of water, almost upright and in good condition. The mortal damage caused by the mine is obvious.))