- Nesdale, Iris
- Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Whang Pu, HMAS Ping Wo, HMAS Poyang, HMAS Yunnan
- December 2007 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Under charter to the Admiralty, Whang Pu was also at Singapore in December 1941 when Japan entered the war. She was built in 1920 at Hong Kong for the China Navigation Co. Ltd, and served in general trade for which she had been designed, along the Yangtze River.
Gross tonnage 3204
Length 228 ft
Beam 46 ft
Speed 10 ½ knots
Armament: One 40mm Bofors, three Oerlikons, two twin Browning and Colt MGs were added later.
Whang Pu’s wartime pennant number was FY03.
At Singapore, Whang Pu was undergoing a refit that would convert her for service as a submarine depot ship. The ship was commissioned at Fremantle on 1 October 1943, and served as Accommodation Ship for personnel from Dutch submarines and mine-sweepers during the next twelve months.
Whang Pu then fitted out as a supply and mobile repair ship at Melbourne, after which she headed for New Guinea once more.
‘On the voyage from Brisbane to Milne Bay, the ship was loaded to over capacity,’ wrote Eugene McCann. ‘She suffered the effects of a cyclone in the Coral Sea, which necessitated having to heave to for four days in 60 ft seas, and for a river boat, it was some feat to keep her afloat.’ They had had a similar experience in the Australian Bight.
In Milne Bay, Whang Pu was soon busy with routines of supply or repair to ships ranging from MLs to Corvettes. From January 1945, the ship was based on Morotai, and it is recorded that 260 ships were serviced during little more than six months.
Whang Pu sailed to Madang (recently relieved), and was ‘in time to experience Red air-raid alert’. The crew managed the usual supply and repair services, but also ‘played a part in establishing facilities on Belieu Island for the main RAN radio station in northern New Guinea,’ said McCann.
‘As the Allied forces island hopped and Australian forces mopped up, Whang Pu was sailed to Morotai, again experiencing a Red air-raid alert.’
The ship was also present at the Morotai surrender by General Teshima to General Blamey on 9 September 1945.
When Whang Pu left Morotai she served with the British Admiralty control during the next two months. She paid off on 22 April 1946, and was then returned to the China Navigation Co. Ltd.
Po Yang was built at Melbourne in 1941 for the China Navigation Co. Ltd.
Gross tonnage 2873
Length 299 ft 8 inches,
Beam 44 ft 2 inches.
Armament One 4 inch Bofors, two 12‑pounders, two Oerlikons
Speed 13 knots.
On 12 May 1942, the ship was requisitioned, and early in 1943 commissioned as an Ammunition Stores Issuing Ship (ASIS). With Lieutenant J. W. Edwards, RANVR, in command, during operations at Leyte in October 1944, Po Yang served with Task Group 77. A year later when the RAN force occupied Ambon, Po Yang was a unit of that force. In company with Stores Issuing Ship HMAS Merkur, in 1942 she had serviced HMA Ships Australia and Hobart at Noumea. When war ended Po Yang paid off, and was returned to her owners.