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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006

HMAS AUSTRALIA  - County-type Heavy Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMAS Canberra (Navy Photos/Bruce Constable, click to enlarge)

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KENT-Class cruiser ordered from John Brown, Clydebank, Glasgow under 1924 build programme and launched on 17th March 1927. This name had previously been used for a cruiser of 1886 - which had been sold in 1906 and by a Boom Defence Trawler hired during WW1 The ship was commissioned on 24th April 1928 after a build time of two years and 4 months.

 

B a t t l e†† H o n o u r s

ATLANTIC 1940-41 - CORAL SEA 1942 - SAVO ISLAND 1942 - GUADALCANAL 1942-43 - NEW GUINEA 1942-44 - LEYTE GULF 1944 - LINGAYEN GULF 1945

H e r a l d i c† D a t a

Not included in the Official Admiralty List.

 

HMAS Australia passing below the Sydney Bridge,
then under construction. Opened in 1932

 

 

D e t a i l s†† o f†† W a r†† S e r v i c e

 

(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)

 

 

1 9 3 9

 

September to December

 

Deployed in Australian waters. Nominated for escort of military convoys taking ANZAC troops to Middle East.

 

 

1 9 4 0

 

January

 

10th - Joined military Convoy US1 with four troop ships to relieve HMAS SYDNEY as relief for HM Cruiser LEANDER. (Note: Convoy included troopships from Wellington, New Zealand and Sydney.)

 

20th - Relieved as US1 escort by HM Cruiser KENT and French cruiser SUFFREN which were were to provide Ocean escort for part of Indian Ocean transit. (Note: Convoy was taking ANZAC troops for service in Middle East)

 

February to April

 

Deployment for convoy defence off western Australia in continuation. Nominated for escort of military convoy US3 and to be transfer to Home Fleet on arrival. in Home Waters

 

May

 

Deployed with HMAS CANBERRA and HMS LEANDER for escort of US3 during passage from New Zealand to Sydney (Note: US3 was third convoy taking ANZAC troops for service in Middle East.)

 

5th - Arrived at Sydney with US3

 

6th - Remained with US3 as escort for Ocean passage.

 

US3 Diverted to take passage to UK via Cape of Good Hope when Italy was considered as being likely to join the war.

 

26th - Arrived at Cape Town with US3 (Note: Convoy included rms QUEEN MARY, rms MAURITANIA and seven other passenger liners).

 

Detached from US3 and took passage to Scapa Flow to join Home Fleet.

 

June

 

Deployed for Home Fleet duties. On arrival in Home waters took passage to Scapa Flow to join Home Fleet.

 

7th - Took part in aborted search off Norway for German battleship GNEISENAU with HM Battlecruisers REPULSE, RENOWN, HM Cruisers DEVONSHIRE, SHEFFIELD and YORK screened by Home Fleet destroyers. (To be confirmed)

 

July

 

Deployed in Atlantic Ocean for trade defence. Diverted to support operation against Vichy French at Dakar, West Africa.

 

7th - Deployed with HM Aircraft Carrier HERMES to report French naval movements off Dakar.

 

8th - Took part in attack on French battleship RICHELIEU at Dakar with HM Aircraft Carrier HERMES and HM Cruiser DORSETSHIRE. (Note: Attempts by Vichy French aircraft and submarines to intercept after this operation failed.)

 

26th - Deployed with HMS REPULSE, HMS RENOWN, HM Cruisers SHEFFIELD, YORK and DEVONSHIRE with screen of Home Fleet destroyers in unsuccessful search for GNEISENAU reported making an attempt to break out into Atlantic.

 

August

 

Deployed with HM Cruiser NORFOLK to search for blockade runners and other vessels off Bear Island.

 

September

 

1st - Replaced HM Cruiser FIJI in Force M during passage to support Vichy French landings at Dakar (Operation MENACE). HMS FIJI was torpedoed in NW Approaches whilst with Force M ships on passage to Freetown. (See RELUCTANT ENEMIES and MENACE by A Marder for details.)

 

8th - Under torpedo attack by U36 which failed due to torpedo defect,.

 

16th - Joined HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL, HM Battleship RESOLUTION, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN and Fleet destroyers from Gibraltar with ships of Force M.

 

19th - Relieved HM Cruiser CUMBERLAND on interception patrol off Dakar. Intercepted French cruisers (Force Y) attempting passage away from Dakar.

 

20th - Escorted French cruisers GLOIRE and MONTCALM to Casablanca

 

23rd - Engaged three Vichy French destroyers leaving Dakar. Flotilla Leader L'AUDACIEUX was damaged by 6in gunfire and set en fire. (Note: This warship was beached later and eventually towed to Bizerta for repair, where she was sunk in a US air attack in 1943).

 

26th - Took part in initial bombardment of Dakar. Ship's WALRUS aircraft shot down during gunnery Fall of Shot duty. Sustained two hits from return shore fire with little damage..

 

28th - Operation abandoned because of risk of damage to major units from return fire.

 

October

 

3rd - Escorted convoy taking Free French troops to Duala for landing operation.

 

8th - Covered Free French landings which were successful.

 

On release from Free French operation resumed Atlantic convoy defence.

 

November to December

 

Atlantic trade defence between Gibraltar and West Africa in continuation. Passage to UK for refit.

 

 

1 9 4 1

 

January

 

On completion carried out post refit trials. Nominated for escort of military convoy

 

11th - Provided AA defence with HM Cruiser NAIAD for troopships assembled at Moelfre Bay in Clyde prior to passage to Middle East.

 

12th - Deployed as Ocean Escort for Convoy WS5B with HM Battleship RAMILLIES and HM Cruisers NAIAD, PHOEBE and EMERALD during passage in NW Approaches,

 

15th - Remained with WS5B as Ocean Escort with HMS RAMILLIES when HMS PHOEBE and HMS NAIAD detached.

 

17th - Remained with WS5B as Ocean Escort with HMS EMERALD when HMS RAMILLIES detached.

 

25th - Arrived at Freetown with WS5B

 

29th - Rejoined WS5B on departure from Freetown as Ocean Escort with HMS EMERALD for passage to Capetown.

 

February

 

8th - Arrived at Capetown with WS5B and HMS EMERALD detached.

 

12th - Sailed from Capetown as Ocean Escort for ships of WS5B destined for Durban.

 

15th - Sailed from Durban as Ocean Escort for passage to Suez, and HMS EMERALD for passage to Bombay.

 

21st - Remained with ships destined for Suez when Bombay section detached off Mombasa.

 

March

 

Passage in Red Sea with WS5B.

 

3rd - Detached from WS5B on arrival at Suez.

 

Passage to resume trade defence and interception duties in Indian Ocean.

 

April to October

 

Deployed for trade defence, interception of blockade runners and commerce raiders in Indian Ocean and South Atlantic

 

November

 

Returned to RAN control and took passage to Sydney.

 

December

 

At Sydney

 

23rd - Deployed as escort for military convoy ZK5 during passage from Sydney to Port Moresby with HMAS CANBERRA, PERTH and HMNZS ACHILLES. (Note: This convoy included troopships AQUITANIA and SARPEDON).

 

 

1 9 4 2

 

January

 

3rd - Ferried troops ashore from troopships on arrival.

 

9th - Escorted KZ convoy from Noumea to Suva.

 

February

 

19th - Joined ANZAC Squadron on formation and deployed in SW Pacific under overall US Navy command. ANZAC Force also included HM Australian Cruisers CANBERRA, ADELAIDE, HOBART, PERTH, HM New Zealand Cruisers ACHILLES, LEANDER, US Cruiser USS CHICAGO and two US Navy destroyers.

 

27th - Deployed with ANZAC Force and ships of US Navy Task Force 11 ships in Coral Sea.

 

March

 

Deployed in Coral Sea with US Navy.

 

6th - Joined by ships of US Navy Task Force 17 near New Hebrides.

 

22nd - ANZAC Squadron disbanded. Remainder under US Navy overall command for convoy defence

 

April

 

Deployment with US Navy in SW Pacific in continuation.

May

 

1st to 6th - Deployed as Task Force 44 with HMAS HOBART and USS CHICAGO and two US Navy to destroyers in support of US TASK Force 17 during US operations by US Navy Task Forces TF17 and 11 against Japanese invasion of New Guinea  (Battle of Coral Sea)

 

7th - Under air attacks without damage. Ship took no further part in operations (For details see WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)

 

June

 

Provided convoy defence in SW Pacific.

 

12th - Remained with Task Force 44 when USS Pacific Fleet was re-organised. (Note: Ships in TF44 the included HMAS HOBART, HMAS CANBERRA, USS CHICAGO and nine US Navy destroyers of DESDRON 4. DESDRON is equivalent of an RN Destroyer Flotilla.)

 

July

 

14th - Deployed with HM Australian Cruiser HOBART, US Cruisers CHICAGO and SALT LAKE CITY screened by 3 US destroyers to meet US Task Group off Wellington (Note: This Task Group was to take part in amphibious operations in SW Pacific.)

 

26th - Joined US Task Force 61 for invasion exercises prior to Guadalcanal landings. (Operation WATCHTOWER - For details of naval activities in Pacific area see HISTORY OF USN OPERATIONS IN WW2 by SE Morris, AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND WARSHIPS 1914-1945 by R Gillette and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO)

 

31st - Deployed as Task Group 62.1 with HMAS CANBERRA, HMAS HOBART, USS CHICAGO and destroyers of DESDRON 4 for escort of 23 mercantiles during passage from Fiji for landings on Guadalcanal.

 

August

 

7th - On arrival deployed with HMAS CANBERRA and US cruiser CHICAGO in Southern Group to providing cover for US landings on Tulagi.

 

Detached from these two cruisers to attend conference with Admiral in US Navy Transport USS MCAWLEY. (Note: HMAS HOBART and USS SAN JUAN were also not present during the engagement with Japanese warships off Savo Island during which HMAS CANBERRA was sunk. See above references and THE SHAME OF SAVO)

 

21st - Patrolled off Solomon Islands with HMAS HOBART.

 

31st - Joined US 4th Fleet Task Force TF44 on formation with HMAS HOBART, US cruiser PHOENIX and five US destroyers.

 

September

 

6th - Sailed from Brisbane with ships of TF44 for support of operations against Japanese invasion in New Guinea.

 

11th - Arrived in New Guineas and unable to intercept destroyers evacuating Trobriand Islands.

 

October to December

 

Military support and convoy defence with TF44 in continuation.

 

 

1 9 4 3

 

January

 

Task Force 44 deployment in continuation.

 

February

 

Transferred to US 7th Fleet and redesignated as part of TF74 with HMAS HOBART, HM Australian Destroyers WARRAMUNGA and ARUNTA. Deployed south of Australia as Task Group 74.3 with HMAS ADELAIDE and three US Navy destroyers to cover transit of military cover during passage from Fremantle to Sydney (Note: Convoy included rms QUEEN MARY, rms AQUITANIA, French Liner ISLE DE FRANCE and Dutch Liner NIEUW AMSTERDAM. deployed as Task Group 74.3 for passage to Sydney.

 

27th - Arrived at Sydney with convoy. (Operation PAMPHLET).

 

March

 

Resumed support and convoy defence duties in SW Pacific.

 

15th - Deployed in Task Farce 74 with HMAS HOBART, USS PHOENIX and seven destroyers of DESDRON 4 for support of US Navy operations in SW Pacific.

 

April to May

 

Deployment with Task Force 74 for military support and convoy defence in SW Pacific in continuation.

 

June

 

23rd - Covered US amphibious operation in New Georgia with HMAS HOBART, ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA and nine US Navy destroyer. (Operation CARTWHEEL – See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)

 

July

 

16th - Diverted with HMAS HOBART and four US Navy destroyers from Espiritu Santo to reinforce US ships supporting the landings in New Georgia after recent losses. (Note: HMAS HOBART was hit by torpedo from Japanese submarine I11 and had to return to Espiritu Santo - See WAR WITH JAPAN.)

 

August

 

Military support with TF74 in continuation.

 

September

 

Provided naval gunfire support with T74 ships in support of US landings in New Britain.

 

October

 

Support deployment in continuation.

 

November

 

5th - Transferred with HMAS SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA and two US Navy destroyers of TF74 from Milne Bay to reinforce South Pacific forces. (See reference.)

 

December

 

13th - Covered landing by VII Amphibious Force in Arawe, New Britain with  SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA and WARRAMUNGA with TF74 ships. (Operation DIRECTOR – See WAR WITH JAPAN for details)

 

26th - Covered landing and provided naval gunfire support for landing of US 1st Marine Division at Cape Gloucester, New Guinea with SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA and US destroyers HELM and RALPH TALBOT. (Operation BACKHANDER –See WAR WITH JAPAN for details)

 

 

1 9 4 4

 

January

 

2nd - Covered landing by 32nd US Infantry Division near Saidor, New Guinea with HMAS SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA,  WARRAMUNGA and six US destroyers. (Operation DEXTERITY – See WAR WITH JAPAN for details.)

 

February to March

 

Under refit. Close range single Oerlikon guns for AA defence replaced by twin mountings.

 

April

 

On completion rejoined TF74

 

22nd - Covered landings of 1 US Corps in New Guinea at Hollandia (Operation RECKLESS) and Aitape (Operation PERSECUTION) with HMAS SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA and two US destroyers and ships of Task Force 75. (See reference for details.)

 

May

 

25th - Covered landings by 41st US Infantry Division on south coast of Biak with HMAS SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA and two US destroyers of TF74 and ships of Task Force 75. (Operation HORLICKS)

 

 June

 

8th - Deployed with US cruiser PHOENIX and destroyer screen to intercept convoy taking Japanese reinforcements for landing on Biak Island.

 

Convoy reversed course and ineffective exchanges of fire by destroyers during darkness at long range, pursuit was abandoned to ensure air cover would be available after daylight. (See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)

 

July

 

14th - Bombarded Japanese troops at Aitape in support of US shore operation with HMAS SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA and US destroyers.

 

August

 

TF74 deployment in continuation.

 

September

 

Transferred to Task Force 75 with RAN ships.

 

15th - Covered landings of US troops on Morotai and provided naval gunfire support with HMAS SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA and two US destroyers of TG75.2.

 

October

 

16th - Supported preparatory operations for assault on Philippines with US Cruisers PHOENIX and BOISE, HMAS SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA and US destroyers of TG77.3.

 

20th - Hit on Bridge structure by dive bombing during the Battle of Leyte Gulf and sustained serious damage with many casualties.

 

Returned to British Fleet base at Manus.

 

November

 

Under repair

 

28th - Rejoined US 7th Fleet for support of military operations and convoy defence duties.

 

December

 

7th - Fleet deployment in continuation.

 

 

1 9 4 5

 

January

 

5th - Deployed with HMAS SHROPSHIRE and US Navy warships in Unit 1 of TG77.2 for support of Luzon landings.

 

6th - Hit by KAMIKAZE aircraft when entering Lingayen Gulf to provide naval gunfire support. Sustained major damage.

 

8th - Hit by four more KAMIKAZE aircraft and sustained further damage and many casualties.

 

9th - Under further KAMIKAZE attacks and hit again. Withdrawn from operations and took passage to Leyte for temporary repair.

 

February

 

On completion of repair work took passage to Australia with call at Manus.

 

March

 

Taken in hand for repair.

 

April to August

 

Under repair. Twin 8in mounting in X position removed. Improved design radar fitted.

 

 

 

P o s t†† W a r†† N o t e s

 

HMAS AUSTRALIA was recommissioned after repair and rejoined the Australian Fleet. She remained in commission until 31st August 1954 when she paid-off and was placed on the Disposal List. Sold for to BISCO in January 1955 for demolition by T W Ward the ship was towed to the breakerís yard at Barrow where she arrived on 5th July 1955. 

 

 


 

Addendum

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMS AUSTRALIA

by Don Kindell

 

These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above

 

 

 

 

 

Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived

 

 

 

 

 

06/07/40

11/07/40

BC A

16/07/40

16/07/40

31/08/40

06/09/40

MP

14/09/40

14/09/40

31/10/40

11/11/40

HG 046

14/11/40

19/11/40

08/03/41

08/03/41

CF 001A

15/03/41

15/03/41

08/09/41

08/09/41

CM 018

15/09/41

18/09/41

24/09/41

24/09/41

SW 009

01/10/41

01/10/41

25/01/43

20/02/43

PAMPHLET

27/02/43

27/02/43

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 

 

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