HMAS Australia

HMAS Australia

A  ship with quite a colorful World War II history was the HMAS Australia, fondly known as “The Aussie”. The Aussie fought for almost the entire duration of the war. A county class cruiser commissioned in 1928 she was the second ship to bear the name of her country.

With the outbreak of WWII,  Aussie sailed for the Atlantic to begin her long wartime career that she was to fight on all fronts and against all enemies.  In September, 1940, she was in Operation Menace off Dakar, French West Africa.  Bombers of the Luftwaffe tried in vain to sink her whilst she was berthed alongside in Liverpool during the period when the city suffered its worst blitz. During her war service Aussie went everywhere.

In December 1941, when Japan entered the war with the Allies, Aussie became the flagship or Rear Admiral Crace, followed by Admiral Crutchley and then Commodore Collins.  In January 1942 the cruiser assisted in escorting the first US troops to Australia. Operating in the Coral Sea it pursued and attacked the Japanese from Guadalcanal to Hollandia, surviving everything its enemies could throw at her, until…

Aussie damage

HMAS Australia was needed badly by the R.A.N for she was the last surviving seaworthy member of the country’s heavy cruiser fleet the rest having been sunk and Hobart badly damaged. So she was quickly returned to active service.

She headed straight back to Philippine waters and on the afternoon of 5th January 1945 at Lingayen Gulf,  The Kamikazes targeted her again.  Her new Captain Armstrong flung the ship about wildly, but another bomb laden aircraft slammed into to her. The casualties were high – 25 men killed and 30 seriously wounded, most were badly needed guns crews.

Despite extensive damage she joined HMAS Shropshire and other US units to aid in the bombardment of San Fernando and Poro Point.  A new wave of Kamikazes then attacked, a Aichi ‘Val’ Dive Bomber surviving the murderous fire thrown up by all ships collided headlong into her upper deck exploding in an enormous fireball.  Several guns crews died instantly and a severe shock wave shuddered throughout the ship. This hit accounted for another 14 dead and 26 seriously wounded. by now Aussie’s AA defenses were all but eliminated.

Aussie damage

At dawn on 8th January, the allied fleet resumed its bombardment and the Kamikazes renewed their suicidal attacks.  Aussie was the last ship in the line and was once again singled out.   The Aussie’s gunners throwing up withering fire at a Mitsubishi “Dinah” Bomber until at last shooting it down, but not before it released its bomb which exploded close to the waterline, punching a large hole in the hull.

Taking a dangerous list to port another ‘Dinah’ roared in.  Those guns still in operation tore the bomber to bits and it showered down aviation fuel upon the sailors whilst its massive engine smashed through the bulkhead of the Captain’s Day Cabin. Within seconds another ‘Dinah’ roared in, the Aussie gunners frantically trying to shoot it down, succeeding, within just 15 metres, the propeller blades embedding themselves in a life-raft.  The aircraft skidded into the hull ripping another large hole and damaging yet another fuel tank, whilst two mess decks were completely destroyed. Aussie by now was in bad shape, her speed reduced to fifteen knots to avoid causing more damage,  still hung in and managed to continue the fight with what was left of her.

funnel damage

The following day the Japs decided to finish the Flagship off knowing she was almost dead in the water. As another plane raced in heading for her bridge its pilot misjudged his attack line and slammed into the yardarm slewing the aircraft around so as to miss the bridge area and taking out the top of the foremost funnel. Sliced off cleanly it crashed to the deck. There were no casualties from this hit but it spelled the end for Aussie. Two boilers had to be shut down because of insufficient updraft.  Aussie’s war had come to an end.

Information from the Royal Australian Navy Gun Plot; Australian Navy and Joey’s Walkabout

The Australian Navy link includes some fantastic photographs!

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

“That meal was delicious, what went wrong with it?”

“Let’s go in here – they probably remember me from last night!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth L. Bridger – Stevens County, WA; US Army, Korea, Pvt. E-2 # 19354338, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Kevin J. Carroll – East Meadow, NY; USMC, Vietnam, Pfc., 3/1/Marine Aircraft Group 12, KIA (Quang Tin, SV)

William B. Coleman – Mobile, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc. # 34803721, Co F/134/35th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Grèmecey, FRA)

Roy C. Delauter – Washington County, MD; US Army, Korea, Sgt. # 13277149, Co D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Kathleen (Gohl) Gilchrist – Royal Oak, MI, US Navy WAVE, WWII

Carson R. Holman – Newport, PA; US Army, Colonel(Ret. 30 y.), West Point graduate, 82nd Airborne Division

Errol Lagasse (100) – Panama City, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

David F. Lutes – Sarasota, FL; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas McGee (102) – Bethesda, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Tuskegee pilot, 409 missions in 3 wars  (remains a record), Colonel (Ret. 30 y.)

Bill Morrison – Birmingham, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co G/2/110/ 28th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, GER)

Adolph Olenik – Gary, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt. # 15103844, B-24  “Kate Smith” gunner, 98th Heavy/345th Bomb Squadron, KIA (Ploesti, ROM)

Charles F. Perdue – Salisbury, MD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Shipfitter 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 31, 2022, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 117 Comments.

  1. Americaoncoffee

    WWII troops were courageous and daring. I guess when a battle is really for a humanitarian cause and on every front true heroic merits come to the fore, Todays military engagements and merits are a wonder. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My Dear Everett, first of all my salutations to Your late father. Freedom is Hard earned, and even Harder to keep. My Heartfelt Regards to Your Father, His (Your) Family, You and Yours, and All Soldiers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a riveting account, GP. I held my breath while reading this. It features the ship, but I can’t help thinking about the heroics of its crew. A great share.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Aussie must have been strong or had some great leadership to have sustained so much damage and still fought bravely. Another great example of Australia’s involvement in the war.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Bev. You comment made me curious as to just how much I did on Australia, so I typed “Australia” into my own Search box. I had forgotten some of those posts and re-read them. Thanks for causing that!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That is an incredible story of the Aussie and her crew. She was well built!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What incredibly brave men.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Took a licking and kept on ticking all the way till the end, impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You always share the most interesting stories!!!! What an amazing craft this was. She probably wasn’t brought in to someone’s yard to have flowers planted it, but she deserved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This older warships had a shape with character. 😉 Have you ever seena newer one? These stealth ships reminding me on soap boxes. LOl Thanks for sharing, GP! A question: HMAS = Her Majesty Austrialian Ship? 😉 xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Mom,

    Today I’m going to get into a plane full of bombs and crash it into a foreign ship full of people that I don’t know and who have never done anything to me.

    I have no idea why?

    Goodbye.

    Your loving son,

    – Hiro

    Liked by 2 people

  11. A wonderful history for sure. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. A great story about the bravery of the crews, and their determination to continue fighting at all costs. Small wonder the ship became so well-known, and those who served in her so well-respected.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This is a real dinkum tribute

    Liked by 2 people

  14. An excellent, very interesting post. I have vague memories that the Australia was the most kamikazied warship in WW2, but there may well be other contenders.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Tough as old boots, like her crew..

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Terrific post, I know I’ve commented before, but my dad was on HMAS Australia including during the Kamikaze attacks. On a good note, in the early 1950s, a group of the veterans created the HMAS Australia club which anyone who had served on the ship could join.
    My dad was one of the instigators of the club and they had reunions every year until age prevented them and numbers dwindled. It was based in South Australia and the reunion was held every October and those that wanted to reconnect, would come from all over Australia to get together.
    Their mateships forged on the ‘Aussie’ lasted a lifetime and we came to regard his fellow crew as our uncles. It was in fact on a reunion trip to Tasmania in 1999, where my dad passed away suddenly. Happy and having a ball with his shipmates to the end.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you so much for including your father’s story here. It definitely adds to the post and gives the readers an added history of this glorious ship and the crew who served her!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Incredible history. Thanks again.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. True Story : my partner’s father was on HMAS Australia under Captain Dechaineux. Just days before it was hit in October ’44 Dechaineux had him removed to the Warrabunga where his skills could be put to better use. Dechaineux lost his life in this attack, and the (faux) father-in-law lived out the war and successfully farmed until he turned 80 years old

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Quite a story, ship and crew…

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Terrific story of the Australian. What a valiant crew. Thanks, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. This ship and crew saw a lot of action and fought gallantly. Thanks for sharing her story. It gives us a glimpse the horrors of a kamikaze attack.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. So did they scuttle the ship ?

    Liked by 2 people

  23. GP, a wonderful story of bravery, determination and discipline. I’m always amazed how military personnel continue the fight against daunting circumstances. Such courage on display. Excellent post, once again.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. A great story , GP. Had to have had great crews .

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I clicked on the link for more pictures of the HMAS Australia. You were not exaggerating, GP. These are fascinating photos. Amazingly, this ship did not sink with all the damage it received.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I’m sure to end it’s war days with a fight was a noble end. Is it still around?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you, GP, for sharing the story of this ship. I had no idea. And thank you for listing the farewell salutes. I always appreciate this reminder. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thank you for taking an interest in this history and for honoring those that have gone before us. The ones listed as KIA, are those who have been recently identified by DNA and are finally coming home.

      Like

  28. Heck of a ship, heck of a people. I think about what I’ve heard about WWII every time I hear the news in Eastern Europe. If we were to go to war (fingers crossed that we don’t), our spoiled populace will remember COVID as the good old days. We pulled together 80 years ago–can we do it again?

    Liked by 1 person

  29. A valiant ship indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Reblogged this on T. W. Dittmer and commented:
    This is an amazing story of a World War II ship that clearly depicts the bravery and dedication of those who served in that war.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Amazing story, GP. Thank you for your hard work and diligence in researching and sharing these facts of World War II. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. It’s no wonder that so many sailors talk about their ships as though they’re living beings. This one certainly lived quite a life; it’s amazing that it was such a long and productive life, given the damage she sustained again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. 409 missions in 3 wars – incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Dear GP
    what a great history of this ship. Thanks for sharing.
    It seems to be that there are lucky and unlucky ships.
    Wishing you a happy week
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  35. It’s hard to fathom how the Aussie was able to continue fighting after sustaining so much damage, a real testament to the bravery of her crew.

    Liked by 4 people

  36. True Grit — the indefatigable ‘Aussie’, such horrifying death and destruction, but even greater bravery and determination. These stories of incredible courage you bring to us, GP, thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. It is indispensable for me, thank you so much.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. I had no idea,fascinating history for this ship

    Liked by 3 people

  39. De Hmas verdiende een gouden medaille altijd op post in de oorlogen. zelf zwaar gehavend nog niet willen opgeven.They are real heros

    Liked by 3 people

  40. Excellent writing! I could visualize the narrative of the great ship’s demise.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. What a valiant service life this ship had. Talk about giving all you’ve got. It’s too bad she couldn’t have sailed into the bay for the surrender signing. I think she earned a front row seat.

    Liked by 4 people

  42. A charmed life, even at the end she survived to tell the tale. Impressed.

    Liked by 4 people

  43. I did not know about that ship.

    Liked by 2 people

  1. Pingback: HMAS Australia – MR YOUTUBE

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