Allied Warships

HMAS Canberra (D 33)

Heavy cruiser of the Kent class

NavyThe Royal Australian Navy
TypeHeavy cruiser
ClassKent 
PennantD 33 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
Ordered9 Apr 1925 
Laid down9 Sep 1925 
Launched31 May 1927 
Commissioned10 Jul 1928 
Lost9 Aug 1942 
History

On 25 January 1929 HMAS Canberra arrived at Fremantle. She remained in Australian waters, visiting New Zealand, Fiji and China.

In September 1939 Canberra spent the first nine months of the war patrolling home waters and the Tasman Sea. During January-February 1940 she escorted convoy US-1, the first New Zealand and Australian contingent comprising 13500 soldiers bound for Suez. Canberra was responsible for the escorting of this convoy from Wellington to Fremantle, where she was relieved of her duties by the British cruiser HMS Kent and the French cruiser Suffren. During May-June 1940, the third New Zealand and Australian troop convoy US-3 set out from Wellington, Lyttelton, Sydney and Melbourne escorted by Canberra. After stopping at Fremantle on 10 May the convoy was diverted to the Cape route while on the way to Colombo, because it was feared that Italy might enter the war. On May 20th Canberra was relieved of her duties by the British cruiser HMS Shropshire. On 30 June 1940, HMAS Canbarra was docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa for an underwater inspection of her shafts. On August 4th, she was undocked, and then sailed from Simonstown for Australia, for repairs to a defective propeller tail shaft, and then for a refit at Sydney.

During February-March 1941, Canberra and the New Zealand cruiser HMNZS Leander were operating off the coast of Colombo in search of the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer and her supply ships. On March 4th, the supply ship Coburg was sighted south east of the Seychelles in company with the prize Norwegian tanker Ketty Brovig by the cruiser`s spotter aircraft, both ships were scuttled by the Germans before the cruiser could apprehend them. In December 1941, the cruiser was involved in the escorting of a convoy of 3 transport vessels containing 4,250 Australian troops with 10,000 tons of supplies from Sydney bound for Port Moresby.

During January-March 1942 Canberra was in the South West Pacific, she joined up with the newly arrived Task Force 17 near the New Hebrides, whilst still a member of this force she underwent a refit at Sydney, and was there at the time of the Japanese midget submarine attack, her refit being completed in May. In June, she was now a member of the US Navy Pacific Fleet operating with Task Force 17 controlled by Rear Admiral Mitscher. During July-August, the cruiser was involved in the preparation of the landings on Guadalcanal in the area off the Fiji Islands. During the end of August she was deployed as the Southern Covering Force during the US landings on Guadalcanal in company with the cruiser USS Chicago and two destroyers off Savo Island. The force was taken by surprise by the Japanese and Canberra (Capt. Frank Edmond Getting, RAN) was set on fire and reduced to a wreck. She received over 20 8" and 4,7" shell hits at Savo Island in a space of 3 minutes she was completely disabled. Five hours later on the morning of August 9th, with a list of 30 degrees and fires completely out of control. Whilst she was able to be towed for repairs, the US insisted that her smoking hulk was a beacon to Japanese air attack. She was finally abandoned and was scuttled (torpedoed) by USS Ellet. 84 crewmembers lost their lives.

The ships badge can still be seen painted on the side of the Selborne dry dock wall at Simonstown, South Africa.

The US heavy cruiser USS Canberra was named in honour of HMAS Canberra.

 

Commands listed for HMAS Canberra (D 33)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Wilfrid Rupert Patterson, RN12 Apr 19385 Jun 1940
2Capt. Harold Bruce Farncomb, RAN6 Jun 194024 Dec 1941
3Capt. George Dunbar Moore, RAN24 Dec 194117 Jun 1942
4Capt. Frank Edmund Getting, RAN17 Jun 19429 Aug 1942 (+)

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Notable events involving Canberra include:


6 Sep 1939
Around 1300K/6, HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Cant, RAN), which had both been on patrol, made rendezvous off Sydney. They then carried out gunnery exercises following which they entered Sydney harbour. (1)

8 Sep 1939
The heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN), destroyer HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Cant, RAN) and the sloops HMAS Swan (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Prevost, RN) and HMAS Yarra (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) conducted gunnery exercises off Sydney. (1)

11 Sep 1939
From 11 to 14 September, HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) conducted exercises to the south of Sydney. The night of 12/13 September 1939 was spent at anchor in Twofold Bay. HMAS Stuart and HMAS Waterhen returned to Sydney on the 14th.

During the exercises on the 11th, HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Cant, RAN) also participated. On completion of the exercises HMAS Vendetta set course for Newcastle. (2)

12 Sep 1939
HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) and HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) conducted gunnery exercises off Cape Howe. On completion of the exercises, HMAS Canberra set course for Sydney, HMAS Hobart set course for Melbourne. (3)

14 Sep 1939
On 14 September the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN), destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Cant, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and the sloops HMAS Swan (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Prevost, RN) and HMAS Yarra (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) all conducted gunnery exercises off Sydney.

On completion of the exercises all ships entered harbour. (4)

19 Sep 1939
On 19 September the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN), destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Cant, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and the sloops HMAS Swan (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Prevost, RN) and HMAS Yarra (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) all conducted exercises off Sydney.

HMAS Canberra, HMAS Stuart and HMAS Waterhen continued their exercises during the night of 19/20 September and entered Jervis Bay on the morning of the 20th.

HMAS Vendetta briefly returned to harbour on completion of the exercises. She departed later the same day for Melbourne together with the light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (Cdr. H.A. Showers, RAN). (5)

20 Sep 1939
On 19 September the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) departed Jervis Bay for night exercises and then to return to Sydney.

One of the exercises they were to perform was intercepting the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) which was en-route from Melbourne to Sydney via Tasmania. She joined the exercises on 21 September.

Before entering harbour on 21 September exercises were carried out off Sydney by HMAS Canberra, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Stuart, HMAS Waterhen, HMAS Swan (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Prevost, RN) and HMAS Yarra (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN). (6)

26 Sep 1939
From 26 to 28 September 1939, HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) and HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) conducted exercises off Sydney. These included night exercises. (3)

1 Oct 1939

Operation OY 1.

The object of this operation was to test the air reconnaissance capabilities of the RAAF.

By 0600K/1, HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN), HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and HMAS Adelaide (Cdr. H.A. Showers, RAN) had taken up positions of the coasts of New South Wales and Victoria.

Aircraft took off from Laverton, Richmond and Archerfield to search to a depth of 80 miles. Aircraft also took off from Canberra to search to a depth of 160 miles.

The exercises were completed around 1900K/1.

On completion of the exercises HMAS Canberra, HMAS Hobart and HMAS Adelaide set course for Sydney. HMAS Australia set course for Melbourne. (4)

5 Oct 1939
From 5 to 7 October 1939, HMAS Canberra (Commodere. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and HMAS Adelaide (Cdr. H.A. Showers, RAN) conducted exercises off Sydney. (4)

6 Jan 1940

Convoy US 1.

Troop convoy from New Zealand and Australia to Suez.

The convoy departed Wellington, New Zealand on 6 January 1940 and on departure was made up out of the following troopships: Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929) and Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932).

On departure from Wellington the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. W.R. Patterson, RN) and the light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN).

Two more troopships joined the convoy in New Zealand waters, these were: Dunera (British, 11162 GRT, built 1937) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939).

The convoy then set course for Australia.

On 9 January the troopships: Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orford (British, 19941 GRT, built 1928), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925) and Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931) departed Sydney to join the convoy which they did the next day. They were being escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN).

HMNZS Leander was then detached while HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, RAN) joined the convoy on the 11th but already left again the day after.

On the 12th the troopship Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930) joined the convoy coming from Melbourne.

On 18 January the light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) briefly joined the convoy escort but she parted company again later the same day.

On 20 January, near Fremantle the heavy cruisers HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) and Suffren (Capt. R.J.M. Dillard) joined the convoy after which the Australian cruisers parted company and proceeded to Fremantle.

The convoy arrived at Colombo on 30 January and entered the harbour as did HMS Ramillies. HMS Kent and Suffren kept patrolling off the harbour until the convoy set sail again on 1 February but now escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies the aircaft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Sussex (Capt. A.R. Hammick, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J.L. Murray, DSO, OBE, RN) and the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN). HMS Ramillies and HMS Sussex had sailed with the convoy from Colombo, the other two escorts came from Trincomalee. HMS Kent and Suffren then entered Colombo. At Colombo the convoy had been joined by the French troopship Athos II (French, 15276 GRT, built 1927).

On 6 February 1940 the destroyer HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) joined the convoy coming from Colombo. On joinig the convoy she was oiled by HMS Sussex.

Early on the 7th, HMAS Hobart proceeded ahead to Aden with three of the troopships.

At dawn of the 8th the convoy arrived off Aden and three more of the troop transports entered the harbour. The remainder proceeded towards the Red Sea now escorted by HMS Sussex and HMAS Hobart. Aircraft from HMS Eagle patrolled in the area while HMS Ramillies fuelled in the outer anchorage.

The transports that had entered Aden left there on 9 February escorted by HMS Sussex as this cruiser had turned back when off the Perim Strait. HMS Sussex and HMS Westcott now escorted these ships until they met HMAS Hobart which had now dispersed the first group of transports in 22°30'N.

HMS Sussex then turned back to proceed to Aden leaving the transports of the second group to HMAS Hobart which then escorted the transports to 22°30'N when they were dispersed. HMS Westcott went on to Suez with the Rangitata. HMAS Hobart then also set sourse to return to Aden. (7)

1 May 1940

Convoy US 3.

The troopship Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939, 1508 troops) departed Lyttelton Harbour, New Zealand (near Christchurch) on 1 May 1940. She was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. W.R. Patterson, RN).

Around noon on May, 2nd, in Cook Strait they were joined by the troopships Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914, 3627 troops), Empress of Britain (British, 42348 GRT, built 1931, 2047 troops) and Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930, 1554 troops) and their escorts, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) and light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN). They came from Wellington.

Early on May, 5th, HMNZS Leander parted company and proceeded to Sydney. During the forenoon the troopship Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936, 5059 troops) came out escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN). Shortly afterwards HMAS Canberra also entered Sydney harbour to pick up correspondence. Around 1600K/5, HMAS Canberra and HMNZS Leander came out together with the troopship Mauretania (British, 35739 GRT, built 1939, 2616 troops). The convoy then set course for Fremantle.

At 2045K/5, HMAS Perth parted company to return to Sydney where she arrived around 0330K/6.

At 1600K/6, off Melbourne, the troopship Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922, 1615 troops) joined the convoy.

At 0630H/10, when 70 nautical miles from Rottness Island, HMNZS Leander parted company with the convoy to proceed ahead of it to Fremantle.

At 0800H/10, the light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN), joined the convoy and guided into Gage Roads. The transports berthed alongside Fremantle Harbour as arranged except for the Aquitania and Queen Mary. The other transports fuelled and took in water. All ships of the escort berther alongside except for HMAS Adelaide which patrolled in Gage Roads.

At 1200H/12, the convoy started to leave the harbour. On forming up course was set for Colombo.

At 2214G/15, the convoy altered course towards the Cape of Good Hope. It had been decided that the convoy was not to pass through the Mediterranean as the situation with Italy was deteriorating. During the night HMNZS Leander parted company to proceed to Colombo.

At 1529D/20, the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN) joined. HMAS Canberra then parted company to return to Australia.

At dawn on May, 26th, the convoy started to pass down the searched channel and entered Table Bay, Capetown.

At 0743B/26, HMS Shropshire set course to proceed to Simonstown.

The Queen Mary and Aquitania anchored in Table Bay while the other troopships berthed alongside the harbour.

At 1350B/26, the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN) arrived from Simonstown.

At 0300B/28, the Queen Mary and Aquitania departed Table Bay to proceed to False Bay escorted by HMS Cumberland.

At 1000B/31, the ships at Capetown, less the Empress of Japan commenced to leave the Bay led by HMAS Australia. At sea they were joined by the Queen Mary and Aquitania and their escorts HMS Shropshire and HMS Cumberland. They had departed from False Bay around 0815B/31. At the rendezvous HMAS Australia then parted company and proceeded to Simonstown.

Course was set for Freetown where the convoy arrived in the morning of June, 7th.

The convoy departed Freetown in the morning of the June, 8th. Still escorted by HMS Shropshire and HMS Cumberland but now joined by the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN).

At 0035N/10, HMS Hermes parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Dakar.

Around 0900N/12, the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) joined the convoy.

Around 0800N/14, the aircraft carrier Argus joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar.

Around 1000/14, the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) joined the convoy coming from the U.K. HMS Dorsetshire then parted company.

around 1500N/14, the destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN) joined followed around 1600N/14 by the destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN).

The convoy arrived in the Clyde in the afternoon of the 16th.

4 Jun 1940
HMAS Perth (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) conducted 4" AA and .5" AA gunnery exercises firing on a sleeve target towed by an aircraft.

On completion of the exercises she departed Port Phillip for Sydney together with HMAS Canberra (Capt. W.R. Patterson, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, RN). (8)

5 Jun 1940
HMAS Canberra (Capt. W.R. Patterson, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, RN) and HMAS Perth (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) both arrived at Sydney from Melbourne. En-route exercises had been carried out. (8)

7 Jun 1940
Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, RN, transferred his flag from HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) to HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN). (4)

23 Jun 1940
Around 1645K/23, HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, RN) parted company with the troopship Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935) after HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) had taken the escort duties. (4)

14 Sep 1940

Convoy US 5.

This convoy departed Sydney on 14 September 1940.

It was made up of the troopships; Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925) and Slamat (Dutch, 11636 GRT, built 1924).

They were escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, RN).

In the afternoon of 16 September in Bass Strait the troopships Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927) and Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927) joined coming from Melbourne.

At dawn on 21 September the sloop HMAS Warrego (Cdr. R.V. Wheatley, RAN) joined in the approaches to Fremantle. The convoy arrived at Fremantle later the same day.

The convoy departed Fremantle on 22 September escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) and the sloop HMAS Warrego.

HMAS Warrego parted company around 0615H/23 and returned to Fremantle.

The convoy arrived at Colombo on 1 October 1940.

The convoy departed Colombo for Aden on 2 October 1940 escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire. (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN).

The convoy arrived off Aden on 8 October 1940 where HMS Shropshire parted company after the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) had joined.

The escort parted company with the convoy around 0800C/10 to join southbound convoy SW 2.

The convoy arrived at Suez on 12 October 1940.

1 Oct 1940

Convoy US 5A.

This convoy departed Sydney on 1 October 1940 for Suez where it arrived on 2 November 1940.

On departure from Sydney the convoy was made up of the troopship; Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920).

On departure from Sydney the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, RN).

On 2 October 1940 the troopship Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch, 11069 GRT, built 1928) joined the convoy in Bass Strait. This troopship came from Melbourne.

The convoy arrived at Fremantle on 7 October 1940.

The convoy departed Fremantle on 8 October 1940 still escorted by HMAS Perth.

Around 1330H/9, in approximate position 27°00'S, 109°50'E the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) joined. One hour later HMAS Perth parted company and set course for Melbourne.

The convoy arrived at Colombo on 17 October 1940.

On 21 October the convoy left Colombo for Aden escorted by the light cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN). The convoy arrived off Aden on 28 October where the merchant vessels City of Capetown (British, 8046 GRT, built 1937), Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937), Ulster Prince (British, 3791 GRT, built 1930) and Varsova (British, 4701 GRT, built 1914) joined the convoy as did the following escort vessels; heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire. (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN), AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN).

On 30 October the Ulster Prince was detached to Port Sudan. She left there the next day to proceed independently to Suez.

The convoy arrived at Suez on 2 November escorted by HMS Kandahar. The other escorts had parted company on 30 October. (9)

20 Oct 1940

Convoy US 6.

This convoy departed Sydney on 20 October 1940.

It was made up of the troopships; Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914, 2782 troops) and Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936, 5772 troops).

On departure from Sydney the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, RN).

They were joined on 21 October 1940 in Bass Strait by the troopship Mauretania (British, 35739 GRT, built 1939, 2287 troops).

The convoy arrived at Fremantle on 25 October 1940.

The convoy departed Fremantle on 27 October 1940 still escorted by HMAS Perth.

Around 1200H/30, rendezvous was made with the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN). 45 Minutes later HMAS Perth parted company to proceed to the Cocos Islands.

The convoy arrived at Bombay on 4 November 1940. At Bombay the troops were embarked in other, smaller, ships for onward passage to Suez.

10 Nov 1940
The German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis (Schiff 16) captured the Norwegian tanker Ole Jacob (8306 GRT, built 1939) in the Bay of Bengal, west of the Nicobar Islands in position 06°29'N, 90°16'E. On receiving a raider report from the tanker the Commander-in-Chief East Indies despatched the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN), light cruisers HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN), HMS Durban (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN) and armed merchant cruiser HMAS Westralia (A/Capt.(Emgy.) H.V. Hudson, OBE, RAN) to search for the German raider, but none made contact with the German ship. (10)

14 Nov 1940

Convoy US 7.

This convoy departed Sydney on 14 November 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936) and Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935).

On departure from Sydney the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN).

Around 1000K/17, the troopship Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935) joined in Bass Strait coming from Melbourne.

Around 1600J/18, the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, RN) joined and took over escort from HMAS Adelaide which then parted company to proceed to Melbourne.

Around 1800J/18, the troopship Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) joined the convoy coming from Adelaide.

The convoy arrived at Fremantle on 21 November 1940.

Sailing of the convoy from Fremantle was then delayed due to enemy raiders being active in the Indian Ocean and the escorting cruisers being used to search for these.

The convoy finally departed Fremantle on 28 November 1940 still escorted by HMAS Perth. Later on the day of departure the convoy was joined by the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) which also came from Fremantle but departed a little later to overtake the convoy.

On 3 December 1940, HMAS Canberra was relieved by HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN).

On 5 December 1940 the convoy arrived at Colombo.

The convoy and escort (still HMAS Perth and HMS Capetown) departed Colombo on 7 December to continue it's passage to Suez.

On 11 December 1940, HMAS Perth was relieved by HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN). HMAS Perth then proceeded to Aden to fuel arriving and leaving there on 12 December 1940 to rejoin the convoy. Also from Aden on the 12th additional escorts joined the convoy, these were the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN). HMS Capetown and HMS Caledon then parted company with the convoy.

HMS Kingston parted company with the convoy oround midnight during the night of 13/14 December and proceeded to Port Sudan to fuel.

The following morning HMAS Perth, HMS Carlisle parted company with the convoy to join southbound convoy BS 10A. US 7 then continued on to Suez escorted by HMS Kandahar. US 7 arrived at Suez on 15 December 1940.

27 Nov 1940
Around 0650H, HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, RN) returned to Fremantle from patrol.

Around 1800H, HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) also returned to Fremantle from patrol.

The flag of Rear-Admiral Crace was then transferred from HMAS Perth to HMAS Canberra. (4)

19 Dec 1940

Convoy US 8.

This convoy departed Wellington, New Zealand on 19 December 1940.

It was made up of the troop transports; Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939) and Empress of Russia (British, 16810 GRT, built 1913).

The convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMNZS Achilles (Capt. H.M. Barnes, RN).

The convoy arrived at Sydney, Australia on 22 December 1940.

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On 28 December 1940, the convoy departed Sydney.

It was now made up of the troop transports; Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914) Awatea (British, 13482 GRT, built 1936), Dominion Monarch and Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936).

They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN).

On 30 December the troopship Mauretania (British, 35739 GRT, built 1939) joined west of Bass Strait in position 39°45'N, 142°20'E. She was coming from Melbourne.

The convoy arrived at Fremantle on 3 January 1941.

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The convoy departed Fremantle for Colombo on 5 January in the same composition and with the same escort.

On 11 January 1941, the Queen Mary parted company with the convoy to proceed to Trincomalee.

The convoy arrived at Colombo on 12 January 1941.

In Ceylon most of the troops were disembarked and then embarked on other (smaller) troop transports for onward passage to the Middle East.

16 Jan 1941

Convoy US 8A.

This convoy departed Colombo on 16 January 1941 for Suez where it arrived on 28 January 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships / merchant vessels; Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Devonshire (British, 11275 GRT, built 1939), Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920), Lancashire (British, 9557 GRT, built 1917), Nevassa (British, 9213 GRT, built 1913), Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch, 11069 GRT, built 1928), Rajula (British, 8478 GRT, built 1926), Rohna (British, 8602 GRT, built 1926) and Slamat (Dutch, 11636 GRT, built 1924).

On departure from Colombo the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Antenor (Capt.(Retd.) D.I. McGillewie, RN). The heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) provided cover to the south of the convoy until the 18th after which she returned to Colombo on 19 January 1941. While berthing there she hit a pier and sustained some damage.

On 22 January the convoy escort was taken over by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN).

On 23 January two more merchant vessels joined the convoy coming from Aden, these were the City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938) and the Thurland Castle (British, 6372 GRT, built 1929). They were escorted by the sloop HMAS Yarra (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN).

On the 24th HMS Capetown rejoined the convoy.

Early in the evening of 26 January HMS Carlisle and HMAS Yarra parted company with the convoy to proceed to Port Sudan where they arrived the following day. HMS Capetown and HMS Kimberley also parted company with the convoy to proceed to Aden where they arrived on the 27th.

On the 27th the sole remaining escort, HMS Kandahar was relieved by HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN). HMS Kandahar then proceeded to Port Sudanwhere she arrived on the 28th.

The convoy arrived at Suez also on 28 January 1941. (11)

4 Feb 1941

Convoy US 9.

This convoy departed Sydney on 4 February 1941 and arrived at Bombay on 22 February 1941.

The convoy was made up of the troopships; Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914), Nieuw Amsterdam (Dutch, 36287 GRT, built 1938) and Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936).

On departure from Sydney, around 1420K/4, the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN).

Off Melbourne, at 1650K/6, the convoy was joined by the troopship Mauretania (British, 35739 GRT, built 1939).

The convoy arrived at Fremantle around 0800H/10 and departed again on 12 February 1941 but now escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN).

In the afternoon of the 16th the convoy made rendezvous with the light cruiser HMS Durban (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN) which took the Queen Mary with her to Singapore where they arrived on the 18th.

On the 20th, HMAS Canberra was relieved by the light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. R.H. Bevan, RN).

The convoy arrived at Bombay on 22 February 1941.

22 Feb 1941
At 0515Z/22, the Dutch merchant vessel Rantaupandjang (2542 GRT, built 1922) sent out a raider signal from position 08°24'S, 51°35'E.

Then at 0818Z/22, a Walrus aircraft from the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) reported a German pocket battleship in position 08°30'S, 51°35'E.

In response the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN) and light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) were sailed from Kilindini / Mombasa for the area the raider was spotted. The light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN) was sent to the Seychelles.

The heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN) was operating off Somaliland. She was ordered to joined HMS Hermes and HMS Emerald.

The heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) was sent to the area the raider was spotted from escort duty with convoy WS 5B. HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) remained with this convoy.

Heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN), which was en-route to the Maledive Islands from Colombo was ordered to proceed towards position 06°00'S, 60°00'E.

Heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) was with ' Z Force ' near Durban. She was ordered to join the East Indies command to search for the enemy. She was ordered to return to Durban the following day to continue escorting ' Z Force '.

Light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. R.H. Bevan, RN) was ordered to proceed southwards from Bombay. (11)

7 Apr 1941

Convoy US 10.

This convoy departed Wellington, New Zealand on 7 April 1941. It arrived at Colombo / Trincomalee on 26 April 1941.

On departure from Wellington, around 1620M/7, the convoy was made up of the troopships; Mauretania (British, 35739 GRT, built 1939) and Nieuw Amsterdam (Dutch, 36287 GRT, built 1938).

They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) and the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) and HMNZS Achilles (Capt. H.M. Barnes, RN).

Around 0430K/10, HMNZS Achilles parted company in position 35°15'S, 152°45'E and proceeded to Jervis Bay where the troopship Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936) is anchored under the protection of the light cruiser HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN). When HMNZS Achilles arrived HMAS Sydney departed Jervis Bay for Sydney.

The remainder of the convoy meanwhile went to Sydney where they arrived around 1000K/10.

Around 0830K/11, the convoy departed Sydney with two more troopships in it, these were the Ile de France (British, 43450 GRT, built 1926) and Queen Elizabeth (British, 83673 GRT, built 1939). Escort was HMAS Australia.

In the afternoon of the 11th they were joined in position 35°24'S, 152°05'E by the Queen Mary and HMNZS Achilles. HMNZS Achilles then parted company to proceed to Sydney.

The convoy arrived at Fremantle on 16 April and departed from there in the same composition on 19 April.

In the afternoon of 22 April the convoy made rendezvous in position 08°30'S, 104°45'E with the light cruiser HMS Durban (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN) which then took the Nieuw Amsterdam with her to Singapore. They arrived at Singapore on 24 April.

In the afteroon of the 25 April the convoy made rendezvous in position 03°00'N, 84°45'E with the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) which then took the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary with her to Trincomalee where they arrived on 26 April.

HMS Australia with the Ile de France and Mauretania proceeded to Colombo where they arrived on 26 April. (11)

9 Sep 1941

Convoy US 12A.

This convoy departed Fremantle on 9 September 1941 for Suez where it arrived on 23 September 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Queen Elizabeth (British, 83673 GRT, built 1939) and Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936).

The convoy was escorted until Trincomalee by the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN).

The convoy arrived at Trincomalee on 15 September 1941 and departed from there on 16 September 1941.

From Trincomalee to Perim the convoy was escorted by the British heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN).

The convoy arrived off Perim on 21 September 1941 and from there on the ships proceeded independently to Suez while HMS Cornwall proceeded to Aden where she arrived later that day. (11)

8 Nov 1941

Convoy US 13.

This convoy departed Fremantle on 8 November 1941 for Suez.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Queen Elizabeth (British, 83673 GRT, built 1939) and Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936).

The convoy was escorted until late morning of November 11th by the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) when the British heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN) took over in approximate position 11°30'S, 99°30'E.

The convoy arrived at Trincomalee on 14 November 1941 and departed from there to continue it's passage the following day.

The convoy arrived off Perim on 20 November 1941 and from there on the troopships proceeded independently to Suez while HMS Cornwall proceeded to Aden where she arrived later that day. (12)

11 Nov 1941
In late morning HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN) made rendez-vous with convoy US 13 in approximate position 11°30'S, 99°30'E. She then took over the escort duties from HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN).

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy US 13 ' for 8 September 1941.] (13)

12 Dec 1941
Around 1645K/12, the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) and light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) departed Sydney to patrol in the northern part of the Tasman Sea to protect the shipping lanes.

Around 1115K/14, they were ordered to proceed to Brisbane with despatch.

Around 1000K/15, they arrived at Brisbane from patrol. Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN, then hoisted his flag in HMAS Canberra. (14)

16 Dec 1941
The heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN) and light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) departed Brisbane to protect the shipping route between Australia and New Caledonia. (14)

19 Dec 1941
On this day the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN) and the light cruisers HMAS Perth (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) and HMNZS Achilles (Capt. H.M. Barnes, RN) joined a convoy of American transports that had been en-route from San Francisco / Pearl Harbour to Manila but had now been diverted to Australia.

This convoy was escorted by the heavy cruiser USS Pensacola (Capt. N. Scott, USN) and was made up of the (troop) transports; Admiral Halstead (American 3545 GRT, built 1920), Bloemfontein (Dutch, 10081 GRT, built 1934), Coast Farmer (American, 3545 GRT, built 1920), Meigs (American (Army transport, 7358 GRT, built 1921) and Willard A. Holbrook (American (Army transport, 14812 GRT, built 1921).

The transport USS Chaumont (7556 GRT, built 1920) was also part of the convoy as was the troop transport USS Republic (18089 GRT, built 1907).

On 21 December 1941, the sloops HMAS Swan (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Travis, RAN) and HMAS Warrego (Cdr. R.V. Wheatley, RAN) joined the escort to provide A/S protection.

The convoy arrived at Brisbane on 22 December. (15)

22 Dec 1941
Around 1230K/22, HMNZS Achilles (Capt. H.M. Barnes, RN) departed Brisbane to return to Auckland.

Later in the afternoon HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN) and HMAS Perth (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) departed Brisbane for Sydney.

Around 1815K/23, HMAS Canberra and HMAS Perth were joined by HMNZS Achilles which had been ordered to join the Australian Squadron instead of returning to Auckland. (14)

24 Dec 1941
Around 088K/24, HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) and HMNZS Achilles (Capt. H.M. Barnes, RN) arrived at Sydney.

Rear-Admiral Crace then struck his flag in HMAS Canberra and hoisted it in HMAS Australia. Also the Commanding Officers of HMAS Australia and HMAS Canberra were swapped. (14)

28 Dec 1941

Convoy ZK 5.

This convoy departed Sydney on 28 December 1941.

It was made up of the (troop) transports; Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914), Herstein (Norwegian, 5100 GRT, built 1939) and Sarpedon (British, 11321 GRT, built 1923). They were escorted by the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN) and light cruisers HMAS Perth (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) and HMNZS Achilles (Capt. H.M. Barnes, RN).

Around 1500K/2, the sloops HMAS Swan (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Travis, RAN) and HMAS Warrego (Cdr. R.V. Wheatley, RAN) joined the escort.

The convoy arrived at Port Moresby on 3 January 1942. (16)

10 Jan 1942

Convoys MS 2 and MS 2A.

Convoy MS 2 departed Sydney on 10 January 1942.

This convoy was made up of only one ship, the troopship Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914).

On departure from Sydney convoy MS 2 was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN).

Convoy MS 2 arrived at Fremantle on 15 January and departed again in the same composition on the 16th.

On 19 January 1942, while approaching the Sunda Strait the convoy was joined by a local escort made up of the light cruisers HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN), HrMs Java (Capt. P.B.M van Straelen, RNN) and the destroyers HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) and HMS Thanet ( Cdr.(Retd.) B.S. Davies, RN) which came from Batavia.

On 20 January 1942, the destroyer HrMs Van Nes (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Lagaay, RNN) joined. The convoy arrived at Ratai Bay, Sumatra later the same day.

On arrival at Lampung Bay, HrMs Java and HMS Thanet parted company to proceed to Batavia to fuel on completion of which they returned to Ratai Bay. HMAS Canberra and HMS Express fuelled at Ratai Bay.

At Lampung Bay the troops from the Aquitania were put onto smaller ships which were to take them to Singapore as Convoy MS 2A.

These were the merchant vessels; Both (Dutch, 2601 GRT, built 1931), Reael (Dutch, 2561 GRT, built 1931), Reijnst (Dutch, 2462 GRT, built 1928), Sloet van Beele (Dutch, 2977 GRT, built 1914), Taishan (British, 3174 GRT, built 1925), Van der Lijn (Dutch, 2464 GRT, built 1928) and Van Swoll (Dutch, 2147 GRT, built 1930).

To provide cover for the operation of putting the troops on board the smaller ships the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra, light cruisers HMS Dragon, destroyers HMS Express, HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN), USS Barker (Lt.Cdr. L.G. McGlone, USN), USS Stewart (Lt.Cdr. H.P. Smith, USN), HrMs Evertsen (Lt.Cdr. W.M. de Vries, RNN), HrMs Van Nes, sloops HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN), HrMs Soemba (Cdr. P.J.G. Huijer, RNN) and the patrol vessel USS Isabel (Lt. J.W. Payne, Jr., USN) were patrolling / present in the Bay.

Around 1045GH, convoy MS 2A departed Ratai Bay for Singapore. It was escorted by HMAS Canberra, HMAS Vampire and HMIS Jumna.

Around 1830GH/21, HrMs Java and HMS Thanet joined from Batavia.

At 1000GH/23, after the convoy had passed the Banka Strait HMAS Canberra parted company leaving HrMs Java in command of the escort. HMAS Canberra then proceeded to Batavia where she arrived the following day.

The convoy arrived at Singapore late in the morning of the 24th. (17)

30 Jan 1942

Convoy MS 3.

This convoy departed Fremantle on 30 January 1942 and part of the convoy arrived at Batavia on 8 February 1942 the other part of the arrived at Palembang on 9 February 1942.

The convoy was made up of the following ships; Antilochus (British, 9082 GRT, built 1906), Charon (British, 3703 GRT, built 1936), Elsa (Norwegian (tanker), 5381 GRT, built 1928), Erling Brovig (Norwegian (tanker), 9970 GRT, built 1937), Herborg (Norwegian (tanker), 7892 GRT, built 1931), Mangola (British, 3352 GRT, built 1931), Manvantara (Dutch (tanker), 8237 GRT, built 1931), Marella (British, 7475 GRT, built 1914), Marpessa (Dutch (tanker), 7408 GRT, built 1927), Merula (Dutch (tanker), 8228 GRT, built 1932) and Seirstad (Norwegian (tanker), 9916 GRT, built 1937).

On departure from Fremantle the convoy was escorted by the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN) until near Christmas Island where on 6 February the British light cruisers HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN), HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN) took over. These cruisers had departed Batavia on 5 February 1942.

In the morning of 7 February 1942 the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) which had departed Batavia on 6 February.

The merchant vessels Antilochus, Charon, Mangola and Marella split off from the convoy and arrived at Batavia on 8 February. The tankers continued on to the Palembang area where the arrived on the 9th.

The escorts then proceeded to Batavia where they arrived on the 10th.

5 Feb 1942
HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) and HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN) departed Batavia to make rendezvous with convoy MS 3. On departure from Batavia they were escorting the troopship Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930) which was to proceed to Fremantle with evacuees.

Rendezvous was effected on 6 February between HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN) and the convoy and HMS Dragon as HMS Durban was at that moment detached to Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island to pick up the survivors of the merchant vessel Eidsvold (Norwegian, 4184 GRT, built 1934) which had been torpedoed there on 20 January 1942 by the Japanese submarine I-59 (offsite link). HMS Durban joined the convoy later on the 6th.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy MS 3 ' for 30 January 1942.]

3 Jun 1942
Task Force 44, made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) and the destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN, with Cdr. L.B. Austin, USN, commanding Destroyer Division 7 on board), USS Helm (Lt.Cdr. C.E. Carroll, USN), USS Mugford (T/Cdr. E.W. Young, USN) and USS Perkins (Lt.Cdr. W.C. Ford, USN) conducted exercises off Brisbane. (18)

4 Jun 1942
Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN, transferred his flag from HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) to HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN). (19)

4 Jun 1942
During 4/5 June 1942, Task Force 44, made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN), HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) and the destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN, with Cdr. L.B. Austin, USN, commanding Destroyer Division 7 on board), USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN), USS Helm (Lt.Cdr. C.E. Carroll, USN), USS Mugford (T/Cdr. E.W. Young, USN) and USS Perkins (Lt.Cdr. W.C. Ford, USN) conducted exercises off Brisbane.

All ships returned to Brisbane / Moreton Bay on completion of the exercises on the 5th, except for HMAS Australia and USS Helm which had been detached P.M. on the 4th to proceed to Sydney. (18)

13 Jun 1942
Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN, hoisted his flag in HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN).

Later this day Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN, hauled down his flag on board HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN). (19)

14 Jun 1942
Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN, transferred his flag from HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) to HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN). (20)

22 Jun 1942
Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN, transferred his flag from HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN) to HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN). (21)

23 Jun 1942
Task Force 44, made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart ( Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN, with Cdr. L.B. Austin, USN, commanding Destroyer Division 7 on board), USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN) departed Brisbane for an offensive sweep in the Coral Sea. (20)

28 Jun 1942
Task Force 44, made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart ( Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN, with Cdr. L.B. Austin, USN, commanding Destroyer Division 7 on board), USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN) arrived at Noumea from operations. No contact with the Japanese had been made though. (20)

29 Jun 1942
Task Force 44, made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN, with Cdr. L.B. Austin, USN, commanding Destroyer Division 7 on board), USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN) departed Noumea to return to Brisbane. (20)

1 Jul 1942
Task Force 44, made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart ( Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN, with Cdr. L.B. Austin, USN, commanding Destroyer Division 7 on board), USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN) arrived at Brisbane / Moreton Bay from Noumea. (19)

8 Jul 1942
Task Force 44, made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart ( Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN, with Cdr. L.B. Austin, USN, commanding Destroyer Division 7 on board), USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN) conducted exercises off Brisbane. (22)

14 Jul 1942
Task Force 44, made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart ( Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Ralph Talbot (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Callahan, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN) departed Brisbane for Wellington, New Zealand. (19)

19 Jul 1942
Task Force 44, made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart ( Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Ralph Talbot (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Callahan, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN) arrived at Wellington from Brisbane. (23)

22 Jul 1942
A convoy for the upcoming landings at Guadacanal departed Wellington, New Zealand for Fiji.

The convoy, designated Task Force 62, was made up of two units;
Task Group 62.1 was the actual convoy made up of the Naval Transports; USS McCawley (AP 10) (8156 GRT, built 1928) (Capt. C.P. McFeathers, USN), USS Barnett (AP 11) (8153 GRT, built 1928) (Capt. H.E. Thornhill, USN), USS Heywood (AP 12) (8424 GRT, built 1919) (Capt. H.B. Knowles, USN), USS George F. Elliott (AP 13) (8424 GRT, built 1918) (Capt. W.O. Bailey, USN), USS Fuller (AP 14) (8424 GRT, built 1919) (Capt. P.S. Theiss, USN), USS Neville (AP 16) (8424 GRT, built 1918) (Capt. C.A. Bailey, USN), USS Hunter Liggett (AP 27) (13712 GRT, built 1922) (Cdr. L.W. Perkins, USCG) and USS American Legion (AP 35) (13737 GRT, built 1921) (Cdr. T.D. Warner, USN) and the Naval Cargo Ships; USS Bellatrix (AK 20) (8280 GRT, built 1942) (Cdr. W.F. Dietrich, USN), USS Fomalhaut (AK 22) (5028 GRT, built 1942) (Cdr. J.D. Alvis, USN), USS Alchiba (AK 23) (6198 GRT, built 1939) (Cdr. J.S. Freeman, USN) and USS Libra (AK 53) (6155 GRT, built 1941) (Cdr. W.B. Fletcher, Jr., USN).

The convoy was escorted by Task Group 62.2, which was made up the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart ( Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Selfridge (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Reynolds, USN, with Capt. C.W. Flynn, USN, commanding Destroyer Squadron 4 on board), USS Blue (Cdr. H.N. Williams, USN), USS Mugford (Lt.Cdr. E.W. Young, USN), USS Ralph Talbot (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Callahan, USN), USS Henley (Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN).

Around 1400M/23, the destroyers USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN) and USS Helm (Lt.Cdr. C.E. Carroll, USN) joined coming from Auckland.

Around 1330M/26, rendezvous was made with three US Task Forces. USS Salt Lake City parted company to join Task Force 11.

Task Force 62 was joined by several more Naval Transports / Naval Cargo Ships which were; USS President Jackson (AP 37) (9255 GRT, built 1940) (T/Capt. C.W. Weitzel, USN), USS President Adams (AP 38) (9255 GRT, built 1941) (T/Capt. F.H. Dean, USN), USS President Hayes (AP 39) (9255 GRT, built 1941) (T/Capt. F.W. Benson, USN), USS Crescent City (AP 40) (7987 GRT, built 1940) (Capt. I.N. Kiland, USN) and USS Alhena (AK 26) (7101 GRT, built 1941) (T/Capt. C.B. Hunt, USN).

Also a fire support group joined, it was made up of the heavy cruisers USS Astoria ( Capt. W.G. Greenman, USN), USS Quincy ( Capt. S.N. Moore, USN), USS Vincennes (Capt. F.L. Riefkohl, USN), AA cruiser USS San Juan (Capt. J.E. Maher, USN) and the destroyers USS Dewey (Lt.Cdr. C.F. Chillingsworth, Jr., USN), USS Hull ( Lt.Cdr. R.F. Stout, USN), USS Gridley (Lt.Cdr. F.R. Stickney, Jr., USN), USS Ellet (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Gardner, USN), USS Wilson (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Price, USN) and USS Buchanan (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Wilson, USN).

Also joining were the high speed transports (former destroyers) USS Colhoun (T/Lt.Cdr. G.B. Madden, USN), USS Gregory (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bauer, USN), USS Little (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Lofberg, Jr., USN) and USS McKean (Lt.Cdr. J.E. Shinners, USN) as the high speed minesweepers (also former destroyers) USS Southard (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Cochran, USN), USS Hopkins (Lt.Cdr. B. Coe, USN), USS Zane (T/Lt.Cdr. P.L. Wirtz, USN) and USS Trever (Lt.Cdr. D.M. Agnew, USN).

The convoy arrived at Fiji (off Koro Island) on 28 July 1942. There landing exercises were carried out on 29 and 30 July.

31 Jul 1942
Late in the afternoon of 31 July 1942, the Amphibious Force under Rear-Admiral R.K. Turner, USN (in the transport USS McCawley) departed Fiji for Operation Watchtower, the landings on Guadalcanal.

The Amphibious Force was made up of the following units;

Task Group 62.1 (Transport Group X-Ray) made up of the Naval Transports / Naval Cargo Ships;

Task Group 62.1.1;
USS Fuller (AP 14) (8424 GRT, built 1919) (Capt. P.S. Theiss, USN), USS American Legion (AP 35) (13737 GRT, built 1921) (Cdr. T.D. Warner, USN) and USS Bellatrix (AK 20) (8280 GRT, built 1942) (Cdr. W.F. Dietrich, USN).

Task Group 62.1.2;
USS McCawley (AP 10) (8156 GRT, built 1928) (Capt. C.P. McFeathers, USN), USS Barnett (AP 11) (8153 GRT, built 1928) (Capt. H.E. Thornhill, USN), USS George F. Elliott (AP 13) (8424 GRT, built 1918) (Capt. W.O. Bailey, USN) and USS Libra (AK 53) (6155 GRT, built 1941) (Cdr. W.B. Fletcher, Jr., USN).

Task Group 62.1.3;
USS Hunter Liggett (AP 27) (13712 GRT, built 1922) (Cdr. L.W. Perkins, USCG), USS Fomalhaut (AK 22) (5028 GRT, built 1942) (Cdr. J.D. Alvis, USN), USS Alchiba (AK 23) (6198 GRT, built 1939) (Cdr. J.S. Freeman, USN) and USS Betelgeuse (AK 28) (6198 GRT, built 1939) (T/Capt. H.D. Power, USN) (joined at sea on 3 August 1942).

Task Group 62.1.4;
USS President Adams (AP 38) (9255 GRT, built 1941) (T/Capt. F.H. Dean, USN), USS President Hayes (AP 39) (9255 GRT, built 1941) (T/Capt. F.W. Benson, USN), USS Crescent City (AP 40) (7987 GRT, built 1940) (Capt. I.N. Kiland, USN) and USS Alhena (AK 26) (7101 GRT, built 1941) (T/Capt. C.B. Hunt, USN).

Task Group 62.2 (Transport Group Yoke) made up of the Naval Transports and High Speed Transports.

Task Group 62.2.1;
USS Zeilin (AP 9) (14124 GRT, built 1921) (Capt. P. Buchanan, USN) (joined at sea on 3 August 1942), USS Heywood (AP 12) (8424 GRT, built 1919) (Capt. H.B. Knowles, USN), USS Neville (AP 16) (8424 GRT, built 1918) (Capt. C.A. Bailey, USN) and USS President Jackson (AP 37) (9255 GRT, built 1940) (T/Capt. C.W. Weitzel, USN).

Task Group 62.2.2;
USS Colhoun (T/Lt.Cdr. G.B. Madden, USN), USS Gregory (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bauer, USN), USS Little (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Lofberg, Jr., USN) and USS McKean (Lt.Cdr. J.E. Shinners, USN).

Task Group 62.3 was the Fire Support Group, made up of the heavy cruisers USS Astoria ( Capt. W.G. Greenman, USN), USS Quincy ( Capt. S.N. Moore, USN), USS Vincennes (Capt. F.L. Riefkohl, USN) and the destroyers USS Dewey (T/Cdr. C.F. Chillingsworth, Jr., USN), USS Hull (T/Cdr. R.F. Stout, USN), USS Ellet T/Cdr. F.H. Gardner, USN) and USS Wilson (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Price, USN).

Task Group 62.4 was also a Fire Support Group, made up of the AA cruiser USS San Juan (Capt. J.E. Maher, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral N. Scott, USN) and the destroyers USS Monssen (T/Cdr. R.N. Smoot, USN) and USS Buchanan (T/Cdr. R.E. Wilson, USN).

Task Group 62.5 was the Minesweeping Group, it was made up of the high speed minesweepers (former destroyers) USS Southard (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Cochran, USN), USS Hovey (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Heald, USN), USS Hopkins (Lt.Cdr. B. Coe, USN), USS Zane (T/Lt.Cdr. P.L. Wirtz, USN) and USS Trever (Lt.Cdr. D.M. Agnew, USN).

Task Group 62.6 was the Screening Group, it was made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart ( Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Selfridge (T/Cdr. C.D. Reynolds, USN, with Capt. C.W. Flynn, USN, commanding Destroyer Squadron 4 on board), USS Bagley (T/Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN), USS Blue (Cdr. H.N. Williams, USN), USS Helm (T/Cdr. C.E. Carroll, USN), USS Mugford (T/Cdr. E.W. Young, USN), USS Ralph Talbot (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Callahan, USN), USS Henley (Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN).

Some ships had to fuel at sea and only joined the Amphibious Force the following day around noon.

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Around 0900M/1, the destroyers USS Dewey and USS Mugford were detached to make rendezvous with the transport USS Zeilin and cargo ship USS Betelgeuse. They joined the Betelgeuse around 1540M/1. USS Zeilin joined around 2330M/1. They rejoined Task Force 62 around noon on 3 August.

Around 1115M/2, the destroyers USS Selfridge, USS Bagley, USS Blue, USS Ralph Talbot, USS Henley and USS Jarvis parted company with Task Force 62 to proceed to Port Vila, Efate to fuel. They arrived off Mele Bay around 0700L/3 but found the the tanker from which they were to fuel, the Esso Little Rock (11237 GRT, built 1941) was not there. They left around 1100L/3 to rejoin Task Force 62 to refuel at sea.

Around 1800L/2, HMAS Hobart, USS Southard USS Hovey, USS Hopkins, USS Zane and USS Trever parted company with Task Force 62 to proceed to Port Vila, Efate to fuel. They too left around 1130L/3 to rejoin Task Force 62 to refuel at sea.

USS Colhoun, USS Gregory, USS Little and USS McKean also arrived off Mele Bay to fuel, they too then set course to rejoin Task Force 62 to refuel at sea.

On 4 August 1942, refuelling at sea took place; The oiler USS Cimarron (T/Capt. R.M. Ihrig, USN) briefly joined Task Force 62 and she fuelled HMAS Hobart, USS Ralph Talbot and USS Patterson. USS Alhena fuelled USS Blue and USS Helm. USS Crescent City fuelled USS Selfridge and USS Trever. USS Fuller fuelled USS Ellet and USS Wilson. USS Hunter Liggett fuelled USS Dewey and USS Hull. USS Libra fuelled USS Monssen and USS Buchanan. USS Neville fuelled USS Southard and USS Hopkins. USS President Adamas fuelled USS Mugford and USS Jarvis. USS President Hayes fuelled USS Bagley and USS Henley. USS President Jackson fuelled USS Hovey and USS Zane.

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Around 1615L/6, the Amphibious Force took up their approach dispositions. ' Force X ' was to land on Guadacanal and ' Force Y ' was to land on Tulagi.

' Force X ' was made up of was made up of the transports and cargo vessels of Task Group 62.1.1, Task Group 62.1.2, Task Group 62.1.3, Task Group 62.1.4, the ships of Fire Support Group 62.3 and part of Screening Group Task Group 62.6. The ships of the Screening Group that were part of ' Force X ' were the following, HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, USS Selfridge, USS Mugford, USS Ralph Talbot, USS Patterson and USS Jarvis.

' Force Y ' was made up of the transports and cargo vessels of Task Group 62.2.1, the high speed transports of Task Group 62.2.2, the ships of Fire Support Group 62.4, the high speed minesweepers of Minesweeping Group 62.5 and part of Screening Group Task Group 62.6. The ships of the Screening Group that were part of ' Force Y ' were the following, USS Chicago, HMAS Canberra, USS Bagley, USS Blue, USS Helm and USS Henley.

' Force Y ' took station six miles astern of ' Force X '.

[For continuation of the events see the event ' Operation Watchtower, the landings on Guadacanal and Tulagi ' for 7 August 1942.]

7 Aug 1942

Operation Watchtower, the landings on Guadacanal Island and the subsequent Battle of Savo Island.

Allied forces taking part;

For this operation Task Forces 61 and 62 were deployed. In overall command was Vice-Admiral R.L. Ghormley, USN who was at Noumea in the Miscellaneous Auxiliary USS Argonne (AG-31) (Cdr. F.W. Connor, USN).

Task Group 61.1 was the Air Support Force under overall command of Rear-Admiral L.Noyes, USN. It was made up of the following units;

Task Group 61.1.1;
Aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (Capt. D.C. Ramsey, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral F.J. Fletcher, USN), heavy cruisers USS New Orleans (Capt. W.S. Delany, USN), USS Minneapolis (Capt. F.J. Lowry, USN), and the destroyers USS Phelps (T/Cdr. E.L. Beck, USN, with Capt. S.B. Brewer, USN on board), USS Farragut (Cdr. G.P. Hunter, USN), USS Macdonough (Lt.Cdr. E. van E. Dennet, USN), USS Worden (T/Cdr. W.G. Pogue, USN) and USS Dale (Cdr. H.E. Parker, USN).

Task Group 61.1.2;
Aircraft carrier Enterprise (Capt. A.C. Davis, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral T.C. Kincaid, USN), battleship USS North Carolina (Capt. G.H. Fort, USN), heavy cruiser USS Portland (Capt. L.T. Du Bose, USN), AA cruiser USS Atlanta (Capt. S.P. Jenkins, USN) and the destroyers USS Balch (T/Cdr. H.H. Tiemroth, USN, with Capt. E.P. Sauer, USN on board), USS Benham (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Taylor, USN), USS Maury (T/Cdr. G.L. Sims, USN), USS Gwin (Cdr. J.M. Higgins, USN) and USS Grayson (T/Cdr. F.J. Bell, USN).

Task Group 61.1.3;
Aircraft carrier USS Wasp (T/Capt. F.P. Sherman, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.Noyes, USN), heavy cruisers Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS San Francisco (Capt. C.H. McMorris, USN) and the destroyers USS Farenholt (T/Cdr. Lt.Cdr. E.T. Seaward, USN, with Capt. R.G. Tobin, USN on board), USS Aaron Ward (T/Cdr. O.F. Gregor, USN), USS Lang (T/Cdr. E.A. Seay, USN), USS Stack (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Greenacre, USN) and USS Sterett (Cdr. J.G. Coward, USN).

There was also the fuelling group made up of the oilers USS Kanawha (T/Capt. K.S. Reed, USN), USS Cimarron (T/Capt. R.M. Ihrig, USN), USS Platte (Capt. R.H. Henkle, USN), USS Sabine (T/Capt. H.L. Maples, USN) and USS Kaskaskia (T/Capt. W.L. Taylor, USN). These were usually escorting by destroyers from the air support force.

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The Amphibious Force under Rear-Admiral R.K. Turner, USN (in the transport USS McCawley) was made up of the following units;

Task Group 62.1 (Transport Group X-Ray) made up of the Naval Transports / Naval Cargo Ships;

Task Group 62.1.1;
USS Fuller (AP 14) (8424 GRT, built 1919) (Capt. P.S. Theiss, USN), USS American Legion (AP 35) (13737 GRT, built 1921) (Cdr. T.D. Warner, USN) and USS Bellatrix (AK 20) (8280 GRT, built 1942) (Cdr. W.F. Dietrich, USN).

Task Group 62.1.2;
USS McCawley (AP 10) (8156 GRT, built 1928) (Capt. C.P. McFeathers, USN), USS Barnett (AP 11) (8153 GRT, built 1928) (Capt. H.E. Thornhill, USN), USS George F. Elliott (AP 13) (8424 GRT, built 1918) (Capt. W.O. Bailey, USN) and USS Libra (AK 53) (6155 GRT, built 1941) (Cdr. W.B. Fletcher, Jr., USN).

Task Group 62.1.3;
USS Hunter Liggett (AP 27) (13712 GRT, built 1922) (Cdr. L.W. Perkins, USCG), USS Fomalhaut (AK 22) (5028 GRT, built 1942) (Cdr. J.D. Alvis, USN), USS Alchiba (AK 23) (6198 GRT, built 1939) (Cdr. J.S. Freeman, USN) and USS Betelgeuse (AK 28) (6198 GRT, built 1939) (T/Capt. H.D. Power, USN).

Task Group 62.1.4;
USS President Adams (AP 38) (9255 GRT, built 1941) (T/Capt. F.H. Dean, USN), USS President Hayes (AP 39) (9255 GRT, built 1941) (T/Capt. F.W. Benson, USN), USS Crescent City (AP 40) (7987 GRT, built 1940) (Capt. I.N. Kiland, USN) and USS Alhena (AK 26) (7101 GRT, built 1941) (T/Capt. C.B. Hunt, USN).

Task Group 62.2 (Transport Group Yoke) made up of the Naval Transports and High Speed Transports.

Task Group 62.2.1;
USS Zeilin (AP 9) (14124 GRT, built 1921) (Capt. P. Buchanan, USN), USS Heywood (AP 12) (8424 GRT, built 1919) (Capt. H.B. Knowles, USN), USS Neville (AP 16) (8424 GRT, built 1918) (Capt. C.A. Bailey, USN) and USS President Jackson (AP 37) (9255 GRT, built 1940) (T/Capt. C.W. Weitzel, USN).

Task Group 62.2.2;
USS Colhoun (T/Lt.Cdr. G.B. Madden, USN), USS Gregory (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bauer, USN), USS Little (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Lofberg, Jr., USN) and USS McKean (Lt.Cdr. J.E. Shinners, USN).

Task Group 62.3 was the Fire Support Group, made up of the heavy cruisers USS Astoria ( Capt. W.G. Greenman, USN), USS Quincy ( Capt. S.N. Moore, USN), USS Vincennes (Capt. F.L. Riefkohl, USN) and the destroyers USS Dewey (T/Cdr. C.F. Chillingsworth, Jr., USN), USS Hull (T/Cdr. R.F. Stout, USN), USS Ellet T/Cdr. F.H. Gardner, USN) and USS Wilson (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Price, USN).

Task Group 62.4 was also a Fire Support Group, made up of the AA cruiser USS San Juan (Capt. J.E. Maher, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral N. Scott, USN) and the destroyers USS Monssen (T/Cdr. R.N. Smoot, USN) and USS Buchanan (T/Cdr. R.E. Wilson, USN).

Task Group 62.5 was the Minesweeping Group, it was made up of the high speed minesweepers (former destroyers) USS Southard (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Cochran, USN), USS Hovey (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Heald, USN), USS Hopkins (Lt.Cdr. B. Coe, USN), USS Zane (T/Lt.Cdr. P.L. Wirtz, USN) and USS Trever (Lt.Cdr. D.M. Agnew, USN).

Task Group 62.6 was the Screening Group, it was made up of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Canberra (Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN), USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart ( Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Selfridge (T/Cdr. C.D. Reynolds, USN, with Capt. C.W. Flynn, USN, commanding Destroyer Squadron 4 on board), USS Bagley (T/Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN), USS Blue (Cdr. H.N. Williams, USN), USS Helm (T/Cdr. C.E. Carroll, USN), USS Mugford (T/Cdr. E.W. Young, USN), USS Ralph Talbot (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Callahan, USN), USS Henley (Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN), USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN) and USS Jarvis (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Graham, Jr., USN).

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Around 1615L on 6 August 1942, the Amphibious Force had taken up their approach dispositions. ' Force X ' was to land on Guadacanal and ' Force Y ' was to land on Tulagi.

' Force X ' was made up of was made up of the transports and cargo vessels of Task Group 62.1.1, Task Group 62.1.2, Task Group 62.1.3, Task Group 62.1.4, the ships of Fire Support Group 62.3 and part of Screening Group Task Group 62.6. The ships of the Screening Group that were part of ' Force X ' were the following, HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, USS Selfridge, USS Mugford, USS Ralph Talbot, USS Patterson and USS Jarvis.

' Force Y ' was made up of the transports and cargo vessels of Task Group 62.2.1, the high speed transports of Task Group 62.2.2, the ships of Fire Support Group 62.4, the high speed minesweepers of Minesweeping Group 62.5 and part of Screening Group Task Group 62.6. The ships of the Screening Group that were part of ' Force Y ' were the following, USS Chicago, HMAS Canberra, USS Bagley, USS Blue, USS Helm and USS Henley. ' Force Y ' took station six miles astern of ' Force X '.

The landings, 7 August 1942.

At 0224L/7, the moon rose and though it was on the wane and lacked only five days to new moon, it was of great assistance in making the western end of Guadalcanal and then Savo Island, both of which began to show up very clearly.

' Force Y ' set course to pass to the northward of Savo Island and at 0330L/7, HMAS Australia lad ' Force X ' towards Savo Island to pass to the south of it.

It was expected that the enemy would have some type of patrol in the passages on either side of Savo Island and from 0245L/7, the naval escorts were in the first degree of readiness for action. However no patrol were met and when between Savo Island and Cape Escperance, ' Force X ' changed course to proceed direct to the disembarkation area off the north shore of Guadalcanal Island.

As ' Force X ' would pass within six thousand yard of Lunga Point when approaching the disembarkation area, and as enemy AA batteries at least were known to be mounted in the vicinity of the Point, it had been arranged that USS Quincy would come forward from the rear of the formation and take particular responsibility for silencing enemy fire from the Point whilst the formation was drawing past it.

' Force Y ' had in the meantime passed west of Savo Island and then leaving Savo Island to starboard had altered course to the eastward for the disembarkation area off Tulagi Island.

Sunrise was at 0633L/7 and in accordance with pre-arranged shedule, the aircraft of the cruiser escort of both squadrons were launched at 0615L/7 to provide A/S and anti-MTB patrols for the transport groups. After this initial patrol, aircraft patrols were maintained for A/S duties. This was done for every day the Amphibious Force was in the area.

Also around 0615L/7, Allied carrier aircraft were sighted on their intial sortie. The missions assigned to this sortie were as follows;
16 Fighters were to destroy enemy aircraft including seaplanes on the water, motor torpedo boats and submarine in the Tulagi - Gavutu area. With any remaining ammunition, attack anti-aircraft installations on Gavutu.
20 Fighters, mission as above but to be carried out in the area along the north coast of Guadalcanal between Point Cruz and Togama Point.
24 dive bombers, were to destroy naval vessels, anti-aircraft guns and shore batteries in the Tulagi - Gavutu area.
24 dive bombers, were to do the same as the above but along the north coast of Guadalcanal between Point Cruz and Togama Point.

The carrier groups (Air Support Force) were operating close south and south-west of the combat area.

The approach of the Amphibious Force had been a complete surprise to the enemy and no fewer then 18 enemy aircraft were destroyed on the water in this initial sortie of the Allied carrier borne aircraft. No enemy naval surface vessels were encountered and despite previous reports of land based Zero fighters being maintained in the area, none were met.

As ' Forces X and Y ' were approaching their diesembarkation areas, the naval vessels of the escort opened a bombardment on shore targets such as gun positions and encampment areas and on boats and barges moored in close to the shore.

On the Guadalcanal side, a motor auxiliary vessel proceeding from Tulagi to Lungo was fired on by destroyers and shortly afterwards was set on fire by our fighter aircraft. This vessel burned so furiously that it was thought to have been carrying petrol.

Meanwhile other cruiser-borne aircraft had been launched to act as liaison planes over the Tulagi and the Guadalcanal areas. These liaison planes were maintained over their respective areas throughout daylight each day and gave invaluable information regarding the location of enemy troops, batteries and strong points, and later regading the progress of our attacking forces.

' Forces X and Y ' reached their disembarkation areas at 0650L/7 and 0720L/7 respectively and remained underway but stopped, outside the 100 fathom line. The process of lowering, manning and equipping attack boats at once whilst the screening forces acted in accordance with the special instructions they had previously been issued. Broadly, each transport group had an outer arc of screening destroyers and then cruisers between them and the destroyers. With this arrangement both the cruisers and the transports had an anti-submarine screen and against air attack, the enemy aircraft had to pass two outer circles of fire before reaching the transports which would obviously be their objective. In addition the cruisers were able to manoeuvre inside the destroyer screen and yet maintain close support of their transport group.

Throughout daylight carrier borne fighter aircraft were maintained over the combat area as defence against enemy air attack. Fighter Direction was being exercised from USS Chicago to whom a Fighter Direction Group from one of the carriers had been transferred.

In addition to the intial (0615 hours) missions and to the maintenance of fighters over the combat area, the Air Support Force also maintained dive bombers and fighters over both the Tulagi and Guadacanal areas which were available on call to attack shore targets. In the event of enemy air attack the fighters of these patrols would support the aircraft providing fighter protection.

The H-hour, which was the time the troops would actually reach the beaches was set at 0800L/7 for the Tulagi landing at 0910L/7 for the landing on Guadalcanal.

On the Tulagi side, prior to the main landing, there was a secondary landing in the vicinity of Haleta with the object of seizing the promontory and thereby ensuring that the enemy could not fire on the boats making the major landing from the higher ground.

The landings at Haleta and on beach blue (the major landing beach) were accomplished without enemy opposition and the Tulagi landing force soon occupied the northern portion of Tulagi island which was their first objective.

The landing at Haleta had been preceded by a bombardment in which USS San Juan expended 100 rounds of 5" and the destroyers USS Monssen and USS Buchanan each 80 rounds of 5". For 20 minutes these destroyers also stationed themselves as ' goal posts ' to guide the landing craft in towards the main landing zone.

Between 0740L/7 and 0745L/7, USS San Juan expended 560 rounds in bombarding a hill on Tulagi Island. Between 0750L/7 and 0755L/7 were each to expend 200 rounds in close support of the landing and also the northern part of Tulagi Island was dive bombed by 18 aircraft each carrying a 1000lb. bomb. Immediately afterwards followed the landing on the main beach (' Blue beach '). Immediately afterwards USS San Juan fired another 560 rounds against the same hill (Hill 208). The high speed minesweepers were also to spent 60 rounds each on targets on Tulagi and Gavutu Islands. USS Monssen and USS Buchanan were also ordered to each expend 100 round on targets on the southern end of Tulagi Island.

During this period USS San Juan and several destroyers reported sighting a submarine periscope. Heavy depth charge attacks were made and though there is no direct eidence that a submarine was sunk by these attacks, the submarine was not seen again. [No Japanese submarine was present though.]

Meanwhile on the Guadalcanal side, the heavy cruisers USS Astoria, USS Quincy, USS Vincennes and the destroyers USS Dewey, USS Hull, USS Ellet and USS Wilson had been moving close along the north shore of the island keeping targets under almost continuous bombardment. Large fires were raging at Kukum where the enemy was known to have AA batteries and a stores dump.

From 0840L/7, the destroyers had stationed themselves off ' Red Beach ' to mark the line of departure for the attack boats and the ends of the beach were marked by aircraft using coloured smoke bombs.

For the five minutes preceding the actual landing on ' beach Red ' a furious bombardment was put down on the beach area. USS Astoria, USS Quincy, USS Vincennes in this brief interval each fired 45 round of 8" and 200 rounds of 5" whilst the destroyers each fired about 200 rounds. The landing was effected without resistance and our marine forces were on the attack towards Lunga and to seize the line of the Tenaru River without coming into real contact with the enemy. As positions were occupied it became more and more obvious that the enemy had been completely surprised and had taken to the interior of the Island without waiting to render useless any of their plants, stores or material. The aerodrome was found to be intact and the landing strip only required rolling to make it available for our own aircraft. It was evident from the plans captured, from the amount of material and stores captured and from the extensive works which had been started that the establishment of a first class air base on Guadacanal had been the enemy's intention.

A certain number of Japanese pioneer workers were captured and from interrogation it was learned that the garrison which had retired inland was probably 300 strong and that there had escaped with them a considerable number of construction workers.

On the Tulagi side another secondary landing had been made at Halavo. The boats carrying in this landing force had been engaged by shore guns on Bungana and Gatuvu and these defences had also opened fire on the destroyer minesweepers which were supporting the landing. On requist from Rear-Admiral Scott, Rear-Admiral Crutchley sent the destroyer USS Henley to assist in silencing these guns.

On completion of their fire support duties, the destroyer minesweepers streamed their sweepers and made the first sweep in towards Gavutu. No mines were found and the sweepers then carried out a clearance sweep in the Lengo Channel and buoyed the swept lane. Again no mines were found and therefore without waiting for further clearance sweeps, the transports and supply ships moved in close to the beaches to expedite disembarkation of further troop elements and of stores. The minesweepers were released from further sweeping missions and were assigned A/S duties in the landing areas.

On Tulagi Island the landing force having occupied the northern half of the Island, now prepared for the assault against the southern end of the Island where the enemy forces were concentrated. This part of the Island was then subjected to intense aerial and ship bombardment in which task force 62.4 was reinforced by USS Ellet. There were several large explosions and several large fires were started.

At about 1120L/7, a message was received from a Coast Watcher on Bougainville Island reporting a strong force of enemy bombers passing over the Island to the south-east. At about the same time message was received from our shore intelligence advising that enemy submarines were on the move. Shortly after noon it was decided that for the remainder of the day all fighters over the landing area were to be used to protect the Amphibious Force against air attack.

At 1315L/7, our fighters made contact with the enemy bombers about fifteen miles were of Savo Island. One aircraft was soon seen shot down in flames in the vicinity of the Island. At 1323L/7 all ships of ' Force X ' opeened fire on a formation of about 18 Type 97 (Mitsubishi Ki-21) heavy bombers coming over in tight formation and supported by 9 Zero fighters. A pattern bombing attack was carried out by the enemy, the leader giving the release signal by buring a bright light in his glassed-in bomb aimers position in the nose. The bombs were probably 500 pounders. All fell to the north-west of the transports. During their withdrawal the enemy formation continued to be engaged by our fighters. It was later reported that two enemy bombers had been shot down and two had been damaged.

In the assault against the southern portion of Tulagi Island our landing forces was meeting with stiff resistance and in the assault against Gavutu, which however was successfully captured, our marines suffered very heavy casualties.

At 1500L/7, about ten enemy dive bombers came in from the westward and attacked destroyers on the screen to the west of the transports. We had had no warning by radar or from fighter patrols of the approached of this force. Ships at once opened fire and our fighters dived down to attack the enemy, two of which were seen to be shot down. However, USS Mugford received a direct hit aft with a 250 lb. bomb causing loss of life, considerable damage to the after superstructure and putting out of action the two after gun mountings. It is probable that our fighters accounted for many more of this enemy force of dive bombers as dog fights were seen in progress west of Savo Island and the enemy must have been at a disadvantage regarding speed.

During the afternoon the landing of material and stores had progressed on the Guadalcanal side but at Tulagi this operation was held up because the whole Island was not yet in Allied hands. American dive bombers over ' Force X ' periodically attacked target on the north coast of Guadalcanal as the Liaison planes pointed them out. On the other side, the enemy occupied portion of Tulagi Island and Tanambago Island had both been further hammered by ship bombardment and dive bombing and there were large fires burning furiously in each of these areas.

At 1830L/7 (sunset was at 1818 hours), the Screening Group was ordered to take up night dispositions as had been instructed earlier;
Two destroyers were stationed to seaward of Savo Island covering the entrances either side of Savo Island as radar and A/S guard patrols.
Two groups, each with three 8" cruisers screened by two destroyers on patrol covering the approaches from north of Savo Island and from south of Savo Island to the transport groups.
Close A/S and anti-MTB screens of destroyers and destroyer minesweepers around the transports.
USS San Juan and HMAS Hobart screened by two destroyers underway between the two transport groups as cover against enemy light forces, entering the combat area from the eastward.

At 2000L/7, the situation with regard to the progress of the marine landing forces was as follows;
On Guadacanal all troops ashore occupying on the west the line of the Tenaru river and to the east a line about longtitude 160°06'E. No major contact with the enemy garrison forces had been made.
In the Tulagi area , Tulagi itself was occupied except the easternmost end where the enemy were still resisting. Gavutu was captured, but with heavy losses on our side. Tanambago was still in the hands of the enemy and our forces were preparing to attack. Halavo was occupied by the Allied forces.

The very stiff resistance offered by the enemy on the Tulagi side called for reinforcement of our forces on Tulagi and Gavutu. These reinforcements were necessarily drawn from the forces held for the occupation of Ndeni in the 3rd phase of the operation and thereby threw out of gear, the planned shedule.

During the night the beach on the Guadacanal side became so congested with gear and equipment landed from the transports and store ships, that unloading had to be suspended.

On the Tulagi side the unloading operation had still not been commenced.

The night passeed without any form of interference from the enemy.

8 August 1942.

Sunrise was at 0638L/8. At 0500L/8, Rear-Admiral Crutchley had ordered the outer patrol units to return to the transport areas and to re-assume their day screen.

As enemy submarines might reach the area today, Rear-Admiral Crutchley ordered the destroyer minesweepers to form an A/S patrol to the westward of the Sealark and Lengo Channels. In addition all cruiser borne aircraft, except one or two for liaison duties, were now available for A/S patrols. At least three at the same time were kept in the air.

At 1027L/8, a message from a coast watcher on Bougainville Island reported 40 heavy bombers proceeding to the south-east. Shortly afterwards the transports were ordered to get underway. Both ' Force X ' and ' Force Y ' were formed independently and manoeuvred between Guadalcanal and Florida Islands awaiting the expected air attack.

At 1200L/8, HMAS Australia sighted 23 large twin engine torpedo bombers to the eastward approaching from behind the clouds over Florida Island. The alarm was given and soon all ships in ' Force X ' were engaging the aircraft which came in low to execute a torpedo bombing attack. A magnificent curtain of bursting high explosive was put up and enemy aircraft were everywhere crashing in flames. Torpedoes were dropped mostly at long range but many of the aircraft continued to fly in towards the formation to strafe personnel. The destroyer USS Jarvis was struck on the starboard side forward by a torpedo and the transport USS George F. Elliott was set on fire by an enemy aircraft flying deliberately into her superstructure. The destroyer USS Dewey was ordered to assist USS Jarvis and try to tow her into shallow water and the destroyer USS Hull was ordered to assist the burning transport.

After the attack on ' Force X ' the torpedo bombers turned towards Savo Island and were then raked by AA fire from ' Force Y '. It is estimated that 12 of the eenmy torpedo bombers were shot down. The attack had been presses well home by a strong force but was badly designed in that all the aircraft attacked from the same direction so enabling us to concentrate the full volume of our AA gunfire on them ans simplifying the avoiding action it was necessary to take. Synchronised with this torpedo bomber attack on ' Force X ' the transports were attacked by a number of high level bombers supported by Zero fighters. Bombs fell close to some of the transports but no damage was caused to any of the Allied ships.

USS Jarvis reached shallow water under her own power going astern and was able to anchor. Inspection showed that her engines and boilers were undamaged but the bottom of her hull was open between stations 30 and 55. She would be able to make four to seven knots under her own power and that night she was sailed to make the beat of her way to Vila but has not been seen or heard since. It was reported that the crew of one of the Japanese aircraft shot down had opened revolver fire on USS Jarvis when she approached their rubber boat to pick them up. The Japanese then shot themselves to avoid being taken prisoner.

The transport USS George F. Elliott continued to burn fiercely but with the assistance of the destroyer USS Hull which had been sent to her. It seemed at one time that the fire would be got under control. However the fire later gained, reached her fire rooms and she had to be abandoned. USS Hull fired four torpedoes into the ship but the burning wreck later grounded in shoal water.

After this attack the transports returned to the unloading areas and the transfer of stores and equipment to the beaches was resumed.

Around 1400L/8, the transport groups were again got under way as warning had been received of another force of enemy bombers proceeding towards the area. No attack developed, however, and at 1630L/8 the unloading operations were again resumed.

In the land areas our troops had extended their occupation area on Guadalcanal and now held from Tenaru to Kukum including the air field.

On the northern side we had completed the capture of Tulagi Island, had consolidated on Gavutu Island and had taken Tanambogo Island though a few isolated snipers had yet to be mopped up.

At 1830L/8, Rear-Admiral Crutchley ordered to naval forces to take up night dispositions as for the previous night.

The situation at the ends of this, the second day, was not quite as favourable as had been expected.
Air raids and the threat of air raids causing the transports to get under way to meet them had delayed the unloading operations.
Part of a night's unloading had been lost because of the congestion on the beach on the Guadalcanal side.
On the Tulagi side the unloading had barely begun because the Island of Tulagi had not been fully conquered earlier.
Owing to the very stiff resistance offered by the enemy on the northern side, it had been necessary to employ additional marine forces and these had been draen from the reserve which was intended to occupy Ndeni (Santa Cruz Islands) in the 3rd phase of the operation.
So far our losses due to enemy air attack had been one transport and heavy damage to two destroyers. However the enemy continued to receive air reinforcements at Rabaul. Enemy seaplane tenders were moving south and one could expect as heavy and possibly more frequent attacks on our sight with possibly not such lucky results for the Allies.
Commander Task Force 61 had said that the time had come for him to withdraw the carrier forces.
Enemy submarines were known to be on their way to the area and could be expected at any moment.

At 2045L/8, Rear-Admiral Crutchley was ordered to proceed to the transport USS McCawley for a conference with Rear-Admiral Turner. So at 2055L/8, Rear Admiral Crutchley ordered Captain Bode of the USS Chicago to take charge of the patrol in the southern entrance while HMAS Australia parted company to proceed to the transports of ' Force X '.

During the conference it was decided to retire from the area the following day despite the fact that by no means all material and stores had been landed. Orders were given to give priority to the most vital material and stores to be landed that night.

During the day a report had been received that an enemy force of three cruisers, three destroyers and two seaplane tenders or gunboats had been sighted east of Bougainville Island steering south-east. Rear-Admiral Crutchley asked Rear-Admiral Turner what he thought of this enemy force was up to. Rear-Admiral Turner replied that it was his opinion that the enemy force was destined for Rekata Bay possibly from there to operate torpedo carrying float planes against our forces and that we would have to expect two torpedo attacks a day instead of one. Rear-Admiral Turner also informed Rear-Admiral Crutchley that he had requisted for the next day, full scale bombing of these ships which he felt sure would be in Rekata Bay.

9 August 1942 and the Battle of Savo Island.

It was 0115L/9, when Rear-Admiral Crutchley rejoined HMAS Australia and after 0130L/9, when she got clear of the transport area it was decided not to rejoin the patrol in the southern entrance. HMAS Austalia then patrolled near the transports inside the destroyer screen.

The patrols during this night had been organised as follows; The destroyers USS Blue and USS Ralph Talbot were on the outer radar and A/S patrol, USS Blue off the southern entrance and USS Ralph Talbot off the northern entrance. Patrolling to the south east of Savo Island were patrolling USS Chicago, HMAS Canberra, USS Bagley and USS Patterson. HMAS Australia had originally been with them. Patrolling to the east-north-east of Savo Island were the USS Vincennes, USS Quincy, USS Astoria, USS Helm and USS Wilson.

Not long afterwards, at 0146L/9, green flares were dropped by aircraft. They began to show up to the southward and south-eastward of ' X ' transport area.

At 0150L/9, a flare was dropped in the direction of the channel south-west of Savo Island. Almost at once a few tracer rounds were sighted which were thought to be Oerlikon fire from a ship in the southern patrol group engaging the aircraft that had dropped the flare. However immediately afterwards a burst of heavy surface gunfire was observed to the east of the source of the tracer.

A night naval action then commenced which, as seen from HMAS Australia appreared to move to the tight and to increase tremendously in intensity. HMAS Australia had received no enemy report from either of the Allied guard units or from any ship in the cruiser forces.

What was happening was the following. A Japanese attack force had left Rabaul to attack the Allies. This was the same force that had been sighted an reported but was thought to include seaplane tenders. This was however not the case as the Japanese force was made up of the heavy cruisers Chokai (flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Mikawa), Aoba, Furutaka, Kako, Kinugasa, light cruisers and the destroyer Tenryu, Yubari and the destroyer Yunagi (all offsite links).

They managed to slip by the destroyer USS Blue which despite her radar outfit did not detect the Japanese. The Japanese however, did sighted the destroyer and managed to evade her and proceeded to pass to the southward of Savo Island but before arriving the another destroyer was sighted and evaded. This was the heavily damaged USS Jarvis which was leaving the area for Efate. It seems that the Jarvis also did not see the Japanese but this can not be varified as the destroyer was lost later the same day with all hands. The Japanese destroyer Yunagi was either detached or lost contact with the remainder of the Japanese Force. She had a brief exchange of gunfire with the Jarvis.

The flares that had been dropped came from floatplanes catapulted by the Japanese cruisers. The Japanese then encounted, the ' Southern group ' made up of the USS Chicago, HMAS Canberra, USS Bagley and USS Patterson. The Allies were taken completely by surprise, with their ships not being in first degree of readiness. Not all guns were manned. The Allied crews had been on the alert for two days and it had been decided to rest the crew during the night as much as possible as no attack was expected during the night and enemy air attacks were again expected the following day.

As a result the Japanese engaged the Allied southern patrol force from close range. HMAS Canberra was quickly disabled by gunfire and torpedo hits. Before HMAS Canberra was able to return fire she was already hit by around 24 shells and one or two torpedoes. Both boiler rooms were put out of action, power and lighting were lost and the ship was heavily on fire.

USS Chicago, second in line, was also hit by gunfire and a torpedo in her bow. She retired to the west for about 40 minutes and apparently made no attempt to raise the alarm or give info to other Allied ships on what just happended. For this Captain Bode was heavily criticized. He later committed suicide.

USS Bagley was not damaged in the engagement and managed to fire four torpedoes but they did not hit. After the battle she went to the aid of USS Astoria but also picked up survivors from USS Vincennes and USS Quincy.

USS Patterson, was the first ship to sight the Japanse and the Commanding Officer ordered torpedoes to be fired, however the order was not heard by the torpedo officers when she also opened fire with her guns and in the end no torpedoes were fired by USS Patterson. She was also the only ship that transmitted an enemy report by TBS. Her Commanding Officer had instructed his watch crew to be on their alert as he did not trust the aircraft report on the seaplane tenders. He had also decided to take the watch in which he though it most likely the Japanese might attack himself while all the Commanding Officers of the other ships were asleep. She was hit by enemy gunfire and No.3 and No.4 guns were out of action although No.4 gun soon was able to resume firing. She was also narrowly missed by an enemy torpedo. When the action was over she assisted the heavily damaged HMAS Canberra but the cruiser was beyond salvage and had to be scuttled.

The Japanese then continued around Savo Island at high speed where they encountered the other Allied patrol group, the ' Northern group ', made up of USS Vincennes, USS Quincy, USS Astoria, USS Helm and USS Wilson. Japanese torpedoes were already underway towards the ' Northern group '.

When the aircraft flares were fired the ships of the ' Northern group ' rang the alarm and went to action stations but despite this they too were overwhelmed by the Japanese which now had become divided after the first action. The American ' Northern Force ' was then being attacked from both sides. The Chokai, Aoba, Kako and Kinugasa form one group, the other group was made up of the Furataka, Tenryu and Yubari the other group. In the following action the heavy cruisers USS Vincennes and USS Quincy were sunk while the USS Astoria was heavily damaged. Salvage attempts failed and she later sank as well.

At about 0156L/9, the ' Northern group ' was illuminated and engaged. Fire was returned but the Allied cruisers were soon heavily hit by enemy gunfire and torpedoes. USS Vincennes soon lost electric power but her turrets continued firing in local control. She then received two torpedo hits which halted the ship. Also several fires broke out. The enemy ceased fire around 0215L/9. By 0230L/9 she was listing heavily and the order was given to abandon ship. She sank around 0245L/9.

USS Quincy was hit by the enemy's opening salvo. She was able to open fire but was soon heavily hit topside and fires were soon blazing. She then received a torpedo hit. She turned over at 0235L/9. A large hole was then revealed on her port side.

USS Astoria was able to open fire before being hit but she too was then heavily hit by enemy gunfire which started large fires. By the time the enemy ceased fire she she had lost all power. Her main armament had been able to get off around ten salvoes. Destroyers and destroyer minesweepers went to her aid in fighting the fires but she was beyond salvage and finally sank around 1215L/9.

USS Helm had been unable to identify the enemy in the confusing action and did not open fire.

USS Wilson had fired 212 rounds of 5" at the enemy. She had aimed at the enemy's searchlights for the most part.

Around 0215L/9, USS Ralph Talbot, the other picket destroyer, had turned south-east on observing the action. Around 0230L/9 was illuminated and engaged by the retiring enemy. She sustained fairly extensive superficial damage.

Some damage was inflicted on the enemy, Chokai was hit several times by USS Quincy and USS Astoria. Her No.1 gun turret was hit and out of action. Aoba was hit once. Kinugasa was hit twice. The floatplanes from Aoba and Kako were lost. The biggest loss for the Japanese came the following day where the Kako was torpedoed and sunk by the American submarine USS S-44 (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Moore).

Following the battle most of the wounded that had been picked up by the destroyers were transferred to the transports Barnett and Fuller.

The retirement from the area, which had been planned at 0730L/9, could not be proceeded with. HMAS Canberra was unable to proceed and was ordered to be scuttled. She sank around 0800L/9 with torpedoes fired by USS Ellet after gunfire and torpedoes from USS Selfridge had failed to do the job.

Around 0850L/9, the transports got underway again as coast watchers on Bougainville again reported enemy aircraft on their way. By 1100L/9, no air attacks had developed and unloading was resumed.

Around 1530L/9, the majority of the transports transports of ' Force X ', less USS McCawley got underway eastwards through the Lengo Channel. They were escorted by USS Chicago, USS Mugford, USS Ralph Talbot, USS Patterson, USS Ellet, USS Dewey, USS Southard, USS Hovey, USS Hopkins, USS Zane and USS Trever.

Around 1545L/9, the transports of ' Force Y ' and USS McCawley departed the Tulagi area. They also proceeded eastwards through the Lengo Channel. They were escorted by HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, USS San Juan, USS Selfridge, USS Bagley, USS Blue, USS Helm, USS Henley, Hull, USS Wilson, USS Monssen, USS Buchanan, USS Colhoun, USS Gregory, USS Little and USS McKean.

Both forces set course for Nouméa, New Caledonia where they arrived on 13 August 1942. On the 11th, USS Chicago, which had been unable to keep up with the convoy due to her damage was detached to proceed to Nouméa singly escorted by USS Mugford and USS Patterson arriving there on the 14th.

Media links


The Shame of Savo

Loxton, Bruce with Coulthard-Clark, Chris

Sources

  1. Report of proceedings of HMA Squadron + Report of proceedings of HMAS Vendetta for September 1939
  2. Report of proceedings of HMAS Stuart for September 1939 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Waterhen for September 1939
  3. Report of proceedings of HMA Squadron + Report of proceedings of HMAS Hobart for September 1939
  4. Report of proceedings of HMA Squadron
  5. Report of proceedings of HMA Squadron for 15 September 1939 to 2 October 1939 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Stuart for September 1939 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Vendetta for September 1939 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Waterhen for September 1939
  6. Report of proceedings of HMA Squadron + Report of proceedings of HMAS Stuart for September 1939 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Waterhen for September 1939
  7. ADM 199/382
  8. Report of proceedings of HMAS Perth from 1 April to 6 June 1940
  9. ADM 199/383 + Report of proceedings of HMA Squadron + Report of proceedings of HMAS Canberra from 28 August to 17 October 1940
  10. Personal communication
  11. ADM 199/408
  12. ADM 53/113987 + ADM 199/408
  13. ADM 53/113987
  14. Report of proceedings of HMAS Canberra for December 1941 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Perth for December 1941
  15. ADM 199/2234 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Canberra for December 1941 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Perth for December 1941
  16. Report of proceedings of HMAS Perth for December 1941
  17. Report of proceedings of HMAS Canberra for January 1942 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Vampire for January 1942
  18. Report of proceedings of HMAS Canberra for June 1942 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Hobart for June 1942
  19. Report of proceedings of HMAS Hobart for June 1942
  20. Report of proceedings of HMAS canberra for June 1942 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Hobart for June 1942
  21. Report of proceedings of HMAS Canberra for June 1942
  22. Report of proceedings of HMAS Hobart for July 1942 + War diary of USS Chicago for July 1942 + War diary of USS Henley for July 1942 + War diary of USS Salt Lake City for July 1942
  23. Report of proceedings of HMAS Hobart for July 1942 + War diary of USS Chicago for July 1942 + War diary of USS Salt Lake City for July 1942

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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