Singapore

The tragic loss of the Voyager

Introduction

They became men overnight”. A reference to young 19 year-old crewmen that had only been in the Navy for six months and rose to the occasion in the rescue operations after Voyager collided with HMAS Melbourne.

Tomorrow marks the day, 60 years ago, of the worst peace-time tragedy for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

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Z Special Unit Part 3 – the fate of the Jaywick and Rimau men

What happened to Bill Reynolds?

In Part 1, I provided details about Bill Reynolds’ heroic work rescuing civilians affected by the fall of Singapore aboard the Kofuku Maru, which was renamed as the Krait and played a pivotal role in the success of Operation Jaywick.

While Reynolds wasn’t part of Jaywick, he delivered the Krait to Australia and was going to captain the vessel on the daring raid to Singapore Harbour.… Read more

Z Special Unit Part 2 – Operation Rimau: the tragic sequel to Jaywick

While Operation Jaywick in its simplicity was a resounding success; Operation Rimau in its sophistication was an abysmal failure.

Brian Smith

Introduction

In just a few months, the Japanese managed to dismantle an empire in South East Asia the Europeans took centuries to build. The attack on Pearl Harbour in early December 1941 was preceded by the Japanese invasion of the Malay Peninsula, an hour before.… Read more

The cable cutters

I’ll put a girdle ‘round the earth in forty minutes

William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

While travelling around the country, I came across yet another little-known wartime story which again highlights the heroics of Australians. This time it involves midget submarines and divers cutting underwater telegraph cables to thwart the Japanese communication efforts towards the end of World War II.… Read more

Wooden gold

Introduction 

Sandalwood is a highly aromatic timber that has been harvested in Asia over centuries for many uses. The main one has been burning powder from the tree in joss sticks as incense and forms a significant part of religious ceremonies. In Australia, Aborigines had many cultural uses for sandalwood. Some species can be carved into delicate products such as inlaid boxes, ornaments and incense holders.… Read more

Even more war stories – how Australia came under attack from air raids during WWII

My previous war story blog provided details of the bombing of Darwin and the subsequent battles against the Japanese in the Coral Sea and Papua New Guinea.

After the bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942, the Japanese carried out further air-borne attacks across northern Australia. In total, between March 1942 and November 1943, the Japanese flew 64 bombing/strafing raids on Darwin alone and 33 bombing/strafing raids on other targets in Northern Australia.… Read more

Some more war stories – when war came to Australia

During our travels to the Top End and following on from my earlier blog, ‘Some War Stories’, I have learned more about northern Australia’s involvement during WWII, particularly the bombing of Darwin in February 1942. Growing up in Sydney, I learnt about the Japanese submarine raids in the harbour. Still, I never heard anything about the broader invasion threats to Australia during the war.… Read more

Swallowed up by the sea – solving Australia’s most enduring maritime tragedy

On 19 November 1941, on the Indian Ocean off the Western Australian coast, the Royal Australian Navy’s greatest warship, the HMAS Sydney II, was sunk by a disguised German raider. It was and still is the worst naval disaster in Australia’s history. All 645 officers and men on board HMAS Sydney II were lost at sea, representing 35 per cent of the Royal Australian Navy personnel killed in WWII.… Read more