Title: HMAS Australia 1928 to 1955
Author: Payne, M A
Condition: Very Good
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 1988
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 204 pages
Comments: The detailed history of HMAS Australia from 1928 to 1955. The only published history of this ship and now a scarce title.
HMAS Australia (D84), launched in 1927, was a County class heavy cruiser built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
Australia was laid down by John Brown and Company of Clydebank Scotland on 26 August 1925. She was launched on 17 March 1927 and commissioned on 24 April 1928, two months before sister ship HMAS Canberra.
After World War II began, “The Aussie” (as the ship was affectionately known within the RAN), first fired her main armament of eight 8 inches (200 mm) guns in anger off the coast of Dakar, in late 1940, when she took part in Operation Menace. Australia damaged the Vichy French destroyer L’Audacieux, which as a result was beached on 23–24 September. Australia received hits from shore batteries and her Supermarine Seagull V reconnaissance plane, detached from No. 9 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, was shot down by Vichy French Curtiss Hawks.
During 1941, Australia escorted convoys and patrolled the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Following the onset of the Pacific War, Australia was re-deployed to the South West Pacific Area as first part of the ANZAC Squadron then Task Force 44. In May 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, the ship survived a brief but intense attack from Japanese torpedo bombers. From 26 August 1942 until mid-1944, Australia joined Task Force 61, providing supporting fire and surface protection for Allied land forces at land battles including the invasion of Guadalcanal and the New Guinea campaign, including the Allied landings in New Britain.
On 21 October, while supporting the invasion of Leyte, an Aichi D3A dive-bomber deliberately rammed the ship’s foremast, which showered the bridge and forward superstructure with fuel. The attack killed 30 (including Captain Emile Dechaineux) and wounded 64, (including Commodore John Collins, commander of the RAN taskforce). Australia was escorted to Espiritu Santo by HMAS Warramunga for repairs, which were completed by November.The crash is claimed to be the first kamikaze attack in the official war history of the RAN, and repeated in other sources, although the first organised kamikaze attacks did not begin until four days later: the crash was the pilot’s decision, not an action he was ordered to commit.
Australia was involved in the invasion of Lingayen Gulf during early 1945. Between 5 and 9 January, she was struck by five kamikaze aircraft, and was forced to withdraw to Australia for repairs. This was Australia’s last action, as she was still undergoing repairs when the war ended.
Following the end of the war, Australia served as a training ship. She was paid off for disposal on 31 August 1954 and sold for scrap to the British Iron and Steel Corporation (Salvage) on 25 January 1955, left Sydney under tow on 26 March 1955, and was broken up at the Thomas W. Ward Shipbreaking Yard at Barrow-in-Furness in 1956.
Includes Roll of Honour