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HMAS AUSTRALIA (II)

Date: 1991
Dimensions:
Overall: 635 x 2040 x 280 mm, 38.2 kg
Medium: Wood, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Models
Object Name: Model
Object No: 00015630
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    Description
    Scale model of the County class heavy cruiser HMAS AUSTRALIA II, the second vessel in the RAN to be given the name AUSTRALIA. Presented in its 1941 configuration - complete with dazzle painted scheme (camouflage).
    SignificanceIn addition to having had the longest life of any Australian war ship -1928 to 1955- HMAS AUSTRALIA holds one of the most remarkable fighting records of any Australian war ship. A 10000 ton heavy cruiser, this RAN cruiser saw combat action on the fringes of both the Arctic and the Antarctic, experienced the Blitz while in dry dock in Liverpool, participated in two operations against the Vichy French fleet in French West Africa and escorted the famous Cunarders QUEEN MARY and QUEEN ELIZABETH carrying Australian troops to and from the Middle East. HMAS AUSTRALIA was the flagship of the Australian squadron - later the ANZAC Squadron - at the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942.


    HistoryHMAS AUSTRALIA (D84) was launched in 1927; she was a Kent design County class heavy cruiser, built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and laid down by John Brown & Co. (Clydebank Scotland) She was launched on 17 March 1927 and commissioned on 24 April 1928, two months before her sister ship HMAS CANBERRA.

    HMAS AUSTRALIA departed from the UK in August 1928 and spent the first six years of her commission mostly in home or neighbouring waters. In 1932 she cruised to various Pacific islands, and in 1933 she visited New Zealand. In 1934 she sailed to England again, on exchange duty with the Royal Navy.

    In May 1935 AUSTRALIA served in the Mediterranean until July 1936. She returned to England later that year to take part in the Jubilee Review for King George V at Spithead. She then returned to the Mediterranean and subsequently departed from Alexandria heading for Australia via Aden; reaching Sydney via Fremantle on 11 August 1936 after an absence of 615 days on exchange with the RN.

    AUSTRALIA spent the rest of 1936 and the first three months of 1937 in home waters, subsequently making another visit to New Zealand in April, calling at Wellington, Otago and Auckland. In July she went on a northern cruise to Queensland ports, New Guinea and New Britain, returning to Sydney on 10 September. In November 1937 she made her annual visit to Melbourne, which, except for a brief cruise to Hobart in February 1938, ended her pre Second World War sea-going activities. She paid off into Reserve on 24 April 1938.

    However, on 28 August 1939 the AUSTRALIA was re-commissioned in Sydney for service in the 2nd World War. Between May and July 1940, the ship was employed on convoy-escort duties between Fremantle and Capetown and later between Capetown and Freetown (Sierra Leone) on the West African coast.

    As part of the Dakar Squadron in July 1940, in company with the aircraft carrier HMS HERMES, the DORSETSHIRE and MILFORD, HMAS AUSTRALIA was patrolling off the French West African coast (modern Senegal) keeping the (Vichy) French Fleet under observation. In this month AUSTRALIA fired her first (defensive) shots in anger while under attack from an enemy bomber. On 9 July she joined a UK-bound convoy and for several months patrolled in the vicinity of the Faeroe Islands as part of the RN's 1st Cruiser Squadron.

    September 1940 saw the Australian cruiser involved in 'Operation Menace'; patrolling off Senegal again and shadowing the Vichy French cruisers GLOIRE, MONTCALM and GEORGES LEYGUES. The objective of ‘Operation Menace’ was to install General de Gaulle and a Free French force in Dakar, after ousting the existing, pro-Axis Vichy government and thereby forestall a possible German occupation. The optimistic premise that the population of Dakar would welcome de Gaulle proved ill founded; shore batteries opened fire on the fleet and the Free French assault troops were resolutely repulsed by Vichy troops, forcing de Gaulle to desist from any further attempts.

    The AUSTRALIA escaped unharmed, but HMS CUMBERLAND and HMS FORESIGHT were both damaged. Subsequently AUSTRALIA, supported by HMS FURY and HMS GREYHOUND, attacked the (Vichy) destroyer L’AUDACIEUX which was set ablaze and beached. On 24 September, AUSTRALIA engaged in a general bombardment of Vichy ships in the harbour; during this action they were twice attacked by high altitude bombing from Vichy planes. On 25 September the AUSTRALIA and DEVONSHIRE moved in towards Dakar to attack French warships in the harbour. During the engagement which followed AUSTRALIA received two hits aft, and her 'Walrus' spotter plane was shot down. Fifteen minutes after opening fire on the French ships the Allied cruisers disengaged.

    In October 1940, AUSTRALIA patrolled off the Azores and escorted troopships between Gibraltar and the UK. On 29 October, off the Orkney and Shetland islands, in high seas during a force 10 gale, they rescued nine crewmembers from a ditched Sunderland flying boat. The remainder of 1940 was spent docked in Liverpool for a refit. As this was during the height of 'the Blitz', the crew experienced several unnerving attacks from German bombers when the cruiser was in dry-dock.

    After a period escorting convoys to Freetown, Durban, Suez and Colombo, the AUSTRALIA finally departed for home, arriving back in Sydney on 24 March 1941. Between April and November the ship was on duty in the Indian Ocean and on 6 November carried out a reconnaissance of the Crozet Islands. She returned to Sydney in December; subsequently she was designated as the flagship of the Australian Squadron. Two months later, in February 1942, she became the flagship of the ANZAC Squadron, with Noumea as operational base.

    In March and April 1942, AUSTRALIA operated in the South West Pacific in support of US naval forces tasked to stop further Japanese expansion. On 22 April Naval Command in the SW Pacific area was reorganised and renamed. The ANZAC Squadron became Task Force 44 with the AUSTRALIA as flagship, and on 5 May Task Forces 11, 17 and 44 united as one Task Force 17.3

    During the Battle of the Coral Sea AUSTRALIA was flagship of an Allied support group (TG 17.3) and patrolled Jomard Passage between the Louisiade Archipelago and New Guinea. TG 17.3 was attacked by eight torpedo bombers and nineteen high level bombers on 7 May 1942. Three months later -7 August 1942- AUSTRALIA was the lead ship of an escort of a convoy of nine transports and six store ships containing the troops, equipment and supplies for the landing at Guadalcanal. Frequent air attack was a daily feature of this duty.

    The early months of 1943 were spent in support of the Coral Sea Group and patrolling the east coast of Australia. On 11 April AUSTRALIA received a report of a Japanese landing on the southeast shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Although subsequent investigations proved inconclusive, it appeared likely that the Japanese were either establishing fuel caches for submarines or aircraft; or they were landing small shore parties as commandos or coast watchers.

    From November 1943 to September 1944, AUSTRALIA was involved in bombarding enemy held islands in the South West Pacific, prior to allied assaults - from Cape Gloucester in the New Britain area to Morotai in the Dutch East Indies.

    On 21 October 1944 after bombardments in Leyte Gulf (Philippines) AUSTRALIA was hit by a Japanese aircraft which deliberately crashed into her tower. Six officers and 23 ratings were killed and her C O (CAPT E. F. V. Dechaineaux, DSC) later died of wounds; nine other officers, 52 ratings and one AIF soldier were wounded. It is unclear whether this was the first deliberate, so-called 'kamikaze' (suicide) attack on an Allied ship, but most eyewitness accounts seem to agree that the pilot appeared to have crashed his aircraft deliberately. After this action, the AUSTRALIA, escorted by HMAS WARRAMUNGA proceeded to Manus Island and thence to Espiritu Santo (New Hebrides, modern Vanu'atu) for repairs.

    By 5 January 1945 she was back in action in the Lingayen Gulf supporting the allied invasion of Luzon. Here she was subjected to repeated suicide attacks; at this time there were no longer any doubts about the unmistakable 'kamikaze nature of the Japanese planes. AUSTRALIA was hit on 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th January, losing another 3 officers and 41 ratings killed and 1 officer and 68 ratings wounded. This was the ship's last action in World War II.

    After repairs in Sydney, the AUSTRALIA sailed for the UK via the United States on 24 May 1945 for a major refit; arriving at Plymouth on 1 July. She was still in the UK on 'V J Day'. After a somewhat leisurely voyage home, via Cape of Good Hope, AUSTRALIA arrived at Fremantle on 25 January 1946 and in Sydney on 16 February where she paid off into Reserve.

    AUSTRALIA spent the next three and half years in home waters, paying goodwill visits to New Zealand in March 1948 and to New Guinea in 1949. The last five years of her active commission were spent as a training cruiser; visiting New Zealand on 3 occasions with the Australian Squadron. During 1952, AUSTRALIA visited New Guinea and New Britain; and a visit to the Solomon Islands was particularly poignant in August 1952 where a wreath was laid in "Iron-bottom Sound" off Savo Island, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the loss of her sister ship HMAS CANBERRA.

    In the final year of her career, AUSTRALIA was awarded the Duke of Gloucester's Cup (19 March) and carried out Royal and Vice Regal duties. When HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH the Duke Of Edinburgh visited Australia in February and March 1954, the 'AUSSIE' formed part of the naval escort for the Royal Yacht. During the Royal Visit to North Queensland, Her Majesty and HRH visited AUSTRALIA for an hour.

    HMAS AUSTRALIA paid off for disposal on 31 August 1954 and was sold as scrap to British Iron and Steel Corporation (Salvage) Ltd on 25 January 1955. Under tow of the Dutch tug RODE ZEE, the ship departed from Sydney on 26 March 1955 and was broken up at Thomas Ward Ship-breaking Yard, Barrow-in-Furness in 1956, nearly 30 years after her keel had been laid down.




    Additional Titles

    Web title: HMAS AUSTRALIA (II)

    Assigned title: Scale model of the County class heavy cruiser HMAS AUSTRALIA

    Related People
    Model Maker: Wayne Masters

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