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HMAS YARRA (II)

Date: 1989
Dimensions:
Overall: 500 x 1332 mm
Display Dimensions: 503 x 254 x 1331 mm
Medium: Plastic, wood, paint
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from John Affleck
Classification:Models
Object Name: Model
Object No: 00006884
Place Manufactured:Gorokan

User Terms

    Description
    1:68 scale model of the Grimsby class sloop HMAS YARRA commissioned by the RAN in January 1936.
    SignificanceThis scale model reresents the Royal Australian Navy's warship HMAS YARRA, sunk in battle against the Japanese navy in World War II.
    HistoryFour ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have been named HMAS YARRA, after the Yarra River in Victoria.

    The first YARRA was a River class torpedo boat destroyer commissioned into the Australian Commonwealth Naval Forces in 1910 and transferred to the RAN in 1911. The second YARRA was a Grimsby class sloop commissioned in 1936. HMAS YARRA (DE 45) - the third- was a River class destroyer escort, commissioned in 1961 and in service until 1985. The current YARRA (M 87) is a Huon class mine hunter, commissioned in 2003 and in active service as of 2011.

    This model is of the Grimsby class sloop commissioned in Sydney in January 1936.

    From her commissioning to the end of August 1940, HMAS YARRA was employed in Australian waters on patrol and escort duties. On 28 August 1940 the sloop left Australia, under the command of Lieutenant Commander W.H. 'Arch' Harrington, to join the Royal Navy's Red Sea Force.

    After carrying out patrolling and convoy duties in the Bab-al-Mandab Strait and beating off several Italian destroyers intent on attacking Allied convoys -particularly troop transports- in the Red Sea, YARRA participated in actions in the Gulf of Persia and the Shatt al Arab river near Basra and Khoramshar. These neutralised (and subsequently deposed) the German-minded Shah of Persia and secured for the Allies control of oil-rich Iraq and Iran.

    Subsequently she served in the Mediterranean as a convoy escort from Alexandria, earning herself the nickname the 'Tobruk Ferry' and setting a record of '6 runs' without losing a single ship to enemy attack; one of YARRA's gun crews was credited with shooting down three enemy aircraft.
    After Japan's entry into the war in December 1941, the RAN soon went into action against the Imperial Japanese Navy. On 10 December 1941 Japanese aircraft sank the British capital ships REPULSE and PRINCE OF WALES off Malaya. HMAS VAMPIRE (I) formed part of the destroyer escort for these battleships and along with the British destroyer ELECTRA saved many survivors. HMAS VAMPIRE was the first Australian vessel to offensively engage ships of the Japanese navy when, during the night of 26-27 January 1942, she attacked Japanese naval units off Endau, Malaya.

    HMAS YARRA was also engaged during this time, being put in as an escort to convoys taking reinforcements and supplies to Singapore. Following a Japanese air raid off Singapore where the troop carrier EMPRESS OF ASIA was lost, the YARRA, with the Australian corvettes BENDIGO and WOLLONGONG, rescued more than 1300 British troops from the stricken vessel.

    The Battle of the Java Sea began on 27 February 1942 when a combined American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) naval force of eight cruisers and sixteen destroyers assembled to defend the approaches to Java. Australian ships in this battle force consisted of HMA ships PERTH and HOBART. During the battle HMAS PERTH was sunk and HOBART was badly damaged.

    HMAS YARRA was then given the responsibility of escorting to Fremantle a small convoy, consisting of the depot ship ANKING, the tanker FRANCOL and a motor minesweeper. On 4 March 1942 the tiny convoy was intercepted in the Indian Ocean, to the south of Java, by a squadron of three Japanese cruisers and several destroyers. YARRA's captain (LCDR William Rankin) ordered the dispersal of the merchant ships and turned toward the attacking Japanese squadron to engage them with YARRA's comparatively light (4") guns.

    Despite putting up an extremely gallant fight, the YARRA, outgunned from the outset, was soon overwhelmed by the superior firepower brought to bear by the Japanese cruisers' 8" guns; she was the last of the four ships in the convoy to be sunk. Of 151 men in YARRA’s crew, 138, including the captain and all officers, were killed in the action or they subsequently perished on the life rafts. Only 13 out of the 34 men who had survived the battle were rescued by the Dutch submarine KXII after five days' exposure at sea.

    YARRA's final action has been referred to as "our finest action" in a RAN history Internet site ('Gun plot'), citing as exemplary the behaviour of Leading seaman Ronald Taylor, who was killed in action by ignoring the order to abandon ship; Taylor was one of YARRA's 4-inch gun turret crews and continued firing as the ship sank. His last salvoes are reported by Allied prisoners on one of the Japanese ships as direct hits on the Japanese destroyer that stayed behind to 'finish off' the helpless YARRA; which was dead in the water having been pounded relentlessly by the three Japanese cruisers' 8" guns. Taylor is commemorated with his shipmates at the Plymouth Naval Memorial in England as well as at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

    The 1948 Australian film 'Always Another Dawn' -starring Bud Tingwell- is based on the story of the YARRA's defiant last action. Filming was partially carried out at sea off Jervis Bay on HMAS BATAAN as a stand-in for YARRA.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: HMAS YARRA (II)

    Assigned title: Ship model of the Grimsby class sloop HMAS YARRA

    Related People
    Model Maker: John Affleck

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