Allied Warships

HMAS Gawler (J 188)

Minesweeper of the Bathurst class

NavyThe Royal Australian Navy
PennantJ 188 
Built byBroken Hill Pty. Ltd. (Whyalla, South Australia, Australia) 
Ordered31 Jul 1940 
Laid down24 Jan 1941 
Launched4 Oct 1941 
Commissioned14 Aug 1942 
End service5 Apr 1946 

Decommissioned 5 April 1946.
Transferred to the Turkish Navy in August 1946 being renamed Ayvalik.
Ayvalik was stricken in 1963.


Commands listed for HMAS Gawler (J 188)

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and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Lt.Cdr. (emergency) William John Seymour, RAN15 Jul 19424 Jun 1944
2Lt.Cdr. Joseph Henry Patrick Dixon, RANR(S)5 Jun 1944Oct 1945 ?

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Notable events involving Gawler include:

11 Mar 1943
HrMs O 23 (Lt.Cdr. A.M. Valkenburg, RNN) conducted exercises off Colombo with HMAS Gawler (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) W.J. Seymour, RAN). (1)

17 Jun 1943
HMAS Gawler (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Seymour, RN) picks up survivors from the British troop transport Yoma that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-81 northwest of Derna in position 33°03'N, 22°04'E.

26 Jan 1945
Ships belonging to the Fleet Train of the British Pacific Fleet departed Trincomalee for Fremantle. These were the destroyer deport ship Tyne (Capt. S. Boucher, RN), repairs ships HMS Resource (Capt.(Retd.) D.B. O’Connell, RN), Artifex (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.C. Flemming, RN) and the target ship HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)). The tanker Battle Rock (American, 10448 GRT, built 1944) was also in company with these ships.

Escort was provided by the heavy cruiser London and the minesweepers HMAS Cairns (T/Lt. N.G. Weber, RANR(S)), HMAS Cessnock (Lt. A.G. Chapman, RANR(S)), HMAS Gawler (Lt.Cdr. J.H.P. Dixon, RANR(S)), HMAS Geraldton (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN), HMAS Ipswich (T/Lt. R.H. Creasey, RANR(S)), HMAS Tamworth (T/Lt. D.B. Lloyd-Jones, RANR(S)) and HMAS Wollongong (T/Lt. J. Hare, RANR(S)).

They arrived at Fremantle on 9 February 1945. (2)

9 Jun 1945
HMS Virtue (Lt. R.D. Cairns, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Manus with (at least) HMAS Gawler (Lt.Cdr. J.H.P. Dixon, RANR(S)). (3)

16 Jul 1945
Around 1600/16, the American Task Force 38 had completed her refueling and joined force with Task Force 37 for a series of strikes against the Japanese homeland. Course was set towards the flying off position (37°10'N, 143°19'E).

Task Force 37 was at that moment made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN) and Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN).

On making rendezvous with the Americans, Vice-Admirals Rawlings and Vian as well as some members of their stafs, were put on board the American flagship USS Missouri for a conference with the American C-in-C.

At 0330/17, Vice-Admiral Vian took over tactical control of TF 37 for flying operations and shortly afterwards, around 0400/18, when Task Force 37 was about 250 miles north-east of Tokyo, Fireflies, armed with 60 lb. rockets took off from Implacable while HMS Vicorious launched Corsairs. They were to attack the airfields in the Miyagi Prefecture including the ones at Sendai and Matsushima.

During the day a Combat Air Patrol was maintained over the Task Force, the first aircraft (Seafires) were flown off by HMS Implacable at 0630/17.

At 0830/17, operating aircraft came to a halt as the weather conditions in the launch area had deteriorated.

The score for the day was summed up as followes. Destroyed were claimed, nine aircraft on the ground, a hangar, three locomotices and one junk sunk. Damaged were claimed nine aircraft on the ground, several hangars and barracks at Niigata, Matsuda, Sendai and Matsushima as well as several small boats. Three Corsairs were lost but all pilots were saved.

Around 1430/17, HMS King George V escorted by HMS Quality and HMAS Quiberon parted company with Task Force 37 to join American ships for a night bombardment of the heavily industrialized Mito-Hitachi area. They joined the American force around 1700/17. [See the event for 17 July on the pages of HMS King George V, HMS Quality of HMAS Quiberon for more info.]

Around 2310/17 the bombardment commenced. It ceased around 0110/18. The battleships fired 1797 shells into the target area. HMS King George V had fired 267 14" shells and the five US battleships 1238 16" shells and 292 6" shells. Damage was caused to the Taga and Mito Works of Hitachi Manufacturing Company and the Yamate Plant and the copper refining plants of Hitachi Mine.

When the bombardment ceased around 0110/18, HMS King George V, HMS Quality and HMAS Quiberon detached from the USN ships to rejoin Task Force 37 which they did around 0730/18.

Weather had been unsuitable for flying operations and the Combat Air Patrol was only flown off after weather had improved a little around 0930/18. Around 1130/18 the carriers from Task Force 37 flew off aircraft to carry out strikes against targets north-east of Tokyo. During the days flying operations twelve enemy aircraft were claimed to have been destroyed on the ground. Eighteen aircraft were claimed to have been damaged as well as many junks, railway vans and hangars.

At the end of the days flying operations Task Force 37 proceeded away from the area in a south-easterly direction towards replenishment area 'British Tizzy' (28°00'N, 138°55'E, approximately 460 miles south of Tokyo). With the flying operations against the Japanese homeland over, Vice-Admiral Rawlings, assumed tactical control.

Early in the morning of the 20th, in approximate position 32°00'N, 152°00'E, Task Force 37 made rendezvous with Task Unit 112.2.6 which was made up of the RFA tankers Wave Monarch (8159 GRT, built 1944), San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935), San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935) and the victualling stores ship Glenarney (9795 GRT, built 1940). Also part of this unit were the escort carriers HMS Arbiter (Capt. D.H. Everett, DSO, RN) and HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) with replacement aircraft. They were escorted by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN), HMAS Nizam (A/Lt.Cdr. W.F. Cook, RAN), sloops HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Redpole (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), HMS Whimbrel (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), frigate HMS Findhorn (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J.P. Burnett, RNVR) and the minesweeper/corvette HMAS Gawler (Lt.Cdr. J.H.P. Dixon, RANR(S)).

The aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escorted by the destroyers HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN) and HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN) arrived with Task Unit 112.2.6 to join Task Force 37. These ships had come up from Manus at high speed and therefore had required more fuel then had been anticipated. There was now a shortage of 2000 tons of fuel so it was therefore agreed with the Americans that HMS Newfoundland, HMCS Uganda and HMNZS Gambia would fuel from American tankers which in the end they did from Task Group 30.8.

Replenishment continued throughout the day with Task Force 37 steering a south westerly course.

At dusk Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112.2.6 for the night.

Early in the morning of the 21st Task Force 37 closed Task Unit Task Unit 112.2.6 again and re-commenced replenishment. This continued continued throughout the day with the ships steering a south-westerly course.

At dusk Task Force 37 again detached from Task Unit 112.2.6 for the night.

Early in the morning of the 22nd Task Force 37 again closed Task Unit Task Unit 112.2.6 and re-commenced replenishment. This continued throughout the day with Task Force 37 again steering a south-westerly course.

At dusk Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112.2.6 and proceeded to the north-west towards the new operational area near the island of Shikoku. HMAS Napier had joined Task Force 37. (2)


  1. File (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  2. ADM 199/1457
  3. ADM 173/20291

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

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