Allied Warships

HMAS Warramunga (I 44)

Destroyer of the Tribal class

NavyThe Royal Australian Navy
PennantI 44 
Built byCockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Ltd. (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) 
Ordered24 Jan 1939 
Laid down10 Feb 1940 
Launched7 Feb 1942 
Commissioned23 Nov 1942 
End service7 Dec 1959 

Pennant numbers: I44 October 1942 - January 1952; D123 February 1952 - 1963.

Warramunga's career, like that of her sister ship HMAS Arunta, almost reads like a history of the war in the South-West Pacific. Like Arunta, she saw her first action in Australian waters soon after completing workups in 1942. During March and April 1943, she was assigned to convoy escort duty between Queensland Territory and New Guinea, but in May, Warramunga joined Task Force 74 in the Coral Sea. There, she participated in almost all of the South-West Pacific landings. The ship continued with general destroyer duties around the Philippines during the first part of 1945 and was present at the official Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on 2nd September 1945. At the end of the war, Warramunga's close range AA armament consisted of six, single 40 mm Bofors and a quadruple pompom mounting. She retained this armament during the post war years although a lattice foremast subsequently replaced the tripod mast. Peacetime exercises, cruises and refits were interrupted by the Korean war. On 6th August 1950, Warramunga left Sydney, Australia to join HMAS Bataan in Korea where the two ships spent most of their time screening carriers off the Korean west coast and in the company of RCN Tribals. After completing her first tour of duty, she sailed for Australia on 5th August 1951 and after a refit she returned to start a second tour of duty. In November 1952, Warramunga began conversion to an anti-submarine destroyer. A twin 40mm mounting replaced the quadruple 2 pounder and a triple barreled Squid mortar was mounted in the 'Y' position. Her after- superstructure was extended to accommodate the extra gear and personnel. As a result, her standard displacement rose to 2,200 tons. The refit was completed on 5th October 1954 and for the next five years, Warramunga exercised and cruised with other ships of the Royal Australian Navy. on 7 December 1959 she was placed in reserve and was scheduled for disposal in 1962. She was sold to a Japanese firm for break-up, and on 15 February 1963 she began her last voyage from Sydney - under tow.


Commands listed for HMAS Warramunga (I 44)

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1Cdr. Emile Frank Verlaine Dechaineux, DSC, RANOct 19426 Mar 1944
2Cdr. Neil Alexander Mackinnon, RAN6 Mar 194430 Sep 1944
3Lt.Cdr. John Melvill Alliston, DSC, RN30 Sep 19443 Oct 1944
4Cdr. Neil Alexander Mackinnon, RAN3 Oct 19445 Oct 1944
5Lt.Cdr. John Melvill Alliston, DSC, RN5 Oct 194413 Oct 1944
6Cdr. Neil Alexander Mackinnon, RAN13 Oct 194417 Oct 1944
7Lt.Cdr. John Melvill Alliston, DSC, RN17 Oct 194419 Apr 1945
8Cdr. Max Joshua Clark, DSC, RAN19 Apr 19452 Dec 1946

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Notable events involving Warramunga include:

9 Jan 1943
USS Swordfish (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Lewis, USN) departed Brisbane for her 7th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the Solomon Islands.

During 9 and 10 Janaury 1943 exercises were carried out with the Australian destroyers HMAS Warramunga (Cdr. E.F.V. Dechaineux, DSC, RAN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN).

9 May 1945
Around 1430K/9 the destroyer HMAS Arunta (Cdr. A.E. Buchanan, DSO, RAN) departed Manus followed around 1800K/9 by the light cruiser HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN).

Around 1700I/9, the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. R.S. Dowling, RAN) and the destroyer HMAS Warramunga (Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN) departed Hollandia.

Both forces made rendezvous off Cape Wom around 0800K/10 and the 'Wewak support force' arrived off Wewak around 1300K/10.

After a preliminary run along the coast to search for the targets the sheduled bombardment commenced.

Around 1600K/10, the force retired to seaward for the night.

At 0630K/11, the 'Wewak support force' made rendezvous with the 'Wewak force' made up of the sloop HMAS Swan (Lt. W.J. Dovers, RAN) and minesweepers/corvettes Colac (Lt. K.J. Hopper, RANR(S)) and HMAS Dubbo (T/Lt. F.W. Roberts, RANR(S)) and the assault forces proceeded to their fire support areas. From 0730K/11, targets were successfully engaged to cover the assault on Red Beach. The bombardment was completed at 0840K/11.

After the landing the 'Wewak support force' retired to seaward.

Around 1230K/11, HMS Newfoundland obtained an A/S contact which was subsequently depth charged by HMAS Arunta. Both destroyers then continued to search the area during the afternoon but no further contact was obtained.

Around 1700 hours, HMAS Hobart and HMS Newfoundland carried out another bombardment after which the force was released and proceeded to Hollandia arriving there at 0700I/9. (1)

12 Aug 1945
After fuelling, and with the bulk of Task Force 37 being sent to Manus, Vice-Admiral Rawlings had the following ships left; 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), aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), destroyers 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), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN), HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN), HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Nizam (A/Lt.Cdr. W.F. Cook, RAN).

This force was now named Task Group 38.5 and was to operate as in integrated unit of the American Task Force 38. As the British Fleet Train had now been streched to the limit and the British had to depend on the Americans for fuel.

Also on this day the battleship HMS Duke of York (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN, C-in-C British Pacific Fleet) and the destroyers HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) and HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) departed Guam to join Task Group 38.5 off Japan.

At 0815/13, HMS Indefatigable launched her first strike aircraft to attack targets in the Tokyo area. A second strike was flow off at 1315/13 but the selected targets could not be attacked due to the unsuitable weather conditions.

On this day only 4 luggers were claimed sunk. Some buildings, locomotives and other rolling stock were claimed to have been damaged.

During the day a total of 21 enemy aircraft were shot down by the Combat Air Patrol while trying to approach the fleet.

At 1815/13 flying operations had ceased and course was set to position 31°45'N, 144°00'E to refuel.

During the 14th, Task Group 38.5 fuelled from American tankers. At 1710/14, they set course to return to the operations area. It was noted by Vice-Admiral Rawlings that the state of equipment and efficiency of American tankers was much higher then the British ones. The Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary had much to learn on this subject.

At 0400/15, HMS Indefatigable launched her first strike aircraft from position 34°00'N, 142°00'E to attack targets in the Tokyo area. They were unable to attack the selected target due to bad weather in that erea but they spotted a camouflaged factory so it was decided to attack this factory instead. It was successfully bombed. The strike aircraft were intercepted by 12 Japanese fighters but 4 of these were shot down by the escorting fighters while 4 more were probably shot down. One Seafire did not return and one Avenger had to ditch due to being heavily damaged.

At 0700/15, a signal was received that all further strikes were cancelled for the moment.

Four hours later news was received that the Japanese had accepted the Allied peace terms and that all offensive operations had to cease.

At 1120/15, two bombs fell close to HMS Indefatigable as a Japanese aircraft had penetrated the defences unnoticed.

Task Force 38 then set course to proceed to position 32°45'N, 143°20'E to await further instructions.

On the 16th HMS Duke of York, HMS Wager and HMS Whelp joined Task Group 38.5. Vice-Admiral Rawlings however remained in tactical command of the Task Force.

On the 17th, Task Group 38.5 set course to proceed to position ' British Drink ' (32°25'N, 143°30'E) for an underway replenishment by ships from the British Fleet Train.

At 0200/18, they made rendezvous with the tankers San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935), San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935) and Wave Governor (8190 GRT, built 1945), stores ship Fort Wrangell (7213 GRT, built 1944), escort carrier HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN) and their escorts, the sloop HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN), frigates HMS Odzani (A/Lt.Cdr. J.N. Burgess, RANVR), HMS Usk (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.B. Medlycott, RNR) and the minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Ballarat (A/Cdr. N.R. Read, RAN) and HMAS Burnie (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Andrewartha, RANR).

Fuelling commenced at daylight and continued until 1700/18. The tankers San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935) and San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935) were empty now and were ordered to proceed to Leyte to refil escorted by HMS Usk and HMAS Burnie.

At dawn on the 19th fuelling continued but now only from the Wave Governor.

Replenishment continued during the 20th. During the day the escort carrier HMS Speaker (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN) arrived with aircraft replenishments. She was being escorted by the destroyer HMS Queenborough (Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC and Bar, RN). The escort carrier was ordered to transfer all possible aircraft to HMS Indefatigable and HMS Ruler and then prepare to embark Allied POW's from when the Fleet was able to put into Tokyo Bay.

Also the tanker Carelia (8082 GRT, built 1938) joined the Logistics Group. She was being escorted by the minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Cessnock (Lt. A.G. Chapman, RANR(S)) and HMAS Pirie (Lt. C.K. Mackenzie, RANVR). The tanker Wave Governor was then ordered to proceed to Ulithi for rapid refilling and return as soon as possible. She was being escorted by HMS Odzani.

In the afternoon Task Group 38.5 was disbanded and the ships were diveded over two American Task Forces; HMS Indefatigable, HMS Troubridge, HMS Teazer, HMS Tenacious, HMS Termagent, HMS Terpsichore, HMS Wakeful, HMS Wrangler and HMS Barfleur were ordered to join Task Group 38.3 while HMS Duke of York, HMS King George V, HMS Newfoundland, HMNZS Gambia, HMAS Napier, HMAS Nizam, HMS Wager and HMS Whelp joined Task Group 38.4.

On 21 August, Task Force 38, proceeded to the south-west to position 30°30'N, 142°00'E to continue replenishment with typhoon warnings meanwhile coming in. The Logistics Group remained near area ' British Drink ' though. HMS Queenborough had collected mails and was ordered to proceed to Manus via Ulithi.

On 22 August, the destroyers were topped up with fuel and aerial photogaphs were taken off the fleet.

At daylight on 23 August, the British destroyers were topped up with fuel by HMS Duke of York and HMS King George V. At noon the fleet was now in position 33°35'N, 144°08'E. In the afternoon the plan to enter Japanese waters was received and as a consequence HMS Duke of York was detached with HMS Wager and HMS Whelp to form Task Group 30.2 and join the US flagship USS Missouri which formed Task Group 30.1 together with some destroyers.

HMS King George V, HMS Newfoundland, HMNZS Gambia, HMAS Napier and HMAS Nepal formed Task Force 37 again. They were reinforced by two US destroyers, USS Uhlmann (T/Cdr. S.C. Small, USN) and USS Benham (T/Lt.Cdr. W.L. Poindexter, USN).

On August 24th, the ships upperworks were painted and some efforts were made to remove the signs that the ships had been at sea for a long time. The destroyers conducted some exercises.

At daylight on August 25th, the destroyers, including the two US destroyers, were topped up by HMS King George V, HMS Newfoundland and HMNZS Gambia. In the late afternoon or early evening HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN) arrived from Manus with mail and fuelled from HMS King George V while transferring the mail. Later a signal was received to close the Japanese Coast.

On the 26th a signal was received to return to the previous area as weather was still unsuitable to enter Japanese waters. HMAS Quickmatch was ordered to join the Logistics Group and transfer and collect their mails and then return to the southwards. In the afternoon a signal was received to enter Japanese waters (Sagami Wan) on 27 August and Tokyo Bay on 30 August so course was set to get closer to the coast.

On the 27th Task Force 37 entered Sagami Wan and around 1450/27 anchored in their assigned berths. The two US destroyers were ordered to rejoin the US Fleet.

The 28th was spent painting and cleaning the ships. Also the hospital ship Tjitjalengka (10972 GRT, built 1939) arrived and anchored in Sagami Wan. She was being escorted by the sloop HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN).

On the 29th Task Goups 30.1 and 30.2, the American and British flagship groups entered Tokyo Bay at daylight, so HMS Duke of York, HMS Wager and HMS Whelp were the first British ships to enter Tokyo Bay.

On 30 August, HMS Teazer and HMS Terpsichore, which both had minor defects, entered Sagami Wan and joined Task Force 37. Also the destroyer HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN) joined at daylight, coming from Manus. She was the first destroyer to arrive from the destroyers sent to relieve those still at sea with HMS Indefatigabele.

Later on the day, HMS King George V, HMS Quality, HMAS Napier and HMAS Nizam were ordered to enter Tokyo Bay. They anchored off Yokohama. HMS Teazer and HMS Terpsichore also entered Tokyo Bay and secured alongside the battleships to make good their defects. HMS Quality, after having fuelled was sent out to sea to join HMS Indefatigable while HMS Speaker, now fitted out to embark POW's, entered Tokyo Bay.

On 31 August 1945, more British and Commonwealth ships entered Tokyo Bay, these were HMS Newfoundland, HMNZS Gambia from Sagami Wan and HMAS Shropshire (Capt. C.A.G. Nichols, MVO, DSO, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. R.S. Dowling, RAN), HMAS Warramunga (Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN) and HMAS Bataan (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) which came from Okinawa.

Also ships from the Logistics Group entered Tokyo Bay, these were the tankers Carelia, Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941), Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944), stores ship Fort Wrangell, escort carrier HMS Ruler, sloop HMS Crane, HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Woodcock (A/Lt.Cdr. S.J. Parsons, DSC, RN), frigate HMS Derg (Lt.Cdr. N.B.J. Stapleton, RD, RNR) and the minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Cessnock, HMAS Pirie and HMAS Ipswich (T/Lt. R.H. Creasey, RANR(S)).

On September 1st, HMS Tenacious entered Tokyo Bay having been relieved by HMS Quality. HMS Speaker reported that she had 35 officers and 340 other ranks of former POW's that had already arrived on board. Most of them were in bad shape.

At 0930 hours on 2 September the formal ceremony of surrender took place on board USS Missouri. The war had ended.

Media links

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 53/121909 + Report from HMAS Hobart

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

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