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SUNK BY TWO
The Australian sloop H.M.A.S. Yarra, whose loss was an- nounced on Saturday last, was sunk by two 8-inch Japanese.
cruisers while escorting a convoy to Australia from Java. The whole convoy was lost
In addition, the Yarra was bombed by aircaft from the cruisers, which were part of a formation of five warships
The story of the Yarra's gallant fight was told by Sub-Lieutenant F R. Marshall, of the Malayan R.N.V.R., who was first lieutenant of a small motor minesweeper which was part of the Yarra s convoy.
Sub-Lieutenant Marshall badly sunburned after four days floating around with 13 other survivors on Carley floats was picked up by a Dutch merchant ship and has arrived
A convoy of six vessels escorted by the Yarra, an Australian mine sweeping vessel and a sloop of the Royal Indian Navy, left Tanjong (port of Batavia) for Tjilitjap on Friday February 27.
Early next morning in very heavy and prolonged rain, two ships of the convoy separated. The remaining four were attacked by a Japanese sub- marine in the late afternoon The Australian minesweeper dropped depth charges and the attack was driven off. Later another vessel of the convoy de- tached for Colombo the Australian minesweeper accompanying her as
The remainder of the convoy ap- proached Tjllitjap during the morning of March 2 but owing to the advance of the Japanese forces in Java, it was instructed not to enter the port but to proceed to Australia.
Shortly after this the Royal Indian Navy sloop detached from the convoy which now consisted of two vessels -
a passenger ship and a tanker-and a motor minesweeper-and proceeded southwards- with the Yarra as escort
The voyage proceeded without inci- dent during March 3. There was an attempted submarine attack during the same night but the convoy scattered for a while and the attack failed. The Japanese were sighted in force at dawn on March 4 and the attack opened at 6.40 a.m. The enemy consisted of three 8-inch gun cruisers and two de- stroyers. Each cruiser carried two air craft and each had one aloft during the action.
The odds were such that the British ships had no chance from the outset but they put up a gallant fight. The maximum speed of the convoy was 14 knots. That of the enemy was more than 30.
Against the concentrated broadsides of 8-inch guns fired at point-blank range the convoy could bring to bear only the anti-submarine gun of one of the merchant ships, the machine guns of the other one a Hotchkiss and two machine-guns on the motor mine sweeper and the light armament of the Yarra.
As soon as the convoy was sighted the Yarra ordered the convoy to scat-
ter and tried to shield the ships by laying a smoke screen. The enemy came up fast however and two of the cruisers opened fire on the main body of the convoy with their heavy guns firing across the motor minesweeper.
Eventually at 1,800 yards the first
cruiser shifted its fire on to the motor mine-sweeper again using her heavy armament. Her shooting at first was bad, but she finally scored a hit on the sweeper's pilot bridge. The sweeper's crew, having first taken scuttling action, abandoned ship.
Having crippled the sweeper the cruiser now closed the range and opened up with pom pom fire.
Later this cruiser moved off and opened fire on one of the merchant ships her place being taken by annother cruiser which continued fir-
ing on the sweeper with pom poms until she finally sank on fire.
Meanyvhlle the two merchant ships and the Yarra continued firing until they were finally put out of action
One of the merchant ships blew up and the other sank.
The Yarra sank after heavy shelling and after having been bombed by Japanese aircraft.
Shortly before 8 am. the Japanese ships after having recovered their air-
craft made off. It is not known if they picked up any survivors from the other ships.
Fourteen survivors from the motor minesweepers crew of 16 drifted on
the two Carley floats. During the day they saw two ships lifeboats at a dis- tance. They apparently contained people. One was under sail.
Towards evening they sighted a steamer which is believed to have been a Dutch ship and which stopped for about an hour and a half-too far away for her attention to be attracted fiom the floats. It is thought that she may have been picking up survivors.
More ships were sighted at a dis-
tance on the following day. They passed three to four miles off, and the people on the floats had no idea of their nationality. Later in the fore-
noon the floats picked up a Chinese boy on a raft. He was a survivor from one of the merchant ships of the
The floats driftcd around without further incident for the rest of March 5 and 6.
About midday on March 7 they sighted an empty ships lifeboat and began to paddle towards it. They had almost reached it when they sighted a Dutch merchant ship approaching.
Some of them managed to get into the boat while the others on the Car
ley floats managed to attract the ships attention by flashing biscuit tins in the sun. They were picked up by the Dutch ship about 2 pm.