Captain D.H. Harries, CBE
21st Air Group Commander: Lieutenant-Commander (P) M.F. Fell, DSO, DSC, RN, succeeded by, R.J. Tunstall, RN.
No.805 Squadron CO: Lieutenant-Commander (P) W.G. Bowles
No.808 Squadron CO: Lieutenant-Commander (P) J.L. Appleby (RN)
No.817 Squadron CO: Lieutenant-Commander (F) R.B. Lunberg (RN)
In the second half of 1951, Australia upped it's commitment to the Korean War, by deploying the carrier HMAS Sydney to the theatre. It arose from a request from Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Fraser, to Vice Admiral Sir John Collins, for Sydney to relieve Glory, so that Glory's crew could get some rest, and the ship be refitted. Sydney arrived in Kure, and was joined there on the 27th September 1951, by Glory, who secured alongside the opposite side of the pontoon, and transferred all the Fireflies of 812 Squadron, to 817 Squadron aboard Sydney, along with a large quantity of air stores. Sydney was carrying No.21, and part of No.20 CAG. Lieutenant O'Mara, with the crew and helicopter of the USN, were transferred to the active carrier. Although the CAG's had been disbanded on 30th June 1951, the organization was retained, and operated throughout Sydney's Korean tour.
The first patrol began, with a co-ordinated strike on Kojo on the East coast, by Belfast, Sydney, and their attendant destroyers, on the 10 to 11th October, the first operations having been flown, on 5th October. She had flown missions on the first two days, and up to 1400 on the 7th October, she had refuelled and headed South, to join Belfast for passage to the East coast. On the 11th October, Sydney's aircraft spotted for Shoots, by New Jersey, and Belfast. The New Jersey commended the accuracy of Sydney's spotting.
Throughout the first patrol, Fireflies and Furies flew AR's, striking targets of opportunity. The Furies carried out bombardment spotting for the UN ships on station, and the usual transportation targets were attacked. Poor weather on the 7th October, had led to only one event flying, and the following two days, were in passage, to the support operations on the 10th and 11th, supporting the UN drive, which the Commonwealth Division was leading. The support operations of the 10th saw, among those already mentioned, spotting for Belfast, and Colohan, and attacking gun positions. On the 11th, the aircraft took part in the biggest sea bombardment of 1951 when Belfast, Concord, New Jersey, and Hanson, bombarded communist positions all day, and Sydney equalled Glory's record of 89 sorties. While Sydney was away on the East coast, the USS Rendova, was filling the West Coast spot.
Sydney spent the 12th and13th, refuelling and re-arming in Sasebo, and left to avoid storm damage, from typhoon Ruth, on the 14th. Two ship's boats, and a large fork lift truck, were lost to the storm, and all the other boats were damaged to some extent. The rough weather ruptured long range fuel tanks, and soon the ship's ventilation systems seemed to be full of AVGAS fumes, and no smoking was allowed. A number of small fires broke out, and it was fortunate that there was no major explosion, or fire. On deck, thirteen aircraft, those that could not be squeezed into the hanger, were lashed down aft of the island, and the under-carriages of some aircraft collapsed. On the flight-deck, aircraft handlers worked ceaselessly secured to lifelines, and to secure the wire lashings, and when relieved, going below looking like drowned rats, and collapsing from exhaustion. A Firefly was washed overboard, in the worst of the weather, with the typhoon reaching between force 12 and 13, with winds in excess of 70 knots.Close by, Van Galen was screening Sydney, and had all her boilers except one flooded, her boats and rafts were stove in, or washed overboard, and she had three major fires. Twelve other ships were wrecked by the storm. Sydney returned to Sasebo when the storm moved North, and arrived on 15th October, exchanging her damaged aircraft for replacements from Unicorn.
Sydney started her second patrol on 18th October, with replenishment on the 22nd, with the patrol ending on 28th October. There being no flying on the replenishment day, and impeded flying, on two other days. During this patrol, CAS was provided for the Commonwealth Division. Three aircraft were shot down, and 28, damaged by flak. Fireflies flew transportation attacks, and the Furies attacked coastal shipping, and troop concentrations. Flying was impeded on the 20th, being curtailed at 1330, due to poor visibility. On the 23rd October, the USAF lost four B-29 Fortresses, in a strike against Northern airfields, and Furies mounted SAR sorties. Four Furies escorted a Firefly with a 'G' dropper, which was dropped to a US airman, who was later picked up by an allied warship. Bad weather restricted flying on the next day to two details, and weather improved the following day. On the 24th, Lieutenant Knapstein's aircraft was hit by flak, and made a forced landing on a mudflat, from where, he was speedily rescued by boat, from Amethyst. A Firefly crew crashed later in the day, and a RESCAP was mounted in the fading hours of daylight, with Sydney's helicopter making better than 20 knots over her maximum speed, to retrieve the downed aircrew, who were covered by Fireflies, and the Meteors of No.77 Squadron, RAAF. The RESCAP, and helicopter landed, in the last minutes of daylight, at Kimpo airfield.
Sydney headed for Kure on the end of flying on the 26th October. She arrived on the 28th, and left for her third patrol, on the 4th November. Sydney relieved Rendova the next day, and started operations in poor weather, on CAS for the US 1st Cavalry Division. Lieutenant K.E. Clarkson was killed on the 5th, when his aircraft failed to pull out of a dive, while attacking enemy transport, in the Han River area. The usual operations continued, with two special operations. A decoy operation to strike communist coastal guns failed, and the pre-briefed gun positions were struck by Sydney's aircraft, after the Communist guns did not take the bait. Replenishment took place on the 9th, with more CAS, and transportation-wrecking sorties following. Sydney departed on 13th November, and secured in Sasebo the next day, having been relieved by Rendova.
After spending four days at Sasebo, Sydney sailed, in company with Belfast, Sioux, Constance, and USS Hyman, on 18th November for the East coast, to take part in Operation Athenaeum, a co-ordinated air and surface strike against Hungnam, carried out on 20th and 21st November. Sydney flew 113 sorties in two days, 78 were strike, and 38 CAP. 11 buildings were destroyed, and 31 damaged. Anti-submarine patrols throughout, were provided by US Mariner aircraft. On completion, Sydney, Constance, and Van Galen headed to the West coast, to continue her fourth patrol. She arrived on the 23rd, but appalling weather prevented virtually any flying until 24th, when at 1000 hours, flying resumed, with 31 sorties. Heavy winds interfered with refuelling the next day, and flying was restricted on the 26th. Weather improved on the 27th, and a full day's flying took place, and also, on the last day of the patrol, after which, Sydney departed for Kure, berthing there on the 30th, and staying until 5th December.
Sydney's fifth patrol began on 5th December, when she sailed from Kure, reaching the operational area on the 7th. But, the first day's flying was mixed, with four aircraft hit, and two Furies shot down by gunfire. One, piloted by Sub-Lieutenant Smith, RN, who was unhurt, force-landing at Paengyong-do, but, Sub-Lieutenant R.P.Sinclair, RN, was killed, when trying to bale out from his Fury. His body was recovered by the helicopter, and he was buried at sea, with full Naval Honours.
On 8th December, an invasion of Chodo and Sok-to was expected, and the Furies spent almost the entire day, blasting anything which looked remotely like it could have been employed by the Communists in amphibious landings. Lieutenant Oakley, was forced into a wheels-up landing on the beach at Taechong-do Island, where they were entertained by the Leopard Organizer, at Bromide Baker, until being transferred to Tobruk, and later returned to Sydney. Troop concentrations and transportation facilities were hit as usual, along with small coastal craft, and replenishment occurred on 12th December, flying resuming on the 13th. The helicopter was rendered unserviceable after a deck crash, although a helicopter from Paengyong-do, did sterling service in it's place, for the remainder of the patrol. Lieutenant Cooper bailed out of his aircraft, after it was hit by flak, North of Chinnampo, and was covered by the rest of his flight, until he was picked up by the helicopter, and taken to Paengyong-do. Lieutenant Commander Bowles, was also hit by AA fire, and bailed out, two events later. He was picked up by a friendly junk, and landed on a friendly Island, where he was picked up by helicopter.
Weather went downhill later in the patrol, restricting flying on the 14th, and no flying was possible on the 15th. After flying ended on the 18th, Sydney handed over, to Badoeng Strait, and proceeded to Kure, where she berthed at 1130, on the 19th. A new, USN helicopter arrived on Christmas Eve, and the ship sailed for the coast on 27th December.
Sydney started her Sixth patrol on 27th, relieving Badoeng Strait on the 28th, as CTF 95.11. Flying began on the 29th, the main responsibility being, to flying TARCAP and strikes, in support of Island defence against suspected boat concentrations, in the Sok-to/Chodo area. A small portion of the air effort was put into interdiction of the main communications in the Hwanghae area, and routine CAP and reconnaissance sorties, were maintained. Weather again impeded operations, restricting flying on the31st, to 54 sorties. On the 2nd, Sub-Lieutenant R.J. Coleman, RAN, got separated, and was lost. Replenishment occurred on the 4th, and bad weather was encountered, with low cloud, snow squalls, and short visibility, making flying difficult at best, only 14 sorties being flown on the 6th, and none, on the 7th. Sydney left the area on the 7th, returning to Kure, berthing alongside at 1130, on the 9th.
The Seventh patrol began after Sydney spent some four days at Kure, departing on the 15th January, and relieving Badoeng Strait on the evening of 16th January. Bad weather marred this last patrol, and flying operations began on the morning of 17th January in clear weather. Later, the weather deteriorated, and heavy snow, compelled the cancellation of the last event. Sub-Lieutenant Roland, made an emergency landing at Seoul on the 18th, hit by flak. As usual, transportation destruction, and TARCAP's were run. On the 21st, weather was bad, and flying was curtailed for some time. Replenishment took place the following day. Troop and stores concentrations were attacked, in the villages of Changyon and Oru-Dong, on the 23rd, and boats at Changin-do, were attacked. The temperature dropped to 16 degrees Fahrenheit on the flight deck, during the night of 23-24th, and the aircraft were found to have frozen undercarriages, and sheets of ice were over barriers and wires. Only two sorties were flown on the 24th, and weather curtailed the remainder of the flying. Weather hit the flying on the 25th, which was cancelled in the afternoon, and the ship turned over to Badoeng Strait, and headed for Sasebo, on her way back to Australia.
During her tour, Sydney had spent 64 days in the operational area, nine days on replenishment, or passage between the East and West coasts of Korea. 12 full flying days were lost through bad weather, leaving 43 full flying days, during which, 2366 sorties were flown, averaging 552 sorties a day. Three pilots, eight Sea Furies, and nine Fireflies, were lost, including one, during Typhoon Ruth.
Sydney rendevouzed with Glory on 30th, at Hong Kong, and transferred six Fireflies by air. She was due for a Royal Visit in Australia, in February, but this was postponed, by the death of His Majesty King George VI. The accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, was marked by the firing of 21 gun royal salutes, by HM Ships Ceylon, and Charity, at her enemies in their respective areas, and by HMS Belfast, at Kure. Memorial services for His Late Majesty, were held on Friday, 15th February, in all HM ships, and messages of sympathy were received from all the Allies, including each of the RoK ships on patrol, and also by voice-radio, from guerrillas in the islands, behind enemy lines.
Lieutenant K.E. Clarkson, RAN; 5 November, 1951
Sub-Lieutenant R.P. Sinclair, RAN; 7 December, 1951
Sub-Lieutenant R.J. Coleman, RAN; 2 January, 1952
Captain David Hugh Harries, RAN, CBE, Legion of Merit, (USA)
Commander (P) Launcelot John Kiggell, DSC, RN, Mention in Despatches, Legion of Merit, (USA)
Lieutenant Commander (P) Michael Frapton Fell, DSO, DSC, RN, DSC*
Lieutenant Commander (P) Walter George Bowles, RAN, DSC, Legion of Merit, (USA)
Lieutenant Commander (E) Robert Joseph Tunstall, RN, MBE
Lieutenant Commander (P) John Leslie Appleby, RN, Legion of Merit, (USA)
Lieutenant Commander (P) Ronald Bruce Lunberg, RN, Legion of Merit, (USA)
Lieutenant Commander Brian Steward Murray, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Lieutenant (P) Harold Edwin Bailey, RAN, DSC
Lieutenant (P) Guy Alexander Beange, RAN, DSC
Lieutenant (P) George Firth Spencer Brown, DFC, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Lieutenant (P) Edward Thomas Genge, RN, Mention in Despatches
Lieutenant (O) Alexander Hughie Gordon, DFC, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Lieutenant (P) Peter William Seed, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Lieutenant (E) William John Rourke, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Sub-Lieutenant, Armand John Roland, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Petty Officer Observer I, Gordon Hughes, RAN, DSM
Chief Air Fitter (E) Clifford Frank Dubber, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Chief Petty Officer, Eugene Elderfield Fernandez, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Chief Airman, William Daniel Gardner, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Chief Electrical Artificer, James Patrick Whelan, RAN, Mention in Despatches
Chief Air Fitter (E) Arthur Winstanley, RAN, Mention in Despatches