Date of Event: December 1942
Vessel type: 27ft Montagu Whaler
Location: Timor Sea 400km from Darwin
Suggested title: Royal Australian Navy Survival Story
With their ship, HMAS Armidale sunk in battle. The two boats (one broken) were the survivors only hope.
The 27ft Montagu whaleboat was in poor condition, just buoyant lying one metre under the water.
Turned upside down and the sailors stuffed pieces of clothing into the bullet holes. The largest single hole measured 250mm x 300mm was patched with a piece of timber and fastening with “robbed” copper nails from the boat and attached using improvised tools.
The sailors treaded water and lifted the boat while the boat was bailed of water. Although the whaleboat was in bad condition 29 loaded into the boat and paddled toward Darwin while being continuously bailed.
When the whaleboat men were rescued, the whaleboat was attempted to be lifted from the water, it crumbled and broke up. Of a total of 149 soldiers and sailors there were just 49 survivors using their “Floated Boats”.
The collective effort and resourcefulness of the sailors allowed for some to be rescued while many were destined to lose their lives.
In the whaler, Lieutenant Palmer said: “If we get out of this alive, I will buy the Melbourne blokes a dinner at the Menzies Hotel. This photo was taken at the dinner, the officer is seated. (Source Navy Website)
Please briefly note any objects (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the story
An example of the 27ft Montagu Whaler is available to be inspected every weekend at the HMAS Castlemaine museum ship at Williamstown Victoria.
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