HOSPITAL SHIP
2/1 HMAHS "MANUNDA"
IN AUSTRALIAN WATERS
DURING WW2

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visits since13 January 2002

 

2/1 HMAHS Manunda

The "Manunda" was commissioned as a hospital ship on 22 July 1940. Captain James Garden was appointed Master of the "Manunda". His staff and Mercantile Navy men who formed the crew of "HMAHS Manunda" were as follows:-

Capt. James Garden Master
W.T. Wilson Chief Engineer
Jones Assistant to Chief Engineer
McKenzie Assistant to Chief Engineer
O'Malley Electrician
Shacklock Chief Radio Operator
Longstaff     Purser
Johnson     Chief Steward
Gus Hampton  Bosun
Milburn     Ship's Carpenter
Tom Minto     First Mate
Utting     Mate
Smith     Mate
Powell  Mate
Rev. John Blakemore Chaplain

The Commanding Officer of the General Hospital that was based on "HMAHS Manunda" was Lt. Col. John Beith. Members of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) also served on board "Manunda" under the command of Matron Schumack. 

The "Manunda" made 4 trips to the Middle East between November 1940 and September 1941.

The "Manunda" sailed from Darling Harbour in Sydney on 7 January 1942 and arrived in Darwin on 14 January 1942. Over the following 5 weeks the ship undertook normal routine tasks and practised evacuation procedures. Medical staff visited military hospitals in the Darwin area. They watched the build-up of activities in and around Darwin and were shocked at the news of the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942. 

At about 10.00am on Thursday 19 February 1942, the nursing orderlies on board "Manunda" were undergoing an examination of their practical nursing skills in the wards onboard the ship. They heard the air raid siren and as they raced to collect their helmets and respirators, they could hear the first Japanese bombs dropping on Darwin. There were some 55 ships in the harbour at the time of the attack. Six large ships and two smaller ones were sunk. There were about 176 people killed and about 200 seriously wounded on board ships in and around Darwin Harbour.

"Manunda" received a near miss which sprayed shrapnel across its decks killing four people. 76 holes were peppered in her plates from this near miss. Another bomb which just missed the bridge, exploded on B and C decks,. It caused extensive injuries amongst the staff and damaged the navigational instruments.

One of the aid-posts was hit. By this time there were many fires on board the "Manunda". The medical and nursing staff quarters were totally destroyed.

Some of the life-boats were manned by the hospital crew to rescue seriously injured men from the water.

There were 11 members of the ships crew killed on the Hospital Ship "Manunda". 18 others were seriously wounded and another 40 or so received minor wounds.

Sister Lorraine S. Blow was one of the seriously wounded crew members. Matron Schumack was badly shaken as a result of the Japanese attack, but remained calm and supervised the nursing of the wounded and dying. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross in recognition of her courageous conduct following the Japanese attack.

 

KILLED ON BOARD "MANUNDA"

Bevir, Robert John  NX65289 Cpl AAMC 2/1 HOSP SHIP (Army) Australia Killed In Action
De Mestre, Margaret Augusta  NFX70211 Sister  AANS 2/1 HOSP SHIP DARWIN (Army) Australia Killed In Action
Dee, James (Jack?) VX 58562 Gunner 2/14 Field Regiment    
Hocking, B H  VX68883 Capt (Dentist) AAMC 2/1 HOSP SHIP STAFF (DENTAL) (Army) Australia Killed In Action
Holmes, John   Steward      
Humphries (or Humphreys), Harold   Steward      
Kane, Michael (Victor)   Steward      
O'Connell (or Connall?) Alex   Cook      
Smith, Richard Thomas   Cook Australian Merchant Navy    
Spinney, William   Steward      
Thom Robert A.   Assistant Purser      

Were the following killed on "Manunda" or were they pulled form the sea?

J. Mason   AB      
P. O'Connell (see Note below)   Fireman      

Note:- Paul Constance contacted me on 17 November 2011. His mothers maiden name is Mary O'Connell. He told me that the P. O'Connell (fireman) who died on the Manunda hospital ship bombed in the raid on Darwin in 1942, was his mother's brother brother, Paul's uncle Patrick Vincent O'Connell (28 years of age at the time). He may have been mortally wounded on Zealandia and transferred to Manunda where he died. Can anyone please confirm?

 

DIED AFTER THE RAID

Smith, Allan Scott   Third Officer Australian Merchant Navy   Died 20 Feb 42
William Mackay   Greaser Australian Merchant Navy   Died 23 Feb 42

There were 2 Smith's on the Manunda.

Name: Allan Scott SMITH
Age: 33 years
Occupation: Australian Merchant Navy
Date of Birth: 1908
Place of Birth: Chatswood - N.S.W.
Date of Death: 20 February 1942
Memorial: Panel 12 - Northern Territory Memorial Sixth Plaque - Australian Merchant Seamen's Memorial

C.W.G.C.: In memory of - Third Officer Allan Scott SMITH - Hospital Ship Manunda (Melbourne) - Australian Merchant Navy - who died - age 33 - on 20 February 1942 - Third Officer SMITH - son of Cecil Bruce Scott Smith and Norah Smith - husband of Amelia Scott Smith - of Bega New South Wales - Remembered with Honour.

Extra Information: (Cecil Bruce Scott Smith (F)) - (Nora J. @ Norah J. Lewis (M)) - (Amelia Scott Behl (W)) - (m: 1935) - (Australian Merchant Navy - A.H.S. Manunda)

Certificate References: (b: 1908 - 23498) - (m: 1935 - 15675)

Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission Territory Memorials WWII Australian Merchant Seamen's Memorial N.S.W. B-D-M's Indexes

 

Name: Richard Thomas SMITH
Age: 49 years
Occupation: Australian Merchant Navy
Date of Birth: c1893
Date of Death: 19 February 1942
Memorial: Panel 13 - Northern Territory Memorial Sixth Plaque - Australian Merchant Seamen's Memorial

C.W.G.C.: In memory of - Cook Richard Thomas SMITH - Hospital Ship Manunda (Melbourne) - Australian Merchant Navy - who died - age 49 - on 19 February 1942 - Cook SMITH - son of George and Matilda Smith - husband of Violet Smith - of Perth Western Australia - Remembered with Honour.

Extra Information: (George Smith (F)) - (Mrs. Matilda Smith (M)) - (Mrs. Violet Smith (W)) - (Australian Merchant Navy - A.H.S. Manunda)

Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission Territory Memorials WWII Australian Merchant Seamens Memorial

 

Name: William MACKAY
Occupation: Australian Merchant Navy
Date of Birth: 1881
Place of Birth: Leith
Date of Death: 23 February 1942
Memorial: Panel 13 - Northern Territory Memorial Sixth Plaque - Australian Merchant Seamens Memorial

C.W.G.C.: In memory of - Greaser William MACKAY - Hospital Ship Manunda (Melbourne) - Australian Merchant Navy - who died - age 60 - on 23 February 1942 - Greaser MACKAY - husband of Marion Cunningham Mackay - of Strathfield New South Wales - Remembered with Honour.

Extra Information: (Mrs. Marion Cunningham Mackay (W)) - (Australian Merchant Navy - Engagement: 26-08-1939 - Place: Sydney NSW - Last Ship: Manunda)

Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission Territory Memorials WWII Australian Merchant Seamens Memorial Nominal Roll WWII

 

The official Log Book of the "Manunda" indicates that 19 bodies were prepared for burial ashore. They were the 11 shown above who died during the raid, plus:-

3 from HMAS Swan
1 Darwin Boom Defence
2 USS Peary
1 USS Navy
1 HMAS Kara Kara

Were J. Mason and P. O'Connell amongst these people, or is P. O'Connell the same person as Alex O'Connell shown above?

Tom Minto expressed some doubt about the identity of the 3 men from HMAS Swan. The 19 bodies were laid out on the ground in front of the Naval Signal Station. The bodies stayed there all day in the hot sun. The order was given for the bodies to be collected from the shore at 10.30pm that night. They were to be buried at sea. The official records show that this happened, but Tom Minto's Report states:- 

"We were told we would not be required to take the bodies as they had been disposed of. I did not ask any further questions."

The Australian War Graves Commission states that Army casualties were buried at sea,. The Northern Territory Memorial and the Sydney Memorial show them as having "no known graves". One source, who was filling sandbags on the shore remembers quite clearly that there was a long trench dug in the area between the current Darwin Casino and Kahlin Beach. The Manager of the Mindil Beach Caravan Park sold the land in 1978 for the development of the Darwin Caison. During earth works for the project many human remains were found in a deep trench. The Northern Territory News on 3 October 1981 claimed they were aboriginal remains. Later reports claimed they were remains of Mocassin fishermen. Henry Lee was in Darwin at the time of the Japanese attack and stated in the Newspaper:-

"The bombing victims were buried at Frances Bay, along Mindil Beach and in a huge bomb hole on the hillside near Darwin Hospital. The bodies were mainly those washed up from sunken ships. Most could not be identified. There was on nursing sister with identity discs who was given a proper burial."

The nursing sister is most likely to have been Sister de Mestre. Is it possible that the "Manunda" bodies were actually buried at sea and some of them washed ashore.

A senior Army Matron recalls that the bodies from "Manunda" were seen at Catherine Cemetery. A Darwin historian believes they were exhumed and reburied at the Adelaide River War Cemetery. Here the early grave markers were made of wood and soon disappeared as time passed due to white ants or grass fires.

The "Manunda" berthed in Fremantle eight days after the Japanese attack. First Mate, Tom Minto heard Prime Minster Curtin's announcement that 35 people had been injured during the two raids on Darwin.

 "Funny thing, that," Tom Minto thought. "We had 260 wounded on board the Manunda." Curtin also said "the results of the raid were not such as to give any satisfaction to the enemy". "Well, the enemy must have been very hard to please", Tom Minto mused. 

 


Photo:- via Robert Drummond

Lt George Rayner who served onboard Manunda as the chemist

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Hospital Ships - Manunda, Wanganella, Centaur, Oranje"
by Rupert Goodman

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Robert Drummond for his assistance with this web page. Robert is the grandson of Lt. George Rayner, who was the Chemist on Manunda.

 

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This page first produced 13 February 2002

This page last updated 19 November 2011