"THE GALLOPING GHOST OF THE AUSSIE COAST"
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
|visits since 22 May 2004|
The ship "George G. Henry" went to Sydney for extensive conversion, overhaul, and fitting-out for naval service at Mort's Dock and Engineering Co. (Chapman's Branch). The work was supervised by Royal Australian Navy personnel from Garden Island. It was initially named "Victor" on 20 April 1942 in error, before it was given its correct name, "Victoria".
"Victoria" was fitted out with a battery of two 3-inch guns and machine guns. The crew of the "Victoria" was made up from survivors of USS Langley, USS Peary, and USS Pecos.
"Victoria" left Sydney on 18 November 1942 with a cargo of Navy special fuel. She became part of a convoy of merchantmen, SS Paul Revere, SS Benjamin Franklin, and SS William Williams, and the future USS Venus (AK-135). They were escorted by two Australian corvettes, HMAS Whyalla and HMAS Townsville.
On their way to Brisbane they were joined by another Australian corvette that provided an antisubmarine screen. After arrived at Brisbane on the 21 November 1942 for further orders. "Victoria" and "Benjamin Franklin" left Brisbane on 22 November 1942and headed north.
They reached Cleveland Bay, off Townsville, and commenced fuelling Allied warships. "Victoria" continued refuelling duties at Challenger Bay, Palm Island, on 3 December 1942. She operated between Challenger Bay and at Dunk Island Harbour before returning to Brisbane on Christmas Eve 1942.
"Victoria" joined Task Force (TF) 50. The other ships in TF 50 were Gold Star (AK-12) and Mizar (AF-12). As ordered, the tanker fuelled the warships of TF 44, namely HMAS Australia (heavy cruiser), HMAS Hobart (light cruiser), Phoenix (CL-46), and various destroyers. "Victoria" remained in Brisbane through New Year's Day 1943.
"Victoria" left Brisbane for Townsville on 4 January 1943 with the minesweeper HMAS Geelong and the merchantman SS Jason Lee. "Victoria" reached her destination on the 8 January 1943, where she remained for three days. She then relocated to Challenger Bay, Palm Island to carryout refuelling operations. For the following eight months, Victoria operated off the coasts and harbours along Australian eastern coastline. It was during this time, that the ship picked up the nickname "The Galloping Ghost of the Aussie Coast."
"Victoria" left Townsville on 28 August 1943, along with with six merchantmen. On the 29 August 1943, four Australian naval vessels joined as escorts, as did LST-470 and APc-2. The convoy reached Milne Bay, New Guinea, on the 31 August 1943.
© Peter Dunn 2004
This page first produced 22 May 2004
This page last updated 22 May 2004