Maxwell Robert Windus -RAN

December 18, 2009

Hello Mac,

seems strange to call  a man not met / known by first name first time but here goes

ThankYou for your web page   www.ahoy.tk-jk.net which I got from the book 'The Wolf' - just finished . 

attached is details of my father's service in RAN - many notable ships including Sydney (first crew) & Canberra
and Adelaide (his first ship) & Moresby  (His first ship under Captain J. Collins surveying Barrier Reef  before Navy  Pay-Off Cut back )

He was on  Corvette Burnie when the  Japanese attacked in 1942  - I have very scant family info about what happened .

My research has been fairly fruitful but although I have Australian Navy 1942 - 1945 I could not locate Australian Navy 1939-1942 .

Maybe you can recommend good book shops which may have old navy books - or suggest where I may be able to index
more information.

Max & His Wife Mary knew many Sailors and their families on both the Sydney & Canberra and I know from their
discussions they grieved sorely over those losses. 

I am not much of a writer but having collected a fair bit I now owe it to Max & Mary to put record their lives for at least the benefit of the Windus Downline Family.

Kind  Regards 
Mal Windus   07 54 283 483    

  1 Mary St
  Qld 4510


See  this URL: http://www.hylandsbookshop.com.au/ 

This is probably the best Military Bookshop in Melbourne.

If you are after Gill's  Australia in The War of 1939-1945 Royal Australian Navy 1942-45 it has long been out of

You could advertise on E bay, and Maritime Books in Queensland sell second hand books on all pertaining to the
sea, on occasion they have one for sale, but it is not cheap.

You could ring the owner. Jean-Louis Boglio Maritime Books P.O.Box 72, Currumbin, Queensland, 4223, Australia Tel:  7 5534 9349 Fax:  7 5534 9949 ...

The Naval Historical Society Sydney:

The Boatshed, Building 25,
Phone Within Australia: (02) 9359 2372
Note: Our office is open on Tuesday & Thursday only.
Please leave a message on our answering machine at other times.
Fax Within Australia: (02) 9359 2383
Email secretary@navyhistory.org.au
Research webresearch@navyhistory.org.au

See this URL: http://www.sydneymemorial.com/history.htm for a history about HMAS Sydney and this one about HMAS Morseby : http://www.navy.gov.au/HMAS_Moresby_(I)

NHS Sydney published HMAS Canberra by Alan Payne years ago, and may be out of print.

HMAS Adelaide 1922-1946 A short history of the cruiser.

Suggest if interested you contact the NHS in Sydney.

I served in Adelaide and was sunk in Canberra.

For my account of the battle of Savo Island where she was sunk see my web site ahoy.tk-jk.net the link to this monograph is on the RH side of my Home Page.

Go to this URL: for my account of Adelaide sinking the German Blockade Runner Ramses.

HMAS Burnie

      HMAS Burnie
      Career (Australia) 
      Namesake: City of Burnie, Tasmania
      Builder: Mort's Dock and Engineering Company
      Laid down: 4 June 1940
      Launched: 25 October 1940
      Commissioned: 15 April 1941
      Decommissioned: 5 July 1946
      Fate: Transferred to RNN
      Career (Netherlands) 
      Name: HNLMS Ceram
      Acquired: 5 July 1946
      Commissioned: 5 July 1946
      Struck: 1958
      General characteristics
      Class and type: Bathurst class corvette
      Displacement: 650 tons (standard), 1,025 tons (full
war load)
      Length: 186 ft (57 m)
      Beam: 31 ft (9.4 m)
      Draught: 8.5 ft (2.6 m)
      Propulsion: Triple expansion, 2 shafts. 2,000 hp
      Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h) at 1,750 hp
      Complement: 85
      Armament: 1 x 4 inch gun, Depth charge chutes and

HMAS Burnie (J198/B238/A112), named for the port city of
Burnie, Tasmania, was one of 60 Bathurst class corvettes
constructed during World War II and one of 20 built for
the Admiralty but manned by personnel of and commissioned
into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).[1]

Entering RAN service in April 1941, Burnie saw action
during World War II, and was decommissioned on 5 July
1946. The corvette was sold to the Royal Netherlands Navy
(RNN) five days later, was renamed HNLMS Ceram, and
remained in service until 1958.

        a.. 1 Construction
        b.. 2 Operational history
          a.. 2.1 RAN service
          b.. 2.2 RNN service
        c.. 3 References

Burnie was laid down by Mort's Dock and Engineering
Company in Balmain, New South Wales on 4 June 1940.[1] The
corvette was launched on 25 October 1940 by Lady King,
wife of the Mort's Dock Chairman of Directors, and was
commissioned into the RAN on 15 April 1941.[1]

 Operational history
 RAN service
Burnie was initially assigned to the 20th Minesweeping
Flotilla, which she joined on 10 May 1941.[1] The ship was
then temporarily based at Fremantle, Western Australia as
a patrol ship and convoy escort, then was sent to Sydney.
In June, Burnie and sister ship Goulburn were assigned to
the Royal Navy's China Force, and sailed to Singapore via
the east coast of Australia, arriving on 12 July.[1]

Burnie was present in South East Asia when Japan attacked
Pearl Harbor and invaded Malaya.[1] The corvette was
flagship of the China Force, and was involved in a series
of actions delaying the Japanese advance through Malaya
and the Netherlands East Indies, including demolition
work, troop and civilian evacuation, and anti-aircraft
engagements, both individually and in concert with other
Allied ships.[1] During this time, she was involved in the
evacuation of Sumatra in mid-February 1942, and rescued
survivors from the Dutch vessel Broero on 28
February.[citation needed] This continued until September
1942, when Burnie was assigned to the British Eastern
Fleet for anti-submarine patrol and convoy escort duties
in the Indian Ocean.[1]

Burnie remained with the Eastern Fleet until December
1944, when she and the other Admiralty-controlled
Australian corvettes were ordered to Sydney, formed up as
a Minesweeping Flotilla, and attached to the British
Pacific Fleet.[1] The corvette was primarily used as a
patrol ship and convoy escort in the waters of New Guinea,
the Admiralty Islands, and the Philippines.[1]

After World War II ended in August 1945, Burnie was
ordered to Hong Kong, where she was involved in mine
clearance operations.[1] By November, she had returned to
Australian waters, and during December 1945 and January
1946 was involved in several public relations activities,
including a visit to her namesake town and a cruise for
children in Port Phillip Bay.[1]

 RNN service
Following the end of World War II, all of the
Admiralty-operated Bathurst class corvettes were earmarked
for disposal. Burnie, along with sister ships Ipswich and
Toowoomba, were slated for transfer to the Royal
Netherlands Navy (RNN).[1] The three corvettes departed
Brisbane on 4 June 1946, arriving in Ceylon a month and a
day later.[1] The three ships were paid off from RAN
service and commissioned into the RNN; Burnie being
renamed HNLMS Ceram

Ceram remained in service with the RNN until 1958, when
she was removed from the active service list.[1]

Bathurst Class Corvettes.



                RAN Corvettes  
                National Council  
                Ceremony Guide  
                Latest News  
     Battle For Australia

                        Bathurst Class Corvettes

                        When war looked imminent after the
Munich crisis in 1938, the Royal
Australian Navy realised it needed
a fleet of escort ships to guard
convoys and keep the sea lanes
open - and needed them urgently.
First it looked for ships in
Britain, but it was like
Goldilocks trying out the porridge
and beds - none was just right, so
there was no alternative.
Australia would have to design and
build its own escort ships.
                        The result was a ship as
Australian as a kangaroo -
designed by Australians who had
never designed warships before,
built by Australians who had never
built ships before and manned by
Australians most of whom had never
been to sea before. They were 700
tonnes, could do 16 knots, had a
crew of 67 ratings and five
officers and were called
corvettes. By the end of the war
they had so much extra equipment
that they were 1000 tonnes and had
a ship's company of about 100.

                        The keel of the first was laid
down in February 1940. She was
launched in August 1940 and
commissioned in December as HMAS
Bathurst. In accordance with naval
tradition, the entire class was
called the Bathurst class.

                        Ships were soon sliding down the
slipways of eight shipyards and
corvettes were being commissioned
at the rate of one every 26 days.
The program called for ingenuity
as well as hard work - when one
shipyard in Queensland could not
get tallow to grease the slipway
they used bananas. The engines
were made in railway workshops all
over Australia. In all, 60 were
built, four of which were for the
Indian Navy.

                         Corvettes were to the Navy what
jeeps were to the army and DC3s
to the Air Force - they did
everything, everywhere, and they
did it with grit and dash. They
served in every theatre of war,
from the Atlantic to Tokyo. They
served along the Australian
coast, around New Guinea, the
Halmaheras, Borneo, Brunei and
took part in the island-hopping
right up to Okinawa and Tokyo
Bay. They served in the Indian
Ocean, the Persian Gulf, the
Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
Two of them, HMA Ships
Maryborough and Wollongong,
served in every theatre of war
except the Arctic.

                        They escorted convoys, sank
submarines, shot at and sometimes
shot down planes, swept mines,
ferried troops, bombarded enemy
shore guns, surveyed uncharted
waters under the noses - and the
guns - of the Japanese, towed
damaged ships to safety and they
even landed spies. The only thing
they did not do was to stay long
in harbour. They steamed a total
of 11 million kilometres during
the war, nearly all of it in
dangerous waters, often behind
enemy lines.

                        In 1942 HMA Ships Maryborough,
Wollongong, Toowoomba, Bathurst,
Burnie, Goulburn and Ballarat
fought in the Malayan campaign in
the waters around Singapore. They
were the last Allied ships to
leave Singapore when it fell, then
the last to leave Java when it,
too, fell. They sneaked through
Japanese naval patrols, hid in
rain squalls, dodged enemy bombs
and got safely back to Australia.

                        While the seven corvettes were
battling it out with the Japanese
around Singapore and Java, other
corvettes were tackling the
Japanese around Darwin and across
northern Australia. HMAS
Deloraine, which had been in
commission only eight weeks, took
on a huge Japanese submarine, the
I-124, 80 kilometres west of
Darwin and sank it.

                        By June 1942, there were 24
corvettes based on Australian
ports, convoying merchant ships
around the coast where Japanese
submarines were operating. One of
the heaviest attacks by Japanese
submarines came on June 15, 1943,
when the five corvettes,
Warrnambool, Deloraine,
Kalgoorlie, Cootamundra and
Bundaberg, were escorting ten
merchant ships and three landing
ships. They were 150 kilometres
off Smokey Cape when two of the
ships were torpedoed. Warrnambool
and Kalgoorlie carried out depth
charge attacks and the rest of the
convoy escaped unharmed.

                        In the first half of 1943, the RAN
kept up a hazardous ferry service
on the northern coast of New
Guinea, transporting soldiers and
equipment between Milne Bay and
Oro Bay, where some of the
fiercest fighting of the campaign
was raging. It was much the same
as the RAN ferry service between
Alexandra and Tobruk, except that
the Oro Bay run was done not by
destroyers but corvettes, and the
sailors were not seasoned
veterans, but Reservists getting
their first taste of battle. The
corvettes were HMA Ships Ballarat.
Bendigo, Bowen, Broome, Bunbury,
Colac, Echuca, Glenelg, Gympie,
Kapunda, Katoomba, Latrobe,
Lithgow, Pirie, Wagga and Whyalla.

                         On April 11, 1943, HMAS Pirie was
making her fifth trip to Oro Bay
when the Japanese attacked the
troops ashore with a force of 22
bombers and 72 fighters. Twelve
of the force broke off and
tackled the corvette at mast
height. A bomb hit the bridge,
killing the Gunnery Officer, then
exploded on the upper deck,
killing all but one of the seven
sailors manning the for'ard gun.
Pirie managed to get back to
Australia, where it was patched
up and sent back to the war zone.

                        Corvettes were required not only
to get troops there but also to go
in beforehand to reconnoitre new
areas and act as pathfinders. The
Pacific war presented special
problems because very little
surveying had been done. As a
result, eight corvettes were
converted to survey ships - HMA
Ships Whyalla, Shepparton,
Benalla, Broome, Echuca,
Castlemaine, Horsham and Junee.
Since they had to work close
in-shore, they were painted the
same colour as the shore - some
were olive with chocolate patches,
others a mixture of pale and dark
green. They carried out the
meticulous task of surveying,
often in full view of the
Japanese, from New Guinea right up
to Leyte Gulf, in the Philippines.

                        Meanwhile RAN corvettes were
making a name for themselves with
the British Eastern Fleet. They
were HMA Ships Bathurst, Burnie,
Cairns, Cessnock, Gawler,
Geraldton, Ipswich, Launceston,
Lismore, Maryborough, Tamworth,
Toowoomba and Wollongong. They ran
convoys and patrolled the seas
between Madagascar and Aden,
around the coast of India and in
the Persian Gulf.

                        In May 1943 eight RAN corvettes,
comprising the 21st Minesweeping
Flotilla, began their service in
the Mediterranean, conscious of
the fact that they were following
in the wake of the famous
"Scrap-iron flotilla" of
Australian destroyers. The
corvettes were HMA Ships Gawler,
Ipswich, Lismore, Maryborough,
Geraldton, Cairns, Wollongong and
Cessnock. Under the guns and
planes of the enemy off Sicily,
they swept a mine-free channel for
the invasion force, then protected
the Allied ships from submarine
attack while the troops and
equipment were landed. They were
the last Australian warships to
serve in the Mediterranean.

                        In February 1944, HMA Ships
Launceston and Ipswich reduced the
number of enemy submarines by one.
They were escorting a convoy from
Colombo to Calcutta when one of
the merchantmen was torpedoed. The
corvettes tracked own the
submarine and beat the life out of
it with depth charges.

                        When Britain sent its fleet to the
Pacific after the German
surrender, Australia was asked to
supply two minesweeping flotillas.
The RAN immediately assigned 17
corvettes to the Royal Navy and
they took part in operations in
the Philippines and at Okinawa.
Two of them - HMA Ships Pirie and
Ipswich - were in Tokyo Bay for
the Japanese surrender.

                        Throughout all of this extensive
world wide service, the corvettes
suffered bombing, strafing,
shelling and torpedo attacks. They
battled against cyclones and
mountainous seas which wrecked
ships much larger than corvettes.
They were tough and sturdy, like
the sailors who manned them. Their
survival was not a matter of luck.
It was due to their
manoeuvrability and the skill of
the men who handled the ships and
fired the guns. Two were lost in
collisions at sea, one was sunk by
a mine and others were damaged by
enemy action.

                        Only one, HMAS Armidale, was sunk
by enemy action. She went down on
1 December, 1942, off Timor, while
taking supplies and reinforcements
to the commandos fighting ashore.
The ship had been hit by two
torpedoes and a near-miss bomb had
helped by blowing a hole in her
side. The Captain,
Lieutenant-Commander David
Richards, gave the order to
abandon ship but one man refused -
Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean. He
struggled back to the after
Oerlikon gun, strapped himself in
and fired at the planes strafing
his shipmates in the water. The
ship was sinking so rapidly that
when he fastened those straps he
must have known he would go down
with the ship.

                        He poured a stream of 20mm shells
at the planes and sent one
cartwheeling into the sea. A Zero
flashed in, its guns blazing, and
slashed Sheean's chest and back
wide open. With blood pouring from
his wounds he kept fighting. The
ship was now sinking faster and
with water lapping his feet he
kept shooting. The men in the
water gasped in amazement as they
saw the blood-stained, desperate
youngster wheel his gun from
target to target, his powerless
legs dragging on the deck.

                        Then came the most incredible
sight of all - the ship plunged
down and the sea rose up past
Sheean's waist to his shattered
chest, but still he kept firing.
Even when there was nothing left
of the ship above water, tracer
bullets from Sheean's gun kept
shooting up from under the water
in forlorn, bizarre arcs.

                        Armidale and Sheean had kept
fighting to the end. It was valour
above and beyond the call of duty.

                        Sheean was not the only hero that
day and on the grim days that were
to follow. Ten of the crew and 37
soldiers had been killed in the
action. In the water now were 102
men - 73 of Armidale's crew and 29
soldiers, including three AIF men,
two Dutch army officers and 24
Javanese troops. And, of course,
sharks and deadly sea snakes. They
were 110 km from Timor, 470 km
from Darwin and 400 km from the
nearest Australian land, Bathurst

                        Next day the Captain,
Lieutenant-Commander David
Richards, left with 21 others in
the 5.3-metres motor-boat to try
to get help. It was not until four
harrowing days later - six days
since the sinking - that the
motor-boat was spotted and the
survivors rescued, by the corvette
HMAS Kalgoorlie.

                        Meanwhile back at the scene of the
sinking, something approaching a
miracle had taken place. The
sailors managed to salvage the
derelict whaler - an
eight-metre-long lifeboat - which
was peppered with holes and gashes
from shrapnel and bullets.

                        The Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant
Lloyd Palmer, left with 29 men in
the patched-up boat to try to get
help and nine harrowing days after
the sinking they were sighted by
an RAAF plane and rescued by HMAS

                        Fate dealt cruelly to the 47 men
left behind on the raft. On the
eighth day after the sinking, a
RAAF Catalina flying boat sighted
them, but could not land because
the sea was too rough. The airmen
dropped food and water to them,
but despite searches by the
Catalina, Hudsons and Beaufighters
they were never seen again.
Somehow or other, fate snatched
them away just when they thought
they were about to be rescued.

                        The RAN has now named one of its
submarines HMAS Sheean and named
the first of its new patrol boats
HMAS Armidale in recognition of
the courage and ingenuity that
characterised the Australian
corvettes in the Battle for


                        Ships in Class; Ararat, Armidale*,
Ballarat, Bathurst, Benalla,
Bendigo, Bowen Broome, Bunbury,
Bundaberg, Burnie, Cairns,
Castlemaine, Cessnock, Colac,
Cootamundra, Cowra, Deloraine,
Dubbo, Echuca, Fremantle, Gawler,
Geelong*, Geraldton, Gladstone,
Glenelg, Goulburn, Gympie,
Horsham, Inverell, Ipswich, Junee,
Kalgoorlie, Kapunda, Katoomba,
Kiama, Latrobe, Launceston,
Lismore, Lithgow, Maryborough,
Mildura, Parkes, Pirie,
Rockhampton, Shepparton, Stawell,
Strahan, Tamworth, Toowoomba,
Townsville, Wagga, Wallaroo*,
Warrnambool**, Whyalla,

                        * Sunk during World War II
                        ** Sunk in September 1947 during
minesweeping operations off the
north Queensland area.

                        Copyright Frank Walker
                        RAN Corvettes Association

                        December 2003
            Bombing Darwin Bombing Darwin Coral Sea Coral
Sea Kokoda Trail 1 Kokoda Trail 1 Milne Bay
Milne Bay Kokoda Trail 11 Kokoda Trail 11
Battle Bismarck Battle Bismarck Battle Beaches
Battle Beaches

I think thats about it, hope some is helpful for you.

Best wishes for Christmas.

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