|Ship Class||V and W-class Destroyer|
|Builder||J. Samuel White & Co Ltd, Cowes, England, UK|
|Laid Down||10 Oct 1916|
|Launched||21 May 1917|
|Commissioned||22 Sep 1917|
|Sunk||9 Apr 1942|
|Displacement||1090 tons standard; 1470 tons full|
|Machinery||Brown-Curtis steam turbines, two screws|
|Power Output||27000 SHP|
|Armament||4x101.6mm QF 4in Mk V guns, 1x40mm QF 2pdr gun, 1x7.7mm Vickers gun, 4x7.7mm Lewis guns, 3x3x21in torpedo tubes, 1x12pdr gun (after Apr 1941), 2x2pdr guns (after 5 Jan 1942), 50 depth charges|
|Commissioned by RAN||11 May 1938|
Contributor: Morgan Bell
HMAS Vampire was one of the five destroyers possessed by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1939, which was part of the Scrap Iron Flotilla that served the British Commonwealth cause during the Second World War. Her motto was "Let us be daring", a phrase that proved appropriately attached to a vessel of this name, as the name HMAS Vampire was also given to a Daring class destroyer that served in the RAN from 1959 to 1986, having been built on Cockatoo Island in the years immediately following the war. This later Vampire had steamed a total of 808,026 nautical miles during her 27 years of service. After she was decommissioned, she was given to the Australian National Maritime Museum, and became Australia's largest museum exhibit.
A powerful Japanese force, consisting of five fast carriers, under the command of Vice Admiral Nagumo set out from the Celebes on 26 March 1942, bound for Columbo, from where Vampire was escorting the light carrier, HMS Hermes, bound for Madagascar via Trincomalee. The first RAN ship bearing the name "Vampire" was sunk by Japanese bombers off Ceylon on 9 April while escorting the British light aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes, which was also sunk. A British hospital ship, HMS Vita, rescued the members of Vampire's crew that survived the assault. The survivors were taken to Columbo. Vita rescued some six hundred seamen from both ships. This, however, was not the first encounter in which Vampire faced Japanese aerial bombardment. She was part of Force Z, the British Commonwealth naval force in the waters surrounding Malaya which consisted of two British battlecruisers, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, and four destroyers, including HMAS Vampire. The Australian destroyer survived this earlier attack, as the Japanese torpedo bombers focused their torpedos on the larger, more powerful warships. The Allied aircraft assigned to Malaya at the time was totally inadequate to oppose the Japanese bombers. Vampire had some low calibre anti-aircraft guns, but she found that her 4-inch high angle guns were ineffective. All her crew could do was watch in horror as the British battlecruisers succumbed to the deadly stings of the swarm of Japanese bombers. Vampire performed a rescue of the survivors floating among the flotsam of HMS Repulse, sparing two hundred that escaped the sinking warship of a total crew of eight hundred aboard, an action foreshadowed by the service HMS Vita performed in 1942 for the crew of Vampire herself.
HMAS Vampire was the first Australian destroyer to leave the Mediterranean during the Second World War. She passed through the Suez Canal on 29 May 1941, after tiring Mediterranean service. On 17 April, while escorting an Allied convoy transporting troops and equipment to Greece for Lustre Force, HMAS Vampire came under bombardment by four German Junkers aircraft, and one of the port engines was hit. Near the conclusion of her service in that theatre, she began displaying engine problems. When she achieved speeds in excess of sixteen knots, Vampire would shake violently. This problem meant she was unable to gain the speeds necessary for the Tobruk Ferry runs, a shuttle service to which she had been assigned. It was decided that she would leave the Mediterranean, and travel to Malaya for an extensive refit. She entered Singapore dockyard on 20 June. The refit was complete by 15 November, but a collision with the steamer, Perak, in Keppel Harbour delayed Vampire's operational readiness. Commander W. T. A. Moran, RAN took command of Vampire on 16 November. Final trials concluded on 26 November. Force Z: consisting of the battlecruisers, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse; and the destroyers HMS Electra, HMS Express, HMS Tenedos, and HMAS Vampire; slunk out of Keppel Harbour on 8 December and came under attack by a large force of Japanese aircraft, flying from airfields in Saigon, before the day was over. Soon the powerful British warships had been sunk, the torpedo bombers effectively ignoring the screening destroyers.
Sources: Royal Australian Navy, L. J. Lind and A. Payne, Scrap Iron Destroyers: The Story of HMA Ships Stuart, Waterhen, Vendetta, Vampire, and Voyager, The Australian War Memorial, P. Thompson, Pacific Fury.
HMAS Vampire Operational Timeline
|22 Sep 1917||Vampire was commissioned into service.|
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Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937