DERWENT History Page
July 1954 Navy League of Australia TASMANIAN DIVISION.
REPORT ON ASSAULT PRACTICE ON FORT DIRECTION, SOUTH ARM, TASMANIA,
AGAINST THE AIR TRAINING CORPS' ENCAMPMENT.
T.S. "Derwent," at Hobart.
At 0915 hours in the forenoon of ' Sunday, 16th May, 1954, Cadets
of the Hobart Sea Cadet Unit TS "Derwent" were busily engaged
in preparing two Montague Whalers, a fourteen foot skiff and the
GPV HMAS "Huon" at the RAN Naval Depot HMAS "Huon" for the ten-mile
trip down river to Fort Direction, situated at the mouth of the
River Derwent. It was the day planned for an assault landing against
the Air Training Corps holding their annual Camp at the Fort.
This was to be the second training manoeuvre with the Air Training
Corps, the first being in May, 1953. The two whalers and the skiff
were being secured astern of the G.P.V. to be towed in a line
astern with two Cadets in each for steerage purposes. This operation
was being supervised by the Executive Officer of HMAS."Huon,"
Mr. Muir, Senior Commissioned Boatswain, RANVR., whilst the Commanding
Officer and the First Lieutenant of the Unit were planning the
moves to be taken during the assault landing.
Although the times of landing and the facilities available had
been planned out beforehand, the methods of approach, landing
and distribution of attacking and defending parties had been left
to the two Commanding Officers concerned. By 093O hours everything
was prepared and the orders for casting off were given by Mr.
Muir. Once away from the jetty on the one and a half hour trip,
the Cadets were given the job of steering and keeping look-out.
In order to make this trip as real as possible, no information
regarding the assault had been passed on to any Cadet.
Closing the point of land that hid the Fort from view at 1045
hours, the look-out on the flying bridge reported down the voice
pipe 'four aircraft bearing Red, four five, Sir.' These were aircraft
from the Aero Club of Southern Tasmania, who were to take no sides
in the assault but were to drop their flour "bombs" on any target
of both sides except the GPV. The four aircraft were joined by
two others who, in single file, commenced to drop their "bombs"
on the defenders. Reports were coming very rapidly from the look-out
above on the movements of the aircraft until lie was called down
to take part in the assault.
The plan of assault was simple. The two wheelers were loaded with
Cadets and towed on either quarter. At a given order the boats
were cast off, one heading directly for the beach, whilst the
other vessel veered forty-five degrees to port to split up the
defending forces. It had been assumed that the defending forces
would expect us to land a party around the point before approaching
the beach, as was done the previous year, thus effecting a complete
surprise. By the hurried movements ashore in an attempt to re-group,
the assumption was correct and the desired initial effect had
Once away from the GPV, the two whalers, with their crews doubled
up, claimed the attention of the aircraft, who dived on them,
dropping their "bombs." Many near-misses were perceived as the
"bombs" struck the water sending up a cloud of spray. The noise
of the aircraft as they repeatedly dived on the boats and the
beach provided a realistic background to an exciting spectacle.
Whilst this was going on the GPV was anchored in the bay by a
small crew from HMAS "Huon." As the boats neared the shore, small
groups of the defenders could be seen racing along the beach to
intercept. The assault parties were seen to wade ashore from the
boats to do 'battle' with the 'enemy.'
It would be of interest to add at this point that this particular
part of the river mouth lends itself admirably for training of
this nature as the water is not particularly deep close to shore
with a gently shelving beach backed by high cliffs and hills not
too steep to clamber up and down with reasonable speed.
The aircraft, having exhausted their supply of "bombs," circled
the area, formed up, and proceeded back to the Airport. By this
time the 'fighting' was in full 'swing ashore with all the enthusiasm
imaginable. Within twenty minutes all 'fighting' had ceased giving,
this year, a decisive win to the Air Training Corps.
The invaders, although heavily outnumbered, were feeling very
pleased with the fine effort they had made. One whaler was recalled
to take off the remainder of the party from the GPV.
Ashore, the Officers of the Unit were met by the Officers of the
Camp and escorted to lunch, whilst the Cadets were taken up to
the main dining hall by the Air Cadets. After lunch a great number
of the Air Cadets were- ferried out to the GPV for a visit before
leaving for home.
Instead of organising a sports afternoon as had been the case
the previous year, it was decided to leave earlier and proceeded
back to base slowly using all available time in training aboard
the GPV. Exchange visits had been made and watches were set by
1600 hours, and at 1615 hours the GPV moved slowly out of the
a bay on the return journey.
To use as many Instructors as possible the three watch system
was used. One watch on duty carrying out the duties of helmsman,
lookouts. quartermaster, bridge messengers and etc,, one watch
under instruction, and the remaining watch below.
The vessel was washed down on leaving the bay Acrid the watches
went to their allotted tasks.
The Instructors included the Divisional Training Officer, Lieutenant
- Commander G.Lanning, RANVR; the Commanding Officer of TS "Derwent,"
Lieutenant J. Hamilton-Smith, ASCC, and the 1st Lieutenant of
TS "Derwent," Sub-Lieutenant A. Gates, ASCC.
Throughout the return trip each Cadet was able to do the duties
of helmsman, look out bridge messenger, whilst the Leading Hands
took the duty of Quartermaster.
Instruction was given on navigation, helm, look-out, telegraphsman,
compass and bearings, engine-room. as well as anchor -work -and
tying-up ship routine. HMAS "Huon" was reached at 1745 hours where,
after inspection and a short address by the Commanding Officer
the parade was dismissed.
From previous experience and front knowledge gained during and
after this day of training it has been proven without doubt that
practical, well-planned events such as this are of far more value
to a Unit than a well-planned parade of classroom instruction.
After a day of the nature described, much training value can afterwards
be obtained by class room discussion.
J. HAMILTON -SMITH, Lieutenant, ASCC, Commanding Officer 1954.
(Exract from 'The Navy')