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  HMAS Vampire (D68)
V-class destroyer

1,188 Tons (Standard)
1,489 Tons (Deep Load)
312' x 29' 6" x 13' 9"
(RAN service)
4 x QF 4" Mark V guns
1 x Quad 2 pdr pom-pom
1 x Quad machine gun
4 x .303 machine guns
6 x 21" torpedo tubes
2 x depth charge
4 depth charge chutes with 50 depth charges
RAN c1941
Ship History
Built by J. Samuel White & Co Ltd at Cowes on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. Laid down October 10, 1916 as V-class destroyer to be named HMS Wallace. During 1917 renamed HMS Vampire. Launched May 21, 1917. Commissioned September 22. 1917 in the Royal Navy (RN).

During World War I, assigned to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla. Afterwards, served in the Mediterranean Sea. During 1933 selected for loan to Australia.

Decommissioned October 11, 1933 and the same day transfered to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as HMAS Vampire (D68). A week later departs for Australia and arrives December 21, 1933 at Sydney Harbor. On January 31, 1934 placed into reserve status then recommissioned for three days in July to move to down to Flinders Naval Depot as a tender. On May 11, 1938 recommissioned for service off Australia.

Wartime History
On October 14, 1939 Vampire and HMAS Stuart (D00) dubbed the "Scrap Iron Flotilla" depart for the Mediterranean Sea to escort convoys between Malta and and Marseilles. Starting in April 1940, performs anti-submarine duties. On July 9, 1940 during the Battle of Calabria, escorts HMS Eagle and suffers minor damage from bomb splinters from near misses from bombs released by Italian aircraft targeting the carrier. Aboard, a Royal Navy torpedo gunner was injured and died three days later as the fatality of World War II aboard a RAN warship.

Afterwards, underwent repairs in Alexandria then resumed escort, patrols and to lure Italian warships into battle. During October 1940 during the Battle of Greece, escorted convoys off Greece then deployed as an escort during the North Africa campaign. On December 20, 1940 stripped her engines and required repairs completed by early January 1941 then returned to Greece.

During 1941, participates in Operation Lustre and Operation Demon then returns to North Africa as part of the "Tobruk Ferry Service" and made two missions to deliver supplies to Tobruk. Engine problems caused vibrations above speeds of 16 knots and required repairs and steamed for Singapore for major repairs. In September 1941, placed under the command of Commander William Moran.

During December 1941 joined the Royal Navy Eastern Fleet at Colombo on Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In early December 1941 assigned to Force Z and with HMS Tenedos (H04) escorts HMS Repulse bound for Australia but was recalled.

On December 8, 1941 at 5:30pm departed escorting HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales (53) escorted by Vampire, HMS Electra (H27), HMS Express (H61) and HMS Tenedos (H04) but at 8:55pm Admiral Philips canceled the operation and recalls the warships to Singapore. Returning, spotted by Japanese submarine I-58.

On December 10, 1941 after the sinking of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales (53) , Vampire helps rescue 225 survivors and transported them to Singapore.

On January 26, 1942 at 4:30pm departs Singapore with HMS Thanet (H29) to intercept Japanese transports reported to be without any escort off Endau, Malaya. On January 27, 1942 at 2:00am spots the transports but finds they are escorted by light cruiser Sendai and six destroyers. Outnumbered, the pair attempted to escape but HMS Thanet was hit by gunfire and began to sink. Vampire attempted to lay a smoke screen but was driven off by gunfire but managed to escape.

On February 11, 1942 attached to the Royal Navy Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean. During April 1942, assigned to escort aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (95). On April 5, 1942 after the Japanese air raid on Colombo escorts HMS Hermes to Trincomalee to stage for Operation Ironclad the invasion of Madagascar.

Sinking History
On April 9, 1942 departs Trincomalee, with advance warning of the Japanese air raid escorting HMS Hermessteaming southward along the coast of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and were roughly 66 miles away when the air raid commenced. At 9:00am the pair were spotted off Batticaloa by Japanese reconnaissance plane from battleship Haruna and reversed course for Trincomalee to reach protective air cover.

Meanwhile, the Japanese launched 85 D3A Val dive bombers escorted by nine Mitsubishi A6M Zeros. At 10:35am the dive bombers commenced attacks. Vampire was targeted by at least 16 dive bombers. The destroyer claimed one Val shot down The dive bombers claimed 16 hits or near misses from 250 kg bombs causing the destroyer to break in half and sink before noon at roughly Lat 7° 35′ N Long 82° 5′ E. The destroyer sank ten minutes after the sinking of HMS Hermes. During the attack and sinking, only eight sailors and the captain were lost.

During the attack, six Fairey Fulmar II fighters of No. 273 Squadron RAF arrive to intercept the Japanese planes. After both warships were sunk another six Fulmars from 803 Squadron and 806 Squadron arrive and the other Japanese planes attack and sink other ships to the north.

Vampire was the first Royal Australian Navy (RAN) vessel to be in combat with Japanese forces. Also, Vampire was only Australian destroyer sunk by the Japanese during World War II. For her World War II service, Vampire earned five battle honours including: "Calabria 1940", "Libya 1940–41", "Greece 1941", "Crete 1941", and "Indian Ocean 1941–42".

Afterwards, 600 surviving crew were rescued by hospital ship Vita.

Royal Australian Navy - HMAS Vampire
AWM HMAS Vampire F10908 (16mm film footage)

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Last Updated
April 9, 2021


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