Home' Navy News : July 8th 2010 Contents NAVY NEWS
July 8, 2010
THIS may be the last
Mystery Ship column.
Although I am out of
Reserve days, I felt duty
bound to provide the loyal band of
'mystery shippers' who accepted the
challenge to identify 'Miss June'
with the answer.
First in was John Partington.
A man of few words, John says:
"I think Miss June is HMAS Stuart
I." Sorry John, she's not.
Ex-PO Dave Rickard -- from
the state where the AWD Alliance
is getting our new Air Warfare
Destroyers together -- senses some-
thing foreign about Miss June.
Dave says, "It is with a complete
lack of confidence that I'm going
to have a crack at Miss June (meta-
phorically speaking of course) and
settle on her being a 'between the
wars' destroyer of the Royal Dutch
"That said, I think she might
be the Admiralen class destroyer
HNLMS Witte de With, commis-
sioned in 1928 and damaged in the
Battle of the Java Sea, before finally
being sunk in March, 1942. Though,
as Miss June seems to have a dis-
tinct clipper bow, unlike others in
the Admiralen class, I think I might
be sunk too."
Dave, you're right -- not in iden-
tifying Miss June, but in the fact that
you 'might be sunk'. She's not Witte
Dave's on the right track though:
She's neither Australian nor British.
CPOSN Junior Marshall gets
closer, in terms of identifying her
country of origin with, "... I believe
her to be the French mine-laying
cruiser Pluton. Probably late in the
'30s or after WWII, but the name
and class are wrong."
Tony Woodland comes even
closer, writing, "June...looks very
French so I think it is one of the
sloops that were based in the Pacific
area...say Amiral Garner of the
Dumont D'ville class of which there
were four. About 1800 tonnes and
with diesel engines achieved about
"If it is Amiral Garner (or
Garnier) she is named after a
French Admiral who lived in the 19th
Century and had something to do
with naval action in the then-French
colonies in Indo-China."
Very good, Tony, and very
close... probably close enough for
me to give it to you.
Another regular who's sel-
dom wrong, SO Targets in FHQ,
SQNLDR Jimbo Stewart, also goes
very close. He says: "I believe your
mystery ship Miss June is one of the
eight Bougainville class 'Colonial'
Sloops, launched for the French
Navy between 1931 and 1934.
"Designed for colonial service,
these ships had enhanced standards
of habitability for their ships' com-
"By a twist of fate, the name-
ship of the class, Bougainville (serv-
ing with the Vichy-French Navy),
was sunk by her sister, Savorgnan
de Brazza (serving with the Free
French forces) off Libreville (French
"Other sisters lost/neutralised
were Rigault de Genanilly (torpe-
doed by a British submarine off
Algiers) and D'Entrecausteaux --
severely damaged by allied forces at
Diego Suarez (Madagascar), while
D'Iberville was scuttled along with
most of the French Mediterranean
Fleet to avoid capture by German
forces occupying Vichy-held France.
"I have taken a punt that Miss
June is Dumont D'Urville, launched
The French connection
The details Gordon provided are
contained in the breakout (right).
Finally, I must acknowledge the
entry of LEUT A. McNeill, who
correctly identified the class of ship,
writing, "Miss June, is a French
Navy sloop of the Bougainville
class. However it is difficult to
determine which ship of the class is
shown in the photo.
"Ten ships of the Bougainville
class were ordered, with eight
being completed -- Bougainville,
Dumont d'Urville, Savorgnan de
Brazza, D'Entrecasteaux, Rigault
de Genouilly, Admiral Charner,
D'Iberville and La Grandiere. The
Bougainville class had shallow
draught, enabling them to operate
in rivers, while carrying an infantry
company, making them ideal for ser-
vice in Indo-China."
Well, that's enough of the 'encul-
turating influence of the French in
the Pacifique du sud' (said with an
appropriately thick accent through a
long, Gallic nose).
A retired PM is reported to
have likened the French influence
to "...spreading their merde in the
Pacifique due sud," -- perhaps with
According to a Sydney Morning
Herald report, the French conducted
some 41 atmospheric nuclear tests
at Mururoa Atoll between 1966 and
1974, 134 underground tests and
eight more tests between 1995 and
1996. (And, one would wonder, if it
was all so safe, why they didn't do
them on the French Riviera.)
And, of course, there was the
French secret service team of 13
who blew up the Rainbow Warrior
in New Zealand. Dominique Prieur
and Alain Marfart were sentenced
to 10 years' gaol in NZ but were
extradited to French Polynesia,
where they served somewhat less
than three years with hard eating of
French camembert, pâté de foie gras
and drinking large quantities of the
Beaujolais nouveau ... and catching
a few rays.
As I said at the outset, this is the
final Mystery Ship column.
It's been a privilege and fun to be
at the helm and I'll miss y's all.
In particular, I'd like to thank
retired raconteur and noted naval
historian 'Sir Victor' Jeffery who
on March 21, 1931 (one month
before the name-ship of the class).
Dumont D'Urville was stationed in
the South Pacific, with responsibili-
ties for New Caledonia and French
Polynesia, and was (along with her
Indo-China-based sister Amiral
Charner) the source of poten-
tial trouble for the cruiser HMAS
Adelaide during her mission to
establish Free French (Gaullist) rule
in New Caledonia.
"While Dumont D'Urville's CO,
Capitaine de Vaisseau Toussaint
Quievrecourt was an ardent Vichy
supporter, he bowed to the prevail-
ing pro-De Gaulle sentiment in the
colony, and elected not to fight it out
with Adelaide. Dumont D'Urville
was sold out on March 26, 1958."
Very interesting Jimbo, but you
backed the wrong cheval (er, ship).
Yes, the name of the mystery
ship for June begins with a French
letter (Chapeau anglais?), and the
letter is 'A'.
Honours for the
first correct answer
received go to regular,
and regularly correct,
Gordon Branch of
within CIO Group.
"This lovely lady had a French
look about her and she reminded
me of something I had seen before
labelled 'Colonial Sloop'," Gordon
"With those clues it was
short work to identify her as a
Bougainville-class 'aviso' (sloop).
"The names of the Bougainville
class were Bougainville, Dumont
d'Urville, Savorgnan de Brazza,
D'Entrecasteaux, Rigault de
Genouilly, Amiral Charner,
D'Iberville and La Grandière.
Another two were building when the
Germans invaded France.
"A bit of research on the web
indicates she is probably Amiral
Charner, launched October 1, 1932
and scuttled by the Japanese on
March 10, 1945.
"They appear to have been very
capable little ships -- somewhat akin
to our own Grimsby-class sloops."
donated generously from the Vic
Jeffery Emporium of Obscure
Naval Photographs and others, most
recently SGT Dave Morley, who
helped me out with some fresh, but
ancient, images in recent months.
The redoubtable LCDR David
'Guns' Manolas also deserves credit
for taking my unrelenting jibes in
such good spirit -- despite appearing
at my desk on a number of occa-
sions with thunderous visage ... and
cordite smoke coiling from his ears
-- LCDR Antony Underwood
Displacement: 1970 tonnes
Propulsion: Two diesel engines
(Sulzer or Burmeister
& Wain), 3200shp
Complement: 14 officers, 121 men
Armament: 3 x 138mm guns
(model 1927) in single
6 x 13.2mm machine
50 naval mines
'Miss June' - Amiral Charner
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