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Australian intelligence community."
HMAS Sydney III, a 15,740
ton Majestic-class aircraft
carrier, arrived off Korea in
September 1951 under the
mmand of CAPT David Harries.
She relieved HMS Glory as the
carrier representative of the British
naval forces in the Korean theatre,
becoming the first carrier from a
Commonwealth country to go into
RAN Air Squadrons 805 and 808
Sea Furies) and 817 (Fireflies) were
mbarked in Sydney.
In addition, the US Navy loaned
dney a Dragonfly helicopter and crew
ssist in recovering ditched pilots.
She began her first Korean War patrol
he west coast of Korea on October
4, but moved to the east coast a few days
During October 10-11, Sydney's
aircraft flew 147 sorties against stores
dumps and troop concentrations, creating
a record for a light fleet carrier with 89
sorties flown in one day.
On October 11, Sea Furies caught
1000 North Korean troops digging in
on the side of a hill,
killing or wounding
about 200 of them.
at Sasebo, Japan, to
replenish on October
14, and after receiving
a typhoon warning put
to sea again.
Hennington, now 81,
from Finley in NSW, remembers the
"I thought I was going to die that
night for sure," he said.
"We had all the watertight doors
locked but we still had water coming in.
There were sparks flying off the electric
fans and water splashing about below
"It was really bloody scary for a few
days; I don't know why we went back to
sea in the first place."
Sydney lost a Firefly, a fork lift, a
16-foot motor foot dingy and various
stores over the side during the storm, and
had several aircraft damaged. Many crew
members received cuts and bruises due to
the violence of Typhoon Ruth.
Sydney began her second patrol on
the west coast of Korea with her aircraft
destroying a number of junks concentrat-
ing in the Yalu River preparing for an
invasion of Taehwa Do Island.
On October 27, a Firefly piloted by
SBLT Neil MacMillan and CPO Phillip
Hancox was brought down by flak, land-
ing in a rice paddy.
Sydney's US Navy Dragonfly, at great
risk and at the limit of its endurance, flew
172km to rescue them right on dusk.
The rescue was successful, with the
crew using an Owen gun to kill a North
Korean soldier as he approached the
The helicopter pilot CPO 'Dick'
Babbit was awarded the Imperial
Distinguished Service Medal and the US
Navy Cross for his efforts.
During these operations two Sea
Furies and one Firefly were shot down
and another 28 aircraft damaged by flak.
Sydney's aircraft completed their
1000th sortie on November 12, in 18½
flying days since her arrival in Korean
During that period one pilot was
killed on November 5.
Snow, high winds and sub-zero tem-
peratures prevented flying operations
until November 24.
Stoker Mechanic Hennington, how-
ever, recalls that the cold weather didn't
really affect him and his mates.
"We slept above the engine room next
to the bakery so we never got cold," he
7 and 14 allowed for
a high rate of attack
by Sydney's aircraft,
although 25 aircraft
suffered flak damage
including five lost, and
another pilot killed.
Christmas in Japan
before returning to
Korean waters on December 27.
Flying operations began in bad weath-
er on December 29 escorting convoys out
Offensive operations resumed on New
Year's Day 1952, with Sydney's aircraft
supporting UN troops invading Yongho-
Sydney lost her third pilot KIA on
January 2, when his plane was seen to
dive into the Yellow Sea.
Hennington said it was really terrible
when a pilot was lost and it was broad-
cast throughout the ship.
"I remember they winched a body on
board, and then there was the burial at
sea," he said. "Up in the sleet and snow
on the flat deck of a rolling carrier, it's a
memory that stays with you forever."
Sydney's last day of participation in
the Korean War was January 25, with 293
sorties flown in her last week on station.
She arrived in Japan on Australia
Day and sailed for Australia the fol-
lowing day, having spent 64 days on
operational service, mainly as the British
Commonwealth carrier of the west coast
Creating records off Korea
Sixty years ago this month, HMAS Sydney III was
fighting appalling weather conditions, as well as a
determined enemy. SGT Dave Morley explains.
"Up in the sleet and
snow on the flat deck
of a rolling carrier, it's
a memory that stays
with you forever."
-- Former Stoker Mechanic
December 8, 20
SBLT Ronald Coleman
January 2, 1952
Roll of Honour
LEUT Keith Clarkson
November 5, 1951
SBLT Richard Sinclair
December 7, 1951
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: HMAS Sydney III with the air carrier group and, inset, a Sea Fury takes off
from the flight deck.
Photos courtesy Sea Power Centre
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