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June 7, 2012
SHE proudly represented
Australia in the hunt for the
German battleship Bismarck,
and was the first Australian
ship to sink a U-boat in World War
II, but HMAS Nestor never graced
The N-class destroyer -- built in
Scotland and commissioned in
February 1941, as an Australian war-
ship crewed by Australians -- remained
the property of the RN.
Former Oerlikon gunner Ken
Brown, now 91 and living at Barooga
in southern NSW, is one of a handful
of Nestor's surviving crew.
"Nestor was my first destroyer and,
to me, she looked beautiful," he said.
Mr Brown said he wasn't aware
that Nestor was the only Australian
ship involved in the hunt for the
Bismarck until after the action.
"I was then very proud that we'd
taken part, and I still am today," he said.
On July 24, 1941, Nestor took on
board 470 soldiers and crew after the
merchant ship in which they were tak-
ing passage, Sydney Star, was torpe-
doed during an Italian E-boat attack on
the Malta convoy.
Determined air attacks followed
and Mr Brown said they were under
constant attack for three days.
"Some of the Army types hid under
the torpedo tubes ... last place I'd hide,"
She never made it home
The 70th anniversary of the loss of HMAS Nestor brought back vivid memories for one of her last surviving crew,
SGT Dave Morely reports.
Action-packed career: HMAS Nestor served the RAN for 16 months before being scuttled off Crete.
Photo: Seapower Centre
On December 15, 1941, Nestor
became the second Australian destroy-
er to sink an enemy submarine in
WWII and the first to claim a German
Mr Brown said Nestor was search-
ing for submarines before joining a
"We sighted a U-boat on the sur-
face off Cape St Vincent, Portugal, at a
distance of about seven miles," he said.
"We opened fire with our main
armament, forcing it to submerge.
"After gaining contact we made a
successful attack with depth charges."
Nestor was credited with the
destruction of U-127 and her 51 crew.
Nestor left the Mediterranean in
January 1942, and formed part of the
escort for the aircraft carrier HMS
Indomitable, engaged in ferrying air-
craft to the Malayan/Java theatre.
She patrolled the Indian Ocean
before returning to the Mediterranean
theatre in June 1942, where she sailed
as part of the Operation Vigorous escort
force, protecting a supply convoy to
On June 15, Nestor was heav-
ily damaged when she was straddled
by bombs from an Italian high-level
bomber which caused the boiler room
Surgeon-Lieutenant Shane Watson
was later awarded the Distinguished
Service Cross for attempting to rescue
four stokers from the flooded boiler
The stokers were the only fatali-
ties from the attack, however several
others, including Mr Brown, were
"The blast knocked me off the
gun platform and I hit my back on the
bulkhead behind," he said.
Attempts by the RN J-class
destroyer HMS Javelin to tow the ship
failed as lines parted and Nestor took
on more water.
Nestor was finally abandoned and
scuttled off Crete the next morning
with depth charges from HMS Javelin.
Although only in RAN service
for 16 months, HMAS Nestor had an
PO Stoker Jack Bulmer
Leading Stoker Campbell Hill
Stoker Leslie Blight
Leading Stoker Mathew
Burns (Royal Navy)
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