Ship’s wheel: Yarra

HMAS Yarra was one of six River Class Torpedo Boat Destroyers operated by the Royal Australian Navy during the First World War. Built in Dumbarton, Scotland, the 700-ton ship was fast and manoeuvrable, and carried a 4-inch gun, three 12-pounder guns, and three 18-inch torpedo tubes.

During the First World War the Yarra served as part of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force sent to capture German New Guinea. On 11 September 1914, a landing party under the command of Lieutenant Gerald Hill consisting of 59 sailors from the Yarra and HMAS Warrego landed at Kabakaul in New Britain to support an attack on Bita Paka wireless station.

After returning from New Guinea the Yarra was kept in Australian waters before departing Sydney on 9 June 1917 for patrol duty in the Mediterranean. Between October 1917 and October 1918 the Yarra conducted anti-submarine patrols in the Adriatic Sea, based in the Italian port of Brindisi. When the Ottoman Empire surrendered, the Yarra was part of the fleet that triumphantly sailed through the Dardanelles.

After being decommissioned in September 1929, HMAS Yarra was stripped of its fittings at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, before being scuttled off Sydney Heads in 1931. Among the items stripped was the ship’s wheel, which was donated to the Australian War Memorial in 1950.