James, Ronald Henry (Able Seaman, b.1922 - d.2011)


Collection relating to the Second World War service of S4845 Able Seaman Ronald Henry James, HMAS Bungaree and HMAS Launceston, Royal Australian Navy, Sydney, Australia, 2007.

Wallet 1 of 1 – Consists of one handwritten memoir by Able Seaman James. In his manuscript, Able Seaman Jones writes about his experiences of service in HMAS Bungaree. Some of these experiences include serving with very experienced seamen, watching his friends in the Army during their training, doing anti-aircraft gunnery training, loading mines at Geelong, laying anti-submarine mines near New Guinea, avoiding a German raider in Cook Strait, New Zealand, being entertained by the ship’s cartoonist, being escorted by the HMAS Sydney (1935-1941), undertaking a 'man overboard' drill, mine laying in New Caledonia and the Great Barrier Reef, an incident in which a crewmember intentionally wounded himself with a rifle, accidently being absent without leave, and being on duty when Sydney Harbour was attacked by Japanese midget submarines. He writes about the events of that night, 31 May 1942, including the sinking of HMAS Kuttabul, the surfacing of one of the submarines, hearing depth charges, and being at action stations for the remainder of the night. Able Seaman James then writes about sailing for New Caledonia, neutralising 'floater' mines, seeing the growth in Port Moresby after several years of war, minelaying around Auckland Harbour, becoming ill and hospitalised in Townsville, and being transferred to HMAS Launceston. In the final pages of his memoir, James records his thoughts on the intended target of the attack on Sydney Harbour and the commemoration of the event. The memoir also includes a hand-drawn map of the positions of ships in Sydney Harbour on the night of the attack.

History / Summary

Able Seaman Ronald Henry James enlisted to the Royal Australian Navy on 25 November 1940. He began his service on HMAS Rushcutter and Cerberus, and was transferred to the HMAS Bungaree in mid-1941. With the HMAS Bungaree, Able Seaman James participated in minelaying operations to protect harbours and sea routes in Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand. He was on duty on the ship, moored in Sydney Harbour, when three Japanese midget submarines attacked in May 1942. In April 1943, Able Seaman James became ill and was hospitalised. On his recovery, he was transferred to HMAS Launceston, where he served for eight months. He was later transferred to HMAS Gawler, Cerberus, and Penguin, and was discharged on 16 November 1945.