Naval Mystery off Australian Coast - November 1941

Goolwa goes to war again 1939-1945

NOVEMBER 1941     80 years ago this month.

In a rare radio broadcast, Russia’s Premier Joseph Stalin speaks at Red Square in Moscow as the armed forces assemble to observe the 24th anniversary of the October Revolution. He also addresses the people of the nation to encourage them and the defenders of Moscow, as the German army attempts to capture the Russian capital.

Six days later, as the temperature around Moscow declines to minus 12 C.  In freezing conditions, Russian ski troops for the first time launch an attack on the German forces on their siege lines around the city. Days later as the temperature continues to fall, freezing the ground hardens it to allow German tanks to move again.

Britain loses its aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal near Malta after delivering a squadron of Hurricane fighters to the island. Torpedoed and damaged by a U-boat, the carrier sank the following day.

British battleship HMS Barham on Mediterranean convoy escort duty has been torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine.

In the battle of Rostov on the Don, this important centre in southern Russia fell to the Germans on the 21st but was recaptured by the Red Army on the 28th.

British Commonwealth and other allied troops of Operation Crusader crossing into Libya have gained temporary relief of the siege of Tobruk. Rommel opens a counter offensive south of Tobruk to retake Sidi Rezegh, taken by the Allies a few days earlier.  He begins a surprise and unopposed 15-mile drive into Egypt.

In the Indian Ocean, a ferocious naval duel has taken place off the Western Australian coast between HMAS Sydney and the German auxiliary cruiser, Kormoran. They continued firing on each other until both ships sink. There are no survivors from the Sydney, but many have been recovered from a raft and other floating debris from the Kormoran.  Many of the survivors are under treatment, but all are now prisoners of war. A further blow has come as information has come through from the Mediterranean with news that the Australian navy has lost another warship, HMAS Parramatta, torpedoed by a U-boat off Tobruk.                   

In answer to the Chinese General Chiang Kai-shek’s call to western democracies to take urgent action against the Japanese forces pushing further into Chinese territory, the USA has demanded that Japan must withdraw their forces from China. This demand has been rejected by the Japanese.  All US Army commanders in the Asia Pacific area have been warned of the possibility of imminent war.

In northern Queensland, urgent upgrading and sealing of Garbutt aerodrome near Townsville, has swung underway in a round-the-clock order with teams of the state’s Main Roads Commission carrying out a maximum effort to complete the works program as soon as possible.

Similar construction of airfield works is being carried out at Antil Plains near Townsville and at Cooktown and Charleville for the RAAF and USAAF use.



Further Australian reinforcements for the 8th Division AIF are being sent to strengthen the defences of Malaya and Singapore, including elements of the Australian Army Service Corps (Transport section).

Two of the personnel attached to the unit include Goolwa men, Drivers Jeff Harris and Murray Burzacott, who after spending their pre-embarkation leave at home in Goolwa, sailed during October with the 8th Ammunition Sub Park and have now disembarked in Singapore earlier this month.

They have met up with another Goolwa man, Driver Colin Smith, who is with the 2/4th Reserve Motor Transport Company. He has been with his unit in Singapore since April 11.



The churches around Goolwa like those around the country, have been requested by the Federal Government to cooperate in the observance of a National Day of Prayer on November 16, following Armistice Day.

The Government has suggested that arrangements be made in all churches for special services of remembrance for those who have lost their lives in this war and of prayers for those who are fighting for the preservation of the great ideals to which this nation is pledged.

Prime Minister John Curtin has expressed the wish that the people of Goolwa and towns in our district, together people around the nation will observe the day and that all who can, will participate in these special services.  In our Goolwa churches the congregations will participate in the prayers with the relatives of Private Ron Reed who was killed in action at El Alamein, and for the care and recovery of Private David Evans and Corporal Sid Amey who were wounded in the siege of Tobruk. Fervent prayers will be offered also for so many of our local volunteers in the armed services, wherever they are serving in harm’s way.



Call to duty by all branches of our defence forces whether from the VDC Home Guard, Militia units or training our volunteer servicemen now going into camp, there is a need to fill a temporary shortfall of 303 rifles.  So, if there is one of these idle rifles lying about your house, Captain Eric Mayne of the local recruiting office in the old Australasian Hotel will be pleased to hear from you, as the Army wants it to allot them to where they are needed.

If you were a member of the Goolwa or any other rifle club before the war and you no longer use it, the Army wants you to enlist your rifle. The Army will buy your rifle if you don’t want to donate the weapon, because it wants the rifles now to help them train the men enlisting in all levels of services from the VDC to the 2/AIF.

Get in early and offer your rifle up to the local recruiting office, as an impressment order has been passed recently and instructions are going out through all army areas for the collection of rifles through every part of the Commonwealth.  So, drop in to see Eric at his office and have a talk with him about the disposal of your rifle, or any other such weapon you may know about.



The November meeting of the District Council of Pt Elliot, a move was made in responding to the national call for civil defence measures which includes air raid precautions. It has been decided that steps be taken to comply with the call immediately. Councillors of both Goolwa and Pt Elliot wards have begun the planning process since the Council meeting and have met with Dr Graham Shipway to discuss what needs will have to be met if civilian casualties are sustained from air attack.

Equipment needed in coordination with the district ambulance and the South Coast District Hospital was clearly identified. An appointment of a Councillor would be needed as a link to act in a coordinating role to all air raid precaution groups to work cohesively together with other emergency services. A detailed report is being prepared for the December meeting of Council.



Officers for the club during 1941-42 were elected at the recent AGM resulting in the selection of Harold Goode as president, Reg Graham as patron, Arnold Minns as secretary, Henry Were as greenkeeper, Harry Ward, Hain Dodd, Arnold Minns, Arthur Sweetman, and Henry Were as committee members.

On Saturday 22, the Goolwa Club opened the new season with a welcoming address by President Harold Goode to members and visiting club players from Milang, Strathalbyn and Victor Harbor. The greens were opened for play by Mr Lovelock, president of the Victor Harbor Club.

Missing from the season’s opening session was greenkeeper Henry Were who has been of poor health for several weeks, is currently a patient in the South Coast District Hospital. Henry was missed by the members of the Goolwa Club at the opening, but his fine work on the greens was acknowledged by the president in his opening address which resulted in a vigorous acclamation by the gathering.

As at the start of this season there are four rinks available for play and will be available for use throughout the season.  The fifth rink which has now been refurbished alongside these will become the Goolwa Croquet Club playing greens laying alongside.

This set of well cared for greens facing Porter Street, across the road from the Church of Christ, are a great asset for the town, being at the planned western extension of the Goolwa Soldiers Memorial Gardens. The Goolwa Bowling Club takes much pride of its accomplishments since it was founded in 1923.