Naval association to commemorate Battle of Leyte Gulf

A message from the Naval Association of Australia

On 26 October at the Jacks Memorial, Southbank in Brisbane, the Naval Association will commemorate the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the Australians sailors who fought in it.

The battle began on 20 October 1944 and raged for three days.

The story will be told by Commander Ken Spicer a serving member of HMAS Moreton, whose uncle Seaman Noel Rattray was killed on the bridge of HMAS Australia (II) when it was hit by the first kamikaze suicide plane in the Pacific War. Noel was a Bridge Messenger for the Captain Emile Dechaineux DSC RAN who was mortally wounded.

‘This one pilot, who was already hit by anti-aircraft fire deliberately aimed straight for the bridge and took out most of the command team in one hit, including my uncle who was only 21 years old,’ said Commander Spicer.

The late Able Seaman Frederick ‘Flex’ Dance of Indooroopilly was on deck when a kamikaze hit Australia.

His son Vyvyan said, ‘Dad never talked about his war experiences. We now understand why he hated storms and when there was thunder and lightning, he would crouch behind a chair. The pounding and scenes on the deck must have been unspeakable.’

The ceremony will also honour the late Ken Fuller, of Cleveland who was the Writer (Navy secretary) to the Captain. He heroically carried the mortally wounded Dechaineux to seek medical attention under intense fire. Ken lived until he was 99 years of age, but 29 other officers and ratings were killed and 64 badly wounded.

The Royal Australian Navy’s contribution to Vice Admiral Kinkaid’s force, under the command of Commodore Collins, consisted of the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia and HMAS Shropshire, the destroyers HMAS Arunta and HMAS Warramunga, and nine other ships.

The result was an Allied victory. Admiral Mitsumasa Yoni, Japan’s Navy Minister said, ‘I felt that it was the end.’

But it came at a terrible cost. More than Allied 3000 sailors died in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.


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