The sinking of the Canberra

johnboy 7 August 2013

hmas canberra

As we come up on the 9 August anniversary of the loss of HMAS Canberra fighting the Imperial Japanese Navy off Savo Island the Navy have featured a history of the action.

This bit was new to me:

The Allied Screening Force was positioned in night dispositions around the amphibious transport groups off Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Two destroyers acted as radar picket ships to the west of Savo Island. The Sound off Guadalcanal was divided into three sectors. The Southern Force (south of Savo) consisted of the cruisers Australia, Canberra and Chicago, and two destroyers. The Northern Force (north of Savo) consisted of the US cruisers Vincennes, Astoria and Quincy, and two destroyers. The eastern sector was covered by cruisers USS San Juan and Hobart, and two destroyers.

Unaware of the approaching Japanese, Turner convened a staff meeting onboard the attack transport USS McCawley. Crutchley departed the patrol area in Australia to attend the meeting and did not return to the Southern Force.

It makes one wonder how things would have played out if Crutchley had made it back to the Southern Force. Would Canberra have lived to fight another day? Or would we have lost two heavy cruisers, the namesake flagship of the Navy, and our most competent Admiral? (In command of Warspite at the Second Battle of Narvik he had destroyed a large chunk of the German surface fleet)

Wikipedia does note there was some controversy at the time.

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