|HMAS Stuart was an aging
Australian destroyer, laid down in 1919, which took part in the Battle
of Matapan as well as the evacuation from Greece and Crete.
|In July 2001 the obituary column of the Daily Telegraph
recorded the death of Admiral Sir Anthony Synnot. He served aboard
the Stuart, presumably as a Lieutenant.
to HMS Fiji
|At midnight on the 24th April, 1941, the Stuart
(commanded by Captain H.M.L. Waller RAN) was at Nauplia to evacuate
allied troops from Greece. They made a rendezvous with the convoy
from Raftis, and steamed for Souda Bay. On the 26th they were
speeding back to Nauplia and then were despatched to take more men off
from Tolon, just a little further down the Gulf of Nauplia.
Getting men off the Greek beaches was not easy. Waller took some
600 men off a lighter at Tolon and made for Nauplia to transfer them to
the Orion. They steamed back to Tolon to try to take on
more men, staying as long as they dared with the German forces advancing
on Tolon. They then left for Souda Bay, arriving that afternoon,
the 27th. Because of overcrowding in Souda Bay men needed to be
moved to Alexandria, the Stuart was deployed as part of the
escort for convoy GA14 to move the troops.
|On the 21st May the Stuart, as part
of the 10th Destroyer Flotilla (D10), left Alexandria with the equally
aged Australian destroyers Voyager and Vendetta, to join
Admiral Rawlings' Force A1 south west of the Kithera Channel. On
the 22nd, while en-route, the Fiji had been attacked by dive
bombers following the sinking of the Gloucester,
and D10 was diverted to try to pick up survivors. They arrived the
following morning but saw no signs of the Fiji or any
survivors. D10 was recalled to join the Battle Fleet which had
been ordered back to Alexandria for replenishment.
|The Stuart's next involvement was as
part of an attempt to land troops on the south coast of Crete from the
assault ship Glenroy, leaving Alexandria on the evening of the
25th for Tymbaki. The convoy came under attack and on the evening
of the 26th the attempted landing was called off and the ships steamed
back to Alexandria.
|The situation on Crete was deteriorating and the decision had been
made for evacuation from the beaches around Hora Sfakia. On the
29th the Stuart was despatched with the Jaguar and Defender
to provide cover for the evacuation on the Glengyle. The
destroyers joined the evacuation fleet at 06:45 on the 30th as they were
steaming from Crete to Alexandria.
|Synnot went on to become Admiral and Chief of the Australian Defence
Force Staff in 1979.
For detail on the Battle of
Matapan see the relevant page on the site. There is also an
excellent external site page with the diary of Chief Signals Yeoman
Watkins, BEM, who was on the Stuart during the battle. I have a
link to the diary on my Links page.