John Abraham - HMAS Manoora
I joined her in May, I think it was roughly May, it was May 1941. We did two trips that I can remember with the Zealandia taking troops up and down around Australia. Mainly, for the Germans, because the Germans used to occupy New Guinea and they were still trying to come back into New Guinea.
And what a lot of people don't know that we did know, that German raiders had been operating around our coast before Germany came into the war. But we didn't know that then, but we found out since. And we would be trying to intercept these ships. But as I said, one got through and sank four ships, three or four ships up at Nauru Island. We would always patrol Nauru Island.
We never caught up with any of them, but we did two trips doing that. We'd placed the troops to Rabaul. Not many of them got out. We placed them in quite a few other islands, not many of them got out. We escorted troops to … and they didn't survive. So, we were doing that troop laying. We did two trips doing that, which would go up around Thursday island, up around the islands. All around there and back down.
We came back down after the second trip, and we were told, unofficially, we were told we were going to Singapore. Unofficially, we were told that because they had a rumbling that things weren't going right. And so I think it was about ... Yes, I think it was about October, near the end of October in '41, that we set sail from Sydney, went to Darwin, went up through to Borneo, up through Sunda Straits and visited a couple of those cities there.
But on the way up, we got a code ... We got a message, "Look for Sydney." Sydney was missing. Nobody knew where she was and we were looking for Sydney, HMAS Sydney. She got sunk, which we didn't know then, on the 19th of November. So, the 19th of November, we were around there making our way up to Sumatra and up toward Singapore. Eventually, we got up to Singapore. We arrived at Singapore, if I remember correctly, roughly around about the 7th, I think, of December, which happened to be a Friday.
And I went ashore, had a suit made up for 10 shillings, a white naval suit. Uniform made for 10 shillings, picked it up on the Saturday afternoon, came back to the ship. Sunday morning, I was turned in, I'd finished my watch. I hadn't been turned in very long then ... Air raid sirens went. We were under attack from Japan. They came over and bombed Singapore on the 2nd, I'm sorry, on the 7th ... On Sunday the 8th. It was Sunday the 8th of December. And they had a go, we had the Prince of Wales and Repulse there, laying over towards the shore.
We were anchored up near the causeway. They didn't drop anything near us, but they were having a go at the Prince of Wales and Repulse. And on hindsight, as we worked it out, we reckoned that they wanted the causeway left intact. So, we were saying ... that's what we worked out. But the Prince of Wales and Repulse was the target. Now, that was on Sunday the 8th, and Sunday the 8th, if you translate it back to the international dateline, and the time difference, it works out exactly the same time that Pearl Harbor was hit. So, Singapore and Pearl Harbor, we worked out on the ship, were hit the same time.