HMAS
Gawler
(I)

HMAS Gawler (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J188
Builder
Broken Hill Pty Ltd
Laid Down
24 January 1941
Launched
4 October 1941
Launched by
Lady Dugan, wife of the Governor of Victoria
Commissioned
14 August 1942
Decommissioned
5 April 1946
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Draught 8 feet 6 inches
Performance
Speed 15 knots
Complement
Crew 85
Propulsion
Machinery Triple Expansion, 2 Shafts
Horsepower 2,000
Armament
Guns
  • 1 x 12-pounder gun (later 1 x 4-inch gun)
  • 1 x Bofor (later)
  • Machine Guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons (later 5, then 3)
  • Depth charge chutes and throwers
Awards
Battle Honours
HMAS Gawler (I) Badge

HMAS Gawler was one of sixty Australian Minesweepers (commonly known as corvettes) built during World War II in Australian shipyards as part of the Commonwealth Government's wartime shipbuilding programme. Twenty (including Gawler) were built on Admiralty order but manned and commissioned by the Royal Australian Navy. Thirty-six were built for the Royal Australian Navy and four for the Royal Indian Navy.

Gawler commissioned at Whyalla on 14 August 1942 under the command of LCDR William J. Seymour RN (Emergency).

Launching of HMAS Gawler, 4 October 1941
Launching of HMAS Gawler, 4 October 1941

Following completion of her working up period and trials in September 1942, Gawler proceeded to Fremantle. After a brief period of local anti-submarine patrol duty she was sent to join the British Eastern Fleet at Colombo. From January to April 1943 she served as an escort vessel to Indian Ocean convoys.

In mid May 1943 Gawler proceeded to the Mediterranean where, with sister ships HMA Ships Ipswich, Lismore and Maryborough, she formed the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla. However, her service in the Mediterranean, from May to October 1943, was mainly confined to escort duty. In July 1943 she took part in the invasion of Sicily. In August Gawler entered the Atlantic to rendezvous with a Mediterranean bound convoy for which she acted as part escort. Gawler returned to the Indian Ocean at the end of October 1943 and rejoined the Eastern Fleet, having steamed 52,000 miles on war service.

Following further Indian Ocean convoy escort duty Gawler spent January and February 1944 refitting at Durban. Escort duty was resumed in April 1944 and thereafter, until January 1945, she was constantly in service escorting convoys between Indian ports and between India and Aden.

On 26 January 1945 Gawler detached from the Eastern Fleet and departed from Ceylon to return to Australia. A long refit was completed at Adelaide in April 1945 and the ship then proceeded to the United States Navy base at Manus, in the Admiralty Islands, where she became an operative unit of the British Pacific Fleet.

HMAS Gawler alongside
HMAS Gawler alongside

In September 1945 Gawler proceeded to Hong Kong where, in company with several sister ships attached to the British Pacific Fleet, she spent several weeks on minesweeping and on anti-piracy patrol duties. On 17 October 1945 she arrived at Morotai Island and thereafter until the end of the year was one of a group of Australian warships engaged in surveillance of previously enemy occupied territory in the Moluccas and adjacent areas.

Gawler returned to Australia in February 1946. She paid off at Sydney on 5 April 1946 having steamed 129,845 miles. She recommissioned the same day as HMS Gawler and on 21 May 1946, sailed for Colombo in company with her sister ships Launceston and Pirie. All were destined for transfer to the Turkish Navy.

Shortly afterwards she was transferred to the Turkish Navy and renamed Ayvalik. 'Jane's Fighting Ships' reported that she was withdrawn from service in 1963, her name then being transferred to her sister ship Antalya (ex HMAS Geraldton).

Further Reading

  1. The Corvettes: Forgotten Ships of the Royal Australian Navy by Iris Nesdale - published by the Author, October, 1982.
  2. Notable Service to the Empire: Australian Corcettes and the British Pacific Fleet 1944-45 by Hugh Campbell - published by Naval Historical Society of Australia, Inc. 1995
  3. Corvettes - Little Ships for Big Men by Frank B. Walker - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996