HMAS
Horsham
(I)

HMAS Horsham (I)
Pennant
J235
Builder
Melbourne Harbour Trust, Williamstown
Laid Down
26 June 1941
Launched
16 May 1942
Launched by
Mrs AD Mackenzie, wife of Chairman of Melbourne Harbour Trust
Commissioned
18 November 1942
Decommissioned
17 November 1945
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Draught 8 feet 6 inches
Performance
Speed 15.5 knots
Complement
Crew 85
Propulsion
Machinery Triple expansion, 2 shafts
Horsepower 2000
Armament
Guns
  • 1 x 4-inch gun
  • 1 x 12-pounder gun
  • 1 x 2-pounder gun
  • 1 twin 0.5-inch gun

HMAS Horsham 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 were built on Admiralty order but commissioned by the Royal Australian Navy. Thirty six (including Horsham) were built for the Royal Australian Navy and four for the Indian Navy.

HMAS Horsham was laid down at Melbourne Harbour Trust, Williamstown, Melbourne, Victoria on 26 June 1941. She was launched on 16 May 1942 by Mrs AD Mackenzie, wife of Chairman of Melbourne Harbour Trust and was the first RAN warship to carry the name of the regional city in the Wimmera region of western Victoria.

HMAS Horsham commissioned at Melbourne on 18 November 1942 under the command of Lieutenant William Newby RANR(S).

HMAS Horsham.

On completion of trials in late 1942 Horsham  sailed to Western Australia and was assigned to the Fremantle command as an anti-submarine patrol vessel on 1 January 1943. She operated from Fremantle for the next 20 months conducting anti-submarine patrols, training exercises with Allied submarines (that were based at Fremantle) and occasional convoy escort duties along the Western Australian coast as far north as Exmouth and Broome. In August 1944 she proceeded to Darwin to operate as a survey ship and in November conducted a short patrol in the Timor Sea to inspect Cartier Island. She remained based at Darwin, except for a period refitting at Fremantle during February - April 1945, until the end of hostilities.

Horsham was part of a significant Australian and Dutch naval force that arrived at Kupang, Timor on 11 September 1945 to enforce the surrender of Japanese forces on Timor.

While engaged in anti-submarine duties off Fremantle, the ship's motor boat makes a trip to Fremantle to collect the mail, etc, when opportunity offers. The drawing, by Frank Norton, shows the boat being hoisted inboard on return to Horsham. Escorted by HMAS Dubbo, a convoy of Liberty ships are seen in the distance leaving WA, circa 1943. (AWM ART21085)
While engaged in anti-submarine duties off Fremantle, the ship's motor boat makes a trip to Fremantle to collect the mail, etc, when opportunity offers. The drawing, by Frank Norton, shows the boat being hoisted inboard on return to Horsham. Escorted by HMAS Dubbo, a convoy of Liberty ships are seen in the distance leaving WA, circa 1943. (AWM ART21085)
HMAS Horsham displaying her distinctive disruptive pattern camouflage paint scheme. Most of the RAN's Bathurst class corvettes adopted a variety of camouflage patterns during the war.

Horsham departed Timor on 14 September 1945 and returned to her surveying duties in the Darwin area. She sailed to Fremantle at the end of November and was de-commissioned on 17 December 1945 and placed in the Reserve Fleet. During her service she had steamed 95,872 miles and was under way for 11,302 hours.

Horsham was sold as scrap for breaking up to the Hong Kong Delta Shipping Company, Hong Kong, on 8 August 1956.

Horsham moored alongside one of her sister ships c.1944
Horsham moored alongside one of her sister ships awaiting disposal.

Former sailor, Mr John Francis, OAM, rings Horsham's ship's bell at an Anzac Day commemorative service in Horsham, Victoria. The bell is held in perpetuity in Horsham, the city after which the corvette was named.

Further reading

  • 'The Corvettes: Forgotten Ships of the Royal Australian Navy' by Iris Nesdale - published by the author, October, 1982.
  • 'Corvettes - Little Ships for Big Men' by Frank B Walker - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996.
  • 'The Australian Centenary History of Defence Volume III, The Royal Australian Navy' edited by David Stevens, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2001.