HMAS Tamworth
Bathurst Class
Australian Minesweeper
Walkers Ltd, Maryborough
Laid Down
25 August 1941
14 March 1942
Launched by
Mrs Horsburgh, wife of a Director of Walkers Ltd
8 August 1942
30 April 1946
On 30 April 1946 transferred to the Royal Netherlands Navy and renamed Tidore. In December 1949 the ship was transferred to the Indonesian Navy and renamed Pati Unus. She was disposed of in 1969.
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Draught 8 feet 6 inches
Speed 15 knots
Crew 85
Machinery Triple expansion, 2 shafts
Horsepower 2000
  • 1 x 12-pounder gun (later 1 x 4-inch gun)
  • 1 x Bofors (later)
  • Machine guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons (later 2)
  • Depth charge chutes and throwers
Radars Types 271 & 291 Radar
Battle Honours

HMAS Tamworth 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 Tamworth) 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.

Tamworth commissioned at Maryborough on 8 August 1942 under the command of Lieutenant William H Deans RANVR.

Following trials and working up exercises in the Hervey Bay and Sydney areas,Tamworth proceeded to Melbourne early in November as one of the escorts of a convoy. From Melbourne she sailed later in the month for Port Adelaide and thence to Fremantle.

HMAS Tamworth's ships company, Fremantle, January 1943
HMAS Tamworth's ship's company, Fremantle, January 1943.
Back Row: Titch McKenzie, Dave Bishop, Stripey May 'Bagga', Wally Jardine, Coder Ron Barnes, Stoker Snow Hill, Vic Jackson, SBA Bob Chambers, Coder 'Snowy' Cooley, Harry Nance, L/SIG. Keith Miller, SIG Bob Emery, Bernie Pask.
2nd Row: Butch Quilter, Bluey Hennessy, QO Len Madden, Stoker Bob Viner, TEL Jock Sutherland, SIG Max Underwood, TEL Ken Wiltshire, Asdic Dick Jeffs, Jack Clayton, 'Tug' Wilson, Mick Matthews, Rex Black, 'Pop' Flewellen, 'Bugs' Tom Page.
3rd Row: Supply Bennett, Jack Larsen, Norm Murray, L/S Jack Carey, Asdic Jock Streher, Stoker Jim Kirkman, L/S Len Purtell, Asdic HSD Graham Barnes, Len Hartley, Stoker Fred 'Stand' Easy, 'Butch' Roger Fretwell, A/B Frank Harle, Stoker-Writer Alan 'Speed' Whitmore, Jack Wheary, Supply Doug Plunkett.
Front Row: STOPO Tony Morrisey, ERA Nobby Hall, ERA Tod Sloane, ERA Bill Woollams, ERA John McLaren, Sub Lieutenent Fred Bailey, Lieutenent Fred Baker, Lieutenent Bill Deans - Commanding Officer, Engineering Lieutenent C Quearns, Sub Lieutenent 'Robbie' Robinson, Chief Stoker 'Pop' Jenkins, PO (Buffer) Farmer McLeod, PO Digger Hurst, ERA Andy Mitchell, Supply Theo Griffen.

On 27 January 1943 Tamworth sailed from Fremantle, escorting the tanker SS Athelduke to Diego Garcia. From Diego Garcia she proceeded to Colombo to join the British Eastern Fleet, with which she was to serve for some two years on Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf convoy escort duty.

While Tamworth was escorting a convoy on 5 October 1943, about 140 miles north of Cape Guardafui in the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, a German submarine of the 'Monsoon Group', then operating in the Indian Ocean, torpedoed the Norwegian tanker Anna Knudsen. Fortunately the ship did not sink and she was assisted to Aden by Tamworth.

Tamworth wearing her wartime disruptive pattern camouflage paint scheme.
Tamworth wearing her wartime disruptive pattern camouflage paint scheme.

Although the Bathurst Class were designed as minesweepers, during most of the war they operated not in this capacity but as escort and combat vessels. The convoy escort task presented the vessels with a challenge which would have been more appropriately met by long range frigates, had they been available in sufficient numbers. Tamworth's experience of 16-23 February 1944 well illustrates this. On the afternoon of 16 February convoy 'PA 69' sailed from the Persian Gulf for Aden, having as escorts Tamworth (Senior Officer, Escort) and the Indian ship HMIS Orissa.

The voyage was uneventful until the early hours of 23 February, when the convoy was attacked by the German U-boat U-188 in the entrance to the Gulf of Aden. Three tankers were torpedoed in the attack. The United States ship EG Seubert was sunk. The British vessel San Alvaro caught fire, and as it was considered that she might not sink and would thus become a danger to navigation, she was sunk by Tamworth by depth charges and gunfire. The Norwegian tanker Erling Brövig was abandoned in a sinking condition. In the early afternoon of 23 February Tamworth set course for Aden with 133 survivors aboard and entered Aden during the evening. Telegraphist Jock Sutherland recorded the action in his diary as follows:

Another action packed trip! At 03:30 hours, 23-2-44, a terrific explosion, instantly followed by Action Stations. Before we had time to close up there were two or three more violent explosions. At least two of our convoy had been hit, one of the 'EG Serbert' blew up a little later; the other, 'San Alvaro' beginning to blaze fiercely.

L-R: The Erling Brovig, EG Seubert and San Alvaro following the attack by U-188
L-R: The Erling Brovig, EG Seubert and San Alvaro following the attack by U-188.

On 17 July 1944 Tamworth, her sister ship HMAS Ipswich (I), the destroyer HMAS Napier and the tanker SS American Arrow sailed in company from Addu Atoll for Australia. On 21 October 1944 Tamworth departed Fremantle to rejoin the Eastern Fleet, when she sailed in company with Ipswich (I), Napier, the latter's sister ship HMAS Nepal and the tanker SS British Fusilier. Tamworth arrived at Colombo on 4 November 1944.

Left: Cleanliness was an important part of everyday life in the RAN's small ships and clothes were routinely hung out to dry on the upper deck. Righe: Able Seaman RA Rickard photographed with a constable of the Ceylon Police Force, circa November 1944.

Shortly afterwards Tamworth became a unit of the 22nd Minesweeping Flotilla (constituted on 24 November 1944), and the British Pacific Fleet (formed on 22 November 1944). On 26 January 1945 the ship departed Trincomalee for Fremantle, arriving on 9 February.

HMAS Tamworth, circa 1945. Note the British Pacific Fleet pennant number preceded by the letter B on her hull. She is also equipped with Type 271 radar, mounted as a 'lantern' at the base of her foremast while at the top of the foremast can be seen her Type 291 radar aerial.

In March 1945 Tamworth proceeded to the United States naval base at Manus Island in the Admiralties Group, to take up duty in the Pacific. Until the end of hostilities on 15 August 1945 she was mainly engaged in escort duty between Manus and the Philippines. In June, with her sister ship HMAS Goulburn (I), she escorted the floating dock AFD 18, towed by the tug HMAS Heros and the salvage vessel HMS Salvestor, from Darwin to Milne Bay in the final stages of its voyage from North Africa to Manus for use by the British Pacific Fleet.

During September 1945 Tamworth, with other units of the 22nd Minesweeping Flotilla, was based at Hong Kong for minesweeping duty and anti-piracy patrols. On 28 September at Morotai, she reverted to Australian operational control. The following day she sailed for Australia.

A short period of service in Australian waters followed, including training duties in the Bass Strait area towards the end of the ship's service.

Tamworth nested outboard of her sister corvettes Bendigo and Ballarat at Williamstown, January 1946.

Tamworth paid off at Sydney on 30 April 1946, having steamed over 125,000 miles. On the same day she was transferred to the Royal Netherlands Navy and renamed Tidore. In December 1949 the ship was transferred to the Indonesian Navy and renamed Pati Unus. She was disposed of in 1969.


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.