HMAS Lismore
Bathurst Class
Australian Minesweeper
Mort's Dock & Engineering Co Ltd, Sydney
Laid Down
26 February 1940
10 August 1940
Launched by
Mrs Muirhead-Gould, wife of the Commodore-in-Charge, Sydney
24 January 1941
3 July 1946
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 1750
  • 1 x 4-inch gun
  • 1 x 2-pounder gun (later)
  • Machine guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons (later 4, then 2)
  • Depth charge chutes and throwers

HMAS Lismore 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 Lismore) 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.

HMAS Lismore was laid down at Morts Dock Engineering Company, Balmain, Sydney, NSW on 22 February 1940. She was launched on 10 August 1940 by Mrs Muirhead-Gould, wife of the Commodore-in-Charge, Sydney and was the first RAN warship to carry the name of the north eastern NSW regional city. By the war's end Mort's Dock had constructed fourteen of the sixty Bathurst Class Corvettes.

HMAS Lismore commissioned at Sydney on 24 January 1941 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Stanley H Crawford MBE, RANR(S).

Official party at the launching of Lismore. L-R: Sir Kelso King (Chairman of Directors of Shipping Company), Mrs Muirhead-Gould, Mr TH Silk (Managing Director of Dockyard), Rev AG Rix, who performed the dedication ceremony, and Mr Cameron, Minister for the Navy. Two Muirhead-Gould children in front.
Lismore was laid down and launched at Mort's Dock & Engineering Co, Ltd, Sydney.

War service

Lismore commenced her work up off the Australian east coast, however, on 10 February 1941 tragedy struck when the ship was anchored in Jervis Bay. One of the ship's boats was returning to the corvette when it was swamped in heavy seas. Three men were drowned with only the body of Engine Room Artificer Edward Dunn recovered. The other two men who lost their lives in the incident were Able Seaman John Irving and Able Seaman Tom Lee.

Memorial to the three ratings from HMAS Lismore who drowned in Jervis Bay on 10 February 1941 (Plaque at HMAS Creswell)

Lismore departed Sydney for service on the East Indies Station on 21 February 1941 in company with her sister ship HMAS Bathurst. The vessels called at Darwin en route and arrived at Singapore on 26 March. On completion, on 7 April, of boiler cleaning and minor repairs, the ships took up duty on anti-submarine patrols off Singapore. On 26 May they sailed for Suez via Colombo, the Seychelles and Aden. They arrived at Colombo on 3 June. Shortly afterwards the ships sailed to take up duty with the Red Sea Force.

Thereafter, until mid-December 1941, Lismore was employed on East African coastal patrol duty which included, from August to December 1941, patrols in the Gulf of Tadjoura as a unit of the forces employed in maintaining a blockade of French Somaliland. On 16 December 1941 Lismore detached from the Red Sea Force and proceeded for Colombo to join the Eastern Fleet for Indian Ocean escort duty.

From January 1942 to April 1943 Lismore served as an escort vessel for Indian Ocean convoys including duty in the Persian Gulf area in the second half of 1942. On 3 May 1943 she arrived at Aden en route for the Mediterranean where with her sister ships HMA Ships Gawler, Ipswich and Maryborough, she formed the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla. Her service in the Mediterranean, however, was mainly confined to escort duty. She once, in August 1943, proceeded into the Atlantic to form part of the escort of an Alexandria bound convoy. Despite numerous air attacks in the Mediterranean en route to the Atlantic the ship escaped damage.

On 25 September 1943 Lismore departed Suez for Kilindini to rejoin the Eastern Fleet for further Indian Ocean escort duty. For the following fifteen months she was almost constantly at sea protecting convoys moving between India and Africa.

L-R: HMA Ships Toowoomba, Lismore, Burnie and Maryborough nested at Ceylon, Colombo in November 1944.
L-R: HMA Ships Toowoomba, Lismore, Burnie and Maryborough nested at Ceylon, Colombo in November 1944.

On 3 December 1944 Lismore arrived at Fremantle, her first call at an Australian port since leaving Darwin for Singapore on 20 March 1941. Her absence from Australia was longer than that of any other Royal Australian Navy ship of World War II.

Ship's crew onboard HMAS Lismore.
Ship's crew onboard HMAS Lismore.

On 2 January 1945 Lismore returned to Sydney after an absence of nearly four years (1409 days). She had steamed some 156,000 miles since commissioning. At Sydney Lismore joined the British Pacific Fleet (as a unit of the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla, recently constituted as a part of that Fleet) and until hostilities ended served as an escort vessel for shipping moving north to the forward areas including the Philippines. She was one of the Royal Australian Navy ships which participated in the invasion of Okinawa (March to June 1945).

Following the cessation of hostilities Lismore served for several months in the Darwin, Timor and Moluccas areas before returning to Sydney in March 1946. On 1 June 1946 the ship sailed for Ceylon for transfer to the Royal Netherlands Navy. She paid off at Trincomalee on 3 July 1946. The same day she commissioned as HNMS Batjan having steamed 191,132 miles as a unit of the Royal Australian Navy.

HNMS Batjan in the Royal Netherlands Navy.

The ship was classified in the Royal Netherlands Navy as a frigate. She was removed from the effective list in 1958.

Further reading

  • 'HMAS Lismore: An Australian Corvette' by Ron Brennan © Ron Brennan, 1988.
  • '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.