Annual commemoration remembers N-Class Destroyers

Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author)

Location(s): Augusta, WA

Topic(s): Naval Heritage and History, Commemoration

N-Class Destroyer HMAS Nizam (G38). Image scanned from the Navy Historic Archive. (photo: )
N-Class Destroyer HMAS Nizam (G38). Image scanned from the Navy Historic Archive.

The officers and sailors of Navy’s Second World War N-Class Destroyers were remembered recently at an annual memorial in the Western Australian town of Augusta.

The Commanding Officer of HMAS Stirling, Captain Ainsley Morthorpe, delivered the keynote speech at the memorial. He said he was proud to be able to continue Stirling’s close relationship with the N-Class Association.

As part of his speech, he paid tribute to Mr Ken Adams, an N-Class Destroyer veteran and former Association President who passed away last year.

“I also pay tribute to the ten HMAS Nizam sailors who perished off this coast in 1945 and who are the catalyst for this service,” Captain Morthorpe said.

The N-Class Destroyer squadron, which was formed in the early years of the war, consisted of five ships which were on loan to the Royal Australian Navy by the Royal Navy.

During their wartime service, the ships were involved in a series of daring actions in many theatres of WWII.

One area of particularly fierce fighting was in the Mediterranean where HMA ships Nizam and Napier played a vital role in the evacuation of Crete.

“Allied troops and equipment had been transferred to Greece and later to Crete, but after ferocious fighting on land, in the air and at sea, these forces had to be evacuated under some of the direst conditions of the war,” Captain Morthorpe said.

Nizam and Napier each evacuated more than 800 mainly New Zealand troops which was far beyond expectations.”

He said the ships then had to contend with a number of ferocious air attacks before making it to safer waters.

Nizam’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Max Clark was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for the excellent manner in which he handled the ship to prevent it being sunk. A number of other members of the ship’s company and that of Napier also received awards for their roles during the action.

“I am so very proud to be able to stand here today to recall the N-Class Destroyers’ contribution to our military history; we will never forget the officers and sailors of these remarkable ships.”

As well as Nizam and Napier, the squadron also consisted of Nepal, Nestor and Norman (I). HMAS Nestor was lost in June, 1942, after an engagement with enemy aircraft off the coast of Crete.