ABCD Rowan King and his Pop, AB John Smith visit Garden Island

Published on SGT Dave Morley (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

Location(s): Garden Island, Sydney

Topic(s): International Fleet Review

WWII sailor Mr John Smith with his grandson Able Seaman Clearance Diver Rowan King at Fleet Base East, Sydeny during the International Fleet Review. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
WWII sailor Mr John Smith with his grandson Able Seaman Clearance Diver Rowan King at Fleet Base East, Sydeny during the International Fleet Review.

A former HMAS Shepparton (I) veteran went back to Garden Island for the first time since WWII on October 4 with his grandson who he’d influenced to join the Navy.

John Smith, 91, travelled up from Adelaide for the International Fleet Review and was given a tour of the base by his grandson ABCD Rowan King, of HMAS Yarra.

ABCD King said his Pop, a former able seaman, influenced him greatly in his decision to join the Navy five years ago.

“He always stood tall and proud and he had values that I wanted to have when I grew up, so that made me want to join the Navy so I could be like him,” he said.

“It’s an honour serving for you, Pop.”

During WWII, Mr Smith was serving in the Bathurst-class corvette HMAS Shepparton when she was bombed and had torpedos fired at her.

“The Japanese fired two torpedos at us but they went under the ship,” he said.

“We watched them coming in and we couldn’t do much about it, so we were just waiting for the bang, but then we looked out the other side and there they were still going.

“A corvette only draws about eight feet and since we’d been at sea for quite a while we’d used up most of our fuel and water and dropped most of our depth charges.”

“So we were a lot lighter, which kept us up a bit and that’s why the torpedos went under us.”

ABCD King said if he’d had torpedoes fired at his ship, “I don’t think I’d be standing here telling the story about it as calmly as Pop”.