Lake Macquarie History

HMAS Australia. September 1940

“…off Dakar, and our slow `Walrus’ aircraft was catapulted at 0828... Our aircraft had just reported our shells falling both sides of the French cruisers… when it was observed to fall into the sea – shot down by a Curtiss fighter – in turn destroyed by fire from one of the battleships.” Written from observations made while a midshipman aboard HMAS Australia. Lieutenant Commander Mackenzie Gregory. Offshore from Dakar, Senegal. HMAS Australia 1940

photo: hmas australia

On 25 September 1940, HMAS Australia and HMS Devonshire catapulted their reconnaissance aircraft before approaching Dakar’s anchorage. Both were engaged in shelling Vichy French ships and coastal batteries. The aircraft were communicating the accuracy of fire and other aerial view details of the action to their parent ships. All were involved in Operation Menace.

HMAS Australia’s Supermarine Walrus aircraft was shot down. Two crew were seen to bail out as the aircraft lost altitude. It is believed that the pilot was disabled by the attack.

Attempts to rescue the crew were not successful. None survived. They were Lieutenant Commander Francis Fogerty, RN and the Australians Petty Officer Telegraphist Colin Bunnet, RAN and Flight Lieutenant George Clarke, RAAF.

Acknowledgement of Country

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