THE SCRAP IRON FLOTILLA

WAR AT SEA THE RAN IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

For much of 1940-1941, a group of Australian destroyers made a key contribution to the war in the Mediterranean and sustaining Tobruk. Australian War Memorial Senior Historian Dr Karl James charts the story of the ‘Scrap Iron Flotilla’.

View along the aft deck of HMAS Vampire as she heels into a sharp starboard turn in the Mediterranean.
(ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL)

The struggle was bitter. The Mediterranean and North Africa were vital theatres for Britain and the Dominions – including Australia – in the war against Germany and Italy. His Majesty’s Australian Ships (HMAS) served in the Mediterranean from the earliest months of the war through to the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943 and, of these, the most celebrated Australian ships in Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham’s Mediterranean Fleet were the veteran destroyers; HMAS Stuart, Vampire, Vendetta, Voyager and Waterhen.

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