15 June 1942 – HMAS Nestor attacked

On This Day in 1942 the RAN’s destroyer HMAS Nestor sank SW of Crete after towing the flooded vessel by HMS Javelin proved impossible.

Operation Vigorous was a convoy of 11 Merchant ships from Haifa to Malta. Two RN cruisers and 12 destroyers escorted the merchant ships. N Class Destroyers Norman and Nestor were there. The convoy was attacked from the air by the Luftwaffe, by U boats and by E boats.

Nestor had three bombs near miss her and one of them tore a hole in her side which killed 4 stokers and flooded both her engine rooms.

Nestor’s doctor Surgeon Lieutenant Shane Watson RANR was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, DSC for repeatedly diving in the boiler room to recover the bodies of the four stokers killed and search for survivors. His citation observed that he displayed: …… outstanding bravery in entering the flooded boiler room in complete darkness in order to rescue crew he knew must be either killed or seriously injured. He dived repeatedly till all bodies were recovered.

Petty Officer Stoker Thomas Ellston from Sydney received a Distinguished Service Medal for his work in ensuring that the ship’s hand pumps continued to work all through the long night. Mentions in Dispatches (MID) were awarded to those who worked to shore up bulkheads and patch holes in the ships sides through the night in flooded compartments.

Nestor’s Executive officer Lieutenant George Crowley, RN, was awarded a DSC for his leadership in keeping the ship’s company working together to try to save their ship and then supervising their evacuation.

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