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Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Ship No 154

Was a Single Screw Motor Coaster, ordered by New South Wales Government, Australia. At 603 tons, with a length overall of 154 feet and a beam of 30 feet, She was the last Ship of the decade that was called the “Roaring Twenties” She went down the slips on 18th December 1929.
She had a fine service record during World War II

Bombo was requisitioned for naval service in February 1941 and fitted with a single twelve-pound gun, which was mounted on the forecastle head. Also installed, abreast of the foremast were two Oerlikons machine guns. Commissioned in Sydney in May 1941, under the command of Lieutenant Arthur S. Codling, RANR(S), she operated between Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart as an auxiliary minesweeper until November 1943. Bombo was then converted into a stores carrier and left Sydney in February 1944 and spent the next eighteen months in the Darwin and Northern Australian area. During wartime the vessel had a complement of thirty-five men and on many occasions she participated in gunnery practice with the Darwin defence forces by towing targets outside Darwin Harbour. Included in her ports of call over that period of time where the remote Islands of New Year, West Montalivet, Peron and North Goulburn. On September 11th, 1945, the steamer participated in the occupation of Koepang, Netherlands Timor by the Australian Army. With the end of hostilities, Bombo sailed from Darwin for the last time in late November 1945; however, she was not returned to her owners until July 1947.

No Pleasure Cruise
Bombo sank of the Australian coast and the folowing is from a newspaper cutting telling they story of some of the survivors.


Ship Capsizes Off Wollongong

Twelve Drowned

Two survivors came ashore at Bulli on Wednesday morning after being ten hours in the water.

The two survivors are:

Michael Fitzsimmons (48) fireman, of Napier street, North Sydney, and Thorvald Thomson (57) also a fireman.

The body of another member of the crew was washed ashore north of Corrimal and Mr. A. Barnett, in his trawler Pacific Gull, recovered a second body believed to be that of the captain. Fitzsimmons was little the worse for his experience, but Thomson was suffering badly from exposure and was taken to Bulli Hospital for treatment.

The Bombo, a steel vessel of 640 tons was built in 1930 especially for carrying blue metal from Kiama to Sydney. On Tuesday she left Kiama shortly before noon for Sydney, a trip which usually takes about eight hours. She was carrying about 600 tons of metal, slightly less than a full load. A graphic story of the trip was told by Fitzsimmons; who claimed that the cause of the sinking was the shifting of the ship's cargo. He said after leaving Kiama they sailed the usual course but about 5 pm, when about 5 miles off Stanwell Park he noticed the ship listing to port. He said he heard the Captain A. R. Bell tell the chief engineer he was going to turn back and to keep the engines going slowly to keep steerage way on the ship.

They continued southward until about 9.30 pm. when, some four or five miles north east of Wollongong lighthouse, he heard that the Captain had informed the second engineer he proposed to drop anchor off Port Kembla until daylight. Fitzsimmons said he noticed the list was getting worse and than heard the Captain' shout "All hands on deck and lower the starboard lifeboat". "I tried to assist two sailors to lower the boat" said Fitzsimmons, ship began to list more so we grabbed the lifebouys and jumped. He said the captain and seven others followed them and no more, than no more than two minutes later the ship turned over on her port side and sank.

Fitzsimmons said the captain told them to keep together and they commenced swimming towards the beach, six of them clinging to two pieces of timber. Another man who was swimming weakly was helped to this board. "After paddling for some hours we became very tired," said Fitzsimmons, "and then we just hung onto the timber." The floated around until about 4 o'clock when the beach came into site and they recommenced to paddle. One man pointed out the plank might be dangerous in the surf, so one by one they left the plank and made for the shore. He said he managed to struggle ashore where he took off his lifebelt. He made towards a house where he saw a bread carter, Mr. Hobbs, of Hubbards bakery, who gave an overcoat and took him to Bulli police station.

Throughout yesterday a close watch was kept on the beaches and an aerial search was carried out.

Mr. E. F. Reid, of Wollongong and South Coast Aviation Services, with Mr. Brian Crump, as observer, made a two hour search in one of the companies tiger moth planes. Members of the Woonona Surf Club joined in the search with a lifeboat. Heavy seas and drizzling rain made the task more difficult for searchers. Late yesterday afternoon a Catalina search plane dropped flares over several objects floating in the water off Coldale.

Owing to very heavy seas, however, launches and boats were unable to put out to investigate the wreckage and pieces of similar were washed ashore at many beaches, but only a lifebouy found near Bulli beach has been actually identified as coming from the Bombo. Police and citizens have maintained watching squads on cliffs and beaches between Cronulla and Wollongong during the day.

Fitzsimmons was in a state of collapse when he arrived at the Bulli Police station with Hobbs and had to be carried into the station. He refused to go to hospital and declined a suggestion that he should have a sleep.He was provided with a meal at the home of Sgt P. Kennedy, Bulli station sergeant. Sgt. Kennedy also gave him socks, shoes, and clothing.
Propeller from the wreck of "Bombo"

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