Yirrkala HMAS Patricia Cam Memorial Back to Search

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Location Tuffin Road, Yirrkala, East Arnhem - Northern Territory, Australia
Type memorial

A monument commemorates those who were killed in the sinking the H.M.A.S. Patricia Cam in January 1943 during World War Two.

Patricia Cam Memorial

On 3 March 1942, under the command of Lieutenant John Grant, RANR, the Patricia Cam was requisitioned and commissioned as an auxiliary minesweeper.
Five days after her commissioning, HMAS Patricia Cam sailed from Sydney, heading north to Darwin, where she arrived on the 5 April, 1942. She was tasked with carrying stores and salvage from the wreck of American ship Don Isidro that was sunk in the first raid on Darwin on 19 February 1942.
Early on the morning of 13 January 1943, carrying stores and passengers for several outlying missions, HMAS Patricia Cam left Darwin. On-board, in addition to her crew, was Reverend Leonard Kentish, Chairman of the Methodist Northern Australia Mission District along with five Aboriginal personnel, one of whom was a native pilot who regularly assisted with navigation among the uncharted reefs and shoals. Not being equipped with radar, the Patricia Cam relied on the eyes and the ears of the ship’s crew for safe passage and warning of approaching vessels.
At 1.00PM on 22 January, a Japanese, three seater twin-floatplane dived from out of the sun with its engine shut down, passing over the ship from stem to stern – no more than 100 feet above the mast. The Japanese sea plane dropped a 60kg bomb and sprayed her with machine gun fire. The bomb ripped through the cargo hatch and exploded in the bottom planking. It took less than a minute for HMAS Patricia Cam to be inundated and sink.
Ordinary Seaman Neil Penglase, went down with the ship. Some of the survivors bunched together in the water and were hit by a secondary bomb that killed crew members and Edward Nobes and two of the Aboriginal passengers. For the next 30 minutes the remaining survivors were machine-gunned in the water.
Moments after the attack, the Japanese plane flew off to the north, only to return and land nearby. Reverend Kentish, threatened with a revolver, was ordered to swim over to the aircraft and after a brief interaction, he was taken prisoner (this occasion is possibly the only time an Australian citizen was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese in mainland Australian waters during WWII, he was beheaded by the Japanese 4 May 1943).
The remaining survivors were spotted on 27 January 1943 by an RAAF aircraft from Horn Island. They were all rescued on 29 January and returned to Darwin two days later.
But this story was lost in history for 74 years, the wreck was discovered by a Mr Owen while looking for African coins in East Arnhem Land.

Built Not yet discovered
Opened 14 May 2017

HMAS Patricia Cam

Sunk by enemy action - 22nd January 1943 - Wessel Islands NT

[ Names ]

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Sponsored by the NT Government`s The Territory Remembers & NT History Grants programme

East Arnhem Regional Council - the Rirratjungu & Gumati Associations, Dedicated on 24th April 2017 by the Reverend Noel Kentish


Good (The Yolngu and along with the Yunipingu’s are the traditional owners of the land)

View Tributes of Honour Description


Showing 6 people of interest from memorial


Service number PA2516
Ordinary Seaman
Born 4 Sep 1922

JOHNSTON, Andrew Alexander

Service number B3815
Ordinary Seaman

NOBES, Edward David

Service number PA2319
Able Seaman
Born 6 Dec 1922

CAMERON, Percival James

Service number S6670

KENTISH, Leonard Noel

Service number Q69031
Born 4 Aug 1907

MOFFITT, William Robson

Service number 24501

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