John Winston ELLERSHAW

Poppy

ELLERSHAW, John Winston

Service Numbers: Not yet discovered
Enlisted: 24 April 1942, Port Adelaide
Last Rank: Not yet discovered
Last Unit: Not yet discovered
Born: Hyde Park, SA, 1 February 1910
Home Town: Not yet discovered
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Killed In Action, At Sea, 11 April 1943, aged 33 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Adelaide Pulteney Grammar School WW2 Honour Roll, Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, City of Port Pirie WW2 Memorial Gates, Henley Beach Council Fallen WW1 & WW2 Honour Board, Henley Beach Council WW2 Honour Roll and Addendum
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World War 2 Service

24 Apr 1942: Enlisted Port Adelaide

HMAS Pirie

¹H.M.A.S. Pirie was one of fifty six Australian Minesweepers (commonly known as corvettes) built during World War 2 in Australian shipyards as part of the Commonwealth Government's wartime shipbuilding programme.
Off Oro Bay (New Guinea) on the 11th April 1943, Pirie was escorting the British vessel SS Hanyang as part of operation 'Lilliput', the reinforcement, supply and development of the Buna-Gona area after its capture. Pirie was subjected to a particularly determined attack by a large force of Japanese fighters and dive bombers.

She experienced six very close misses and one direct hit which struck the armoured canopy over the bridge, penetrated it, glanced off the helmsman's protective apron, struck and killed instantly the Gunnery Officer Lieutenant John Winston Ellershaw and then striking the upper deck, exploded killing six ratings and wounding four others. ²Had it not struck the bridge first, the bomb would likely had penetrated the magazine before detonating and destroying the entire ship.

Fortunately after hitting Pirie the enemy broke off the attack having lost several aircraft hit by close range anti-aircraft fire. Damage to HMAS Pirie's forward deck and superstructure necessitated in her returning to Australia to undergo repairs.
Repairs were completed in May 1943 and Pirie resumed operations escorting convoys proceeding between the Australian east coast and New Guinea. During the second half of 1944, the ship operated in the Great Barrier Reef as a minesweeper. In November, Pirie was attached to the British Pacific Fleet's Minesweeping Flotilla. In July 1945, the corvette was used as a convoy escort off Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Pirie was the third Australian warship to enter Japanese territorial waters during the war, entering Tokyo Bay on 31 August 1945.

²She remained in Tokyo Bay until mid-September and was present on Victory over Japan Day (2 September 1945), when the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed. Pirie's wartime service is recognised by three battle honours: "Pacific 1942–45", "New Guinea 1943–44", and "Okinawa 1945".
Pirie returned to Sydney in February 1946. She was decommissioned from Royal Australian Navy service on the 5th April, and was immediately recommissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Pirie. On the 21st May, Pirie, along with sister ships Launceston and Gawler, sailed for Colombo for transfer into the Turkish Navy.

Sources:
¹https://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-pirie-i
²Frame & Baker, Mutiny!

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