ⓘ HMAS Lolita


ⓘ HMAS Lolita

HMAS Lolita was a channel patrol boat operated by the Royal Australian Navy during World War II. She was one of thirteen similar vessels, known to Sydney siders as the Hollywood Fleet.

Prior to the War, she was a private vessel built by W L Holmes launched in 1936.

She was requisitioned and later commissioned by the RAN on 22 November 1941 under the command of Commissioned Warrant Officer Herbert S Anderson RANRS. Lolita was armed with.303 Vickers machine guns fore and aft and depth charge racks on the stern.

During the Battle of Sydney Harbour often referred to as the Attack on Sydney Harbour by the Imperial Japanese Navy on 31 May and 1 June 1942, Lolita was called to investigate an object inside the western end of the anti-submarine boom net. Having identified the object to be an enemy submarine, Anderson notified the Port War Signal Station that he had sighted the submarine and was attacking. Given the submarine was located between the boom net and the Western Pile Light, Anderson was unable to make a passing run to drop Lolitas depth charges. He therefore motored Lolita stern first to the submarine where he rolled a depth charge off the stern and sped away to avoid the explosion. However, there was no explosion. Realising the water was too shallow, members of the crew attached floats to the second depth charge to slow its rate of descent so as to trigger the fuse. Having done so, Anderson again manoeuvred Lolita stern first to the submarine and rolled the second depth charge into the water. Again there was no explosion. As they approached to drop the third depth charge, the submarine exploded showering debris over Lolita and picking her up on the wave from the explosion. Subsequent investigations confirmed the crew of the submarine had triggered a self-destruct charge which severed the bow of the submarine killing both crew members. Members of Lolitas crew were satisfied that as they approached to drop the third depth charge, the crew of the submarine knew they had been spotted and as the game was up, they destroyed their submarine in an attempt to also destroy Lolita. Following the destruction of the submarine, Lolita resumed patrols.

Following the Battle of Sydney Harbour often referred to as the Attack on Sydney Harbour, HMAS Lolita continued patrol duties at Sydney and Newcastle. In August 1944, Lolita received orders to proceed to New Guinea. Following the installation of new engines and fuel tanks to extend her range, Lolita proceeded north under tow by HMAS Yandra. Lolita finally arrived at Madang on 9 April 1945, with the intention to proceed further north to Wewak. Before doing so, she attended the repair base at Alexishafen for engine repairs and hull cleaning. However, on 13 June 1945, Lolita was destroyed at the repair base by a massive explosion within the engine room. The explosion caused the death of two naval personnel, William Bertalli and Alfred Smith and badly injured the commander Lieutenant Trim and another member of the crew.

Despite Lolitas action during the Battle of Sydney Harbour causing the destruction of the enemy submarine at the boom net, HMAS Lolita, Anderson and his crew were not mentioned in Rear Admiral Muirhead-Goulds report of the Battle. Whilst a Pacific 1942 Battle Honour was awarded to her sister ships HMAS Seamist, HMAS Steady Hour and HMAS Yarroma for their roles in the Battle of Sydney Harbour, no such Battle Honour was awarded to Lolita.