Macdhui (Burns Philp)

Having participated in the evacuation of civilians from Pacific islands during 1941 in the face of the Japanese threat, Macdhui was engaged during the first half of 1942 in transporting troops and equipment from Sydney to Port Moresby, coming under Japanese air attack a number of times but surviving.

A voyage from Townsville concluded at Port Moresby on the evening of 15 June 1942. At next morning’s daylight, having discharged cargo all night, she was moved out to an anchorage to discharge aviation gasolene cargo, manoeuvring at times to evade air attack. On the morning of 17 June, with shortened anchor cable to cope with further air attack, she became a target of the 61st air raid on Port Moresby. Despite more manoeuvring, during the11 a.m. raid by eighteen bombers she was hit on the bridge by one of the estimated fifty-six bombs dropped. The bomb went three decks down, causing immediate casualties. Although sustaining three more direct hits Macdhui was brought back to the wharf to attempt completion of unloading.

The next day’s air raid, soon after 10 a.m., required the ship to be moved again from the wharf and to try to manoeuvre in the harbour. On this raid – seventeen twin-engined bombers and nearly seventy bombs - she sustained four more direct hits and burst into flames. Listing to port, the ship settled quickly and the order to abandon ship was given. Her remains lie in Port Moresby harbour. Crew casualties numbered nine killed, including the ship’s doctor and the Second Officer, and eleven wounded including the Master and the Chief Officer.