Stories from a naval past
In 2005 the Maritime Museum contracted historian David Gist to track down persons who served on HMAS Nestor or HMAS Townsville (I) and to record their stories. Both are World War II vessels, represented by scale models in the Museum's collection.
Doug Wickens served as a torpedoman aboard HMAS Nestor.
Named after the king of Pylos and nephew of the god Neptune in Greek mythology, she was a British N-class destroyer, built in Scotland. Displacing 2,250 tons, she was armed with six 4.7-inch guns, one 4-inch gun, one 4-barrel 2-pounder, four 20 mm Oerlikon guns, ten torpedo tubes and depth charges.
She had only been at sea for 14 months after being commissioned in Scotland for the Royal Australian Navy in 1941. During that time she had escorted North Atlantic convoys, participated in the pursuit of the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941, engaged in escort duties in the South Atlantic, attacked and sank the enemy German submarine U-127 off Cape St Vincent, protected heavy ships during the bombardment of Bardia and served with the 7th Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean.
On 15 June 1942, whilst returning to Alexandria (Egypt) after convoy protection duty, the ship was attacked, causing serious damage to the boiler rooms. HMS Javelin took the crippled Nestor under tow, attempting to reach Alexandria, over 500 km distant. However, the lines parted twice during the night, and with more enemy attacks expected, Nestor’s crew was transferred to Javelin at dawn. Nestor was then scuttled and sunk by depth charges the morning of 16 June. It was the only vessel of the five newly acquired N-class destroyers that was lost in action before ever seeing Australia.
Download Doug Wickens' story