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The Scrap Iron Flotilla Australian Navy War in the Mediterranean

The Scrap Iron Flotilla Five Valiant Destroyers and the Australian War in the Mediterranean by M Carlton
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HMAS Vendetta, Vampire, Voyager, Stuart and Waterhen were old ships, small with worn-out engines. Their crews used to joke they were held together by string and chewing gum; when the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels heard of them, he sneered that they were a load of scrap iron.

Yet by the middle of 1940, these destroyers were valiantly escorting troop and supply convoys, successfully hunting for submarines and indefatigably bombarding enemy coasts. Sometimes the weather could be their worst enemy - from filthy sandstorms blowing off Africa to icy gales from Europe that whipped up mountainous seas and froze the guns. Conditions on board were terrible - no showers or proper washing facilities; cramped and stinking sleeping quarters; unpleasant meals of spam and tinned sausages, often served cold in a howling squall. And always the bombing, the bombing. And the fear of submarines.

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