Sunday, 4 February 2007

What happened to the HMS Laburnum?

In a number of evacuation records the ship "LABURNUM" is referenced. However I could not track down any records of this ship having actually left Singapore. In my request for information I was kindly provided with the following summaries:-

HMS Laburnum
Acacia Class Sweeping Sloop.
Launched by Charles Connell & Company Scotstoun, Yard No: 375, on 10/6/1915 and lost in 1942 Singapore.
1200t normal
76.2m x 10.1m x 3.4m
1 shaft TE, 2 boilers, 1800ihp giving 16.5 knots
2 x 12pdr, and 2 x 3pdr AA guns
Crew 90

1935 became the drill ship in Singapore.
1942 scuttled during the Japanese takeover.

From a another reference on SHIPS OF THE ROYAL NAVY:-
LABURNUM - Sloop 'Acacia' class - Connell (shipbuilders)-10/6/1915. Became a drillship 1935 - Lost 2/1942 Singapore
LABURNUM -(EX WAKATAKA) Drillship, 1890 tons Japanese minelayer seized 17/10/1947, renamed 1949

LABURNAM - Singapore Drill Ship
1) Sloop (1915)- Reserve Drill Ship - Straits Settlement 1935, arrived 10/03/1935, lost 2/1942 Singapore Paid Off 28/02/1942
2) Ex Japanese WAKATAKA, Minelayer seized, renamed LABURNAM as drill ship 09/1949 to 1951

This excerpt from a Royal Malaysian Navy website that I was kindly provided is also interesting:

On 18 January 1935, the British Admiralty presented Singapore with an Acacia-class sloop, HMS Laburnum, to serve as the Reserve's Headquarters and drill ship. It was berthed at the Telok Ayer Basin. HMS Laburnum was sunk in February 1942, prior to the capitulation of Singapore at the beginning of the Pacific Second World War.

In Ralph Armstrong's book "Short Cruise on the Vyner Brooke" where he documents his personal experiences during the evacuation he stated "We were told to report to the HMS Laburnum at the wharves. It turned out to be a land station by that name......"

Ralph Armstrong and family ended up being allocated to the "SS Vyner Brooke" so I assume that based on his description the "Laburnum" it seemed that a number of evacuees were told to report to the "Laburnum" but upon arrival were allocated to other ships.

Various sources have confirmed that the vessel was used as a Navy "land station" and that she was scuttled during the Japanese takeover and so may also have been damaged while berthed. Thank you also for the lead with the photo!


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