From Our Contribution
In 1942 the Australian Government took over the "Wanaka" for service with the RAAF, playing a very important role in supplying essential equipment, personnel and food to RAAF Units throughout the islands and ports. She was armed with a 4" deck gun at her bow and a 12 pound gun aft, as well as 20mm anti-aircraft guns on the bridge. Her crew was a mixture of New Zealand Merchant Officers, Australian Merchant seamen, RAN Gunners, supported by RAAF Medical Attendants, Wireless Operators, Storekeepers and Mess Stewards.
During the 19 Feb 1942 Japanese air raid on Darwin, the Wanaka was in the harbour and despite attempts to sink her she only suffered minor damage from bomb splinters. On 19 Mar 1942 she again escaped Japanese attention having just left the wharf when the Japanese began their attack, this time with no damage. However, on 15 Dec 1943 while returning to Australia she was caught in a strong storm and heavy seas, she was driven onto Eden Reef, capsizing on her side, and losing 10 men overboard. When no salvage crew could be found, the RAAF called for volunteers with suitable experience to recover her, and this was achieved with minor temporary repairs to her hull allowing her to be towed to Sydney. Following repairs she returned to her RAAF duties until 1946 when she was handed back to her owners who used her on the Sydney - Hobart route.
The ship was subsequently sold a number of times and renamed before being sent to Taiwan in1968 to be broken up for scrap.
- No. 1 Repair & Salvage Unit RAAF 7 - 15 June 1943 Darwin to Thursday Island