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In 1949 RFA Wave Governor, while on passage in the Timor Sea, was passing to the south-eastward of Cartier Islet when they discovered a previously unreported bank and thus signalled its location to the Royal Australian Navy.
The bank was promulgated in the Australian Notice to Mariners No 352 of 1949.
Between May and August 1958 the Royal Australian Navy Surveying Service conducted a survey in the Timor Sea to prove safe deep draught shipping routes in the vicinity of Sahul Bank. It was known from various part reports that the Timor Sea in that vicinity contained many banks and shoals, and the existence of other unknown banks and shoals was to be expected.
The Sahul Bank had been known to the Portuguese since about 1540
Image courtesy of the Australian Hydrographic Service - RAN
The survey was carried out by Task Element 222.214.171.124 which consisted of the following ships – HMAS’s Swan, Warrego, Fremantle and Cootamundra.
The Task Group checked the presence of the Bank discovered by RFA Wave Governor and found that it correctly disclosed a definite and separate bank, in the reported position, and with a least depth of 18 fathoms.
This Bank was named Wave Governor Bank
Frederick Hanbury Gething was born on 21 September 1879 in Aberavon, Glamorgan, Wales, and qualified as a 2nd Mate in the Mercantile Marine at Swansea on 25 November 1901, he went on to pass the exam as a 1st Mate on 27 July 1903, before passing his Master's Certificate in Steamships at Swansea on 24 September 1906 The certificate number '003785' was issued to him at Port Talbot on 1 October 1906. At this time Gething was serving as Third Officer of the S.S. Don Hugo, a passenger / cargo vessel, and was aboard her when she saved the crew of the shipwrecked Dutch registered S.S. Drague on 8 November 1908, Gething was awarded the Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life at Sea, he also received the Silver Medal of the South Holland Lifesaving Society for Shipwrecked Mariners.
John Allan, from South Shields, served during the Great War as a Donkeyman in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and was serving aboard the fleet oiler R.F.A. Mixol, having joined this ship on 18 October 1916.
An incident occurred on 19 June 1918 when an Able Seaman fell overboard in between the oiler and a battle cruiser which was then about to be refuelled. The citation for Allan's Albert Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea, 2nd Class in Bronze was published in the London Gazette for 20 September 1918.
Donkeyman John Allan's Albert Medal Obverse
Donkeyman John Allan's Albert Medal Reverse
The King approved the award of the Albert Medal for gallantry in saving life at sea to John Allan, Donkeyman, M.M.R. No.942760. The account of the services, in respect of which this medal was conferred, is as follows: - As the R.F.A. Mixol was dropping alongside to fuel one of H.M. Battle Cruisers on the 19 June 1918, Able Seaman Thomas W Johnson slipped and fell overboard between Mixol and the Cruiser; Mixol was only about ten feet clear of the Cruiser, and was closing at the time. Donkeyman John Allan, who was standing on the fore well deck of Mixol, saw the Johnson fall and that he was struggling in the water. Although it was clear that the man in the water was in imminent danger of being crushed between the two ships, Allan at once jumped overboard in the clothes he was wearing to save him. He assisted the AB to keep afloat until a rope was thrown, which he gave to him, AB Johnson was hauled on board before Allan took the rope himself. The ship was in an open anchorage, and the temperature of the water was 50 degrees.
Donkeyman John Allan became one of only two members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary to be awarded the Albert Medal, and he was discharged from RFA Mixol at Liverpool on 16 August 1919.
Only 211 Albert Medals for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea, 2nd Class in Bronze were ever awarded.
Images of Donkeyman John Allan’s medal used with the consent of Wellington Auctions
RFA Darkdale, a 1st Dale Class freighting tanker had been anchored off Jamestown, St. Helena since 4 August 1941 refuelling Royal Navy warships alongside her when on 22 October 1941 she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U68 with the loss of 41 lives.
The ships Master – Captain Thomas H Card RFA - was subsequently interviewed and gave the following evidence: -
1. “We were at anchor off St Helena and the ship was lying about 1,200 feet from the shore. We had been anchored here since 4 August, being used as a supply ship.