By Dillon Shelley
THE HMAS Shepparton (J248), a symbol of our town’s contribution to World War II, is a Bathurst-class corvette that sailed with distinction under the motto “By Wisdom And Courage.” Built at the HMA Naval Dockyard in Williamstown, Victoria, the Shepparton was laid down on 14th November 1941, launched on 15th August 1942 and commissioned on 1st February 1943.
Named after our beloved town, the Shepparton was one of 60 corvettes constructed during the war, and one of 36 initially manned and commissioned solely by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The vessel was primarily employed as a survey ship, updating outdated charts and data for regions of New Guinea, a task of immense strategic importance during the war.
The Shepparton, with her displacement of 650 tons (standard), 1,025 tons (full war load), and an armament that included a 4 inch Mk XVI gun, Oerlikon 20 mm cannons and a Bofors 40 mm L/60 gun, served in New Guinea and New Britain between April 1943 and October 1944. She received two battle honours for her wartime service: “Pacific 1943” and “New Guinea 1943–44.”
The Shepparton’s efforts, along with other survey ships, resulted in a wealth of survey and hydrographic data. As one author noted, these areas “are better mapped than the greater part of the Australian mainland, or for that matter, better than many parts of the world which were outside the operative zones of the war.”
The Shepparton was decommissioned on 10th May 1946 and eventually sold for scrap in 1958, but her legacy lives on, a testament to the courage and wisdom of those who served aboard her.