HMT SS SLAMAT (Lost 27 April 1944) & SS TANDA (Lost 16 July 1944)

The last twelve months have been interesting! We are back in a COVID-19 Lockdown in Brisbane, Australia, so I have time to read through the website. I hope everybody is doing fine.

Here is a bit of information about a small “Radio Officer” memorial project that I am working on. I have an interest in ensuring people (or their prior employments) that have had a personal or workplace impact on myself are not forgotten.

I would occasionally sound “The Last Post” and a few of the “Reveille” calls on a bugle as obsequies, memorials and/or commemorations (here in Queensland, Australia). Over the past year these soundings have grown in popularity and have become very regular; mainly due to my own interest and motivation to ensure some of our War Dead and post-Vietnam Service Deaths are not forgotten, not just Radio Officers.

I started out my working life looking after communication systems servicing the Fishing and Prawning Fleet in Far North Queensland (Australia). Part of that involved setting and testing emergency HF Antenna sites for the Royal Flying Doctor Service at various Cattle Stations (with airstrips) all over Cape York Peninsula so that the “Fishing Fleet” and users of the “Outpost Radio Service” had access to effective emergency medical evacuation facilities. While working “out bush” I met a group of soldiers, who talked me into joining the Army as there was a need for for people that had experience in high frequency radio communications. My career was Radio Communications, but the bulk of my working life, in one way or another, has been with the Australian Army, and the Merchant Navy.

I am interested in many things, but they mostly revolve around Mercantile or Military Communications. I get hyper-excited when these interests overlap.

Since the mid 1980s there have been two Australian Army SIGNALS officers that I have always taken time to remember on the anniversary of their deaths. They are:

VX8357 Lieutenant Walter John SCOTT (KIA HMT SS Slamat, 27 April 1941), and

NX119988 Lieutenant Colonel Robert Claud Vivian HUMPHERY (KIA SS Tanda, 15/16 July 1944).

2021 is the 80th Anniversary of the Loss of the HMT SS Slamat, and Australian Corps of Signals Officer VX8357 Lieutenant Walter John SCOTT. I have requested that the Australian Naval Association (Queensland) consider a service at the “Jack Tar Memorial” (South Brisbane) around the 27th April, but I am not holding my breath with regard to a positive outcome. I have also requested the Company of Master Mariners of Australia (Queensland Branch), of which I am a member, host a Service; they are investigating whether a special Commemoration can be shared/mentioned on Anzac Day (Brisbane) on 25 April. Regardless, I shall be holding a small “Bugle Sounding” at Sunset on the 27th April 2021 (COVID-19 issues may need to be considered) at Ipswich (

Also of note is the lesser known SS Tanda Incident involving former LTCOL Humphery.

His file is online (viewable and downloadable) at the National Archives of Australia (I paid for it to be scanned and made available). He started out as a soldier during the Great War of 1914-1918, was injured and discharged from Service; studied Radio Engineering (PMG First Class) whilst getting “Service Fit” again; got appointed as an Army Officer; was Officer Commanding at various Citizen Military Force Units (part time volunter forces) between the Wars; and Commanding Officer of a number of Australian Corps of Signals Schools during World War Two. He tried a number of times to go overseas with the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, but was always rejected. In late June 1944 he discharged from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in order to “join the War” as a Merchant Navy Radio Officer. He, and the other Radio Officers, went down with the ship (on his very first trip as a Radio Officer) sending the distress call that saved the lives of most of the Crew and Passengers.

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