Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

SAULT, John

HMAS Swan

HMAS Swan, the black spots on her side are
holes from the Japanese raid on Darwin.


Leading Seaman John Sault (17910) was born on 18 October 1905 in Wallasey, England. There is no known record of his parents.

He joined the Royal Australian Navy on 28 September 1926, received his training on HMAS Cerebus and then served on the following ships: HMAS Melbourne, HMAS Penguin, HMAS Sydney, HMAS Canberra, HMAS Perth and lastly HMAS Swan.

HMAS Swan (II) operated as a unit of the 20th Minesweeping Flotilla, clearing mines in Australian waters, and also as a convoy escort. During the bombing of Darwin, HMAS Swan (II) was able to get under way without receiving a direct hit but she was attacked several times and damaged. Three were killed during the attack, including Sault. He died from a severe shrapnel wound to the throat. John Sault was thirty-six years old when he was killed.

Tom Minto, 1st. Mate,  records in the Manunda Ship’s Log for 8am 20.2.42 at Darwin (entered on 23.2.1942) "The following patients having died from injuries were landed for burial at 8am 20.2.42 Signalman Breen, Leading Seaman Sault,  A.B. Purdon …

In the case of the three men from the HMAS Swan some doubt exists. They were brought off dead in a naval launch. One body was brought on board. The remaining two were wrapped together and were too heavy to carry on a stretcher. The launch driver was ordered to go away for more patients. And an attempt would be made to bring them back on board on his next return. There is no proof that he did return, and it seems probable that two other men were landed for burial in their names. This seems most likely in view of the fact that the ships motor launch definitely brought on board Captain Bates and 2nd Radio Operator Webster of the “British Motorist”, both badly injured. A search of the wards the following day by the Chief officer Mr. Woods of the British Motorist failed to locate these men, and all the patients on board had by then been identified. There are no patients on board named Bates or Webster.

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