William Bertalli and Alfred Smith were buried at the Lae War Cemetery in New Guinea.  Their names have since been incorporated on Panel 3 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial.  Both left behind wives.




In his memoir, thirty years after the explosion and loss of Lolita, John Blunt recalled the remainder of the crew visiting him in the Madang hospital and telling him what had happened at Alexishafen.  He spent some weeks in the hospital and fortunately the burns healed well and all physical scaring eventually disappeared.  He praised the work of the medical staff and the professional treatment and care of the nurses.  He was discharged from the hospital and posted to the corvette HMAS Cowra for return to Sydney.  With a small advance of pay he was able to purchase a lined American jacket for the voyage home, which would be in the middle of winter.  As a supernumerary on Cowra, he did not have to perform any technical duties but he joined the rest of the crew to keep watches.  His action station for the voyage was with the anti-aircraft Bofors gun which he said was exercised frequently.  Although it was late in the war, it was generally accepted that Japanese submarines had been positively sighted off the east coast of Australia.  


On arrival in Sydney, he was given ten days leave.  Soon after, he succumbed to a nasty attack of malaria and was admitted to the Navy’s Canonbury Hospital - on the waterfront at the end of Point Piper – not far from Muirhead-Gould’s former Tresco residence.  Treatment, he recounts, was excellent and he recovered, but tests showed the explosion had given him ‘bad nerves’.  He was discharged as ‘physically unfit for naval service’ on 22 November 1945.


He returned to the public service and after many years ‘catching up’ in seniority with those who did not enlist, he recovered his career which culminated in being appointed to the position of Chief Superintendent of Supply for the Navy.  With the position came an entitlement to live in the two storey heritage house at the northern end of Spectacle Island in Sydney Harbour – the very place he had spent his early working life in the public service before being permitted to enlist.  In the mid 1980s and over a few years, he suffered a number of heart attacks and died in 1986 at the premature age of 65 years and 10 months.  Years later, the Department of Veterans Affairs found his heart condition was attributable to the explosion.

It appears, that of the crew of Lolita who sailed from Sydney in 1944, Blunt was the only member of the ship’s company to have been with the vessel for the whole voyage to Alexishafen and witness the destruction of Lolita.


By the end of August 1945, Lieutenant John Trim had returned to Australia and was demobilized in February 1946. (168)  Nothing more is known, other than a brief mention by John Blunt in his memoir:

The skipper also had severe burns and was still in hospital when I returned to Sydney and I understand that he suffered a very severe nervous breakdown as a result of his experience.

As described to the Board of Inquiry by members of his crew, Trim stayed with Lolita endeavouring to save her till nothing more could be done.  It may have been those commendable actions to the last, that resulted in his severe burns and later medical conditions.

168 NAA: A6769, Trim J., Service Record