Welcome to our website. The U.S. Army Small Ships Section 1942-1947 was a unique organisation formed in response to advancing Japanese Forces in the Pacific during WWII. During 1942 the Small Ships Section commenced landings in New Guinea. This ‘attack fleet’ consisted of a wide variety of vessels acquired in New Zealand and Australia, including fishing trawlers and sailing ships. The ‘Small Ships’ carried both U.S. and Australian troops, along with supplies and armaments.
The Small Ships Section employed approximately 3,500 Australian civilians who served alongside U.S. Army Personnel and Merchant Seaman from all over the world. The Australians were released for employment by the Australian Government and ranged from 15 to 80 years of age. Several members were disabled and many others were Veterans of The Great War For Civilisation (WWI).
The contribution of the Small Ships Section to the allied war effort was indispensable, however after the war the civilian crews of Small Ships Section were unrecognised by both U.S. & Australian Governments. There was no publicly available information about their Service until 1995 when Veterans Bill Lunney and Frank Finch published a book titled ‘Forgotten Fleet’. There has been significant recognition afforded the Small Ships Section during recent years, however it seems there is plenty of catching up to do!
Many vessels were sunk by enemy action and a complete list of those who Did Not Return is yet to be compiled. Due to lack of available records we only have partial lists of crew members and those whose lives were lost while defending their country.
The objectives of our Association are to promote the Service of Small Ships Section; to assist the Veterans and their families; to foster the legacy of the Small Ships Section and U.S. Army Transportation Corps.
Membership of the Association is open to Veterans, relatives of Veterans and individuals or organisations that support the legacy of Small Ships Section.
Membership Fees and Donations directly support the surviving Veterans and their families to gain recognition and commemorate their Service. In this way we hope to encourage commemoration of the Honour, Courage and Sacrifice of Small Ships Section.
Approximately 3,000 Australian families are yet to seek information or recognition in relation to their ancestors Service with Small Ships Section. We encourage any person who has information about a Veteran or believes a member of their family served with Small Ships Section to contact the Association.
The story of the Small Ships Section is a largely untold chapter of our national and wartime histories’. We hope you enjoy learning about the Service of Small Ships Section.