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Last Updated Friday 20th December 2013
BOOK REVIEW

The formation & operation of the US Army Small Ships in World War II

by Ernest A. Flint

Self-published: Coomba Park, NSW; 2013; 44pp.; KM $15 (paperback)

The United States Army Small Ships Section provided amphibious logistic support to General MacArthur’s armies in the South West Pacific Area, especially in New Guinea, but also in the Philippines, in World War II. Some ships also later served in Japan during the occupation. 1 he ships were mostly crewed by Australian civilians.

There have been two histories of the unit published previously, one in two editions Bill Lunney and Frank Finch (1998), Forgotten fleet: a history of the part played by Australian men and ships in the U.S. Army Small Ships Section in New Guinea, 1942-1945 (Forfleet Publishing: Medowie, NSW); Bill Lunney and Ruth Lunney (2004), Forgotten fleet 2: an updated and expanded history of the part played by Australian men and ships in the US Army Small Ships Section in New Guinea, 1942-45 (Forfleet Publishing: Medowie, NSW); and Ladislaw Reday (2004), The Raggle Taggle Fleet (US Army Small Ships Association: Coomba Park: NSW).

This A4 booklet is a supplement to both previous histories. It is a compilation of relevant material not available when the earlier histories were published and expands their scope to also embrace the Apprentice School which conducted a one-month course for 15-year-old boys at Walsh Bay, Sydney, prior to their deployment to Finschhafen as crewmen in late 1943; and the Repair and Maintenance Section, which not only supported the Small Ships Section in New Guinea, but also the Australian Army Water Transport, and small ships of the Australian and United States navies. It commences with a brief summary of the history of the Small Ships Section by the author. This introduction is followed by copies of a miscellany of relevant documents which have not been published previously.

An Australian government inquiry in 2009 recommended that: “Australian civilian personnel who served in ships operated by the United States Army Small Ships Section between 1942 and 1945 be recognised as eligible for Australian or Imperial recognition for that service on the same basis as members of the Merchant Navy”. The author, however, is concerned that the Australian civilian crewmen of the Small Ships Section have received limited recognition to date from the Australian government for their service.

This booklet will appeal to historians of the period and descendants of Small Ships Section crewmen.

reviewed by David Leece…………………………………………………………………… XX

This A4 booklet is a supplement to two previous histories. It is a compilation of relevant material not available when the earlier histories were published; and includes copies of a miscellany of relevant documents which have not been published previously.