Ray was a member of the North Bondi Surf Club who joined Small Ships at age 16 in April 1943. Ray’s father was a boy sailor in the Royal Navy Australia Squadron in 1910 Serving in the Great War and again in World War II, before being discharged from HMAS Perth.
Several members of the North Bondi Surf Club joined Small Ships including Sidney Middleton who Ray met on the northern tip of Oro Bay. Sid was on a Higgins boat which was used as an air crash boat as it was faster than anything the Air Force had available.
Whilst operating a tug boat around Hollandia, Ray met with another mate from the Surf Club, Peter McClean who was on the S-141 Mulcra as Greaser.
Whilst in Hollandia Ray met yet another mate from the Surf Club who seemed to have privileged duties. Bluey was ‘all dressed up’ and Ray asked him if he was on a tug-boat. “No”, says Bluey, “I’m the Lifeguard on the nurse’s beach!”
During 1943 Ray also met our esteemed late Treasurer PAT CURTIS M.B.E. on the beach at Milne Bay. Pat was working as Steward on S-188 Mactan, operating as an Army Officers’ Recreation Vessel.
Ray has fond memories of the Small Ships vessels, particularly the schooner S-6 Argosy Lemal and the ketches S-58 Harold, S-62 Hilda Norling and S-63 Jane Moorhead which he describes as “a beautiful sea boat”. After joining the Jane Moorhead in Oro Bay, Ray sailed to Morobe and Tambu Bay supplying ammunition to the troops in battle, then returned to Milne Bay to put her on dry-dock for overhaul. Years later Ray was amazed to see the Jane Moorhead on her side, sinking in Homebush Bay.
During Ray’s time on Jane Moorhead the cook was Peter Dyez. Peter was a former Lieutenant in the French Foreign Legion, one of ten Legionnaires who had stolen a yacht in Indochina and fled to New Caledonia to avoid Japanese Forces. Upon arrival in New Caledonia they were arrested for desertion. After contemplating the seriousness of their situation, they escaped prison, stole another boat and sailed to Townsville where the authorities did not know what to do with them; so they joined the Small Ships Section!
Ray’s first Small Ship S-41 Timoshenko was a 50’ wooden trawler that saw a lot of action in New Guinea. After the capture of Hollandia Ray recalls Timoshenko travelling up the Fly River with ANGAU Officers who were headed for the jungle. Their mission was to travel overland back towards Hollandia looking for hundreds of Japanese troops who had fled inland, possibly trying to reach Dutch New Guinea. Neither the Japanese nor any trace of them was found. The fate of these troops became a great mystery to the Army and the local population.
Lae Harbour after capture
After some time in hospital with malaria, Ray Young also Served on S-57 Marjorie Jean, S-141 Mulcra, S-64 Leprena, several tug-boats and finally a Fast Supply Boat. The FS-B was used to deliver supplies and then to deliver stretcher cases to hospital ships USNS Mercy, USS Faith, USS Hope and USS Comfort.
1945 Ray began working with a new crew, performing the gruesome task of looking for crashed aircraft. After the war Ray worked on tug-boats in Sydney and returned to the surf at Bondi. While working for Applied Chemicals in 1978 Ray was assigned to fix an automatic cooling system on USS Enterprise, resulting in his first trip by helicopter!