11th Australian Small Ships Company

From Our Contribution

11th Small Ships.jpg
Nov 1945 Brisbane. Ship Gascoyne (AV1355) operated by the 11th Aust Small Ships Company on the slips. AWM Photo PO1279.003

Brief History

1st Water Transport Group was formed at Clifton Gardens in New South Wales in August 1942 to operate the small craft needed to operate in the ports of New Guinea. It was to have a Group HQ, an Operating Company and a maintenance Company. In September the Group HQs moved to Port Moresby and crews arrived at Milne Bay and Port Moresby, some with craft, over the next few months. Once the Japanese advance had been halted and the immediate danger was reduced, the water transport organisation was rationalised in November 1942 with the HQs moving to Milne Bay, leaving a detachment behind in Port Moresby. The craft based at Milne Bay provided support to the infantry as they pushed north around the coast.

In march a Landing craft detachment was formed at Terapo to take traffic up the Lakekamu River to Bulldog, from where a road was being built to supply forces at Wau. In about March 1943 the unit was renamed 1st Water Transport Operating Company. By July detachments were operating from Morobe to supply the advance on Salamaua nd the units HQs moved there, while detachments were at Nassau Bay and Tambu Bay. A reorganisation in October 1943 saw the unit renamed 11th Australian Water Transport Company (Small Craft) with HQs at Morobe and detachments at Oto Bay and Tambu Bay, operating north and west of Oto Bay.

With the capture of Le and Finschhafen, detachments moved there, with the HQs unit at Lae in October 1943. Soon after the main operating base moved to Labu from where they serviced the Huon Gulf and along the Rai Coast towards Madang. In May, the unit left for Toorbul Point in Queensland nd after leave they reassembled at the Royal Australian Engineer Training Centre at Kapooka where they were re-organised as the 11th Australian Small Ships Company before returning to Toorbul Point in September. In November 944 the unit moved to Mt Martha in Victoria where they collected craft that had been used in Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, training with them until they moved to Toorbul Point in May 1945. In May a detachment moved to the staging area at Morotai for the liberation of Borneo. The rest of the unit moved to Morotai in August before moving to Labuan where they took over US Landing Craft which were supporting operations around Brunei Bay. One detachment remained on Morotai and another moved to Balikpapan. In August 1945 they were transferred to the new Transportation Corps. One man died in January 1946 from injuries received while serving with this unit.

Unit Personnel


Content has come from The Unit Guide - Volume 3 - The Australian Army 1939-1945, pages 3.547 & 3.548 - Graham R McKenzie-Smith - Big Sky Publishing - 2018

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