United States Army Small Ships Section


Some 3000 Australians, usually with maritime connections and aged from mid-teens to the 70s, volunteered to serve with “the Small Ships” as they became known. Formed in the crucial early months of 1942 when many Australians perceived the country threatened, the Small Ships’ main base was moved to Milne Bay in August of that year.

Alongside their merchant shipping comrades, the invaluable Small Ships’ crews endured the hardships and dangers of war in equatorial areas, often doing their own coastal and inlet charting, going where larger vessels could not, incurring ship losses to enemy action and collectively moving northward as the Japanese were pushed back.

Americans joined the many Australians who sailed in the countless small ships, later called “The Forgotten Fleet” under the United States flag. They remained actively involved through to the final repulse battles and the surrender of Japan.