43RD LANDING CRAFT COMPANY
3RD WATER TRANSPORT GROUP
CORPS OF ROYAL AUSTRALIAN ENGINEERS
CAMPED ON COOCHIEMUDLO ISLAND
AND OONOONBA DURING WW2

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Major George Deane Mitchell called for volunteers for his newly formed 43rd Landing Craft Company at Tenterfield Camp. Some 730 volunteers went on to serve in the 43rd Landing Craft Company of the 3rd Water Transport Group of the Corps of Royal Australian Engineers. In November 1943, the Third Australian Corps Guerilla Warfare Group became the nucleus in forming the 43rd Landing Craft Company.

The 43rd Landing Craft Company used ALC5, ALC15, ALC20, and ALC40 Australian Landing Craft (ALCs). The 43rd also had several launches which were used as fast supply boats and command vessels. A typical launch was 38 foot long, powered by a 6 cylinder 255 horsepower Gray Marine diesel engine with a cruising speed 14 knots and a top speed of 22 knots. It had a Vickers Machine gun and the two crew members each had a .303 " rifle.

The ship "Tangalooma" had been requisitioned from Fred Eager by the Australian Army Water Transport group during WWII. One day it failed to give the coded response when challenged by Fort Rous at it travelled through the South Passage at the southern end of Moreton Island. The infantry at Fort Rous eventually opened fire with their rifles from the beach when no coded message was received.

Another ship used by the Australian Army Water Transport group was the "Acme" which was requisitioned from Frank Duffield. The "Acme" was one of the many small military ships which were used to transport people and cargo to Brisbane from the American Liberty Ship "Rufus King" after it was wrecked in July 1942 on the South Passage Bar off the southern tip of Moreton Island.. 

"Acme" in 1938

The functions of Water Transportation units such as the 43rd Landing Craft Company were:-

1.   The resupply of essential supplies from principal base ports to forward areas, where there were no roads yet where inshore sea transport was possible

2.   The carriage of troops, especially in amphibious assaults

3.   The evacuation of wounded.

4.   The local carriage of equipment, stores and salvage.

5.   Building of minor port facilities, such as jetties and landing stages, to facilitate the operation
      of inshore water craft.

The 43rd Landing Craft Company produced their own magazine which was called "Barging About".

The 43rd Landing Craft Company had some future notable people amongst its ranks. More so than any other military unit that I have researched to date:-

DURING WW2 LATER
Captain Nigel H. Bowen The First Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia and a senior Cabinet Minister
Lieutenant Frank B. Packer Sir Frank Packer
Corporal Ninian M. Stephen Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and Governor-General of Australia 1982 - 1989

    

The 43rd Landing Craft Company left Coochiemudlo Island and caught a train at the Exhibition Station bound for Townsville on 17 March 1944.

From the 18 June 1944, many men from the disbanded 2/8th Armoured Regiment of the 1 Australian Armoured Division, AIF were absorbed into the existing Assault Army Landing Craft, Small Ships and Port Operating Companies which were all part of the Australian Army Water Transport Coy RAE, AIF. 

"A" Squadron of the 2/8th Armoured Regiment went to the 42nd Landing Craft Company, and "B" Squadron went to the 43rd Landing Craft Company.

 

Military Camps/Units at Oonoonba
(previously Fairfield) during WW2

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Watermen of War"
"A History of No. 43 Australian Water Transport Operating Company (Landing Craft) of the Royal Australian Engineers"
By Colonel John Pearn

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Robert Macklin for his assistance with this web page.

 

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 Peter Dunn 2003

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This page first produced 29 December 2001

This page last updated 24 September 2006