Memorial plaques unveiled in South West Rocks

Local World War Two veterans unveiled plaques dedicated to the Australian Merchant Navy and US Army Small Ships Section during a memorial service in South West Rocks yesterday.

Local veterans Harry Cruger of South West Rocks and James Gadd of Nambucca Heads who both served in the Small Ships Section were celebrated and recognised for their service during WWII.

The US Army Small Ships Section was formed in response to the advancement of Japanese forces in the South Pacific and played a crucial role in transporting supplies to Allied troops, carrying food, water, ammunition, mail and medical supplies as well as collecting the wounded and repatriating the dead.

They were comprised mainly of fishing trawlers, schooners, ketches, luggers, tug boats, yachts and ferries and were manned by civilian Merchant Seamen.

Secretary of the US Army Small Ships Association Contribution, Daniel O’Brien, said it was an honour to recognise the service of these men. 

“These were events that shaped our country. They were brave boys and men,” Mr O’Brien said. 

“The service is significant for the veterans as their branches of service were previously unrecognised at the South West Rocks Cenotaph.”

Yesterday also marked the 73rd anniversary of the foundering of Coweambah where six survivors, including Mr Gadd, were washed ashore on the northern side of the Macleay River and taken to Kempsey Hospital.

Veteran Mr Gadd addressed the crowd and said he was proud to be here to unveil the plaques dedicated to his service during WWII.

“It is a great honour to be here today to celebrate the Merchant Navy and their service,” Mr Gadd said. 

Both Mr Cruger and Mr Gadd unveiled the plaques at the Cenotaph that represent the service they provided along with all the other men who served in the Small Ships Section during WWII.