- Andrews, Grahame, (Honorary Life Member)
- Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 2011 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Commissioned into the RAN as Auxiliary Trawlers were the following Cam and Sons ships:
Alfie Cam, 1919 – 282 grt. Commissioned on July 28 1940 she worked with the Minesweeping Group 66, based in Fremantle. She was paid off on 6 July 1944 and was returned to her owners. On 10 July 10 1953 she sustained severe damage on rocks near Eden, NSW and was soon scrapped.
Beryl (11), 1914 – 248 grt. Commissioned October 2, 1939 in Minesweeping Group 54, based in Melbourne. She was also used as a boom gate vessel. After the war she was used by Cam and Sons, until scrapping in 1955.
Coonambee, 1919 – 222 grt. Sold by Red Funnel Trawlers to Cam & Sons in 1929, commissioned 9 August 1940 as part of Minesweeping Group 74, based in Brisbane.
At Sydney when Japanese submarines attacked on 31 May 31 1942 and detected a submarine in Taylor Bay. Sold back to her owners on June 21, 1944 and was retired for scrapping in 1954.
Goorangai,1919- 223grt. Commissioned 9 October 1940 in Minesweeping Group 54, Melbourne. Lost 20 November 1940.
Mary Cam, 1918 – 202grt. Commissioned 5 October 1942 and paid off 14 November 1945. She was scrapped about 1958.
Olive Cam, 1919 – 281grt. Commissioned 6 October 1939 as part of the Minesweeping Group 66, based in Fremantle. She was part of the group that looked for the survivors of lost cruiser HMAS Sydney. She was returned to her owners and was wrecked near Green Cape on 2 November 1954, with three crew lost.
Patricia Cam, 1940 -301 grt. This wooden motor ship, newly built, was commissioned on 3 March 1942. She was used in the small ship shuttle service that was used to ferry supplies from North Queensland to Darwin during 1942 and into 1943. Her design was mentioned above.
Samuel Benbow, 1918 – 203 grt. Sold to Cam & Sons 1940 by AA.Murrell. Commissioned 5 September 1940 in Minesweeping Group 50 at Sydney. Paid off 1 November 1945 and returned to trade. She was scrapped about 1950.
Red Funnel Trawlers provided the following ships:
Durraween, 1919 – 271grt. Requisitioned 29 July 1940 as part of Minesweeping Group 54, based in Port Phillip. During 1940 with HMAS Orara she swept clear passages off Wilsons Promontory in Bass Strait. She paid off in 1945 and was returned to her owners. She was scrapped 1952.
Goolgwai, 1919 – 271 grt. Commissioned 6 October 1939 in Minesweeping Group 50 which was based in Sydney. She paid off 20 November 1945 but was not returned to Red Funnel Trawlers until 17 June 1947. Goolgwai was wrecked on 29 May 1955.
Korowa, 1919 – 324 grt. Commissioned 6 October 1939 as a unit of Minesweeping Group 66, based in Fremantle. She was the largest of the commercial trawlers in service with the RAN. She was returned to trade post war and was scrapped 1954.
Tongkol, 1926 – 292 grt. Owned by A.A. Murrell. Commissioned 4 October 1939 in Minesweeping Group 50 at Sydney.
Sold post war to China in 1946.
Bonthorpe, 1927 – 273 grt. Requisitioned 5 February 1940 and commissioned into the Minesweeping Group 66 at Fremantle. Sold by the Government 29 November 1947 and sailed to China in 1951.
Although minesweeping is an inherently dangerous occupation the requisitioned trawlers suffered their losses from non-mine associated incidents. HMAS Goorangai became the RAN’s first loss in WW2. Commissioned in October 1940 she was lost with all hands on 20 November 1940 when she was run down, while working at night, on Port Phillip, by the transport MV Duntroon. HMAS Patricia Cam was attacked by Japanese aircraft while between New Guinea and Australia on 22 January 1943. Eight of her complement was killed but the majority were rescued. One passenger was taken aboard a Japanese vessel and was later murdered by Japanese soldiers. Perhaps these incidents should be balanced by the number of fishing trawlers that were sunk or wrecked while carrying out their normal commercial duties, deep sea fishing was, and is, a dangerous occupation.
Although the trawlers were acting naval ships and carried mainly naval crews, they were never really considered to be fighting ships. The armament carried by HMAS Alfie Cam can be considered to be typical – one 12 pdr low angle gun, two 20mm Oerlikon heavy machine guns, several .303 Vickers machine guns and up to four small depth charges. The machine guns were intended, mainly, for sinking or exploding floating mines.