Clarrie Dawes WW2 Veteran: 14YO “Mum I have a job and I’m on my way”

Posted on: Mon 24 Jun 2019

Part 1.   1938 Thevenard, near Ceduna.   14 year old Clarrie had a yearning to join the Navy as soon as he was old enough. He was sweeping grain spilled from wheat bags being unloaded from a little ship called the Coorabie, and was offered the job of deck boy aboard. Clarrie had no idea what a deck boy job was, but grabbed at the  opportunity.  He shot off home, threw a few clothes into a sugar bag and called out to his Mum as he ran out of the house “I have a job and  am on my way!”

The Coorabie was taken over by The US Army Small Ships Service in 1942 with Clarrie still aboard.  In this interview we hear an amazing account of Clarrie’s life at sea on various ships, carrying out essential wartime service.

Interviewer Helen Meyer

Part 2 of Clarrie’s interview will broadcast on 01.07.2019


Clarrie sent his first pay packet home to his Mother to buy his 5year old brother Leon a bicycle to ride to school. Leon was the last Australian to be killed in the Korean War. He was just 19 years old.

MacNamara from Clare was the Engineer aboard the Leprena.  Leprena was powered by a deisel McCormick-Deering tractor engine, and MacNamara knew just how to keep it from emitting the dreaded black smoke that could give away their position to the enemy.

The Leprena got the job of taking a Police contingent to investigate the murder of Australian Army personnel on an island behind Rabaul.

The Maiwara carrying a barge on her aft deck. PNG WW2. Photo provided by C Dawes and used with permission

A special Thank You to:

Mary Dawes for the lunches, cakes and kindness, The District Council of CedunaThe Ceduna Foreshore Hotel, Ceduna Car Rental (Cedrent)  and the people of Ceduna for making Service Voices so welcome in your lovely town, and enabling us to record Clarrie’s story.


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