Frank Finch WW2 Veteran: Off to sea aged 14

Posted on: Mon 29 Jul 2019

An interesting and very endearing Aussie character.  It’s said that if Frank gets on a roll he could talk for days about his 45 years at sea (including with the US Army Small Ships Section), and never cover much of it. We’ve attempted to drag some of those stories out of Frank for today’s broadcast, and only slightly succeeded.  We’ll get him back on at a later date.    A small extract:

Darkness was upon us when we arrived off Port Moresby and it was too dangerous to attempt the run into the harbour for Jack, so he decided to cruise up and down the approaches until daylight made it safer for us to enter. It rained all that night and we had no landmarks to take a fix on. By morning there was no land in sight and we had no idea where we were, still out in the Gulf of Papua somewhere. We thought we had made allowance for the strong southeast drift for that part of the coast, but obviously not enough.  We set course to where we thought Moresby would be and an hour later a U.S. sub-chaser hove in sight.  At first they were highly suspicious of us, an odd-looking vessel flying an American flag almost as big as the tug itself. It took a lot of convincing that we were on their side and not the enemy. To make matters worse, they asked us to hoist our four letter code flags, we couldn’t, as we had only been given a months’ supply of codes and they had run out the day before.   

 The vessel that Frank was on was the S-93 VOLUNTEER . Many small ships such as the Volunteer were sunk or badly damaged by ‘friendly’ fire. It was a perilous existence for these brave little ships and their crews.

Interviewer Helen Meyer


Composite Photo:  Frank Finch aged 16.  Photo taken a week before he joined the US Army Small Ships Service.   Frank Finch aged 93.  Photo taken at the Reunion at the Grace Hotel in Sydney 2019, and provided courtesy of Victor Pickel Photography

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