Clarrie Dawes WW2 Veteran: The Ketch Leprena
Posted on: Mon 10 Aug 2020
Clarrie Dawes from South Australia first joined the Merchant Navy at 14 years of age. Whilst sailing on MV Coorabie during 1942 the ship was acquired by US Army Small Ships Section of the US Army Services of Supply in the Southwest Pacific Area and Clarrie was employed to crew her to Sydney. Upon arrival First Mate Bill Webster was recruited by Small Ships to assume command of a ketch and he asked Clarrie to join him as A.B.
The ketch Coorabie was built in 1912 and later renamed Leprena; she was soon nicknamed ‘Leapin’ Lena’ due to frequent rolling. S-64 Leprena was in dry-dock for several weeks for repair and modifications before sailing from Sydney to Townsville loaded with medical supplies then on to Milne Bay in New Guinea. She arrived just after a failed Japanese invasion attempt and was welcomed by Japanese Bombers. But first, she needed to be repaired and modified in Sydney… Clarrie tells us…
Interviewer Helen Meyer
Image: Clarrie Dawes circa 1940s. Provided by C Dawes and used with permission