John Abraham - Taking a ferry to New Guinea

Running time
2 min 41 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


But what happened was, the army had an urgent need for a tank landing vessel in New Guinea. So, they seconded the George Pete ferry that used to run on Pete's ferry in Sydney. And they picked the crew to take it up, and I was unfortunate enough to get picked to take it up there.

With the instructions "All you need to do, is take enough gear to get you there, leave all your gear here, we'll transfer you back." That transfer took nearly two years to come back. We broke down off Moreton Bay. And seeing as I used to do signaling, we did run out a scratch crew and not too many onboard could signal.

So here I am out on deck there, signaling with an Aldis lamp. SOS, SOS up into the sky. Our radio packed up, we had no radio. Our engine, we only had the for'ard, we were getting washed away with the drift. And all of a sudden, a submarine comes alongside us, you know? We all panicked, went to our action stations, I had my lifebelt on, blew that up. Flashed the code of the day, I answered him on the signal lamp and American used his radio, we got towed into Brisbane, did repairs and carried on.

And I said to the crew leaning over the side, I said "You are pretty game coming to our assistance" and he said, "Oh, I know, my buddy is on the other side if you have a look." They were going out on patrol. Sure enough, I raced over to the other side and the other submarine had us covered on the other side. They didn't know what we were. But they were just playing safe. So, we went in, I had a few weeks for repair in there.

Got up to New Guinea round about January it was. We should have been there before Christmas. We got on board the ship to come home, we handed it over to the army, and we're all settling down nice and somebody come and said, "All Navy personnel, disembark." They wanted to use us there, and so we were put ashore to help in New Guinea. That's in Milne Bay, which had just been under attack all the time. We were getting attacked all the time."

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