WWII submariners remembered in Albany ceremony

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), Lee Griffith (photographer)

Location(s): Albany, WA

Topic(s): Naval Heritage and History, Commemoration

Current and former members of the Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy at the commemoration service for World War II submariners, in Albany, WA. (This event was held in accordance with State Govt regulations on public gatherings). (photo: Lee Griffith)
Current and former members of the Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy at the commemoration service for World War II submariners, in Albany, WA. (This event was held in accordance with State Govt regulations on public gatherings).

Current and former members of the Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy gathered in the Western Australian city of Albany on 28 August to remember submariners who lost their lives during World War II operations out of the port city.

Western Australia played a significant role in submarine operations during WWII, particularly the ports of Fremantle and Albany, and the memorial event was a way of paying tribute to those on “eternal patrol”.

Commander Submarine Force Captain Doug Theobald, CSC said while Albany’s link with the original ANZACs is well-known, it is a little-known fact that the city played such a significant role in WWII Allied submarine operations.

“Albany and Fremantle offered a relatively safe refuge for submarine operations that were being carried out by the United States Navy from Western Australia,” he said.

“It’s a little known fact in the wider community that a large number of operations were launched from Albany which offered a base for the submarines that was well beyond the reach of Japanese aircraft.

“At this event, which is held every year in Albany, we pay tribute to the city’s military history and to the United States submariners who never returned from patrol.”

A total of 31 submarines visited the Port of Albany after the United States Navy split its submarine force between that port and Fremantle.

In total, American submarines launched 521 patrols from Australia sinking more than 1.7 million tonnes of shipping - tragically, 52 submarines were lost during this period with a loss of more than 3500 American officers and sailors.

The memorial event, which was held at Princess Royal Fortress, was timed to coincide with a port visit by one of Navy’s Collins Class submarines, HMAS Farncomb.

As well as the submarines that were located in Albany during 1942, the United States Navy also based a submarine tender, USS Holland, in the port city.

HMAS Farncomb sails into Albany, WA ahead of the commemoration service for World War II submariners.

HMAS Farncomb sails into Albany, WA ahead of the commemoration service for World War II submariners.