Tag Archive | Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol

Smoke em if you got em

Australian National Maritime Museum Object number 00049309

Australian National Maritime Museum Object number 00049309

Bill Ettershank (owner/skipper) of the KEWARRA, lights one up while out looking for anything unusual in WWII as part of the Australian Volunteer Coastal Patrol. Note the binnacle and sail boom.

This image belongs in a collection that includes many images of members and vessels operated by the Volunteer Coastal Patrol (VCP) in the 1940s. It is believed most of the photographs were taken by the professional photographer and patrol member Peter Luke. Luke’s yacht WAYFARER served with the Volunteer Coastal Patrol on Sydney Harbour and along the NSW coast until the war ended in 1945. In 1944 Peter Luke was one of the co-founders of the Cruising Yacht Club and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The Volunteer Coastal Patrol, the oldest voluntary sea rescue organization in Australia, was established on 27 March 1937.

When World War II was declared in 1939, members of the Patrol affirmed their desire to serve their country as a volunteer service by patrolling Australia’s waterways. In 1940 the Patrol had some 500 vessels and 2,000 members on its register– much the same as the Corsair Fleet formed by volunteers in their personal boats under the aegis of the U.S. Coast Guard at the same time.

During the war, Australian Coastal Patrol members became special constables and guarded commercial wharves, oil installations and bridges. By the war’s end, patrol vessels had patrolled 128,000 miles of harbor and coastal waters and donated 393,000-man-hours of unpaid war service. They were granted the right to fly the Police Nemesis pennant as recognition of this service and the right to fly the New South Wales State Flag as their ensign.

The VCP continued to operate in the post-war period in a purely voluntary capacity, constituting an important element in national security. Its objectives were rewritten to make the organization of value to the country in times of emergency as well as peace. In 1974 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth bestowed the ‘Royal’ prefix to the Volunteer Coastal Patrol, and the group survives to this day in much the same role as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxillary.

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