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Material relating to the Volunteer Coastal Patrol collected by William Maxwell Beaumont Small

Date: 1939
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Estate of William Maxwell Beaumont Small
Object Name: Archive series
Object No: ANMS1242

User Terms

    This collection of paper based material was collated by William Maxwell Beaumont Small in 1939. The collection relates to Small's involvement as a member of the Volunteer Coastal Patrol (VCP), and includes incoming and outgoing correspondence.

    The museum also holds a number of personal items in its collection which belonged to William Maxwell Beaumont Small during his time in the VCP, including charts, posters, photographs, keys, flags, a periscope, medical kit and uniform.
    SignificanceThis archive collection illustrates the importance of the Volunteer Coastal Patrol during World War II and the post-war period as an organisation working in conjunction with the Australian Police and Navy to ensure coastal security. It shows the activities that the Volunteer Coastal Patrol arranged and the level of training and organisation within the patrol.
    HistoryWilliam Maxwell Beaumont Small, born 24 October 1911, was a company director and secretary. He joined the Volunteer Coastal Patrol (VCP) on 11 September 1939, and was listed as number 56 on the VCP register with the warrant number 10009. Small skippered the patrol boat MOONBI 26 and was Commanding Officer of the VCP from 1943 to 1947.

    The Volunteer Coastal Patrol, the oldest voluntary sea rescue organisation in Australia, was established on 27 March 1937. The VCPs objectives were to bring together yachtsmen and those interested in small ships and encourage them to undergo a course of training so that their services would be of value to the authorities in rescue situations, and to train and educate these yachtsmen so that Australia's waterways could be made safer for those who ventured upon them in small craft.

    When World War II was declared in 1939, members of the patrol affirmed their desire to serve their country as a volunteer service, assisting the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Water Police and Maritime Services Board in the vital defence of Sydney Harbour. Oil depots, wharves, troopships, dockyards, the State ammunition dump in Bantry Bay and flying-boat base in Rose Bay were all patrolled by the VCP until war's end. In 1940 the patrol had some 500 vessels and 2,000 members on its register.

    On 12 June 1941 the RAN established the voluntary Naval Auxiliary Patrol along the lines of the VCP. Through control of this body, the RAN took over all the autonomous coastal divisions of the VCP, with a view to doing the same with the Port of Sydney division. In 1942, after much bitter debate with the RAN, then Commanding Officer Arthur Morgan and his skippers refused the RANs terms and conditions for amalgamation, and the VCP ceased its relationship with the Navy and Army. However it maintained its patrol function with the Water Police and was absorbed as an auxiliary to the National Emergency Service Organisation (NES).

    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 organisation of value to the country in times of emergency as well as peace, by making waterways safer for yachtsmen and by setting an example to all those on the water. In 1974 Her Majesty the Queen bestowed the 'Royal' prefix to the Volunteer Coastal Patrol. While the VCP was originally designed to use properly equipped privately owned vessels, in the 1980s this became unfeasible and the patrol now owns some 50 vessels.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: William Beaumonts Maxwell Small: Volunteer Coastal Patrol correspondence 1939

    Collection title: Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol

    Web title: Material relating to the Volunteer Coastal Patrol collected by William Maxwell Beaumont Small

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