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Publications relating to maritime and national security collected by William Maxwell Beaumont Small

Date: 1911- 1947
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Estate of William Maxwell Beaumont Small
Object Name: Archive series
Object No: ANMS1248

User Terms

    This collection is comprised of various publications on the subject of maritime and war-time security. The collection belonged to William Maxwell Beaumont Small who was a member of the Volunteer Coastal Patrol (VCP) from 1939 and the Patrol Commanding Officer from 1943 to 1947.

    The publications include maritime subjects such as semaphore signalling and morse code, seamanship and sea rescue, as well as war-time security subjects including protection against air attack and New South Wales police instructions.

    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 demonstrates William Maxwell Beaumont Small's committment to the objectives of the Volunteer Coastal Patrol in ensuring the security of the Australian coast.
    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

    Web title: Publications relating to maritime and national security collected by William Maxwell Beaumont Small

    Collection title: Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol

    Assigned title: William Maxwell Beaumont Small: Collection of Australian and other maritime publications

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