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Material relating to the return of MV KRAIT to Australia

Date: 1963-1985
Medium: Paper based material
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Helen Stevenson
Object Name: Archive series
Object No: ANMS1286

User Terms

    This archive series consists of paper based material collected by Arthur (Steve) Stevenson of the KRAIT Memorial Fund Committee, relating to the appeal for the development of the KRAIT as a floating war memorial.

    This series contains committee meeting agendas and minutes; Volunteer Coastal Patrol KRAIT reports; correspondence between committee members, donors, media, museums and associations; lists of financial donors; appeal invitations; invoices and notes relating to the return of KRAIT to Australia, the appeal created to carry out its restorations and the handover of KRAIT to the Australian War Memorial.
    SignificanceThis archive series showcases the dedication that not only the committee had for the vessel but the Australian community as a whole, raising the money to buy the boat and transport it to Australia from Sandakan.
    HistoryKRAIT is a former Japanese fishing boat, originally named KOFUKU MARU, which was thrown into the spotlight when World War II broke out. The vessel was in Singapore Harbour and commandeered by Australian civilian Bill Reynolds who escaped from the now Japanese occupied harbour on 12 February 1942 and took refugees to Sumatra.

    Upon returning to Australia, the now named KRAIT (named after an Indian venomous snake) was chosen to take Australian and British members of the "Z" Special Unit back to Singapore's Keppel Harbour in September 1943. Operation Jaywick was the task given to the unit of the Australian Service Reconnaissance Department which travelled through Indonesia past Bali, as close to Singapore harbour as possible then went to wait in a bay off Borneo. From there, six of the crew got onto three folboats (folding canoes) which were then paddled right into the harbour with the men attaching limpet mines to the ships within the harbour. The Japanese ships had just exploded when the six men had vacated the harbour and were on their way back to KRAIT's pick up point. Seven Japanese ships of some 40,000 tonnes were damaged or destroyed.

    Having returned to Australia on 19 October 1943, the boat had travelled 6,500 km in 48 days, 33 of which were in Japanese occupied waters. The operation was deemed aa Allied success but was kept secret in case of similar attacks. On 5 April 1944, KRAIT was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy as HMAS KRAIT. and at the end of the war KRAIT was moved up to Ambon for the official ceremony of the Japanese surrender.

    In 1947, KRAIT was being used in Borneo to deliver mail between Jesselton in the west and Sandakan in the east. It is said that at this time, KRAIT was used to ship drugs as well as mail around the area and its name was changed to PEDANG which is Malay for 'sword'. In 1958, Australian Dick Greenish began to take steps to bring the vessel back to Australia which was at that time hauling logs at Sandakan.

    Many people got behind the fundraising effort which was launched by the Lord Mayor of Sydney and through 'The Sun' newspaper to raise £12,000 to buy the ship and bring her back to Australia as a floating war memorial.

    The Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol (VCP) agreed to take on KRAIT as a training and rescue boat upon its return to Australia which was a public affair. A committee called 'The KRAIT Memorial Fund Committee' through "Z" Special Unit worked hard in raising funds and creating awareness for the KRAIT to become part of the Australian War Memorial's collection and taken to Canberra.

    On 25 April 1981, KRAIT appeared on 'This is Your Life' on Channel 7 Network where it gained more attention and thus more funds collected. The Australian War Memorial accepted financial responsibility of the vessel on 22 April 1984 but did not have adequate storage in Canberra so she was passed from the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol to the War Memorial and kept at Sydney Maritime Museum at Birkenhead Point, and later was transferred to the Australian National Maritime Museum where it is docked presently (2012) in Darling Harbour.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Material relating to the return of MV KRAIT to Australia

    Assigned title: Paper based material relating to World War II commando raider M V KRAIT (later HMAS KRAIT) return to Australia

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