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Volunteer Coastal Patrol material collected by Harold Nobbs

Date: 1934-1973
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from John Nobbs
Object Name: Archive series
Object No: ANMS1294

User Terms

    This collection is comprised of material collected by Harold Nobbs relating to the Volunteer Coastal Patrol (VCP). Included are letters, photographs, a warrant card and early handwritten Volunteer Coastal Patrol documents.
    SignificanceThis collection provides valuable information about the development and early history of the Volunteer Coastal Patrol. The items provide insight into the members of the Patrol, their duties to ensure safety at sea, as well as their involvement in the security of Sydney Harbour during World War II. The Special Constables Warrant Card is the most unusual item in this collection and was issued to Harold Nobbs by the NSW Police.
    HistoryThe 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

    Collection title: Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol

    Assigned title: Harold Nobbs: Volunteer Coastal Patrol Ephemera

    Web title: Volunteer Coastal Patrol material collected by Harold Nobbs

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